2013 Season Summary

Here is the overall plan for my 2013 storm season (which I’ll update as events warrant):

CHASE 2013


SEMINARS & TRAINING (WEATHER/SAFETY): 25+ hours of classroom training on weather
(especially radar interpretation), first aid, and CPR
[163 miles travel]
16 March Sat. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 lightning DuPage OHSEM
Advanced Spotter Training
27 March Wed. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 nexradNaperville EMA radar class
(#1 of 3)
25 March Mon. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 first-aidNaperville EMA:
Blood-borne Pathogens
03 April Wed. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 nexradNaperville EMA radar class
(#2 of 3)
06 April Sat. Bolingbrook IL Batavia IL 43
33rd Annual FermiLab/Skilling Severe Weather Seminar
08 April Mon. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 CPRNaperville EMA:
CPR/AED Certification
17 April Wed. Bolingbrook IL Naperville IL 20 nexradNaperville EMA radar class
(#3 of 3)

Tempest Tours #2013-2B:
Jim Reed Photo Tour

May 2013 chasing with Jim Reed, Bill Reid and friends
in the Southern/Great Plains.

Tempest 2013T2B Gang (minus Bill Reid, behind the camera)
Tempest 2013T2B Gang (minus Bill Reid, behind the camera)

Our team was from all over:

usa-flag australia-flag
Jim Reed (KS [KD0TVZ]) – photo guru
William Reid (CA [KG6FWX]) – lead
Danny Gonzales (CA) – guide/driver
Ron Riemersma (WI) – guide/driver
Martin Lisius (TX) – CEO, Tempest Tours (5/1)
Jenna Blum (KS) – media guest
Lisa Beal (IL [KC9BST]
Kristin Heil (OH)
Stacy Williams (CA)l
Patti Schulze (TX)
Nathan Chester (Brisbane)
Belinda Cripps
Lee Cripps
Michael Thompson (Shellharbour)
Priscilla Yeo
29 April Mon. Bolingbrook IL PROLOGUE
30 April Tue. Bolingbrook IL Oklahoma City OK  60 TRAVEL: Flight + 60 miles around OKC
01 May Wed. Oklahoma City OK Breckenridge TX 230+ DAY 1: Spider lightning as a monster cold front passes
02 May Thu. Breckenridge TX Terlingua TX 451+ DAY 2: Down to the Border
03 May Fri. Terlingua TX Santa Elena
TX  37RT DAY 3: Rugged Road to Santa Elena Canyon
04 May Sat. Terlingua TX Marfa TX 208RT DAY 4: Rolling Thunder and F5 Girls
05 May Sun. Terlingua TX Van Horn TX 192+ DAY 5: Old McDonald Had a Telescope?
06 May Mon. Van Horn TX Plainview TX 459 DAY 6: New Mexico Storm with Great Structure
07 May Tue. Plainview TX Dodge City KS 326+ DAY 7: 3 States of Mind: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas
08 May Wed. Dodge City KS Clinton OK 237+ DAY 8: Time to Get Outta Dodge
09 May Thu. Clinton OK Fredericksburg TX 448+ DAY 9: Okie Dokie
10 May Fri. Fredericksburg TX San Antonio TX 426+ DAY 10: Mini-Haboob!
11 May Sat. San Antonio TX Oklahoma City OK 469+ DAY 11: Long Drive North and a Czech Stop
12 May Sun. Oklahoma City OK Bolingbrook IL    0 DAY 12: Departure
13 May Mon. Oklahoma City OK Bolingbrook IL    0 Epilogue
(TBA) (TBA) Bolingbrook IL (TBA) Chaser/spotter fun within 300 miles of home


Plan was to not chase GRAY
Planned Chase Day (future) YELLOW
Available to chase; no weather (“blue-skied”) BLUE
Chase Day (available and expect stormy weather) GREEN
Weather Stormy, but not available for chasing RED
BUST DAY – no severe storms where we looked! ORANGE
Training Day WHITE

Season Plan Accommodations Restaurants Tools Web Links

NOTE: The restaurant and accommodations links will be dead until I get out in the field.


