Five Sided Square

23 May 2014

Today’s weather looked to have plenty of potential, mostly focussed in the far southeast of New Mexico into the far west of Texas. A “cut-off” upper low (yes, upper lows do exist, as silly as the combination of words always sounds to my ear) was now sitting over the south west of the US and to the east of this we could expect a reasonable amount of moisture and finally some more reasonable spring temperatures. If we were lucky we might even need to use that air conditioning that had provided the excuse to swap the car again.

The lift that would fire the storms off wasn’t so clear. The dominant force would come from the jet streams where their path around the upper low would result in factors we could expect to get the storms started. A problem is that it’s quite difficult to know what the jet stream is doing exactly as, for the most part, it’s not visible, and you’re relying on models to tell you what’s happening. Additionally some colder air emanating from storms the previous night would provide a wedge of cold air that would provide lift as it progressed away from that weather system. Generally, on a day like this, you make a best guess at how these factors will pan out and to wait for storms to start firing and then you go for them.

We started the day in roughly the right area so we began with a short 80 miles or so west to get to a slightly preferable starting position. By the time we got there we could see some storms starting to fire to our north, so we headed in their direction. But they died. So we headed west for some. Which died too. So we headed south for some new ones, meanwhile the place we’d started was now getting hit. Oh well, the next ones looked good. Except they died too. A little deflated we headed east, back to where we’d started, but the storms here were now fizzling out, meanwhile the storms we’d last given up on had re-energised and were churning off to the north. We headed north again, getting behind those last storms, but we were too late for them. By this point we’d made a 400 mile square and we were redrawing the first side we’d made of it, so we thought the day wasn’t ours and found ourselves a motel.

I was busy unpacking the stuff from the car while Cambo kept looking at what was going on. By the time the car was unloaded a new plan was starting to hatch. Finally, by not going anywhere for a few minutes, we were making progress. Just a short journey back out of town and we were rewarded with a great lightning show in the last of the evening light, which yielded some great photo opportunities.

I’d like to say we learned a lot from today’s chase, and perhaps we did, but I don’t know what just yet. But in the meantime here’s a couple of cracking lightning shots that resulted from another set of last minute storms!

Lightning weather photo 23rd May 2014

Lightning Photo Anvil And Cg


SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Fri May 2014

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Fri May 2014

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