Wednesday, February 28, 2007 — Northeast OK


Total cap bust in northeast Oklahoma.

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First clear-sky bust of 2007. Hopefully we "got it out of the way" before the real season kicks in, at least.

Brandon, Bryan, Trey, and I headed out from Norman at 3:30 PM, hoping to catch any storms developing east of a dryline that was running just west of the I-35 corridor through central and northern OK. Though the SPC had been consistent for a couple days in keeping the main threat area confined well to our northeast and after dark, there was enough talk on Stormtrack and evidence on models to support our decision to go chasing just for the heck of it. The primary concerns were shallow depth of moisture in the boundary layer and a capping inversion, but the 20z OUN sounding (which apparently was delayed from 18z because the first balloon got caught on something next to the NWC?) seemed to indicate that both of these issues were becoming less pronounced as the afternoon went on.

We headed up I-44 towards Tulsa, stopping in Bristow for a bit around 5:00 to check the data, which was not looking particularly encouraging. Unfortunately, the strong cap simply wouldn't let up, so the decent-looking cumulus field over OKC earlier in the afternoon had actually diminished after peak heating and left us under clear skies, rather than blossoming into isolated convection as we had expected. Still, we pressed onwards aiming for Bartlesville, but it quickly became apparent that pre-sunset convection just wasn't going to happen, and at the time the situation did not look worthy of nighttime chasing in poor terrain. We turned around just past Tulsa and made it back by 8:00.

Ultimately, initiation not only held off until after dark, but failed to occur at all before frontal passage over most of Oklahoma. The only exception was an unimpressive, narrow squall line during the early morning hours right along the cold front in the northern tier of counties.

By far the worst part of the day was returning home just in time to watch the major long-track, tornadic supercell in SE KS and SW MO on radar and TV, knowing that if we had departed just an hour or two earlier we probably could have caught up with it. I can only hope it will be made up to us one day later this season (and ideally during the daylight hours, unlike this and most other significant tornado events that have occurred over the past year or so).