12 June 2013 – Eyes on the Chi-town Skies

This morning started with a MOD RISK declared for Chicago and environs:


There was also much discussion about a HIGH RISK being declared, with a focus on the severe wind and hail threats:



While the tornado threat has been downplayed, I feel a bit wary about the hatched 10%(+) area:


Even early in the day, the severe parameters show signs of moving ‘into the hot zone’ later today:

We’ll have to watch this one carefully (as Gilbert Sebenste pointed out in my Facebook news feed). Gilbert is a respected expert in Northern Illinois weather, and I’m glad we have him watching our area.  He’s generous with his knowledge and is a great natural teacher. (Frankly, I wish there was some way I could carve out time to attend either his meteorology classes or the one’s Paul Sirvatka teaches at College of DuPage. Both of the gentlemen have a great sever weather sense, and I’d be delighted if their wisdom would rub off on me. I could always use more.)

As the morning wore on, the air was increasingly humid.  Definitely, “air ya kin wear’, to use a Northern Virginia-ism.

Per http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch/ww0298.html , A PDS (particularly dangerous situation) area has been issued to our west:

A rare Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) Tornado Watch 298
A rare PDS watch issued nearby

Certain aspects of today remind me of the

August 4, 2008 derecho event
.  On that day, the EF1 tornado in Bolingbrook, Illinois passed less than a mile south of my house. Too close for comfort!

29 May 2013 – Virtual Chase – Hobart(KHBR), OK

A MOD RISK day in Oklahoma (but I’m working in Chicago), so we’ll chase virtually.

SPC’s tornado outlook has a big sausage-shaped area (hatched!) along western Oklahoma, but where do we target within a 96,000 square mile blob?






RATIONALE: Looking over RAP and NAM (WRF-NMM) models, I see 30-40kt 500mb winds over southwest Oklahoma.


Checking this vs. the Dew point, moisture convergence, and CAPE/CINH, the area from the southwest corner of Oklahoma to Weatherford, OK looks like where I’d predict a good chance to strong tornadoes. Using the NAM model, I see precipitation broken out for my target area during the 18-21Z area.


0840CDT: If I started from a virtual base city of Salina, KS, I’d be at the waffle maker at someplace like the Days Inn Salina South reviewing these models.
My departure would be at about 9:30 a.m., with an estimated arrival at Elk City, OK of about 3 pm (a 5.5 hours drive via I-35S and I40W).

0853CDT: METAR at Salina: KSLN 291353Z 19015G27KT 10SM BKN020 23/19 A2968 RMK AO2 PK WND 15031/1307 SLP038 T02280189=
Translation: 73 deGF and mostly cloudy. A brisk S to SSE wind at 17mph with gusts to 31mph. 1004mb pressure. Dewpoint is 66F already. “Air you can wear.”

13:34CDT: In the virtual world, I’m stopped to gas up for the afternoon near El Reno,OK, make a bathroom stop, and re-assess conditions. I regret having to bypass Moore, for a look from I-35, but I’ve headed west on I-40. I can’t observe the sky in the real world, but the surface map, visible satellite, and webcams give me an idea what I’d think if I were there: continue west for now, then re-assess at 14:30 or so.Temperature at El Reno is 77F with a *screaming* 68F dew point, scattered clouds, and a healthy 27mph wind.  It seems that moisture is getting carried WAY north of my position. But, I also need to be patient!

Maybe I’ll stop at Sayre, and consider going north, as storms are already popping west and north of there. A huge TOR watch area — the red shaded area in the map below— covers much of western Oklahoma and continues north into Kansas (where a really long line of chasers are heading west on US54, apparently try to catch the storm straddling the Clark-Comanche county line, south of Dodge City).


Now the hard part: do I abandon my original target or hope the southern storms produce. Choices, choices, choices!

