May 4: Hesitating a bit
Another close look at the available data is making us rethink the May 7-8 departure date. The possible scenarios that the models are presenting for next week (and beyond) range from very good to very bad. As we talked about before, the reliability of the model ensemble spaghetti plot is indicated by how much agreement there is between the individual members. As you can see by the spaghetti plot map at right, the individual members are living up to their 'spaghetti' name - they're about as out of agreement as you can get! This means there is simply no way we can even make an educated guess about what might happen past the 4 or 5 day mark.
The good news is that while no major outbreaks are apparent in the near future, it appears that the general outlook for May is looking better for storm observing than it did last year at this time. This means there will be storms to cover, and at least a minimal chance for tornadoes. Of course, that can change for the better or for the worse. Last year we had a persistent Hudson Bay low creating a trough in the east, with a storm-killing ridge over the Plains. This unfavorable pattern was held in place by a large-scale blocking pattern that kept tornado season silent through most of May 2005. We're hoping this year is better.
All this is why on May 1, we simply go into our 'standby' mode, ready to leave at any time. There is no way to plan ahead more than a few days with storm observing, that is, if we want to use our money to observe storms storms rather than blue skies. We're still cautiosly holding on to the May 7-8 departure, but if things don't look good by Friday, we might postpone a few more days. Stay tuned!
We're still awaiting the shipment of parts for the vehicle setup that should arrive later today. Space is going to be tight, but we're finding creative ways to use every available cubic inch of storage in the car. Installation will be Friday afternoon, so stay tuned for photos.
Based on the current outlook, this probability table charts the chance of our trip starting on a particular date:
|2006 Storm Observing Expedition - Departure Date Probability as of May 4|
|May 28-June 4||22%|
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