Chase Staycation

Jun 4, 2018
92
72
11
Altus, OK
Hello again, It's been quite awhile since I've posted to the forum, life happens and all that. Anyway, I just recently moved to Altus, OK, which puts me compellingly close to what I like to think of as the chasing "promised land". Being military, I will have to use some of my leave time to make sure I am available if/when systems come through. So I am basically thinking of this as a "chasecation", despite being relatively local, and want to take 2-3 weeks off for this. Due to COVID I have tons of time saved up and no plans for the holidays, so it should work out this season for me to be able to take a decent amount of time off. Having said that, I know there are several members who do "chasecations" every year, and I was wondering what weeks in May do y'all typically have the best luck? I appreciate any insight y'all might have!
 
Jun 4, 2018
92
72
11
Altus, OK
Thats sort of what I figured. I went ahead and tentatively blocked off the 10-31 of May. I figure in that time there ought to be at least a day or 2 worth chasing. Worst case scenario I have a few weeks off to chill with the wife and kids. Thanks for your input!
 
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Michael Towers

Supporter
Jun 28, 2007
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Machesney Park, IL
I always thought of “chasecation” as a term to describe a vacation to travel to the plains for a week or longer to chase storms, something done by people living outside of tornado alley. Those living in tornado alley can take a vacation to pursue storms even for an extended period of time but don't necessarily have to plan a trip to do it and have the flexibility to pursue local events when possible.

If I lived in Altus and had three weeks off instead of taking it in one block and limiting myself to whatever activity occurs in that period I’d take it in smaller increments when the opportunities arise to maximize my time off and have a chance to go after as many events as possible. On the other hand If I lived in NYC taking multiple trips would be prohibitive so I’d take the three week vacation and head to the plains, if I had to choose in advance I’d take the last two weeks of May and first week of June but if I had flexibility I’d pull the trigger anytime after May 1 when a good synoptic pattern appeared evident.

Like many others I live on the periphery (Illinois) and while some opt for the chasecation I plan each year for a few backyard (1 day) chases, a few short trips (2-3 days) and if lucky a longer trip (4-5 days). This gives me more flexibility than the chasecationer but can also work against me when an extended period of activity happens but my trip is over…last time that happened was 2013 and how I’d love to have that situation happen again!
 
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Jun 4, 2018
92
72
11
Altus, OK
I always thought of “chasecation” as a term to describe a vacation to travel to the plains for a week or longer to chase storms, something done by people living outside of tornado alley. Those living in tornado alley can take a vacation to pursue storms even for an extended period of time but don't necessarily have to plan a trip to do it and have the flexibility to pursue local events when possible.

If I lived in Altus and had three weeks off instead of taking it in one block and limiting myself to whatever activity occurs in that period I’d take it in smaller increments when the opportunities arise to maximize my time off and have a chance to go after as many events as possible. On the other hand If I lived in NYC taking multiple trips would be prohibitive so I’d take the three week vacation and head to the plains, if I had to choose in advance I’d take the last two weeks of May and first week of June but if I had flexibility I’d pull the trigger anytime after May 1 when a good synoptic pattern appeared evident.

Like many others I live on the periphery (Illinois) and while some opt for the chasecation I plan each year for a few backyard (1 day) chases, a few short trips (2-3 days) and if lucky a longer trip (4-5 days). This gives me more flexibility than the chasecationer but can also work against me when an extended period of activity happens but my trip is over…last time that happened was 2013 and how I’d love to have that situation happen again!
While I would love to spread it around and take off as opportunities arise, the leave approval process for basic nonemergency leave can take a week or 2. Not to mention I'm in a very small office, so there are limits to how many of us can be off at a time and that is all first come first served. So unfortunately the only way to guarantee any time off at all is to request it early and be the first one approved for those days. Plus I have tons of leave saved up, something like 55 days or so as of now, so burning 21 days in a big chunk like that isn't a huge deal at the moment.
 
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Michael Towers

Supporter
Jun 28, 2007
314
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Machesney Park, IL
If you have to reserve a chunk of time in advance then it's hard to argue against May 10-31 in Oklahoma and I sure hope it offers you (and all of us) more than 1 to 2 chase worthy days. The odds are it will but if not you still get to spend time with family and not bust on a trip, not much downside there!
 
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Jul 5, 2009
1,136
980
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
I am a chase vacationer from PA. I am only able to take off a max of two consecutive weeks, but I have enough job flexibility to block out a “window” of three weeks, and then I firm things up as the time approaches. If things look good during “week one,” I start my trip on the appropriate day and return two weeks later. If ”week one” looks bad, then I will usually head out for “week two” regardless, and my two-week trip would be “week two” and “week three” of the window I had set. (In some years when even “week two” looked bad I have been able to extend my “window” a bit, but most years I have a hard stop to be back for a certain date, often more so for personal/family reasons than for work).

The three-week window I usually block out is the last two weeks of May and first week of June (specific dates vary based on a typical start being a Saturday). So if you are fortunate enough to be able to take three consecutive weeks off, that’s the period I would recommend. I like the idea of allowing some time into June; I don’t like being “done” by May 31, it just seems too early to me. Having said that, since I usually would end my trip on a Sunday to be back for the traditional work week, it’s slightly calendar dependent, for example if the first Sunday in June is like the 3rd or 4th, that’s good enough for me, I don’t feel the need to go all the way out to the 7th, or to the following weekend which would be the 10th or 11th. If your weeks off don’t have to align with traditional Monday-Friday work weeks and you went strictly by the calendar, then I would do May 15-June 7 or so.

Even if I lived on the Plains, I would like the idea of having at least two full weeks off for those multi-day events that require overnight stays and vast driving distances. It would be nice to live on the Plains and be able to also get those one-off events, whether early or late in the season, or those events that always seem to happen right before or right after my two-week trip. But even living on the Plains, I would enjoy the two week chase vacation just to be fully immersed in nothing but the weather for two weeks, enjoying the surreal cadence of chasing and the nomadic existence of life on the road. Also, it’s hard to imagine many jobs where there is flexibility to take off on short notice for more than just a day or two. Of course, multi-day events don’t seem to happen much anymore, do they? Which I guess eliminates the need for a chase vacation. But as has already been said above, being at home, at worst you end up with some time off and can do other stuff, that would be a lot more productive than some of my recent chase vacations have been.
 
Apr 10, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
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You are pretty much guaranteed at least a couple of quality chase opportunities between May 10 and May 31. This year was about as abysmal as any I have seen in 23 years of chasing, but there were still a couple of days which netted tornadoes and quality supercells. Aside from 2016 and 2019, the past several years have featured less than ideal patterns during peak season. Regardless, having 3 weeks to chase in May really increases your odds of success.

June is a bit underrated IMHO. The hoards of chasers in May tend to thin out in June. Storm motions continue to slow down making for even more chaseable storms. The diurnal cycle is also at it's longest making for quality daytime visibility well into the evening

Good luck this spring. Hopefully COVID-19 is waning by peak chase season.