It sounds like a hobby for the mentally deranged. "Hey, let's try to intercept a tornado!" Oklahoma is ground zero of Tornado Alley, no more so than the last couple of weeks, with a rash of deadly twisters.
The movie "Twister" made tornado-chasing cool: research meteorologists surrounding a tornadic storm with portable Doppler and weather balloons, trying to understand what makes these fierce storms tick. Then amateur chasers realized they could make a few bucks selling tornado video to local TV stations.
Now on any given day thousands of chasers are stalking thunderheads, in search of the money shot - or a cheap adrenaline thrill. The result? Rush hour on 2-lane dirt roads; traffic jams that can make it hard to escape the path of an erratic tornado. Some chasers were injured Friday night outside Oklahoma City. Me? I'm more afraid of fast-driving chasers than the actual tornado itself.
Sometimes you chase tornadoes - other times the tornado chases you.
We salvage cool sun today; the next storm kicking up rain late Monday into Wednesday, more rain & storms next weekend.
The core of the storm track is howling directly overhead, meaning frequent fronts, ample rains, a few bouts of severe weather and little risk of overheating anytime soon.
A (Consistent) Southward Shift To The Jet Stream. Why has it been so cool and wet in recent months? The jet is 500-800 miles farther south than usual for early June, a trend which has been apparent since March. The core of steering levels winds is howing almost directly over Minnesota, meaning frequent storms and cool frontal passages. Why is the jet so far south? Good question, and not a lot of great answers. One theory: record melting of Greenland and Arctic ice in late 2012 threw the northern branch of the jet stream out of alignment. A bubble of warm high pressure set up near the North Pole, displacing the cold "polar vortex" farther south than usual, setting the stage for chillier, stormier weather from North America to Europe and Asia. And here's the thing: I don't see this pattern breaking down anytime soon. Odds favor cooler, wetter, stormier weather in June, possibly beyond. Too early to say with confidence, but steering winds are definitely stuck in a persistent, long-term rut.
When In Doubt - Predict Rain. The ECMWF (European) model has only one day this week with no rain - today. The best chance of showery rains: Tuesday and Wednesday, again late Friday into Sunday. Highs range from 60s to 70s. A/C optional until further notice.
Status Quo. NOAA NCEP's 5-Day Rainfall Outlook (QPC) prints out some 5-8" amounts for south Florida as a tropical system lifts north out of the Gulf of Mexico. The Middle Mississippi Valley gets a brief break, bone-dry weather west of the Rockies.
Wet, Active Pattern. At least east of the Rockies a southward jog to the jet stream will squeeze out more showers and T-storms. Oklahoma sees a break in severe thunderstorm activity until the latter half of next week. Keep an eye on the eastern Gulf of Mexico for possible tropical depression or storm development within 5-6 days. NAM loop: NOAA.
Image credit above: "First radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. The radar collage covers a little bit more than two hours." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR.
Graphic credit above: "Graphic showing that we've been in an active period of tropical cyclone activity since 1995, where the average number of named tropical storms has jumped significantly to 15.2 per year." Climate Central.
Photo credit above: "A house is engulfed in flames as water and waves inundate homes on Galveston Island as Hurricane Ike approaches the coast Sept. 12, 2008." Photo: Smiley N. Pool, Staff / Houston Chronicle.
Image credit above: NOAA. "GOES East image taken on May 31, 2013 by the backup satellite, GOES-14."
Photo credit above: "Oil companies have made up the most powerful industry on Earth for the last 50 years." (Michael Nelson / EPA)