HAYS, Kan. — We didn’t have storms to chase on Friday, so we visited an unusual geological formation instead — the Monument Rocks in western Kansas. The erosional remnant rocks rise 60-80 feet from an ancient river bed in the Plains, quite a stunning site amid the cattle ranges and gas wells that dominate that part of Kansas. It was a beautiful day for sightseeing — but of course, that is the problem when you’re out here to see storms. Those are expected to pick up on Saturday, when a cold front and associated jet stream trough dig into the Kansas-Nebraska area. Moisture is a bit shallow, the wind fields are not all that strong, and warm air aloft may be too strong for convection to overcome, especially the farther south we may go. It will be up to the student chasers to figure out the specifics of the pattern on Saturday morning to determine where we need to go for the best chance of seeing a supercell or possibly even a tornado. This is the last, best chance for the first round of the Hokie Storm Chase … with no more severe weather events expected in the window of time set aside for the first trip, we plan to start heading back on Sunday. A second group will be preparing to head to the Plains next week.
Southwest Virginia’s weekend looks beautifully sunny, but a westward-moving low off the Atlantic may spread some showers by early the coming week — about the time we arrive home from the first trip.