Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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DAY 2: Indy, Chicago and troubling news

Digital photos by Matt Robinson - click to enlarge

ABOVE & RIGHT: Cruising around Indianapolis and Chicago on Saturday.

The roller coaster of storm observing continues. This morning, I woke up to check the newest long-range model data and found that our 'active' string of severe weather days for later this week had vanished from the forecasts. Without a trace! The latest model runs now place a strong ridge of high pressure over the Plains, and a trough of low pressure in the east. In essence, a setup that all but wipes out any chance of severe storms in Tornado Alley, sometimes for weeks on end. In the storm observer world, this dreaded 'Death Ridge' is the last thing that someone who has planned a two-week vacation out on the Plains wants to see.

So what do we do now? The only thing we *can* do at this point is wait a few more days for the models to resolve themselves further, at the very least until next Saturday. It's too early to call this trip a total loss, as the models are sometimes wrong. But with our prime storm time approaching, we would have hoped for a better outlook by now. There may be some storm observation days during the Monday-Wednesday period in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, which we'll be there for, Lord willing.

For the time being, we're continuing as planned, hoping that the models change their tone. Even if we have to wait until the end of May for good chaseable severe weather, that's OK with us. We're already on the way and not willing to accept defeat just yet.

We're now at a hotel on I-55 southwest of Chicago, en route to St. Louis. So, tomorrow we'll be heading for an eventual Monday afternoon target of western Kansas, stopping in St. Louis and Kansas City if time permits. Only if Monday-Wednesday's storm risk level fizzles out AND the long-range models continue to paint a grim picture for the rest of the month will we begin to revisit our plans. Such is the perpetual uncertaintly of observing storms!

Signing off, back to the forecasting roller coaster. Chicago and Indianapolis were fun places to check out - more photos to follow soon.

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