Daily Mission Update: 11 June 2015

By Jacob DeFlitch

One of the most successful MCS missions the PECAN team has participated in so far took place on June 11 in southern Nebraska. Both the King Air and ground assets were involved in this mission as the team edged towards the extreme northern portions of the PECAN domain. The mission itself was coined a "MCS_A" mission as no broad severe winds were expected. The forecast session, beginning at 1500 UTC, led to the PI's decision of an MCS mission. During this time, both the DOWs and mesonets began prepping their vehicles, as is done before every mission.

~1500 UTC: The mesonets for CSWR prepare their vehicles and PODs for the day's deployment. To do this, the participants in the Scout that day complete and record the following shortened checklist:

Check fluids, tire pressure, and warning lights - Check!
Turn on laptop, sync laptop & GPS time (for data collection purposes) - Check!
Power on the PODs in the bed of the truck - Check!
Record initialization values of PODs including temperature, pressure, relative humidity, GPS location, and battery strength - Check!
Unplug PODs from vehicle and shut back hatches - Check!

Good to go!

~ 1550 UTC: Receive instructions to drive to Salina, KS

~ 1715 UTC: Instead of stopping in Salina, we take exit 250B and continue north into Nebraska, the first Nebraska mission during PECAN. As we approach the town of York, NE, each vehicle begins to receive deployment locations in the form of latitude/longitudes. Below are the locations of the three DOWs for CSWR:

DOW 6: 41.177220, -97.675108
DOW 7: 40.915714, -97.502084
DOW 8: 41.206507, -97.3679866

~ 1930 UTC: As deployment and leveling of the DOWs finish, the mesonets receive locations to deploy their PODs. Each Scout heads north from York, NE towards the intersection of US-81 and Rd 22, where mesonets then separate and place their PODs in the east/west direction.

However, during the POD deployment, Scout 2 encountered the gust front before deploying all their PODs. The gust front formed a gustnado which participant Josh Aikins captured a video of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COuaJURl1bI

~0130 UTC: Operations were terminated. The last few convecting "fingers" propagated through ~ 05UTC and the MCV feature on radar continued to move into the southwestern portion of the PISA network. As for the CSWR, we spent the night in York, NE, at a Days Inn across the street from dinner, also known as Walmart.

Above, radar reflectivity ~0300 UTC on June 11. The circle drawn encompasses the mobile radar region. Image: Mike Biggerstaff (Mission Report)

Below are a few more images from the June 10 MCS_A mission from members of the CSWR team (for a larger version, click on each image):

Over the span of 5 days, from June 10-14, two more MCS missions were conducted. One surrounding Dodge City, another located near Sawyer Kansas. While neither situation was a classic, textbook MCS, data was collected in both scenarios, including data on back-building convection above a weak cold pool.

For more information on each individual mission, please visit: http://catalog.eol.ucar.edu/pecan/tools/missions.

* For future reference, the following list is a helpful guide to understanding/deciphering the alphabet soup that is PECAN acronyms: CI: Convective Initiation
CSWR: Center for Severe Weather Research
DOW: Doppler on Wheels
IOP: Intensive Operations Period
LLJ: Low-Level Jet
MCS: Mesoscale Convective System
PECAN: Plains Elevated Convection at Night
PI: Principal investigator

Today's contributing student author is Jacob DeFlitch. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @WxDeFlitch.

To download a copy of today's blog entry, click here.

Report Summary: 11 June 2015

The June 10 MCS_A mission was a success. Originally, forecasters believed this MCS would form a bow-and-arrow structure, however, severe convective fingers emerged instead with evidence of an MCV (Mesoscale Convective Vortex) forming overnight. The mobile PISA's collected data on the wave-like banding of elevated convection.

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