Chase Season 2022 In Review

Jul 5, 2009
1,362
1,427
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Surprised this thread hadn't already been started, but then when I went to look at the 2021 version so that I could use a consistent naming convention, I realized I started last year's too LOL (Edit: Actually, although I show up as the OP for the 2021 thread, I think Warren may have actually started it, according to his post which appears second... I think mine may have been moved by a MOD from another thread...)

My 2022 chase vacation began on Saturday, May 21 with arrival in Denver, in mid-30s temps after an overnight snowfall throughout the I-25 corridor, and we flew back home from Denver to Philadelphia on Saturday, June 4. In planning the trip, I considered May 21 as an available chase day (with a relatively early landing, depending on target of course...) and could have flown home on Sunday, June 5, but I always like to leave that extra "transition day" between chasing and back to work on Monday, unless that last Saturday looks *really* good.

Anyway, considering the available chase days as running from 5/21 through 6/3, we had 14 available days. Of these, we had only 8 chase days, and one of those (5/28) was what I call a "lazy man's chase," when it is not really expected to be a very favorable day and chasing is just a "see what we can see" proposition that is secondary to repositioning, sightseeing, or other primary activities.

If I were to judge my 2022 chase vacation by normal criteria, I would say it was somewhere between "below average" and "disappointing." However, this was my first chase vacation with my son, and that made it incredibly meaningful and rewarding. Now certainly there was an emotional component to this as a father-son road trip and bonding experience. But even staying with more objective criteria, I would say it was a great trip because of the wide range of atmospheric phenomena I was able to show him, the extensive range we covered, and the places we were able to go.

Before we left, I was hoping of course to be able to get him to a tornado (and I did!) But I also wanted him to see various other things that would all be new experiences for someone growing up in a suburban area on the East Coast: Mammatus. Large hail. Hail accumulation. Hail fog. Zero-visibility blowing dust and "car wash" torrential rain. High wind. Shelf clouds. Lightning. Full rainbows. I had to remind myself that not all of these things are attainable in a given year. But you know what? We saw and experienced just about all of them! I'm not saying every one of these events was the highest-end, best-possible example of each phenomenon, but we got it all. Most years, this would not have been "satisfying enough" for me... Sadly, I have come to take such things for granted... But seeing it through my son's eyes helped me regain the perspective and appreciation that I had when I first started chasing back in 1996. I hope I can retain this perspective in the future.

I was also hoping to take my son to all of my favorite places on the Plains: Major cities/towns such as Colorado Springs, Amarillo (including Cadillac Ranch), Oklahoma City, and Wichita; Great chase regions such as the eastern Colorado Plains, the TX panhandle and down around Lubbock, New Mexico, where the land seems to suddenly change to desert-like scrub brush as soon as you cross the border, and the Sandhills - not great for chasing, but beautiful in its own right; Restaurants, like the Open Range Grill in Ogallala, Abuelo's in Amarillo, the Kincaider brewpub in Broken Bow, NE, Larkspur in Wichita, the Bourbon Street Cafe and Mojo's Blues Club in Bricktown OKC, the Cork and Pig in Odessa, and White House in Odessa. Every year has its own chase route and you never know where you'll end up - one of the joys of chasing - but somehow we were able to get to every one of these places! Having some down days helped, and we probably went out of the way a few times to make sure we hit these spots, but we were fortunate to have the opportunity to get to them. The only one of my favorite regions that we didn't get to chase in, or even go through, was southwestern KS. Having a chance to see Garden of the Gods, blanketed in snow from an overnight snowfall, and smelling the pine in mid-30s temperatures, was a great experience - a new one for me, too, and it felt like we were back at Christmastime... We discovered some new favorite restaurants as well. We hit six states in all: Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of the 8 chase days - detailed reports have all just recently been posted:

5/23 - Morton tornado - incredible (and ironic) for my son to be able to see a tornado on his very first chase - although, unfortunately, it was fairly distant and we couldn't enjoy it too long without falling behind, and dust obscured the storm for the rest of the chase - but an exciting day with lots of great visuals and intense inflow wind with blowing dust, at times taking visibility to zero.

5/24 - HP in southwestern TX, ultimately got hosed up in traffic and flooding in Midland, bailed on the storm and missed a new meso and tornado on the eastern flank that produced a tornado near Garden City, TX.

