Aug 022013


Severe Storm Risk Today

Much of the Ozarks is in a slight risk of severe storms for later today and tonight.

The area outlined in yellow is the slight risk and the green shaded is the 2% tornado possibility.

The overall picture this morning features an area of rain with a few non-severe storms north and northwest of Springfield in western Missouri.  This band will continue to move east through the morning hours. Rain may impact Springfield by later this morning and will certainly travel over areas to the north of the city.

The area to be watched for severe storms later today is out west.  The air over portions of Kansas and Oklahoma will become unstable later today as heating combines with high humidity values.

Storms will develop over this area and track east with time into southwest Missouri.

The tornado threat is small but not zero.  The exact details of this threat will depend on how small scale features evolve during the day.  Right now, the 2% tornado risk skews north and west of Springfield.

Broadly, any storms that develop will also be heavy rain producers and a flash flood watch is in effect for the Missouri portion of the Ozarks.

I’ll have another update later this afternoon.


Heavy Rain, Some Severe Storms

 Posted by at 6:58 am on August 2, 2013  Daily Weather Blog  No Responses »
Aug 022013

Flash Flood Watch

Flash Flood Watch

We’ll have the possibility of heavy rain in portions of the Ozarks with several rounds of rain and storms over the next few days.  A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for all of southwest Missouri.

Morning radar shows a large area of rain with some embedded storms sliding southeast out of Kansas.  This first wave of rain should stay most north of Springfield at least during the morning hours.  Storms on its southern end will affect western Missouri later in the morning.

The whole area will regenerate later today and tonight providing more storms and rain areas for our area.

There is also a severe storm risk for later this afternoon as the atmosphere regains some of its instability over western Missouri especially.  An update on this potential will be posted later this morning.

I’ll track the progress of severe weather potential throughout the day and watch which areas will have the heaviest rain set up.

Accumulated Rain Projection Next Few Days

Accumulated Rain Projection Next Few Days

The Weather Prediction Center forecast for rain today and through the weekend is juicy especially in areas north and northeast of Springfield.  A bulls-eye of 2-3″ of accumulated rain is taking shape due to the addition of several round of rain and storms expected over the next few days.

Temperatures will be right at or in some cases below seasonal norms, mostly in the eighties with perhaps a lower ninety in extreme southwest Missouri or northwest Arkansas.



Jun 272013

Heat Advisories Today

Heat Advisories Today

We’ll have a rather significant change in our weather pattern settle in starting this weekend with much cooler air expected.  More on that below.

Before the cool air gets here, we’ll experience the hottest day of the year in the Ozarks today.  We have been steadily increasing the temperature this week but the humidity has remained moderate and a healthy breeze has been in place so the heat has been somewhat easy to take.  Today will be hotter and more humid especially in western and central Missouri.  In these areas, the actual temperature may get into the upper nineties with heat index values in the lower 100’s. A Heat Advisory is in effect for those areas today.

Next, the attention turns to an increasingly unstable atmosphere developing out over eastern Kansas this afternoon. It looks like a good batch of thunderstorms will eventually take shape over this area and have legs into the Ozarks by late evening, lasting into the overnight hours.  This activity will bring damaging winds to a portion of the Ozarks. It may take the form of a bowing segment of storms.  This will be monitored through the day.  I’ll post special blogs and/or videos later today on this threat.

After the rain clears out Friday morning, we start down the path of a much cooler pattern of air.  A low in the upper atmosphere will take up residence over the central U.S. this weekend and also into much of next week.

Severe Storm Risk Area

Severe Storm Risk Area

As a result, we’ll have temperatures about ten degrees below normal for a few days which translates into highs only in the upper seventies.

Saturday may only see highs in the middle seventies upstate as a batch of clouds swirls around the backside of the low pressure feature.

While tonight is by far the best chance for rain, a few afternoon showers cannot be ruled out on Saturday north and east of Springfield. In fact, this also applies to the late afternoon hours of any of the days coming up.

I’ve been on a mini vacation since Sunday and only blogging as a result. Full video production resumes today!  Stay alert this evening for storms and check in!

Jun 052013

Checking the Storms!

Checking the Storms!

Active severe weather is expected once again this weekend over the Great Plains the return of a strong jet stream over a high humidity air mass. This time, an area from Nebraska/Kansas eastward to northern Missouri is in my sites.

This is an interesting, but not too uncommon, set up for June. The air is forecast to become unstable on both Saturday and Sunday over the areas mentioned.  The upper level jet stream will return to a stronger flow level but those winds will actually be more out of the northwest instead of southwest or even west.

