State of the chase season 2020

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Jan 7, 2006
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Not a whole lot to like about heading into winter with a spatially expansive western drought and enso drifting back into a weak nina, neither of which seem to bode well for the following plains season. Years that headed into the winter with these conditions were overwhelmingly poor(notable examples from the past decade include 2018, 2014, 2012, and 2017 to an extent) and do not have me optimistic for good plains activity in 2021. Weak ninas seem to favor BA plains activity in general, whether or not drought is present during the preceding winter. This is the earliest I think I've ever really talked about an upcoming season and as such, this is a very obtuse analysis that is barely scientific, but something I thought might be worth sharing regardless.

Those are the key features I'm watching over the winter. How the nina evolves(where I think a stronger nina probably ends up being better in general) and the extent of the drought. My guess is that due to the nina, no matter it's strength, the current expansive drought struggles to weaken and probably expands markedly, but who knows.
Agreed. There have been quite a few years with weakly to moderately cool ENSO during the winter-spring timeframe since 2000, and they have largely been bad news. Of course, some possibility of a stronger La Nina remains, which would probably be preferable. Unfortunately, I agree that drought is likely to persist and potentially expand across the southern and central Plains during the cool season, tipping the scales in favor of 2021 being an I-35 type of chase season on the Plains.
 
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Warren Faidley

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On top of this, the global models suggest this odd pattern will displace / weaken the Atlantic high and keep the current batch of waves (or eventually tropical storms) away from US coastlines for at least the next 10+ days. It's only a guess, but most of September could see a much lower tropical threat that originally forecast.
 

Jeff House

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Later this week looked possible Mid South a couple days ago. That mid-latitude trough is pretty much DOA now. Maybe IA/IL but too far.

Following week to 10 days those in Dixie could hope for recurving TCs, but if they form that deep in the Atlantic, plenty of chances to get caught by a trough before approaching. After mid-September climo strongly drops Western Gulf, and Dixie TC remnants.

La Nina (alone) has a poor correlation with spring severe. However the TNI Trans Nino Index has shown promise. If the Central Tropical Pac stays cool but right near South America starts to warm, it is a +TNI and somewhat correlated with AN severe.

Given the current and forecast long-wave patterns I've become pretty bearish 2020 fall, until deep winter Deep South. That's junk, so yeah I'm desperately grasping for things like TNI next spring.

Sorry for the unusually bearish post. At least sports is back!
 
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May 19, 2020
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I thought about this thread today. Looking about 2 weeks out 70s and 80s with zero chances of rain. We are pretty dry for not being on the drought monotor.
 

Jeff Duda

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Just wait until those 35-day GEFS forecasts become available. Then we'll be able to watch a dead season happen a month in advance!

On a separate note...while not entirely relevant to this specific topic (more like for 2021's thread)...the drought situation over the southwest US has not improved this year. In fact, it has become substantially worse:

20200922_conus_chng_6M.png
This is simply not what you want to see heading into a fall/winter season regardless of how much of a fan you are of severe weather, specifically:
season_drought.png
Going into a La Nina cold season...yeeecccchhhhhh
 

John Farley

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As a storm chaser, a skier, and a resident of southwest Colorado worried about drought and wildfires, I find this forecast scary on every front. Regarding chasing, although La Nina can sometimes be good, this much warmth and drought in the southern Rockies and southern Plains does not portend a good season next year, unless you live or can easily chase somewhere between Wyoming and Minnesota. Farther south, that much prolonged drought, after a dry late winter and mostly non-existent monsoon this year, will be hard to overcome. And in the Four Corners states and westward, it looks very bleak from a water supply, wildfire, and ski season standpoint. I am very worried about what next year's wildfire season will bring everywhere from California eastward to Colorado and New Mexico. And maybe the southern Plains, too.

 
Jan 7, 2006
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As a storm chaser, a skier, and a resident of southwest Colorado worried about drought and wildfires, I find this forecast scary on every front. Regarding chasing, although La Nina can sometimes be good, this much warmth and drought in the southern Rockies and southern Plains does not portend a good season next year, unless you live or can easily chase somewhere between Wyoming and Minnesota. Farther south, that much prolonged drought, after a dry late winter and mostly non-existent monsoon this year, will be hard to overcome. And in the Four Corners states and westward, it looks very bleak from a water supply, wildfire, and ski season standpoint. I am very worried about what next year's wildfire season will bring everywhere from California eastward to Colorado and New Mexico. And maybe the southern Plains, too.

Well said, and I fully agree. It's hard to fathom how bad things are on all fronts every time I check back in. The new rule seems to be All Bad All The Time And Nothing Ever Gets Better Ever. With virtually no hope of even a passing 5% moisture-starved fall Plains setup this year, we careen into what will quite possibly rival 2011-2014 for cold season drought. Meanwhile, historic wildfires are charging through the Denver/Boulder area this evening and probably threatening a few chasers' homes -- and we're midway through October with La Nina upcoming. Suffocating smoke overspreading half the continent has become passé, and as you alluded to, skiing will probably suck south of the Canadian border area this winter (not to say it will be safe anyway for non-locals needing to fly in). I'm trying to imagine what a year as good as this one is bad would look like, but that's likely impossible.
 