5/28 - this is the "lazy man's chase day"; my primary goal was to take my son to Lake McConaughy and the Open Range Grill near Ogallala, hoping for some storms to look at in the late afternoon/evening, which worked out pretty much as planned.

5/29 - targeted near Norfolk; storms went up late, around 7pm, forcing us all the way back to the southwest, near Broken Bow which we had passed through earlier for lunch at the Kincaider... Almost 2.5 hours required to finally get the updraft base in view north of Burwell, right at dark...

5/30 - the "alleged big day"... Blew off the SD/MN target and went for the secondary, dryline play in KS, to no avail... Seemed that every cell died just as we got to it, as we dropped north along the line from Strong City all the day down to Douglass... Not a single tornado report in KS, and I don't think there were even any tornado warnings!

5/31 - played stationary front in the Texas panhandle... Brief supercell structure but storms clustered and we shifted position to other storms north of I-40 in OK, only to get a big HP mess.

6/1 - another day along the stationary front, this time in southeastern NM. Probably one of the better supercells since Morton day. Also experienced several inches of hail accumulation and a hail fog, which was not only new for my son but also something I hadn't seen for years...

6/3 - last chase day, southeastern Colorado, near Kim. Nice HP but missed tornadic storms a little further north near Lamar.

Over 5,200 miles driven, as we went from Denver to southwestern TX, up to Nebraska, all the way back down to southeastern NM, and back home via Denver.

The good news is, my son is hooked, and I hope he will be accompanying me every year from now on. After my daughters graduate high school, hopefully they will be joining me as well!

Having gone back and read my 2021 recap, it turns out this is the second consecutive season that I came back content - not only for the reasons discussed above, but also, like in 2021, I did not make any major mistakes to come home regretting or ruminating over. Sure, I can identify some 2022 mistakes - probably more so than in 2021: Not getting to the Morton storm sooner on 5/23. Being too quick to bail on the 5/24 chase instead of trying harder to get to the eastern flank and the Garden City, TX tornado. Targeting, and staying near, the Route 160 latitude instead of the Route 50 latitude in southeastern CO on the last chase day, 6/2. But none of those are so egregious as to cause me any continuing angst once I got home, and in fact I was glad for my son to also be exposed to those aspects of chasing - the unavoidable second-guessing, disappointment, and seeming randomness.
 
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John Farley

Supporter
Apr 1, 2004
1,664
962
21
Pagosa Springs, CO
www.johnefarley.com
I, too, was kind of wondering if anyone was going to start this thread. I would rate my season slightly below average, but overall, not bad. I only had four true chase days, not counting local outings for thundersnow or for lightning photography. (The latter was quite good during this year's monsoon in northern NM and southern CO, though.) I saw just one tornado (northeast of La Junta, CO on June 7), and it was brief and quite rain-wrapped, albeit sunlit through the rain. The limited number of chase days was partly because of more than the usual number of schedule complications during the chase season, but truly there were not that many days when I would normally have chased but could not. So I doubt my season would have been dramatically better had I been able to chase every time I would have wanted to. And I am grateful that the storms largely cooperated with my rather complicated schedule.

So why do I rate the season as only slightly below average? Because every one of those four true chase days, I saw spectacular supercells. And because I experienced some new things I had not seen before, like the most intense inflow winds I had ever seen in the TX Panhandle on May 1: Intense dust blowing into the storm from multiple directions, driven by at times near hurricane-force inflow. In this limited number of days, I also saw large hail, significant hail accumulations, intense positive bolts from the anvil, some great rainbows, several funnel clouds, and multiple wildfires started by lightning. And it does not hurt my rating that I did manage one tornado in a year in which they were rather hard to come by.

On my four chase days, I chased in just 3 states, CO (June 6 and 7), NM (June 3), and the TX Panhandle (May 1). And covered just shy of 2700 miles, including travel on other days to or from the chase area. All in all, I feel that I did OK in a generally difficult year.

You can view my reports for each of these days, as well as ones from various local outings, at my 2022 severe weather observations page, www.johnefarley.com/svrwx2022.htm

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention finding some new good places to eat, in particular the 87 Cafe in Clayton, NM - excellent New Mexican food! And thanks to James Caruso for mentioning good places to eat in your post above and in your chase reports. Somewhere there used to be a thread on good places to eat in chase country - probably some of us should be making some updates there.
 
