2018 severe wx/chase season discussion

Discussion in 'Advanced weather & chasing' started by Warren Faidley, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    Let's try to stay on topic, please.
     
  2. Ethan Schisler

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    Well barring anything incredible during June, this will go down as my worst chase season since I started in '03. Missed the last couple days out west because of work and health issues. Don't really enjoy chasing the high plains anyway because of altitude, so I'm not terribly upset. Anyways....been watching Saturday in Northern MO. Friday is on my radar as well, but its been trending downward on the GFS and especially now the NAM. Maybe an 11th hour savior like Pilger/Coleridge or even the June 28th outbreak last year in Liowa? You won't catch me complaining.

    On another note, I don't think I've ever seen a year where everything (not saying much here lol) has been clustered over Colorado and Wyoming (other areas of high plains). Kind of annoying for anyone that lives like 13+ hours away, but I guess that's just how it goes.
     
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  3. Jeff House

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    I think the blocky pattern kind of favored CO/WY and perhaps MT starting Thursday. West troughs make headway to the Rockies; then, eject north. UULs and mid-level lows in the Tennessee Valley/Mid-South created a quasi-rex block. Call it billiard ball meteorology.

    I still have not traveled to the Plains. Talked myself out of this week due to moisture concerns, but late May climo finally won out. Happy for chasers who saw stuff Sun-Tue or any other time. Rest of this week is in Target Area...

    Next week most models have moderate flow across the northern tier of states. Could bring more action to the Northern High Plains and perhaps get the Upper Midwest involved. June the Upper Midwest starts seeing more action per climo. Back East, occasionally NWP shows some Mid-Atlantic signals, but it is virtually unchasable.
     
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  4. Andy Wehrle

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    The projected evolution of this incoming trough for tomorrow and the weekend is just baffling to me. For example, on this morning's 12Z NAM it looks like a relatively decent (especially by 2018 standards) negatively tilted trough at 00z Saturday (for Friday afternoon/evening). However at 00z Sunday, the warm sector has zipped up far to the southeast (after the triple point was near the Canadian border for Friday) with almost no 500mb SW flow east of the trough axis. It's all lagging way off to the northwest, behind the warm sector.

    Just annoyed at yet another year of after picking the deadest week possible in late May for my "chase" vacation, the atmosphere finds new and different ways to shut MBY (S. WI, N. IL, E.IA) out of events so I can't even get in any decent local/regional chases.
     
  5. Andy Wehrle

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    So disheartening on the GFS to watch that powerful southwesterly jet stream roll into the PAC NW then just get shoved back into Canada by the giant ridge. Looks like there will be no June redemption for 2018.
     
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  6. Quincy Vagell

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    The Euro is more or less on the same page. We could see more severe thunderstorm activity from Idaho(!) into Montana/Wyoming and the Dakotas, otherwise ridging dominates. Into week two, the Euro ensembles show, yet again, a return to troughing over the Great Lakes/Northeast. While some severe would be favored in such a pattern from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, it looks like more of an MCS/derecho pattern than anything else.
     
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  7. JamesCaruso

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    The 2018 season is officially over for me. I will post a summary here, which I believe is more appropriate than to put it in the Reports section, although I may post more details on individual days there.

    First, I will say that while the season was objectively speaking a poor performer, I was pleasantly surprised to have a decent week that featured 5 chase days (5/27, 5/28, 5/29, 5/30, 6/1), 4 of which had decent potential (5/30 being the one that did not), and could have had one additional day (6/3) if we had chosen to take a chance with the terrain and sparse road network of central NM. This shows that even in the worst seasons there can be a few good days and it’s worth coming out, but this would not have been possible without the ability and willingness to time the trip with a somewhat more favorable-looking short-term pattern. Nonetheless, clearly not a good year and definitely one of the five or six worst since I started chasing in 1996. The other bad years, in no particular order, were 2000, 2006, 2009, 2017, and maybe 2002. Actually my first year, 1996, was not good either, but it was a relatively late trip - first two weeks of June - and I have no recollection of what the rest of that season was like. Our trip this year was definitely better than 2000, 2006 and 2017.

    I’m talking strictly in terms of opportunities though, because we did not fare too well in our chases. Here’s a quick rundown:

    5/27 - did not target southeastern WY. Enough said.