What this means is that supercells which deviate to the right of the flow would actually travel close to due south!  It requires taking all chasing strategy and rotating it clockwise ninety-degrees.

Now, Saturday looks like a Nebraska, northern Kansas target. The only way to do this chase safely is to stay overnight.  Since there would be another storm chase possible on Sunday to the east, I’d hang out for that one and then come home late on Sunday.

So if there is anyone who would like to make a weekend of it, let me know!  Keep in mind that storm season is winding down and/or shifting too far north so this may be one of the last chances!

The other option would be to forget Saturday and only chase Sunday. I’m less sure about severe weather (well chase-able stuff anyway) on this day but hey, this many days out, there’s room for it to come together.

So in this case, leave Sunday morning, come back Sunday night. Tentative target area northeast Kansas into northern Missouri.

This is really all up to demand.  Let me hear from you!


Jun 042013

El Reno Tornado of May 31st, 2013

El Reno Tornado of May 31st, 2013

Tornado intercepting, media reporting, storm gawking, storm chasing, storm tours, storm research and storm spotting ; all of these activities involve being in the field or on the road and close to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  But what are the differences?  And what is considered “close”?

Let me start with storm spotting. Storm spotters form the backbone of the severe weather warning process and here’s why: these volunteers are dispatched to pre-determined locations during potentially severe weather to watch for threatening weather. Usually, spotters are in areas with good visibility and positioned in a westerly direction from towns or cities. This is of course to watch activity coming in from the west. Spotters are not chasers. The vast majority of storm spotters are HAM radio operators.  Many of them are rescue, first responders or law enforcement officials.

Storm researchers are often out during severe weather.  In my definition, this includes collecting meteorological data in close proximity of storms.  Doppler radar on wheels and mobile meso-net vehicles (vehicles with sensors on board) fall into this category.  A handful of universities have teams which go out during severe weather situations.  There are private individuals which perform research too.  Tim Samaras, who died in the El Reno tornado (along with his son Paul and another researcher Carl Young), was one such researcher.  He endeavored to place flat, disk-looking probes in the path of a tornado in order to collect pressure information and video cameras shots from various angles.

I remember watching a video presentation given by Tim Samaras at a severe weather conference.  The video showed his deployment of a probe in front of the Manchester, SD tornado in 2003.  The really amazing thing to me was after he placed the probe, he looked up at the approaching tornado, looked back at this probe, picked up the probe, ran down the road with it and placed in a better spot! All of this occurred of course while the tornado was getting closer and closer.  I still use the pressure drop data collected by “probe 3”  in my Weather and Climate lab.

Pressure Drop Measured by  a Tim Samaras Probe

Pressure Drop Measured by a Tim Samaras Probe

The scientific contributions made by Tim Samaras toward understanding the dynamics of tornado is to be honored, as is his passion for what he did and the concern he showed for the safety other chasers. He will be missed.

Storm chase tours take paid guests out into the field to chase down severe storms and tornadoes.  Some of the long established tour groups have a solid reputation for safety.  Many other have popped up recently promising a wild ride and an extreme adventure.  There are a lot more of these than there used to be. I started a formal chase tour company myself this year.  If you have read my blogs, you know my philosophy on what is safe and what isn’t. Most of these groups don’t get too close.  I sell mine on the whole experience, from forecasting to road strategy to field observation to radar interpretation.  Seeing a tornado would be great, if it can be done safely!

Storm chasers fall into a broad category. Some are out there to get great video. Some like the thrill and challenge of predicting which storms will “go” and then figuring out how to catch them.  Many are very responsible, calling in storm reports and rendering assistance to storm victims. Many chasers are essentially mobile spotters. There are many cases where vital storm reports for a given area come from chasers who might live states away.

An ever increasing proportion of chasers are casual storm gawkers who use their mobile phone for a radar screen and go. They usually don’t travel very far from home. They have very little understanding of what they are looking at. Terms like storm motion, mesocyclone occlusion or rear flank downdraft mean nothing to them (but boy are they important!)

Media chasers are both local and national.  It is common in larger television markets or those in “tornado alley” to deploy helicopters during severe weather. Many capture the tornado in action. We saw such a copter flying along the southern edge of the El Reno storm on Friday.  Of course, The Weather Channel drew a lot of attention to itself  when Mike Bettes and producer were rolled several times in their vehicle by the El Reno tornado.  They are extremely lucky to be alive.

Then there are the tornado interceptors like the Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) with Sean Casey and the Dominator with Reed Timmer.  These folks drive right at tornadoes and strive to be very close if not ultimately inside of them. Now the vehicles they drive are armored, offering a great deal of protection.

