Chasecation 2016, Day 8: Big days can be big headaches

Stacked plate shelf cloud near the Colorado/Kansas border.

Stacked plate shelf cloud near the Colorado/Kansas border.

Thursday brought the highest tornado odds of the trip, if you base your thoughts off Storm Prediction Center ideas. 15% hatched. Moderate risk. Strong tornadoes a decent bet.

It was a day that again brought huge instability to the area. By mid-to-late morning, CAPE values were already higher than many severe weather days get to during peak heating in the afternoon.

The crazy instability likely helped things fire up early. By noon, severe storms were roaming parts of Kansas. Rarely the best sign if you’re a storm chaser. Usually for a good day you want to see storms hold off as long as possible into the afternoon. That said, outbreaks do tend to go earlier than a smaller day. Not this early though.

Storms quickly started “blobbing” and outflow started surging. It was quickly apparent our morning target somewhere near the Salina area was falling apart.

We surged west with the outflow. The outflow kept racing west, stabilizing the environment behind it. We chugged further west.

By late afternoon we found ourselves in western Kansas. New storms did go up as the main trough started to kick out into the Plains. The storms tried, but the atmosphere was already wiped out for the most part. It’s also possible that a major mesoscale convective system in Texas helped rob some of the moisture quality despite high dew points at the surface.

The day still produced a number of tornadoes. A few chasers caught them in spots. Overall, it’s hard to not characterize the day as a bust though.

It happens.

Today, the remnants of the trough linger in the southern Plains. It’s a needle in a haystack kind of day. We’ve done well with those so far.

The following two tabs change content below.
Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.