Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 11:37PM CST

Storm season blog kickoff; Forecast update for March 27 - April 10

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It's that time of year again - the 2014 storm chasing season is finally upon us! There hasn't been much to talk about this month, but that is changing quickly as we move into peak severe weather season here in the Plains and Midwest regions of the USA. I'm envisioning my 2014 storm season being a little more reserved this year, with more of a focus on the Midwest region than the Plains. That said, I do plan on at least 2 trips to the Plains as conditions warrant. Vehicle and equipment wise, there aren't any major changes for 2014 from last year.

So let's take a look at the mid-to-long range models to see what the next couple of weeks could hold. The upper air patterns are looking to get active as we head into the first part of April, with several troughs of varying intensity sweeping across the country. The mitigating factor at this stage is the anemic moisture reservior in the Gulf of Mexico, battered heavily from this long, cold winter. The first system in this series will be passing through Thursday, with sufficient upper support for severe storms. The Gulf is not quite ready to play, however, and despite a weak tornado threat in Missouri, may not be enough to embark on an out-of-backyard chase.

The next wave is shown passing through in the Tuesday to Wednesday time frame next week. Low-level moisture is shown being better for this system, so I'd expect it to be more in play for at least a good Midwest storm chase day. Beyond this, the European model is showing a large trough getting better established in the western US toward the end of next week. This could end up being a major player if the Gulf can recover - and it definitely bears watching.

So, with all that said, I'm giving the higher Plains trip probabilities to the longer-range system starting around April 5. The two upcoming systems, however, I'm planning on relegating to local Midwest chases rather than in the Plains.

The following table charts the probability of a Plains storm chase expedition happening for several indicated date ranges in the near future. As with past years, this table won't reflect Midwest storm chase days, since the vast majority of those will be 100%:

2014 Plains Storm Expeditions - Probabilities as of March 31
March 27-310%
April 1-410%
April 5-1035%

The storm prediction center also said that large hail and tornadoes are possible next wednesday and thursday and they may also issue 30% outlooks later on, st. louis included. Something to definitely keep an eye on. Are we finally getting out of this seemingly eternal winter? I hope so. Storms possible today too.
- Posted by Tim

Yes, it looks like winter is finally behind us! Late next week is looking better for the first big severe weather setups.
- Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL

Dan, Hope it's not getting too personal, but what will be your chase vehicle this year?
- Posted by John from North Texas

John, I will be using the same vehicle as last year.
- Posted by Dan R.

Ok.. good deal Dan. Stay safe out there.
- Posted by John from North Texas

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