    5/28 - focused on the KS portion of the OFB and missed the landspouts in northeast CO

    5/29 - enjoyable chase picking up the OK supercell from its birth near Laverne/Buffalo but missed the tornado up in KS. It seems many chasers did the same, judging from the hordes around the OK storm

    5/30 - half-hearted chase into southeast CO, did not want to venture too far knowing we had to head north the next day; pretty uneventful day for most I believe

    6/1 - underperforming storms in Nebraska, wish we hadn’t been too lazy to drive up to North Dakota... Nice evening though, found a great new brewpub in the middle of nowhere in Broken Bow, like a dream come true to have a beer while watching a spectacular mammatus display and lightning show as the line of storms finally got cranking and shifted off to the east. A nice example of the road trip adventure of chasing and finding things to appreciate in a bad year.

    6/3 - decided not to chase NM due to terrain/roads and then regretted it most of the evening. Don’t think we missed anything that great and don’t know if we could have gotten any good vantage points anyway, but probably should have gone for broke on the last day.

    I could stay out part of this week and fly home Thursday, but nothing looks worthwhile and with family and professional responsibilities beckoning back home, it just doesn’t seem appropriate or worthwhile to continue jerking around out here. I fly back to Philadelphia from Denver in a few hours from now.
     
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  8. Warren Faidley

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    Lets just start a 2019 chase season discussion topic and forget this year even happened. :mad:
     
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  9. Marc R. O'Leary

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    In a typical season I'm out a couple times a week locally shooting lightning. This year I've gotten the camera out once.

    Been on only two daytime chases.

    Waiting for monsoon. Maybe? Maybe.
     
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  10. Andy Wehrle

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    Yep. Went straight from the cold eastern trough from hell to the death ridge from hell with no time for a real storm season in between, just the half-@$$ed early May sequence that produced Tescott-Culver.

    Probably the only year as bad or worse since I started religiously following severe weather activity is 2009. 2005-06 at least had the late and early season flurries of activity, respectively, 2012 had March 2nd and April 14th and 2013 had the back half of May (although I remember those latter two as bad years because I didn't have the resources to chase the Plains yet and there was little activity locally).
     
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  11. Jeff House

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    Trescott could have been the beginning of a nice sequence for a few days; but, that awful mid-level trough invaded the Mid-South and cut off the Plains moisture. Similar to last year, we did get a mid-May trough. Also similar, only one day panned out.

    Oh and like last year, I did not take a Plains trip. Thursday looks good; but the more I dissect Wed & Fri, the less I can justify biting for just Thursday. Who knows? Al 3 days may produce off terrain features.

    Awaiting the European weeklies tonight. CFS charts and Dashboard offer hope next week. However if the ECMWF does not get on board, I will assume no Plains chase this year. Oh well!
     
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  12. JamesCaruso

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    Interesting how different chasers view different seasons based on their own experiences, memories (and memory retention), and timing of their chase vacations. The seasons that almost everyone agrees were bad I guess were definitely the very worst. I thought 2006 fell into that category but I had no recollection of the early and late season activity Andy mentions. 2005 I seem to remember was pretty good, wasn’t the Hill City / Zurich KS tornado that year? Even one good tornado day can make a season - but having said that, even with Campo in 2010 I don’t remember it being a great season, that tornado was 5/31/10 but I remember the whole first week of June (second week of my chase vacation) not being very good at all. For 2012 I have a good memory of Lacrosse - there probably wasn’t much else, but for whatever reason I don’t have a specific memory of an inactive week like I do from 2010. Even 2011, there was an outbreak day where we got the Canton Lake tornado so I see that as a “good” year and don’t remember anyone ever suggesting it was bad, but I don’t remember seeing much other than Canton Lake. Despite everyone’s overall opinion of 2013, I continue to believe that the last two weeks of May had to be among the best two-week periods ever in terms of the number of opportunities and high-profile events (Rozel, Shawnee’s, Moore, El Reno and other decent days as well). Meanwhile, I agree 2009 was bad and I remember delaying my trip all the way until on or around June 1, but I remember feeling somewhat satisfied with a good solid number of chase days during the short 9 or 10 day period that I finally did take my chase vacation.

    It is also important to be objective about our own success/failure. My memory of 2013 as a great year is despite an epic failure to see any of the events listed. I will remember 2018 as a bad year but also a year that confirms you just need to get out here, as one could have seen tornados on three straight days - even though I missed them all. Definitely better than 2017, when we had just two poor chase days, followed by four days of nothing and then just going home because of the following week’s forecast. Even 2016, after Dodge City (got it) and Chapman (missed it), things shut down. In fact, I was prepared to come back out and use my “second week” some other time, but no other week ever looked good again. I guess the point (other than to commiserate and reminisce in general) is that so much is subjective perspective for an individual chaser, regardless of what the data shows.

