Thursday, February 24, 2011

Storms Today Not Particularly "Chaser Friendly"

In my last post I remarked that the most intense thunderstorm cells over east-central Oklahoma are currently moving at a forward speed of about 60 mph.  This is due to a very strong Southwesterly jet stream flowing over the region, as shown in the image below:

The above image, valid at 11am CST, shows Southwest winds blowing at 80-85 mph (brightest purple shaded areas over Texas, Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas) at the main steering level of the atmosphere (often referred to as the "mid-levels") over the area.

This very fast storm motion, along with the fact that the greatest threat area for significant tornadoes today is in a somewhat hilly, tree-laden region, is what chasers would call an "unfriendly" chasing situation.  It's very hard to keep up with such fast moving storms in a car, and the hills and trees make it difficult to see anything even if you are able to catch it.

Tornado, partially obscured by trees & hills, near Atkins, AR on 2-6-08

The same ingredients that make this situation undesirable for chasers are also what unfortunately make for a very dangerous situation for the public in this area.  Storms will be very fast moving, and a tornado could occur with little to no advance warning.  This is especially the case when storms are in their infancy stages and are just beginning to exhibit a tornado threat.

Residents of Arkansas and adjacent portions of Mississippi and Tennessee should remain on a high state of alert this afternoon & evening and be ready to seek shelter if threatening weather approaches.

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