Our Chase Path Relative to the El Reno Tornado

Our Chase Path Relative to the El Reno Tornado

The reason I’m going through the trouble of distinguishing between these groups is that the term “storm chaser” is used as a net to capture all of this activity. So when people say “storm chasers save lives” or “they cause road congestion” or “they set a bad example and are reckless  ” or “they are collecting valuable scientific  information”, well, some fit these definitions better than others!

Since I just started chasing storms is tour company mode and in light of the recent events in Oklahoma, I have to ask myself  “am I out there for the right reasons?” and “am I comfortable doing this?”  My answers is yes.  I feel like I am responsible and careful.

I said I would talk about how close is too close.  Generally, distance buys safety!  The farther away you are, the more time you have to react.

I do need to make a statement from a meteorological perspective: there is no reason to believe that any tornado will move in a linear or continuous sort of way!!  Mother nature gave us some ominous signs this season: Cleburne, TX and Bennington, KS come to mind.  Tornadoes near both of these cities were large, dangerous and made some unusual turns. My blog on the Cleburne tornado can be read here.

My sincere hope is that all “storm chasers” carefully consider all future chases.  Learn, err on the side of safety and remember that the entire development of severe storms is a process and a quite amazing one at that.  Appreciate the whole package!







Jun 032013

The View Due North From Near Minco OK at 7:13 p.m.

The View Due North From Near Minco OK at 7:13 p.m.

In part one, I described being on the southern edge of the El Reno/Union City tornadic supercell.  Now I’ll discuss what we saw at our new position as another circulation developed to the WNW. I’ll also tell you about an exodus out of the Oklahoma metro area!

We could no longer stay with the stronger circulation which was connected to the El Reno/Union City tornado. It was headed for the metro area of Oklahoma City and the interstates, I-44 and I-35, were not doable.

Therefore we set our sights on a new circulation center which was taking shape northwest of us.  We drove south a tad and then set up northeast of Minco, OK. It was a relief to find a good vantage point without a crowd of chasers or other traffic nearby!

From here we watched carefully, looking at first to the northwest and then eventually north. Once again, wall clouds and perhaps rain-wrapped tornadoes might have been located right where we were looking but they were not visible.  Eventually, a rear flank downdraft swept over our position from the west. It was time to move on.

As we only had about 30 more minutes of usable light and with yet another circulation taking shape to our northwest, we thought maybe one more stand somewhere was possible.  But a flow of traffic south out of the Oklahoma metropolitan area had other ideas!

It was incredible.   Traffic moving south on highway 4 was just creeping along.  It was common for vehicles to turn on their flashers and treat the northbound lane as a southbound lane!  Jeff and Bryan fortunately used smartphones and found a series of back roads which got us off the main highways while also staying off of I-44 and I-35.

Along the way, while passing just southwest of Norman, we could see power flashes (power transformers being knocked down) to the northeast.  I imagined while in the situation that this was caused by straight line winds. It remains to be determined by survey teams out of Norman whether a small tornado was connected to the flashes.

Combo Chase Graphic for 7:13 p.m.

Combo Chase Graphic for 7:13 p.m.

We had to travel south to Purcell, OK to find the next route east out of the area.  While traveling east on highway 39, streams of cars where headed west. Also, for at least 20 miles, every north-south road which stopped at 39 was clogged with headlights coming from the north as far as you could see.

We felt like refugees.  It was surreal. People were scared.

It was a combination of being literally ambushed by tornado tracks over the last few weeks along with advice to flee if you could and also just normal rush hour traffic.

I have more to talk about including the overall situation that day in the Oklahoma City area, the tragic deaths of veteran storm chasers, the close call of other chasers, my overall view of storm chasing and a list of links and resources you should check out. I hope to release the third blog on Tuesday.  I also have a video review in the works!

In the meantime, please watch this excellent documentary on the chase experience that day as recorded and recollected by tour guest Bryan Snider.



More Storms and Heavy Rain

 Posted by at 7:08 am on May 31, 2013  Daily Weather Blog  No Responses »
May 312013

Severe Weather Threat Later Today and Tonight

Severe Weather Threat Later Today and Tonight

Last night’s rain and storm activity is set to be repeated later today and tonight.

The rain yesterday, which dumped daily records for Springfield and West Plains (2.50″ and 2.01″), has left behind some flash flood warnings in areas of Howell, Douglas, Ozark, Shannon and Oregon Counties.  I included the radar estimation chart. The areas in red need to be on the lookout for any additional rain received tonight which would quickly lead to flash flooding.