14:00CDT – After watch radar and checking SBCAPE, I decide to abandon my target. Tall, ferocious storms are building on the OK-KS line, head up through Watonga on US270W, hoping there are still storms to chase around 16:00CDT.  Supercell composite is 12 for the area.  Hopefully, I can make good time without getting a ticket. *Looks both ways, crosses fingers*

16:00CDT: Look like storm to the south is picking up. Dropping south to Seiling,OK

1630CDT: Storms east and west. Will stick with the westerm storms, aiming for the ‘tail end Charlie’. Head south on US183.
Problem: Not many road options until Clinton!

1730CDT: I see (from GRLevel3) that Vic Gensini from CoD is on the storm by Memphis, TX.  I’m going to let it come to me. It’s adjacent to the new ‘tail end Charlie’ to its southwest. *crosses fingers*


[NOTE: Real-world issues have interrupted. I may have to break off this virtual chase.]

RESULT: A work-related crisis took me away from this virtual chase, but I would have reached sever storms in any case.
There were several tornado reports nearby, but odds are that I would NOT have seen them.  As the map below indicates, most of the significant tornado action occurs north and outside of the originally predicted sausage-shaped area of high tornado probability.



28 May 2013 – Wet ‘n’ Wild Ride Home

Heavy rain and nautical twilight level darkness (well before sunset). I experienced fat raindrops, pea-sized hail (reported to mPing only), and multiple lightning strikes less then 1/4 mile from my position (by the 5-count-per-mile method). Happy to be indoors, in case I lose power.


Looks like storms will train through my hometown a while longer:


Also have multiple warnings on these storms:


Wow’ MyWARN looks like a slot machine when the coins drop.


We even had a Tornado Warning briefly:





27 May 2013 – Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Meh! I’m worn out (like my shoes).


My feelings are amplified by the fact I gave up on chasing during this long weekend, but a MOD RISK has been issued. Had I followed my plan (on Friday) to travel west, go see Mt. Rushmore, then hope for storms, I could have been within reach of the expected storms:





Man, I need an attitude adjustment and fast!

And seeing the results of today’s storm isn’t making this easier:


20 May 2013 – Virtual Chase – Comanche, OK

Today will have to be a virtual chase day. My chase-cation is over and the weekend is behind me.
Hopefully, I’ll a) be available to chase next weekend and b) there will be severe storms with 500 miles of home during that time.

In the meantime, on with the virtual chase:

Breakfast High-carb feast: Carbon; brand waffle machine, sugar-free syrup, orange juice, fruit (if I’m lucky) 20130520-090143.jpgProtein bar, Low sodium V-8, sparkling water Gotta eat leaner when I not running around, toting bags of gear and clothing, etc. Virtual chasing gives me more choice, however.
Forecasting Always another opinion 20130520-090252.jpg
Just my own ideas and opinion.
I use the same technique: check the SLIM factors: shear, lift, instability, moisture.
I look at the SPC convective outlook maps and text for the day then try to identify what
they’re discussing on the NAM, WRF, RAP, HRRR models runs.I check the visible satellite pictures to see what sort of clearing and morning storms I have.  I peruse logP-skewT charts around my target area to gauge what sort of moisture and wind setup I have.
I see where storm ingredients come together between 18Z (1pm CDT) and 0Z (7pm).
Since I’ve shadowed Bill Reid and seen so many of his forecasts since 2002, I try to do as Bill does.
(It’s served me very well, but I get too little storm time in the Great Plains to really boost my skills in the field.)
Computing / Comms Resources My iPhone (RadarScope, MyWarn, etc.), my MSI Wind U120 netbook (1GB RAM, Windows XP, GRlevel3, GRLevel2Analyst, StormLab, Delorme Street Atlas, Davis WeatherLink), Sprint MiFi, connectivity prayers 20130520-090111.jpg

20130520-090128.jpgAll of the above, plus numerous 25-inch screens, quad-core desktop (Windows 7, 8GB RAM, all of the software on the netbook), 25Mbps internet, business-class high-redundancy router