Aug 9, 2012
548
1,219
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Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
I would rate my season as being average or slightly below average. I did however see an above average number of local tornadoes in 2022 though (and the year isn't over yet as we can get tornadoes through December here). Started out the 2022 season by chasing fast moving supercells in Iowa on March 5th nabbing a couple brief tornadoes near Emerson, Corning/Cromwell IA and a brief glimpse of the Winterset, IA tornado to the SW as it got rainwrapped. I also got some decent storm structure that day too. On the way home I passed through Chariton, IA as a stovepipe tornado was moving N of town roping out, noting severe (later rated EF-3) damage. Very sad too that someone died at this location. My next chase wouldn't be again for over 2 months.

I had to skip out on April 12th in Northwest Iowa due to a severe case of pnemonia and ended up being a rather sucky choice, but seeing as I had a fever and couldn't hardly breathe, a necessary one. I made up for it though on May 13th during a 2% day noting several landspout tornadoes in Warren/McDonough Counties, IL with a nearly stationary supercell just a few miles from home:

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Landspout #1 near Good Hope, IL sepia toned. This looked like a spout with some decent strength.

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Landspout tornado near Sciota, IL

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Tornado near Sciota, IL

I got another brief tornado on May 26th near Cameron, IL with a low topped supercell and then chased the period of May 29-31 in the Plains back to the Midwest. May 30th netted some nice storm structure in East Central Kansas, however it wasn't until May 31st that I had an intense after dark close call with a high end EF-1 tornado NW of Industry, IL. This tornado damaged several outbuildings, farms, and downed 1/4 mile length of power lines along 67.

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Nocturnal tornado NW of Industry, IL in McDonough County

I got a funnel cloud with a mini-supercell on June 6th near Brooklyn, IL and some really nice structure on June 12th with a damaging supercell near Roseville, IL with produced wind driven golf ball sized hail around mid morning.

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Supercell near Roseville, IL on 6/12

I had a couple busted chases on June 13th and 15th just noting some medicore storm structure and lightning. June 25th I was able to chase some fairly intense storms from Eastern Iowa into Northern Illinois that produced very strong winds and vivid lightning, but no tornadoes. One of the best days of the year came on July 8th when a mini-supercell formed NW of Macomb, IL and produced a very nice tornado that sat stationary for me and as far as I know, I was the only one to witness. Rated EF-0 due to minimal damage and remaining in open country:

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Tornado forming NW of Macomb, IL on July 8th


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Fully developed cone tornado on July 8th N of Macomb, IL

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Tornado takes on a more vertical shape NNW of Macomb, IL on 7/8/22

Since ST limits the number of photos I can post. I noted some other local storms in July and August including a rather incredible shelf cloud on August 2nd and a supercell on August 1st during the early morning hours. I netted a few tornadoes in Mercer County, IL on August 20th as well with a slow moving supercell along a warm frontal boundary. Below is the shelf cloud on August 2nd and a tornado NE of Aledo, IL on August 20th as it limits me to 10 photographs.

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Bow echo during the morning hours of August 2nd

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Last of several tornadoes documented in Mercer County, IL on August 20th with a supercell near a warm front/weak surface low. I came within 1/4 mile of this tornado as it threw tree and crop debris.

Overall not a terrible year considering I only chased in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Kansas and spent minimal money on fuel and hotels. I think I might have spent a grand total of $375 in fuel this entire season as I didn't get a chance to go on a full chasecation like I'd liked, but chase ops in the traditional plains this year were more limited than usual. Aside from missing the Morton day on 5/23, I'm pretty happy with 2022 so far. The 4/12 event I really had no control over, I'm sure we will have more setups later this fall/winter as well. Overall I'd rate 2022 as a 5.5/10. Just average, but nothing terribly special compared to what I got in 2021.

