Monday, February 9, 2009

First Thunderstorms of 2009

The southern plains saw their first outbreak of severe thunderstorms on Sunday. My good friend and storm chaser, Tony Laubach, logged over 1,200 miles and 16 hours in the car chasing with some of his partners.

Click here to visit his web site and see more about the chase.

Here is the set up that spawned the storm event. Now granted this wasn't huge, mostly rain, a lot of wind and a dozen or so reports of large hail.

But still, in particular for the storm chasers, it let's you know that severe weather season is knocking on the door!

As a strong area of low pressure pulled east from the Pacific, it produced very strong winds out ahead of it from the south.

This helped pull up low-level moisture for the storms to feed upon.

You can see just how strong the winds were out of the southeast, feeding into that approaching area of low pressure in the picture below. On this map, wind speed is represented by the barbs on the flag. The more there are, the stronger the winds, such as shown over west Texas.

Now here is an interesting picture for you. It shows isobars, or lines of constant pressure across Texas.

When you have this much of a pressure change over a short distance, you can definitely expect wind.

This is nature's way of balancing out the atmosphere -- by moving air around until the pressure difference subsides.

The Lubbock office of the National Weather Service did a nice write up on Sunday's thunderstorms.

Click here to read it.

Here is a map of the storm reports from eastern New Mexico and west Texas on Sunday.

This morning, as that area of low pressure pushes northeast, there has been a small pocket of severe weather across northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.

Most of the maps above are from the Storm Prediction Center's web site if you are interested in exploring weather events on your own.

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