A cool front will be dropping through later night.  This will set the stage for possible severe storms  out ahead of the front and another large area of heavy rain to develop behind this system. There is a risk for tornado in the initial storms that develop and in any squall line which forms later in the evening hours.  Large hail is also possible along with straight-line wind damage.

Radar Rain Estimates from Yesterday/Last Night

Radar Rain Estimates from Yesterday/Last Night

The big rains will take shape during the late evening and overnight hours.  Widespread 2-3″ totals seem a safe bet.

The cold front will continue to push through, gradually improving conditions on Saturday and providing us with a great Sunday.

There are some new features on the “Pan and Zoom” radar. The latest is the ability to look at storm reports including flooding reports. Please check this out as the storms get going later today.




May 302013

SPC Outline for Possible Watch

SPC Outline for Possible Watch

Stalled cool outflow areas will play a role in storm development today along with an increase in instability.

Storms which could fire this afternoon in southeastern Kansas and northeastern Nebraska immediately ahead of a batch of cool air left behind from overnight storms have a chance to become severe quickly.  The air out ahead of this cool air batch is destabilizing thanks to breaks in the clouds and the movement of more unstable northward immediately ahead of this feature. Computer models show this area to have increasing unstable air through early afternoon.  Additionally, low level rotation parameters are running pretty high from eastern Kansas into western Missouri.  Computer models continue to maintain these values into the early afternoon hours as well.

So I would watch any storms in northeast Oklahoma or southeast Kansas which could gain a foothold in this environment to become severe.  Radar as of this writing at 11:40 a.m.  is showing some possible development south of Parsons, Kansas and over northeastern Oklahoma. The area of concern is outlined on the Drawing Board.

Also, a general area of increasingly unstable air is developing from Springfield eastward into the Ozarks. Isolated cell currently developing would probably continue to strengthen become a severe threat by later this afternoon.

As I hit “publish”, a new discussion for a possible watch has been posted!

May 302013

Severe Outlook for Friday

Severe Outlook for Friday

The atmosphere over Oklahoma looks quite unstable on Friday. This combined with a strong jet stream will mean another round of severe storms for that area.

I will likely be targeting an area close to the dry line over central Oklahoma.

“Tornado Ted’s Storm Chase Tours” will leave on a chase around 9 a.m. on Friday. I believe we have two guests already and there’s room for a few more!

For review, this is a one day chase; we’ll come back to Springfield in the Midnight to 1 a.m. time frame.

The cost is $199 per guest.  If I confirm guests today, some cash back will kick in. $10 each for two guests, $20 for three, etc.

Contact me via social media or e-mail at:



May 302013

Outlook for Heavy Rain. Total Through Saturday

Outlook for Heavy Rain. Total Through Saturday

The Ozarks will see rain and thunder today with some severe storms possible but the bigger day (and night) will be Friday.

On the radar this morning, areas of rain and some thunder are over the Ozarks and coming up out of the southwest.  This will keep us damp in some places and with the extensive cloud cover that comes with the rain, a little cooler.

This cloud cover should also keep the air from becoming very unstable, in most areas. That’s the key, to watch the skies to see if sunshine, combined with decent humidity and a strong jet stream, will be able to provide small areas where severe storms might be favored this afternoon.  I’ll monitor this throughout the day.

Tornado Probabilities for This Afternoon/Evening

Tornado Probabilities for This Afternoon/Evening

It does look like more organized storms which develop out to our west and southwest will roll into the area later this evening and tonight with the potential for severe storms, probably the best of the day.  The Storm Prediction Center has western Missouri in a 5% tornado risk for later this evening with a 2% risk extending as far east as Springfield (percent chance of a tornado within 25 miles of your town). This will likely be adjusted somewhat by 8 a.m. and I’ll “social media” the update.

Friday looks like a repeat except I think the volume will be turned up with regard to severe weather and very heavy rain.  Once again, the main threat would be during the evening hours. Severe storm erupting along a slowly moving cold front and out west near the dry line in Oklahoma will begin to approach the Ozarks by evening. The severe threat will transform to a heavy rain threat through the nighttime on Friday into Saturday morning. The inserted rain outlook from the Weather Prediction Center shows the potential for widespread 3-5″ rain totals between now and Saturday with much of that forecast to fall Friday night and Saturday morning. A flash flood watch is in effect for the Missouri portion of the Ozarks.

Severe Storms Friday

Severe Storms Friday

The weekend will begin to improve on Saturday and the rain bands slip south and high pressure begins to clear the Ozarks out. We’ll get cooler and less humid air into the region. Sunday looks great with highs in the seventies. Monday morning cool as lows dip close to fifty.

More showers and storm appear on tap by the middle of next week.