This is the last observing day of the 2017 Spring Campaign. Our project window extends through May 8, but by the end of today, we will have exhausted most of our project resources.
This may be shaping up to be one of the more interesting days of the project. An initial band of tornadic storms is racing east through Mississippi early this morning. It looks like this first line will make it through the domain by midday to early afternoon. The atmospheric profiles ahead of this line are not going to be particularly favorable for tornadoes in northern AL. But there is the possibility that this line will leave behind an outflow boundary that could retreat back north through AL toward evening. When this happens, the low-level shear could become very large, and the thermodynamic profiles may be quite favorable near the ground for tornadoes.
Even with the system 12 h away, it is nearly impossible to forecast the details. So we’re excited about the potential gain of knowledge to make these events easier to forecast in the future.
Our Texas Tech and Purdue research teams are already heading west toward MS, hoping to sample the cold pool and precipitation produced by this initial line. Later, they will probably retreat east or southeast ahead of the possible second round of severe convection. Our radar and profiler teams are headed to the Sand Mountain plateau east of Huntsville to get one more comprehensive data set on the evolution of flow and low-level thermodynamics in complex terrain, ahead of and during severe storm episodes. The NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft will be departing Huntsville around 2 PM and use their Doppler radar systems to study individual severe storms. And toward mid-morning we will have about 10 sounding teams across northern AL and MS sampling the atmosphere every hour or two.
I will try to sneak in another blog post or two as this event unfolds.