Warren Faidley

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Cursed year no doubt: The Arizona monsoon was a total dud. Likely, the least active I can remember in recent history. There was only one acceptable dust storm event and lightning was very hard to find. I went out a few times to test some new drone equipment and even dust devils were non-existent. Although there were multiple tropical threats, the main shows (onshore eyewalls) occurred in darkness. As noted before, if you had to pick a year for the most benign chase weather in US history, 2020 was a good year considering travel restrictions.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Agreed Warren and although I am not a hurricane chaser (though I aspire to be), for me it also sucked that all the tropical systems were in the Gulf, no east coast approaches to monitor or experience in any way, with the exception of TS Isaias which was somewhat interesting given its center passed very close to where I live but on an inland track. Sounds like 2021 could be shaping up to beat 2020 for “most benign weather” though, particularly unfortunate as I may have the opportunity to be between jobs for much of the May/June chase season IF I can time it right, but it sounds like I had better not be prioritizing chasing as I make that career decision. Probably foolish to make career decisions based on chasing in any situation, given the vagaries and disappointments of the avocation, but doing so in 2021 could be especially stupid.
 

Warren Faidley

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Saved a lot of money chasing in 2020. Drove to the two hurricanes, thus saving a fortune in airline miles / costs, but not sure I'll do anymore 700+ miles per day chases, at least in 2020. A lot of chasing in 2021 will depend on gas prices. There are multiple ways it could go, from no increase to insane increases. I'm holding off on replacing my Xterra until the situation unfolds. We are still about 2-3 years away from mechanically proven, off-road, hybrid SUV's. Maybe a topic for a new thread.
 

Dean Baron

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It's funny how a "good season" can be so relative because for me (and a lot of other MN chasers) it was actually a pretty good season, albeit outside of the traditional time frame for tornado season. I had my highest number of tornado days (3) I've had in a long time but they came in March, July, and August. Like most, I saw very little from April-June.

Hoping the ski season in Colorado isn't a bust. We have a trip planned for the beginning of January...
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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From the Wichita NWS facebook page.
View attachment 21009
Crazy, I actually live in NWS Philadelphia’s forecast area, and I can tell you I can’t recall much of interest happening here, not even much severe thunderstorm activity this past season. The NWS Philadelphia region is quite large and climatologically diverse, extending from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania down to parts of the Delmarva peninsula and the New Jersey coastline, so there could be a lot of activity that just wasn’t close enough to home for me to be paying attention to (it’s never really worth “chasing” anything that doesn’t come to me, with all the traffic, trees, hills, building, etc.). I would suspect that a large portion of NWS Philadelphia 2020 tornado activity is attributable to one day, when Tropical Storm Isaias tracked through the area. There was also a notable derecho that tracked from NW PA to SE PA but I don’t recall that having any tornado reports, I could be wrong. Tagging two chasers that live in the area, @Lou Ruh and @Jeff Lieberman , in case they have an interest or care to comment.
 

Lou Ruh

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I was looking at this post, and, honestly not sure exactly where the 23 number came from (but, since they labeled it as prelimary, they met be using the unfiltered numbers from the SPC collection of LSRs from their climo page.

However, the numbers for the Mount Holly CWA were not insignificant this year. Using Stormdata (i.e., the official numbers), I see thirteen 2020 tornadoes through 8/31/2020 (I think the official numbers are updated quarterly, right?). The first one occurred on 2/7/2020 in Cecil County, MD (and, the damage survey on 2/8 was done with light snow/flurries falling). Two tornadoes occurred in April (1 in MD, 1 in NJ). 8 occurred on August 4 associated with Isaias, affecting MD, DE, NJ, PA (Mount Holly covers all of DE, plus portions of MD, PA, NJ). Another tornado occurred on 8/7 near Wilmington, DE. And another tornado occurred on 8/19 in NJ.

Not yet in Stormdata are two EF0 tornadoes that occurred on 11/30 (one in PA and one in MD). There was a third, also in MD ... in Cecil County ... Cecil County was recently removed from the Mount Holly CWA and added to the Baltimore/Washington CWA.

The strongest tornadoes were EF2 during Isaias (one started in NE Philadelphia and tracked to Doylestown, doing damage to the Doylestown Hospital and an adjacent day care center).

The Isaias tornadoes and also the 11/30 tornadoes were moving at 50 mph or faster, so, chasing them in this area would have been quite a challenge. As is often the case, chasing in "lower slower" Delaware was probably the best chance of success.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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I was looking at this post, and, honestly not sure exactly where the 23 number came from (but, since they labeled it as prelimary, they met be using the unfiltered numbers from the SPC collection of LSRs from their clinic page.

