Storm chasing from home (airmchair chasing)

April 3rd was a Moderate Risk day and it was also an evening that I used for my first real armchair chasing. Armchair chasing, if you haven’t heard of it, is when you follow other storm chasers and storm reports from home. I.e. on days when you don’t have the time or ability to go out chasing by yourself.

Proper airmchair chasing would probably include your own forecast and although I have been studying forecasting quite a lot lately I never took the time to try to predict where the storms would pop up. What I did was to start-up:

  • RadarScope – any radar software or good app will probably do. RadarScope is the one I use personally. I used this to track the storms, warnings and also which chasers who were out on the storms.
  • TVNweather.com – This is a website where you can follow storm chasers that chase with webcams. There are others as well (like SevereStudios.com) but I liked TVNweather.com the most.
  • Satellite image view – This in order to follow the storms from above and see when they started to “blow up”.
  • …and some now-casting websites like the NOAA Mesoscale analysis to see how the weather patterns looked where the chasers were heading.
  • It also proved useful to google local TV channels when there were severe storms in that area. They usually provided good coverage from helicopter and better feed.

 

The day, however, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Several storms had blown up already before lunch and (as far as I understood) removed some instability in the atmosphere. There were still some storms to follow, and chasers to follow them through, and the great benefit of armchair chasing is that one can jump from the best performing storm in an instance. In the long run it was quite boring though, since not much really happened.

It did, however, look like Denton, TX, was in for a hard hit with this hook echo showing right over it:

hook echo
Quite a hook echo
radar velocity
The radar shows great rotation in reflection as well.

but thankfully it never produced anything else than large hail.

Storm chasing season is here

After a slow March it seems like the atmosphere is starting to turn beneficial for severe storms. Today is a Moderate Risk-day for a large area in the Eastern plains with a 15% risk of tornadoes in Northern Arkansas / Southern Missouri. Although this might be really bad chase territory (hilly and lots of trees, as far as I understand) you can expect lots of storm chasers to converge in this area.

I was following the events of yesterday (Slight Risk-day) on my newly purchased RadarScope-app and TVNweather webcameras, which was pretty cool – especially following the web cameras with audio. The time difference between Sweden and the USA took its toll and I couldn’t stay awake even after the storms started popping along the Oklahoma / Kansas border.

I hope the storms will start early today so I can stay awake and do my first real “armchair chasing”. If you want to do some armchair chasing you should probably check out these resources:

  • TVNweather live cameras – storm chasers streaming live. If you can’t see what’s going on from a surface level it’s not nearly as fun.
  • Twitter / Instagram – Befriend some storm chasers and get live updates on what’s going on as well as great pics. I am @stormchasingusa on Twitter, by the way. I don’t have an Instagram account yet though.
  • Get a radar app. If you want to see all the details you should probably get GR LevelX (only for PC) or RadarScope (available for Mac, but only in the US). For storm reports etc you should consider a subscription to AllisonHouse to connect with your radar software. There are tons of iOS (and Android) apps with radar as well. My favorite so far is “Radar Pro”.

storm outlook for 20140403

Please provide your best “armchair chasing” tips in the comments!