More screen real estate and speed at home. My mobile gear has done well over the years, however. (Time to upgrade that 2009-vintage netbook next season, too.)
Watching the sky Observe the sky directly. In the early Doswell days, the ability to read the maps was a beginning, but the ability to correctly read the sky often determined Use fixed webcams across the web and (closer to storm time) streaming video from Spotter Network members to see what’s happening in the real world.
Obviously, the latter will introduce the bias of the person streaming the video, but I have a few favorite streamers to follow.
I feel we all have biases, so I try to choose mine carefully *smiles* .
Mo’ sky, mo’ bettah

Assumed base city: Wichita, KS (so I can join Jim, Jenna and Woodrow for the morning Starbucks run 🙂 )
Initial target: Comanche, OK


(Verbiage to be added later. Short version: Looks to me like shear, lift, instability, and moisture all come together in south central OK around 20Z. Charts follow.)

Factor Remarks MAP 1 – 4-6pm MAP 2 – around 7 pm MAP 3 – after 7pm
_ _ _20130520-075738.jpg _20130520-075730.jpg _20130520-075719.jpg
_ _ _20130520-080008.jpg _20130520-075953.jpg _
_ _ _20130520-080051.jpg _20130520-080051.jpg _
_ _ _20130520-080136.jpg _20130520-080122.jpg _
_ _ _20130520-075839.jpg _20130520-075812.jpg _20130520-075746.jpg
_ _ _20130520-075944.jpg _ _20130520-075902.jpg


1230 – A look st the SREF as I sit down to lunch (in both the virtual and real world) gives me pause for thought. It appears that Comanche, OK may be a bit to far southwest. In the virtual world, I’m at the Lawton Golden Corral (2632 Northwest Cache Road, Lawton, OK 73505) getting a good meal, as it looks like I won’t have a sit-down supper tonight. Suppertime is storm time, so I’ll be munching jerky then (albeit carefully, thanks to a temporary crown my dentist repaired on Saturday … in the real world.) Looks like I’ll need to relocate east then north; better keep lunch down to 15-20 minutes. Time to re-evaluate after lunch.

20130520-17Z-valid00Z-SREF_prob_front_mpv_2__f015_ _20130520-17Z-valid00Z-SREF_prob_hicape_2000__f015
_20130520-17Z-valid00Z-SREF_SCCP_MEDIAN_MXMN__f015 _20130520-17Z-valid21Z-SREF_prob_combined_0.01_40_2000__f012
_20130520-17Z-valid00Z-SREF_12HR_SVR_PROBS__f015 _20130520-17Z-valid00Z-SREF_prob_2mdewpt_60F__f015


1250 – I slide east on OK7, then north on US81. Around 1330, ‘virtual me’ gives a wave to Jeff Piotrowski who’s eying the storm that’s gone up between Comanche and Lawton. (I’m always encouraged when I see somebody who really knows what they’re doing. It makes me feel a tiny bit more like I do, too.) Soon, the storm is shooting down some lightning and looking somewhat energetic.

Here are radar images of the storm, which produces a tornado later (though not as large or (thankfully) as deadly as the Moore, OK tornado of later today.








11 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 11

11 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 11

Today is a travel day, as we need to get everybody back to Oklahoma City by morning.

I’m feeling pretty sad about the trip being over. We have a really terrific group on this tour, and I will miss them all very much when we go our separate ways.

We’ve had a very discouraging weather pattern for storms, but Bill Reid had put us on the best ones whenever they were available (that is, days 1, 8-10)

Today’s USA TODAY seems to be rubbing our noses in the fact we saw no tornado in ten days in May:



______ – We stop at Austin for a lunch at Fuddrucker’s

______ – We jump off I-35N at West,TX. We grab a snack at the famed Czech Stop And Wander East into town. We cannot see the blast site from the recent fertilizer plant explosion. We see houses with boarded-up windows and crumpled aluminum garage doors from blast, even from 14 blocks away from the temporary chain link fence protecting the disaster.

19:10 – We cross the Red River on I35N, returning to Oklahoma for the last time during the trip.