Sunday, March 26, 2006

12 March 2006 - VERIFICATION

The SPC HIGH risk worked out well, as evidenced by the SPC rough log of severe reports. Before anyone asks about the rough log - no, it was not a record number of tornadoes! Pending additional NWS surveys, the actual tornado count looks to be ~53 when filtering out redundant reports. The NWS Saint Louis, MO has put together a nice summary map for all of MO/IL tornadoes (4 occurred in NE OK and NW AR).

Well, our chase forecast for the initiation area was pretty good, but storms formed about 1-1.5 hrs earlier than expected. The early initiation, which seemed to be associated with mid-upper speed max that "brushed" the NW side of the warm sector, got us behind from the start and we never really recovered. Our attempts to move E then N just wouldn't allow us to catch the storm moving NE at 55-60 mph. This portion of our chase ended near 3 pm (21z) N of Nevada, MO on US 71. Based on accounts from other chasers, there just wasn't much to see before the storm raced into the Ozarks and encountered a remnant rain-cooled boundary near Sedalia, MO. This boundary appeared to enhance low-level shear and moisture over the ambient warm sector during the afternoon, which may have been needed. Here is a summary of the tornadoes in the forecast area of the NWS office in Pleasant Hill, MO.

Later in the evening, new storms formed back in SE KS and NE OK. Our laptop data feed had been down since 1921z, so we watched the forming storms move by at sunset on the KS/MO border. The storm that passed near where we sat went on to produce a tornado about an hour after dark near Butler, MO. The drive home down US 69 allowed us to watch several more developing storms, though none of them became supercells until the reached SW MO and we were long gone. The final storm encounter of the night came on I-44 near Vinita, OK. We drove through the most electrically active core we'd seen, and also encountered very heavy rain and hail close to 0.75" in diameter. This storm looked interesting from the SW once we cleared the rain, as did another storm to our SSE. It turns out both went on to produce strong tornadoes near Springfield, MO and Twin Oaks, OK, respectively. A final and lasting impression from this chase was driving for 60 miles in the smoke plume emanating from the devastating fires in the TX Panhandle.


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