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When it comes to a bread and butter surface boundary for storm chasers, it is hard to argue with the dryline being anything but that.

Present each spring where the dry and hot airmass of the desert SW interfaces with the warm and moist airmass of the Gulf of Mexico, drylines are what make a storm chaser’s season many years in tornado alley.

Why Target Drylines

Drylines are potentially one of the best targets for a storm chaser. We are quite high on them as most of the big historical plains outbreak days were also dryline days of some sort. The dryline itself oftentimes features a moderate to strong capping inversion, which ensures storms stay somewhat isolated as they form and grow. Isolated storms are preferred for storm observation as they tend to produce more severe weather without interference from other storm cells.

You should target these boundaries especially when forcing and capping are both moderate. This results in impressive, isolated storms which are incredible for photography.

If capping is weak along the dryline and forcing is moderate or strong, you are likely to see a mess of storms form. This doesn’t mean you should avoid these days, but it does mean you have to be more careful about how you approach storm observation on these days. Messy storm days can be tricky to document, as storm features can become more nebulous and hard to track.

Avoid When…

If capping is strong along the dryline without ample forcing to overcome it, find a new target. Sometimes boom or bust days are fun. But, there are other days when it is better to just find a better target.

Also if the instability axis is super narrow, it’s a good bet storms will struggle. 

Also, it goes without saying, but sometimes there are just better targets for the day to pursue.

Back to: How to Pick a Storm Chase Target

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