Omega Blocks & Remembering May 3, 1999 - Oklahoma Skies
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Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:12PM CDT


It's May and we are talking about an omega block to start the month. Blocking patterns during the climatological peak of our storm season is never a good sign for storm chasers. It just means cut off lows and ridging in between. Yuck. 

First things first though, I ran my first 5K this past weekend at the Rugged Maniac in OKC. 

Can we stop for a minute and laugh at how black my face looks? Just channeling my inner Pedro from Napolean Dynamite here! Yes I got down and dirty(that may be an understatement compared to my pictured peers) and participated in a 3 mile long rugged(they don't call it rugged maniac for nothing) obstacle course. Climbed things, crawled under things, jumped over things, fell into things, but more importantly I completed something I've been aspiring to do for awhile and with my fitness journey underway I felt like it was a testament to how far I've come. Excited to do the zombie one later this fall. P.S. yes me and my sister are holding Dos Equis. They were free and much deserving after all we went through! Haha! 

Perhaps the best part about it is I got to do the race for free as my sister's friend had two tickets available after a buddy dropped out. If you are unfamiliar with the race, google it and give it a try next year if you're the adventurous/dirty type. 

Back to the weather, we are already eyeing our next storm system set to impact the southern plains beginning this weekend. 

The above images show the progression of the upper level pattern Thursday through Saturday. We have what is referred to as an 'omega block' in place where there is a ridge sandwiched between two upper level lows. Sometimes these blocking patterns can persist for a week or more, other times they are more progressive. Fortunately, this looks progressive with the system to our west closing off and translating slowly east through the weekend. You can see why it is referred to as 'omega' with the shape resembling the symbol of the upside down horseshoe. 

We will be in between systems through Friday so expect mainly warm to very warm and dry weather. By Saturday winds will become southwesterly aloft with increasing directional shear and a dryline taking shape out west. The combination will bring the return of strong to severe storms to the central and southern high plains Saturday before shifting into parts of the central and southern plains on Sunday. The SPC has highlighted Saturday and Sunday in it's day 4 and 5 outlooks. 

Saturday looks like a classic upslope day with northwest Kansas, Colorado, and southwest Nebraska being the place to be for chasing. Sunday will see the dryline mix eastward to near the I-35 corridor with severe storms possible ahead of it. The extent and magnitude of the severe risk Sunday is still being determined and will become clearer in the coming days. Right now shear and thermodynamic profiles look supportive of supercells. Chase wise, Saturday is a no go but Sunday is a possibility. Looking beyond this weekend, the long range models aren't very optimistic for southern plains chasing. Northwest flow evolving into ridging towards the end of the period. This is not a favorable regime for severe weather. The CPC shows cooler than normal temperatures and above normal precip during the next 8-14 days. 

17 Year Anniversary of May 3, 1999. 

17 years ago yesterday my passion for all things weather was born. I remember this day like no other, being stuffed in a closet with the tornado passing only a few blocks away. I was quite young to fully understand the magnitude of the event, but I know it sparked a keen interest in tornadoes that will never die. The Bridge Creek/Moore F5 still holds the highest recorded wind speed on earth of 301 mph. What's even more interesting is that the Mulhall, OK tornado that occurred later that night is said to have been even more intense than the Bridge Creek/Moore one. Over 60 tornadoes were spawned that day with the vast majority occurring in central Oklahoma. The environment that day was exceptionally supportive of explosive storm development and supercells. Something that will continue to be studied for years to come. Crazy to think that only 14 years later many of the same areas would be ravaged again by another EF-5. 

You can read the write up on May 3rd here


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