I agree with the above posts from @Todd Lemery
. The last two weeks of May and the first week of June is still the best window. I can usually only chase for two weeks, not three, but I like to reserve that full three week window. I start with the assumption that I will use the first and second weeks (i.e., last two weeks of May), but if the first week of the three does not look good, I use the second and third weeks instead (last week of May, first week of June). This means that, no matter what, I will be out the second week of the three week window, which is the last week of May. If I could one chase only one week, that is probably the week I would pick.
When I talk about these weeks, it is usually weekend to weekend, so they are not exact. For example, what I call the last week of May could end up being the week that ends on Saturday June 2.
If I could chase two weeks, but lacked the flexibility within the larger window that I just described, I generally like being out the weeks on either side of Memorial Day. Depends how the calendar falls with the weekends and all. If I end up back home on or before May 31, I always feel like it’s too early. It feels right going a few days into June, but I‘m happy with just a few days, up until around June 4 or 5.
I know some chasers like that second week of June, or even prefer June vs May overall, but that seems boom or bust to me. Maybe a good event or two - sometimes quite memorable - or the season has pretty much shut down with a summer pattern. Even if I had a fourth week available, I would probably instead tack it onto the front of my usual window and add the extra week in May (i.e., second week of May), and not use it for a second week of June. Many will disagree.
We are all subject to the biases of our own experience, and sometimes make these decisions based on our own prior experience, rather than climatology and statistical probability, especially when deciding between individual weeks that are statistically similar. But I think it’s pretty safe to say objectively that late May / early June is best.
It is an annual pastime to think about the “ideal” chase period and endlessly debate it with myself and others, especially when working around other (personal, professional, family) constraints. I was once told I practically need an algorithm to figure out when to chase, with all the variables I usually have each year… Expanding on what Todd said, as chase vacationers it is way too easy to lose your mind when you pick the wrong week(s). It is especially infuriating when you pick a down period, but there is a big event immediately before or immediately after your chase vacation. No matter what is “normal,” anything can happen in a given year. As Todd said, it’s a bell curve; there’s a normal distribution and not every year is at the top of the curve. Unless you can chase the entire season, you just have to accept that you are going to miss some (most?) events and try not to worry about it. I often wonder if I should even bother looking at what’s going on before and after my vacation, so I don’t torture myself. But before I head out, I need the forecasting and nowcasting practice, and after I get back I have trouble getting out of chase mode…