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View Storm Chasing 2009 – Outbound Plan A in a larger map

The laundry is done. The AC adapters are stowed. The Matrix is packed. All systems are go.

Well, except for the weather systems.

The original plan

I’ve given myself a few extra days to reach my destination of Norman, Oklahoma, so that I can take some time to chase storms. Of course, I was assuming there would be storms during this time, which is usually peak storm season.

That is where the Plan A begins to fall flat.

Forecast discussion

I’ve been looking at weather models for the past few days. They can only predict up to 8-10 days in the future, and that far in advance they are relatively inaccurate. So, when I started looking at the maps a few days ago, I was praying they were wrong. However, as we get closer to the target date, not much has changed.

The models show a cold front sweeping across the nation over the next few days and scouring out the warm temperatures and moisture necessary for the formation of storms. Sometimes in this scenario, winds immediately shift back to the south and moisture quickly returns from the Gulf of Mexico, but a low pressure system centered over the Gulf is blocking this from happening. The result is a “death ridge” that results in hopelessly clear skies.

Some moisture appears to creep back into the Plains late in the forecast period, though the models differ on the timing and intensity of this event.

Outbound Plan A

This much is certain: I will be spending Saturday and Sunday in Connecticut visiting with friends and family, and will begin traveling west on Monday, May 18.

I plan to target Lincoln, Nebraska for Thursday. Local forecasts in Lincoln show a chance of thunderstorms on Thursday, coincident with the slight moisture return mentioned above.

This target also places me in a good position to travel north or south as necessary to chase for a day or two. Then it’s another full day’s travel due south, from Lincoln to Norman, on Sunday.

Do a rain dance for me.

P. S. You may be wondering what the deal is with that deviation in my route through Pennsylvania. Well you couldn’t pay me to take Interstate 80 through Pennsylvania. No way. I hate it. It’s only an extra hour to go this alternate route, and it will be worth it.

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