    I can tell you it was a sad walk through the DEN terminal today, remembering how I walked the same path in the opposite direction when I landed last Sunday, full of hope despite the general pattern. It’s sad when any vacation ends, but chase vacations are different because you can return completely unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
     
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  13. Warren Faidley

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    I'd have to go back and look in my chase records, but I recall one or two years when smoke from massive wild fires in Mexico, mixed with high humidity, produced zero visibility beyond 10 miles in most regions of the Plains from south to north. I believe those years were before mobile radar, or at least one of them. It totally destroyed most of the season, or at least made chasing very difficult.
     
  14. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I always like to stay optimistic, but that ridge currently in place has all the looks of our annual spring season-ender. When robust troughs repeatedly come in and can't get through it, that's one of the big signs it's here - and here to stay. Even though there are some bigger 70s swaths showing up on the moisture progs, we never did get one of those nice deep Gulf moisture fetches that can adequately supply your typical central-northern Plains events. I won't rule anything good out completely, but my bet is that any Dakotas/Canada system over the next couple of weeks will underperform.

    That being said, the Midwest opportunities will still be there, those are what I'm unofficially turning my attention to.
     
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  15. Greg McLaughlin

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    I believe the year you are referring to was 2003.
     
  16. Ethan Schisler

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    As others have stated the models aren’t looking promising for June for most of the CONUS and areas that most of us are open to chase. A fairly disappointing season (if you can call it that), lots of wait around and see this year for most of us really with that extended winter we had in April. I won’t go on though because we all know how bad it’s been. The 4 tornadoes I saw in North Central Kansas on May 1st near Concordia and Tescott were my season highlight so at least I won’t go home empty handed. I’ll hope for a couple warm front days later this month and July here in Illinois. Just hopefully we don’t fall victim to another drought year, it’s starting to expand up here, need a good MCS pattern to take shape.

    Hopefully the summer and falll can offer us up some hope, because for many of us I know it’s been a long winter and especially a long spring....hang in there

    This might be the first season I consider checking out the monsoon.
     
    #316 Ethan Schisler, Jun 4, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  17. Royce Sheibal

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    Let's play a game. At the top is the Day 2 Outlook 1 for tomorrow 6/6/18. At the bottom is the Day 2 Outlook 1 for a well known chase day. Name that day and explain why that day turned out huge and tomorrow will be a bust. Using the term "Mesoscale Accident" = Automatic fail.
     

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  18. Quincy Vagell

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    I know it's hard to objectively assess a chase season (that's not technically over yet) since we all have different perspectives, days/areas we can chase, personal preferences, etc., but consider the following about 2018.

    The early season, particularly April as a whole, since it's not uncommon for quiet months of March, was a complete no show. A small handful (if you can even call it that) of days accounted for most of the tornadoes, with the majority of those over Dixie Alley.

    April finished with, by far, the least severe weather event days on record since 2000 with only five. The previous low was 10 in 2013. Many chasers did not venture out at all and I only chased once in April on a lackluster day on the 30th.
    http://www.spc.noaa.gov/exper/archive/events/event-days-online.php

    May was slow, but not the absolute worst in comparison to other years in the past decade. However, just three days come to mind that accounted for the majority of the tornadoes or otherwise noteworthy chase days: 5/1 (Culver), 5/27 (Wyoming) and 5/28 (Colorado landspouts).

    Many saw tornadoes, but aside from 5/28, those events were very localized and fairly short-lived. As a whole, this entire year has lacked quality (subjective take) and quantity (observed fact).

    Using Jim Tang's clustering technique, we are probably experiencing one of the worst, if not the worst, years for "quality" tornado days in most of our chase careers. We haven't had a legitimate non-localized, supercell tornado outbreak in the Plains this year. Speaking of supercells, even those have been relatively hard to come by, generally isolated and fairly short-lived.
    http://www.ustornadoes.com/2018/03/30/best-time-year-schedule-storm-chasing-vacation/

    If this seems like opinion, note that we've had a record low number of intense (EF-3 or stronger) tornadoes year-to-date (YTD). https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...s-year-thats-a-record/?utm_term=.7807748b91e4

    We're currently in the midst of the least tornadoes YTD since 2005. Unless tornado counts miraculously ramp up over the next 1-2 weeks, we'll stay below the pace of 2013 and fall below 2005.

