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2019 15 Meter National - Fickle Day

Compared to the old days, it is truly amazing how much detailed meteorological information is available to us at the beginning of each day. By looking over Fernando’s shoulder this week, I have learned when to be concerned with convective available potential energy, precipitable water, positive vorticity advection, and the stably stratified planetary boundary layer. And that’s just the part that’s overhead. High resolution soil moisture maps are also very nifty. Gone are the days when the “thermal index” was the only parameter that needed to be discussed.

The point is that with the state of the art micrometeorological tools we now have, some very precise forecasts can be made.

However, it should be noted that “precise” isn’t the same as “accurate,” and in order to predict what happened today, we would have needed nanometeorological tools - and those do not yet exist.

Anyway, the hodge-podge of cumulus, altostratus and squalls looming just to our west was predicted to overrun us by 14:00, so we called the whole thing off at the morning Pilot’s Meeting. At the time, the sky was largely blue.

What happened next was quite interesting. The leading edge of the yucky weather was scalloped, and as it approached, it was also sliding to the northeast. We found ourselves in alternating sunny and overcast periods as each crenature went by.

Truth to tell, we could have squeezed in a short task today. This would have required taking off at precisely 13:30 and finishing at 16:30. It was unsoarable beforehand and stormy afterwards. But without the nanometeorological tools, we didn’t see it coming.

All but one of the gliders were put back into their trailers before the first storm hit. Here’s a de-identified photo of the exception, taken from inside the clubhouse, where it was safe.

Photo #15119 | Tie down

And here’s the radar picture at 17:00. Our location is marked by the plus sign between Camden and Lancaster. The red quadrilateral to our northeast is the tornado warning area.

Photo #15120 | May11 Radar

-Rick

Posted: 5/11/2019


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