State of the Chase Season 2022

Randy Jennings

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May 18, 2013
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So far 2022 has been above average in number of tornados (343 thru 4/3/22 vs 240 average) - although a few active days do skew the metrics such that the season seems better than it actually is. Quality is a different mater. I don't have any scientific evidence to back this up - but it does fell a lot like last year. If that gut is true - chasers are advised to get out if they can in April, just in case May turns out to be a slow month (that is probably true every year - chase often because you never know when the season is going to fall apart).
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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Finally starting to see the seasonal shift of RH towards the N/NW. I'm sure the initial surge will only be knee-deep when it mixes out, but it's a start. Both the GFS and NCMWF are on board for the later part of April. Would be great to get some rain there to hold the DL west. The farmers and ranchers are getting hit hard and the fire risk this year has been epic.

Screen-Shot-2022-04-14-at-7.53.34-AM.jpg
 

Jason N

EF1
Mar 2, 2021
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South Carolina
Though I would post a quick Subex outlook, giving some indication that over the next 2 weeks the Cntrl-Nrn plains might increase some activity with the PNA remaining Positive to Neutral. Seems to give some verification weight to those earlier predictions a few months ago albeit adjusted back further to the west and north, at least compared to those charts I posted earlier.
 

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Jason N

EF1
Mar 2, 2021
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South Carolina
Hey everybody, I figured id get the ball rolling with the 2022 State of the Chase Season thread given we are now at 2 weeks since the new year. Hoping to see a repeat of last years awesome discussion with a few seasonal forecasts thrown in! I wanted to touch on some verification for my seasonal forecast last year. Here is my post from March 1st last year.


Well, happy spring everyone! It being the start of traditional chase season I feel confident enough to lock in a forecast.

Forecast 20201 Tornado Season (MAMJ) :

Counts: Average (754 tornadoes across the CONUS during spring, 1250 plus or minus 50 for the year)
I feel fairly confident on average numbers for the chase season and year. With a moderate La Nina, but complicating factors such as drought, I think we see pretty normal activity. This activity should pick up fairly quickly here over the next two weeks with the first hints of the spring pattern shaping up. Some killers for this would be an early northward retreat of the jet (Aka Death Ridge) cutting into numbers early. This is a distinct possibility given the ongoing drought. A second, perhaps better for us failure mode would be a weak resurgent la nina. This could throw out some higher tornado numbers, though I think this is less likely. Its about 50/50 which side of the coin we end up on, which means I'm going to hedge to average.

Outbreak Days (10+ Tornadoes within 6 hours): Above Average
Its an emerging trend, fewer tornado days, but more tornadoes per day. Im sticking with that. You can define outbreaks in many ways so I'll have to run some stats to verify, but I think we see a more active outbreak pattern going into April and a few very big count days. The forecast is also calling for an above-normal hurricane year. I think we see another active TC tornado year this summer and fall.

Number of EF2+ tornadoes: Well Above Average (Greater than 1 STD above the normal mean)
Im taking a bit of a risk on this one but, with the southeast and eastern half (more populated) of tornado Alley looking more favorable, I'm leaning towards a much higher count of sig tors for the simple fact I expect more of them to hit things. The same trend will probably hold for fatalities.

Chasabillity Score: Average 6/10
My completely scientific and no non-sense chasing index, just kidding it's entirely arbitrary. Not a great year, not a bad year, somewhere right in the middle with a bit more chasing potential. We probably won't be chasing west of I-35 as much as we would like putting a dent into the chaseabillity of some systems, but the average counts combined with a few bigger days will get peoples chasing counts up. Midwestern gang and the southeast should have a decent year. Southern and central plains also won't have much to complain about. Perhaps not the best for the front range and Texas Panhandle guys and gals but a few days spark off. A banner year for a few, but sufficient for most.


We will see where we go from here. Good luck to everyone, stay safe and happy hunting!



A couple of points. Overall my yearly number prediction was pretty darn close. I predicted just below average on the annual inflation adjusted count and was darn close with the year end reports falling just 30 shy of my bottom end (1250 plus or minus 50). My big miss was the fact that April was very quiet and October and December ended up saving the average!
View attachment 22463
As for my spring count estimate (754), I fell a bit short with only 703 tornadoes being recorded between March and June. As mentioned, April was unusually slow this year with only 73 reported tornadoes. But again, not terrible with how things ended up.

View attachment 22464
Moving on to the outbreak Days, I'm still working on some verification metrics for this. It appears as though there were much fewer outbreak days but the few outbreaks we did have were sizeable. This is a known trend with tornadoes as of late and something I need to look at further. For now I'm going to assign a fail to this part of the forecast as I suggested things would be more active than they appeared to be. And several key outbreaks occurred well into the cool season outside of the time range I was really shooting for. I did make explicitly mention for the threat for several outbreaks associated with land falling TCs, this appears to have gone well with several big days happening across the Mid Atlantic.