Tornado days: 7
Miles Driven: 3,125
Days with tornadoes on 2% or less: 6 (the only exception was 3/5 in IA which was a 10% day, otherwise all my other catches were 2% or less lol).
Largest hail: 3.5" near Macksburg, IA on 3/5
Strongest wind: 80+ mph RFD near industry IL on 5/31/22 behind the tornado after taking the above photo
Best day of the season personally: July 8th or August 20th.
Total spent on fuel: $350-375
 
Jan 7, 2006
596
828
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USA
www.skyinmotion.com
I'll go with a C-. Fairly lame by my long-term standards, but middle of the pack for my post-2016 stint on the Plains, which I must admit is more representative of my expectations going forward.

Real Tornado (TM) days: 4/29 (S KS) and 5/4 (NW TX)

Stat padder tornado days: 3/21 (C TX)

The two days I scored on both featured storms that could've gone a long way toward making the season, but I was sort of in fringe position for both.
  • I dropped S from the cold front landspoutfest and got close to the Andover tornado when it was about 75% through its life cycle -- so, while I missed the career footage many snagged in town, sliding into close range during the rope-out with literally no chasers in sight was a pretty great consolation prize.


  • The Crowell day on 5/4 was a bigger flub, though. Most of the visible tornadoes occurred in a desolate road void well SW of town, and I was not able or willing to get where I needed to for those. Then, for the main show crossing TX-6 near town, I was slow to regroup from having dropped S for structure and crowd avoidance. So the Crowell tornado was a case of seeing it reasonably well with my own two eyes, but coming away with zero quality footage or stills. That storm was an absolute zoo, too. While trying to keep up just E of town on the dirt grid, I was obstructed for several minutes when I came upon the now-infamous incident where a chaser had flown into a ditch at a T intersection. Later, I had to pull over and halt my pursuit of dinner for 15-20 minutes while the nocturnal Lockett tornado terrorized US-70 (unseen) a couple miles ahead of me. Overall, not an especially enjoyable day, despite having one of the Plains' better storms this year.
Stepping back from my personal trials and tribulations, the theme was an active early spring where the two hotspots were IA and C TX, followed by a generally awful peak/late season. Big picture, 2022 struck me as a slightly better 2006. Anyone fortunate enough to be highly mobile, flexible, and unconstrained throughout March and April might think this year was pretty solid. On the flip side, anyone who couldn't start until mid-May or later almost certainly won't view it in a particularly great light. This outcome fits in pretty well with the preexisting sample we had of second-year, waning Nina springs over the past half century.

Every year on the Plains tends to have some unique stamp on it meteorologically, I find. In 2022, I'd argue it was the ubiquity of capping inversions at the EML base kneecapping otherwise-promising trough ejections consistently from March through May. Despite a few memorable storms like Andover, Winterset, Jarrell II, and Gilmore City, it felt like we left a lot on the table relative to the number of eye-catching 00Z 500 mb charts in the early season. I might be particularly fixated on this because almost every single synoptically favorable trough ejection in the early spring seemed to feature a primed dryline that did nothing from N TX to S KS. Of course, capping is a perennial concern on the Plains, and we all blue-sky bust every year. But I honestly can't remember another spring going back to 2006 where it was this consistently problematic through virtually every synoptically interesting setup for the OK/KS/NE region.
 
Jan 16, 2009
693
805
21
Kansas City
This year was a bad year overall for me with bird farts/night tornadoes with crap photos making up most of my season.
I chase alone for most of these chases and really needed my photographer with me but she couldn't chase this year.
On days I was in perfect position the storms did not cooperate ... when they dropped I was repositioning. It happens but GRRR ...

In order ...
Saw this bird fart and missed the Winterset wedge due to staying a bit too long on the tornado warned cell to the west. 😔
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After Winterset we were able to get on the cell and saw this beast crossing in front of us. Ugly screenshot from shaky video. 😔
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Watched and filmed the entire life cycle of the best tornado I saw this year near Palmer Iowa. Video link at end of this post. :D
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Saw this bird fart but missed the Andover tornado by waiting too long to head south. 😔
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Saw a few bird farts over the next week or so like this one in Oklahoma. Bad photo while driving. 😔
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Saw tornadoes in Texas but only saw Crowell at the very end due to a reposition that took longer than I thought. 😔
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Had a surprise decent chase from Nebraska to Manhattan KS. :cool:
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I decided not to chase a few days lately due to not liking them. So far they have been bad too. Hoping for another chase this year but if not on to next year.

Palmer Tornado