STATUS: IOP today through Monday
VORTEX-SE will be conducting observations over the next several days that are primarily designed to improve our approaches to storm studies in the Southeast.
The brand new University of Oklahoma SMART-Radar has joined the existing SMART-Radar in the Monroe Louisiana area this evening. We have been fairly confident for the past two days that there would not be initiation of significant convection in that region, but we have the radars in place just in case. If a cell(s) formed this evening, we would be able to obtain multiple-Doppler observations teaming up with the University of Louisiana-Monroe S-band research radar. But the atmosphere is gradually stabilizing and quieting down in that area, and research-worthy storms are very unlikely this evening.
Starting tomorrow (Saturday/17 March) our focus will shift up to the northern Alabama subdomain near the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). There, the two OU radars will team up with the UAH ARMOR research radar and the MAX mobile x-band radar, as well as several other important platforms operated by UAH primarily to measure changes in the lower atmosphere at frequent time intervals. The NOAA P-3 hurricane hunter aircraft is also on standby in Huntsville, their base for this spring.
On Saturday and Sunday, strong upper winds will persist across most of the Southeast, and CAPE will gradually be increasing as moisture advances slowly northeast from the western Gulf of Mexico. At just about any time Saturday and Sunday, potentially tornadic (very low probability) storms are possible in the northern Alabama area, so it’s best for us to shift our resources up to that area.
But the main consideration in our decisions today is that the models are suggesting a very potent set up across northern AL on Monday. The forecast looks perilous, and experience suggests that often forecasts of large severe weather probabilities this far in advance do not pan out. But we are watching Monday warily.
Our IOP will likely end Monday night, with a few days of quiet and rest in store after that.