Severe Weather Risk & NASCAR

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The folks down at the Daytona 500 have never had to postpone a race before, and yesterday they had too. It was a shame that they made people wait 4-5 hours for that to happen, I think they were hoping that there could be a window of 3-5 hours for them to at least get something official in the books, but it was not meant to be. It had to be frustrating as the jet dryers were working on the track to dry it off (it still takes some 2.5 hours to dry it with the dryers because of the moisture and humidity of the air) just to sort of get it on its way only to have another batch of rain move into the area. That, I guess, was the straw that broke the camels back and they postponed to 11AM today.

Problem is it’s pouring down there again and will continue to rain for the next several hours, add in the dry time needed for the race and there is no way that thing get’s underway @ 11AM. Radar data this AM shows a large area of rain moving from the west to the east with continued regeneration across the western Gulf Of Mexico so it’s going to be another long day. I said last night that IF they manage to get going, it wouldn’t be till later today and there was a better chance of them finishing under the lights than anything. I still think that is the case, although that would be up to officials and FOX I guess. It might be interesting to see a Monday night race in primetime, who knows maybe it’ll turn into a ratings hit.

RUC data indicates that rain will be in the vicinity of Daytona through the AM and most of the afternoon. There may be a window opening this evening but my guess is that unless the rain stops be 3-4 PM EST they’ll cancel again. The track would need to be ready by 6-7PM otherwise they’d be racing till midnight or afterwards, not sure FOX would want that at tall, I’m sure their affiliates wouldn’t be too thrilled either. Tomorrow does look better, but boy that’s a tough turnaround because they’re heading to Phoenix for a race next weekend. Not sure how they would approach that logistical nightmare.

+++Noon Update+++ So they’ve decided to try for 6PM tonight. That looks doable at this point based on radar trends. Actually the sun will be making an appearance there in the next couple of hours, so the track will get a big boost in drying out. The next issue will be the potential for scattered convection to re-fire with the additional heating later this afternoon. It shouldn’t be as widespread as what’s been going on for the last couple of days though. We’ll see.

2PM Update…sure enough, scattered convection now bubbling up in the heat of the afternoon down there small cells at this point.+++

So that’s them, what about us? Well before we get into our weather scenario and the Northern Plains storm system, yesterday was another warm day as you know. It was our 6th day with temperatures at least 10° above average and for the month we’re running at close to 4.3° above average. So let’s look at the comparisons of the last 3 winter seasons.

Click on that image to make it larger.

This winter will fall into the Top 15 of our warmest winters, but we’ll get more into that later in the week.
Concerning our next storm, there is no doubt that this will become a powerhouse of a storm system as a surface low intensifies in the Western Plains states near Goodland and continues to wind itself up as it moves to the MN/IA border into SW MN. The low will create a large swath of snow for the Northern Plains and help to create at least some rain for us. It may not be a lot however depending on the formation of thunderstorms. Here is the surface map for 6PM Tuesday.

The severe weather potential I feel is limited in the immediate area. I can see two areas more likely to get some severe weather, the the SPC as the guideline for this thought process. Here is their forecast.

The reason why it’s got NC KS in an area of slight risk is because of the potential of enough instability developing there generating storms. With the surface low so close and the upper level storm so close to that, it’s a classic set-up for a “cold-core” severe weather scenario. My friend Jon Davies has researched these set-ups extensively over the years. In a nutshell, for this time of the year, if certain ingredients come together just right, you can get small tornados form from clouds that are not as ominous of what would typically get later in the springtime. They are created because of the intense rotational aspect of the atmosphere closer to the 500 mb low (18K ft into the atmosphere). They also can form in an area where the dewpoints are not what would would normally expect them to be when worrying about tornado formation. Usually though you need some sunshine to get things going. Here is a great write-up of these scenarios for you. I simplified things tremendously for you. It can be rather complicated and as Jon mentioned there is a lot that can go wrong in these set-ups that look good on the maps but in the end don’t produce.

So what does all this mean for us? Well I think the only way we get severe weather here, would be IF the storms form in eastern KS and move our way. The main mode of anything severe would be marginally severe winds I think. Should the storms form more towards Central KS, which I think is more possible at this point, they would be racing through the region sometime int he mid evening hours and probably wouldn’t do too much in terms of severe weather potential. At this point I’m really not that concerned about the situation for the KC area.

Rainfall may not be as generous as you might hope for either. While we’ll be fighting showers off and on tomorrow, the amounts of rain, due to the fast movement of the showers would probably be in the 1/4″ range. There is some upside towards the N of the KC area.. IF we can manage a few more convective cells, we could see maybe 1/2″ in spots.

Finally, this still looks to be a nasty blizzard for some in the Northern Plains states. Minneapolis may be right on the edge of this thing as they may have precip type issues and may vary between rain/sleet/snow through part of the event. Plus there is going to be a nasty forecast busting dry slot developing with this storm. Right now a variety of winter weather warnings are in effect up there including Blizzard WARNINGS for W MN and parts of the Dakotas.

For us, a run to near or above 60° is heading this way again for tomorrow.

Joe

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