    On a personal note, I have still not witnessed a tornado this year (not counting a barely visible landspout in Nebraska) and I've gone 0 for 21 in chases this year. It's not like I haven't been out. With that said, I've seen more photogenic storms this past month than the abysmal May of 2014, so it's not necessarily my worst chase season on record, but after seeing tornadoes in April or earlier in the first four years of my chase career, it's June and I've seen none this year.

    I know many chasers who've gone out two days or less, with some having not chased at all yet this year. Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in the Plains and/or have a flexible work schedule to go out and chase on a whim.

    The year is not over yet, but the prospects are fairly bleak. All we can do is stay optimistic, be thankful for what we have seen and look ahead to the future.
     
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  19. Jeff House

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    Since I have forgotten what a slow moving trough and 2-3 day sequence looks like, the 12Z GFS Para has a 3 day sequence for the Dakotas and Minnesota into Wisconsin Days 9-11. We know to treat Day 10 with a grain of salt, but that is what it would look like on a model, lol.

    Oh my the 12Z ECMWF has the boundary in Kansas which is a bit different. Oh well it is centered around Day 10 and this is 2018.

    Ending on a positive note, it is North prime time by climo. Can we reel in a real trough?
     
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    #319 Jeff House, Jun 5, 2018
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  20. Quincy Vagell

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    I think I was a bit overly fixated on tornadoes, as 5/29 was one of the rare chases that featured an isolated supercell that had the potential to produce, making it a noteworthy chase day to many. It also had the Dodge City area tornadoes that only a few chasers managed to target.

    5/28 was an odd event, as I would place it into the mesoscale "accident" category. However, Kansas and Oklahoma also had tornadoes that day, as well as Utah and Iowa. (South Carolina too) That event could have produced more tornadoes if new outflow didn't disrupt remnant outflow, plus moisture was seasonally unimpressive across southwestern Kansas.

    5/27 was fairly localized too. Almost every event this year was localized, at least the ones that featured visible tornadoes. There weren't many of those at all, though.
     
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  21. Ethan Schisler

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    And @kevin-palmer I'm with you, I don't really enjoy chasing the high plains. Mostly out of ignorance, I don't really know anything about the terrain or how it works out there. I've read up on it and still don't get it. Give me that sweet Illinois warm front any day of the week
     
    #321 Ethan Schisler, Jun 6, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2018
  22. Todd Lemery

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    Speaking of the high plains. Looks like our long lost friend wind shear will be showing up in the upper Midwest late this weekend...
     
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    #322 Todd Lemery, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  23. JamesCaruso

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    I came back from my chase trip on Monday and did not do any analysis or armchair forecasting yesterday, but I remember back on Saturday or Sunday thinking Wyoming looked good on the models for Wednesday 6/6, similar in some ways to 5/27. But I decided to come home anyway, as it didn’t look like much would happen before then and it was a long time to wait around, especially since I was missing a family event back home if I stayed out there. Then from the SPC and Cheyenne discussions after the weekend the setup wasn’t looking as good, essentially slipping into Thursday (which would have been my absolute latest date to fly home anyway). I always keep an eye on things after I get home to make sure I’m not missing anything, and I thought I was good when I checked SPC storm reports at 8:30CDT last night but For whatever reason the WY tornado wasn’t yet shown on there (although the report is as of 6:45CDT) and am just learning about it now on ST. Yet another bad decision on my part. Oh well, what are the odds I would have been there anyway
     
  24. Andy Wehrle

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    Yes, this morning's 12Z models get a bit frisky around hours 84-108. If the NAM at the end of its range is to be believed, Rochelle, IL (infamous for 4/9/15) is the place and Sunday evening is the time. GFS of course is worlds different, but suggests some play somewhere in eastern Iowa. Then advertises very strong CAPE over much of WI for Monday evening. At least it's something to monitor, although regional office AFDs overnight were downplaying any severe potential with this weekend and early next week's storms.
     
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  25. chrisbray

    chrisbray EF4

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    Gotta like the look of the 12z Euro today. Lets find out if the models keep trending towards a western Trough next weekend. Could be one of the last good chances of the season![​IMG]
     

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