However, the numbers for the Mount Holly CWA were not insignificant this year. Using Stormdata (i.e., the official numbers), I see thirteen 2020 tornadoes through 8/31/2020 (I think the official numbers are updated quarterly, right?). The first one occurred on 2/7/2020 in Cecil County, MD (and, the damage survey on 2/8 was done with light snow/flurries falling). Two tornadoes occurred in April (1 in MD, 1 in NJ). 8 occurred on August 4 associated with Isaias, affecting MD, DE, NJ, PA (Mount Holly covers all of DE, plus portions of MD, PA, NJ). Another tornado occurred on 8/7 near Wilmington, DE. And another tornado occurred on 8/19 in NJ.

Not yet in Stormdata are two EF0 tornadoes that occurred on 11/30 (one in PA and one in MD). There was a third, also in MD ... in Cecil County ... Cecil County was recently removed from the Mount Holly CWA and added to the Baltimore/Washington CWA.

The strongest tornadoes were EF2 during Isaias (one started in NE Philadelphia and tracked to Doylestown, doing damage to the Doylestown Hospital and an adjacent day care center).

The Isaias tornadoes and also the 11/30 tornadoes were moving at 50 mph or faster, so, chasing them in this area would have been quite a challenge. As is often the case, chasing in "lower slower" Delaware was probably the best chance of success.
Thanks Lou, I knew you would be able to provide more comprehensive information ;)

I'm not far from Doylestown PA and was aware of that report during Isaias but it's never much use chasing around here, 50 mph or not. Not to mention the transient nature of tornados from tropical systems.

I'm also not far from the 11/30 one but that wasn't even on my "radar screen" (pun intended) until you mentioned it. I knew there was a tornado watch but I was working and not too enthusiastic about it, you know how disappointing everything is around here... By the time I "tuned in" to watch the line of severe storms approach my neighborhood, it was already east of where the tornado had formed. I wasn't aware of it and didn't even think to check the storm reports later. I guess I am just unplugged from severe weather given the time of year and now going on 19 months since my last Plains chase trip. In fact, as I write this I am just now happily realizing we are already past November 30, which I usually look forward to as my "halfway point" between chase seasons (and, having missed 2020, I am now well past the halfway point of what will be a two-year gap).
 

Lou Ruh

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Thanks Lou, I knew you would be able to provide more comprehensive information ;)

...

I'm also not far from the 11/30 one but that wasn't even on my "radar screen" (pun intended) until you mentioned it. I knew there was a tornado watch but I was working and not too enthusiastic about it, you know how disappointing everything is around here... By the time I "tuned in" to watch the line of severe storms approach my neighborhood, it was already east of where the tornado had formed. I wasn't aware of it and didn't even think to check the storm reports later.
You're welcome 🙂.

The 11/30 Montgomeryville, PA tornado is estimated to have been on the ground for about minute. At the time, I was trying to navigate the flooding on the Schuylkill Expressway ... nowhere near Montgomeryville ... so, zero chance to get into position.
 
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Jeff House

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The 11-15 day pattern, basically Christmas week shows a weather pattern that could open the door to Dixie severe. Note it's the 11-15 day fantastyland.

Still EPS backs up the GFS extended pattern of trough west/central pivoting into the Midwest or Southeast. Deterministic runs return dewpoints. Of course the wind shear is there. Dews are always the question mark.

If you can't visit family this year, or you want to escape family, maybe we can jawbone up a storm chase.
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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The 11-15 day pattern, basically Christmas week shows a weather pattern that could open the door to Dixie severe. Note it's the 11-15 day fantastyland.

Still EPS backs up the GFS extended pattern of trough west/central pivoting into the Midwest or Southeast. Deterministic runs return dewpoints. Of course the wind shear is there. Dews are always the question mark.

If you can't visit family this year, or you want to escape family, maybe we can jawbone up a storm chase.
SPC says zzzzzzzzzz for the next 8 days, but that doesn't quite reach into the period you're discussing.

...DISCUSSION...
Within a belt of westerlies emanating from the mid-latitude Pacific,
it appears that another significant short wave trough will progress
inland of the Pacific coast by early Monday, before traversing the
remainder of the nation by the middle to latter portion of next
week. While it appears that this feature could support significant
surface cyclogenesis near or east of the Atlantic Seaboard late next
week, medium-range guidance continues to suggest that any surface
cyclogenesis over the interior U.S., east of the Rockies, will
remain modest to weak. A substantive inland return flow of moisture
off the Gulf of Mexico appears unlikely, contributing to the
maintenance of generally stable conditions and low convective
potential.
 
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Jun 4, 2018
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The 11-15 day pattern, basically Christmas week shows a weather pattern that could open the door to Dixie severe. Note it's the 11-15 day fantastyland.

Still EPS backs up the GFS extended pattern of trough west/central pivoting into the Midwest or Southeast. Deterministic runs return dewpoints. Of course the wind shear is there. Dews are always the question mark.

If you can't visit family this year, or you want to escape family, maybe we can jawbone up a storm chase.
I noticed it as well. My big excitement with it was that if it were to play out, which is arguably a big if at this point, it could spell some decent snowfall even into my part of OK around the Altus area. Which would be fantastic.
 
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