State of the chase season 2020

Feb 9, 2007
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Southern Illinois
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The weekend of January 10-12 was my missed opportunity for starting this chase season. I stayed in a cabin with my girlfriend and about 6 miles away, an tornado touched down. It was later determined as an EF-1. We slept right through it, LOL. In fact, when I woke up later that night, the storms had passed but I realized the power was out. Outside looked like some wind occurred haha but no major damage at least in our particular area.

I do try to avoid night time chasing, though. So many potential problems that could occur. Night time chasing and really fast storms.
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
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Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
A quick look at the GFS is currently showing early next week dews in the low 60’s in East Texas out ahead of a low. The shear profiles are looking favorable and if it comes together it might offer another early season taste of chasing. East Texas isn’t exactly great chasing terrain though.....
 
Mar 8, 2016
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Bloomington, IL
Hard to really make any calls this early right now, but I cant help but think our background state currently is about the best one could hope for. Lack of drought and high soil moisture content in the traditional plains chase states is always a good thing!
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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Madison, WI
GFS is hinting at an extended period of a broad belt of vigorous 500mb SW flow east of the Rockies starting in about 5-7 days and continuing through the end of this morning's 12Z run. The kind of pattern that would be awesome in May (or at least have the potential to be awesome, last year was the ultimate example of "the devil's in the details" when it comes to severe local storms forecasting) but even so may yield some early season severe weather, most likely in the Dixie jungles.
 
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GFS is hinting at an extended period of a broad belt of vigorous 500mb SW flow east of the Rockies starting in about 5-7 days and continuing through the end of this morning's 12Z run. The kind of pattern that would be awesome in May (or at least have the potential to be awesome, last year was the ultimate example of "the devil's in the details" when it comes to severe local storms forecasting) but even so may yield some early season severe weather, most likely in the Dixie jungles.
Building on this, CIPS Extended Analog Threat Guidance is signalling troughing in western/central US for the next 1-2 weeks, keeping at least Dixie in the warm sector (surface temp anomaly maps below). There's even some severe weather occurring in some of the analogs in the 6-8 and 9-11 day period (percent of 1 severe report maps also below). While this may seem low, any signal for severe weather at this range this time of year is rare in the guidance, so it's worth keeping an eye on.
 

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Dan Robinson

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Jan 14, 2011
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March 1 is finally in sight on some of the long-range products. Unfortunately nothing of interest showing yet for the Plains/Midwest. The southern stream is shown hugging the coast through the end of the month. GFS puts a big wave through Dixie next weekend, but with no instability.
 
Apr 10, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
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It appears we are in for an active March. Several opportunities appear to be lining up in the weeks ahead. A very active jet stream with troughing over the west and ridging over the east is forecast to become established as we head deeper into March. The GoM SSTs have been very warm this winter with minimal arctic intrusions. Moisture recovery time over the Gulf basin appears to be fairly quick ~1 or 2 days. It's only a matter of time before we see things line up over the plains. The overall consensus among meteorologists I have been talking with/following believe we are going to see an active spring tornado season. Curious to see the ERTAF forecast. My guess is they will be forecasting average to above average tornado probabilities for the second half of March.
 
Oct 10, 2004
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Madison, WI
Active Marches can be a mixed bag for the rest of the spring. Several people have posted on here in the past that, anecdotally, they've observed that active Marches tend to be worse for chasers as the spring's window for a western troughing pattern is "wasted" on suboptimal early season setups and/or the best action occurs in Dixie Alley.

However, we all know the atmosphere doesn't really work that way. Also anecdotally, I saw my only tornado of 2016 on March 15th near the I-80 corridor in IL, and that May still had Wynnewood and DDC-Chapman in store.
 
Jun 1, 2008
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Chattanooga, TN
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Already seeing signs of Great Lakes ridging in the weekly forecasts. That's bearish early season. Just as well. Dixie needs a break already!

Moving later into April and for May, the long-term pattern is indeed trough West. PV has been locked up tight. It weakens with the season, but we should avoid any silly strato warmings. That's generally bullish else equal.

Still much to settle in the tropical oceans. IOD is calming down. Nino is too. Will Nina get a foothold? Regardless, long-waves have been trough West often. Even if not constant, I lean toward a fruitful chase season in the Plains later.
 
In addition to the ERTAF forecast linked above by Jeff (valid 3/15-3/20), CIPS extended range has also pegged a similar area for a relatively high frequency of 1 severe report in nearly the same area (Southern Plains, Mid-Mississippi Valley, and Southeast). I think is the first period this spring where various guidance has shifted activity westward and northward. CIPS guidance valid 3/16-3/19 and 3/19-3/22 below.
 

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Mark Jack

EF0
May 31, 2019
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Westmoreland, KS
Here's an article that was posted today conveying the same information.

 

Brooke S

Enthusiast
Mar 13, 2020
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Tennessee
After a tornado outbreak in January and February and the really bad one in Tennessee where iam, it's off to a good start. Looks promising, hope it's an interesting season
 
Oct 10, 2004
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Madison, WI
Models have been all over the place with the details (what else is new?) so SPC is still reluctant to commit to an area on the 4-8; but there's a good possibility there will be some sort of system resulting in some sort of severe threat (about as specific as I can get at this point) traversing the central CONUS late this coming week. From my standpoint, taking today's 12Z GFS verbatim timing and location currently don't look ideal for a chase opportunity, but something to keep an eye on at least.

If things come together right it could end up being something like 3/15/16, but right now the surface low and instability axis are portrayed too far west. 500 mb looks somewhat eyebrow-raising, though.
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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Madison, WI
The surface and 500 mb charts on the last few runs of the GFS valid for 00Z Friday (Thursday evening) would have me salivating if instability/lapse rates were a little more robust. Still, 60 degree dewpoints to I-80 with that amount of shear is worth keeping an eye on.
 
CIPS extended analog guidance based on 03/24 00 UTC GEFS shows March closing out and April beginning with cooler and dryer conditions than normal across approximately the eastern 2/3 of the CONUS. Latest ERTAF guidance and discussion also paints a bleak picture for the first part of April. Obviously there could be relatively smaller, subtler events here and there, but the large-scale pattern for the next few weeks looks to be less than ideal for regularly occurring severe activity.
 

Jeff Duda

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Oct 7, 2008
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CIPS extended analog guidance based on 03/24 00 UTC GEFS shows March closing out and April beginning with cooler and dryer conditions than normal across approximately the eastern 2/3 of the CONUS. Latest ERTAF guidance and discussion also paints a bleak picture for the first part of April.
If there was ever a time to have lower than normal activity, I'm glad this is it. Also hoping a relatively inactive March and April will transition into a more active May/June. Seems to be (and this has been discussed before, but it bears repeating) that March/April and May/June activity are somewhat negatively correlated - it is rare that both periods are busy or both not busy. So usually, having a quiet early season means a good chance of an active mid-late season (one testimonial example in each direction: 2006 and 2010).