It worked, this year we chose to go into the cold so we could stay ahead of the storm. We left Florida and headed north early this spring. We often hear of people staying in Florida until April but we left on the first day of March. Did it work or was it really a big mistake?
We are now in the middle of Kansas (our location is changing almost daily). We got what we anticipated. It is cold. Yesterday we awoke to yet another (light) snowfall. Really it has been cold since we left Florida. I remember one, maybe two pretty days (without wind). Even the clear days have been cold.
As our last post explained we were too hot in Key West on January 1st. Now we are hoping for good weather someday soon, but we are still headed north. We are also gaining elevation. Even the clear days will be cold. Yes, I know that too hot in January isn’t something most of you want to hear me complain about.
In one week we will be in South Dakota and not the flat, low elevation part of South Dakota but rather what they call “west-river”. Not only will we be “west-river,” but pretty much as far west of the river as we can get.
As an explanation, South Dakotans call everything west of the Missouri River “west river”. The Missouri River pretty much divides the state in half. The Black Hills are tucked up against Wyoming and that is our objective in April. Clearly, we are a month too early to be in the Black Hills.
Why would we want to be in South Dakota in April? Well, the answer to that is that we want to be in Idaho in May. South Dakota isn’t on the way (directly) to Idaho, but it is between Florida and Idaho. Even though it is obviously a mistake to be there a month early, it is a risk we are taking so we don’t have to backtrack. We are also going to be in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah a month early.
We are going to South Dakota because we need to renew our driver’s licenses. South Dakota requires us to show up and smile at least once during the year prior to renewing our licenses.
Ahead of the storm
So we left Florida and are headed north to get to South Dakota and made our route to hopefully not endure spring storms in the south. Our decision ensured that we would instead track across the south while it was still cold. I surely am not complaining about the cold. It is cold for us (chasing 70 degrees is more our style). Our cold is not the same as the cold in Montana.
So where did we go?
A more logical route in early March would have taken us west across Lousianna through Texas. But instead, we turned north through the west part of Georga stopping in Columbus (to see some distant family members). After that, we crossed through Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Muscle Shoals. Then we turned west. We passed through Memphis (snow), Little Rock (cold), Fort Smith, (still cold), Oklahoma City (cold and windy) then through Wichita (cold, wind, and more snow). At least we missed tornadoes and experienced only one thunderstorm.
This route allowed us to get some RV maintenance and a new patio awning in Red Bay Alabama. Even though it was cold, Red Bay was very busy.
So far going into the cold worked quite well because as we moved we were at the northern and trailing edge of several major storms. It was cold and although we had one thunderstorm and lots of wind, we missed the major storms. After we left, tornados raged across Arkansas and Alabama during the last two weeks. Other than being cold we were fine.
Where is the worst weather in the spring?
Typically speaking, you want to avoid Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (and the surrounding states) in the spring.
The following picture gives you an idea of where the most destructive weather can be found. I am using it as an example of where you don’t want to be in early April. It is a typical pattern that Identifies that most of the south is going to have a real problem two days from now. This is the prognostic chart for April 5th this year. It looks a lot like the chart from last week and two weeks ago.
Warm moist air is moving northward in the Gulf of Mexico. A cold front is moving eastward through southern Texas with a squall line on the east side of the cold front. Everything in green is likely to be wet. Some areas in the dark green areas may get flooding. Thunderstorms risk is high in the red cross-hatched area. Expect thunderstorms preceding the front, especially through central Louisiana. Wind will move northward toward the “L” over the Louisiana/Arkansas border. This wind on the east side of the cold front will bring moisture from the Gulf of Mexico with it. Also, note heavy snowfall in Colorado and Wyoming.
Weather changes with seasons (duh)
Even though I am using the above chart to identify where you don’t want to be in the spring. This year we used a strategy to get across the south before the weather turned dangerous. Last year we had more than one tornado warning in Alabama and went to tornado shelters for the storms. This year we instead moved through the most dangerous areas before the big spring storms were likely to create a problem for us.
On the first of March, we went north into the known colder areas. Instead, we also could have moved quickly along the coastline westbound. This would have accomplished the same (pre-spring) movement and lowered our weather risk.
None of this is foolproof, but for us, this year it worked. It also worked last year when we outran the Houston Ice Storms. We saw the storm coming when we were in Texas and drove quickly all the way to Mississippi so that we wouldn’t be in Houston during the ice storms. Here is a quick link to that story from last spring. Mississippi storms
It has been windy
For most of my career as a Navy pilot, I have used the Aviation Weather (FAA) services as my forecast tools. I was always a big fan of the Weather Channel, especially in the spring when living in Pensacola. I have a new favorite tool… Windy.com
All of the following pictures are included to give you a quick view of the things that Windy provides. All are taken from their forecast service on April 5th just like the above FAA chart. They depict Tuesday’s storm across the south. A very cool thing that I am not going to try to include is the animation that Windy provides.
On any given day, open Windy (also available as an app for your phone) and you will get a picture like this one.
I got this picture of the April 5th storm by using the slider bar at the bottom of the page to advance to April 5th. The colors on this picture depict wind speeds. The fastest wind is pictured in yellow and green. The calm wind is dark blue.
In this picture, the colors have changed to represent temperatures. Blue is the coldest and Orange is the warmest area in southern Texas.
In the convection forecast, the areas in Red are the areas at this time that are expected to have heavy thunderstorms on April 5th.
To get these different pictures you select them from the menu after looking at the main screen. To advance to the forecast you use the slider bar at the bottom of the screen.
I have also been watching a very entertaining YouTube channel made by Ryan Hall and here is his introduction video. I don’t know Ryan’s credentials but you can judge for yourself that he enjoys what he is doing. The following is Ryan’s introduction video. For more up-to-date videos here is a link to his channel. Ryan Hall, Y’all on YouTube
As far as credits are concerned, we have zero affiliation with Ryan Hall or Windy and instead are telling you what we are doing and using. My default is still the Aviation Forecast but more information is always welcome. Always remember that forecasting is (scientific) guessing and the area forecast doesn’t mean that everywhere in the area is going to get hit with the worst weather in the forecast.
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