Now to EF2+ tornadoes, Again, still working on some verification metrics for the counts of EF2+ but subjective interpretation says I did okay in this regard. The big outbreak days we did have produced quite a few sig tors. We also had the most fatalities since 2011 so that fits with the well above average forecast. I was expecting more during the spring when the December events ended up contributing to most of those. I need to work on some plots since the sig tor data isn't readily available.

Totally objective chaseability score wise I'm going to assign a hit to this for now. It seems like people who were able to get out did have an okay year. I do suspect however the objective metrics will be much lower across the plains when that data is run by Brett. The lack-luster April and only average May/June likely wont compensate for each other and I'm betting its a below average year. Subjectively there were some good tornado days as always. I did pretty poorly but most of that was beyond my control having to limit my chases. I did break my personal 4 year tornado drought in October in Southwest Oklahoma which feels good.

Now looking ahead, I'm seeing a fair amount of the same signals that we saw last year hinting that this year could again be a mixed bag. The big difference looks to be in the way ENSO is expected to evolve through the spring. While we did expect a weakening of la Nina last year, El Niño chances were much lower than this year with CPC calling for 60% chance of EL Nino development by summer/Fall this year. As I mentioned last year, positive TNI events (typical of Nina-Nino transitions) can result in active stretches particularly in the Midwest and southeastern US. Another big factor is the ongoing drought across the western US. How this impacts things is yet to be seen. I suspect the overall impact will be negative on the Plains at least through the early parts of the season. My current gut forecast is calling for an active year east of I-35 but the potential for lower counts in the Plains through spring again. I think things will heat up early season (Mar/April) again as la Nina continues to decay. (Western Gulf Coast southeast and Midwest) April in particular looks interesting. Positive TNI events can result in a significant uptick in probabilities for large outbreaks near and even west of I-35 in April. The GOM is quite warm and should remain so through the spring which is a positive sign for higher than average moisture flux and buoyancy. But, the signal for anything specific really drops off into May. If I had to guess, id expect a below average May this year with concerns about the ongoing drought the potential for El Niño to rapidly develop shifting ridging over the Plains. All in all though kind of a crapshoot this year. By March 1st we should have a much better idea of how things are shaping up. If you're planning a chase cation, I wouldn't stray from the traditional times as statistically its still your best bet. But, if you have the potential to chase earlier in the year pay attention in March and April in particular.

View attachment 22465
Curious on everyone else's thoughts?
- How would you say things are going so far with your forecast up to this point?
 

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Jul 19, 2008
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Anoka, MN
Ugh.

Telleconnections going forward here are not what we want to see. CPC medium range outlooks reflect this. Both the NAO and AO are headed to the basement. Troughing east of the rockies looks to dominate much of the next 2 weeks after this week's system. I hope I am wrong.

Long story short. If you are waffling around on pulling the trigger on this week's system, you may want to give it a go. Or spend the next 2 weeks wishing you had.

Maybe May will be better...

Screenshot_20220418-145344~2.png Screenshot_20220418-160611~2.png Screenshot_20220418-160634~2.png
 
Jul 19, 2008
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Anoka, MN
The same tired old playbook of the last several years. High latitude blocking, which doesn't make an appearance all winter, decides to show up in April/May, after a promising beginning to the season. It's a broken record and extremely frustrating. Here's to summer on the northern plains I guess... As bad as it looked a couple days ago, it looks worse today.
 

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adlyons

EF2
Feb 16, 2014
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- How would you say things are going so far with your forecast up to this point?
Well, a quick glance so far, March did perform rather well as I had mentioned. April perhaps a bit quieter but with our count still above average, that seems to track decently well. As others have shown, the upper pattern looks to become a bit less favorable for the next week or 2. if the projections about the upper pattern for May do develop, I suspect our average will dip. Weve been a bit busy here at SPC so haven't had a ton of time to look at everything yet. haha
 
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Warren Faidley

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Not too concerned ATM. First week in May is looking boring, but some hope afterwards for return of upper-level flow and RH return to the Southern Plains per NCEP modeling. Big question will be 700mb temps. and dryline quality / placement given the bone-dry soil out west, with little hope of recovery between now and then. NWS long-range forecast discussions written by local experts are my go to reading ATM.
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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Recent models runs are still suggesting (and agreeing somewhat) of a potentially active spring pattern for the Southern Plains. Late this week is an obvious forecast. Looks like some form of favorable western influence (as opposed to a ridge or zonal flow) will commence again after the May 6th. time frame. (Images below). One interesting note, this initial pattern looks eerily similar to 2020 when systems heading right for the Plains then decided to fart-out and take an abrupt turn north. We will see!


Screen Shot 2022-04-26 at 12.13.09 PM.png e. Screen Shot 2022-04-26 at 12.13.26 PM.png
 
May 4, 2021
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Pennsylvania
Looks like early next week could bring some decent days for the southern plains. The SPC is bullish on a day 5 threat for west TX and a day 6 threat for northern TX into eastern OK. Guidance also has a pretty potent shortwave in the Rockies next Tue/Wed with plenty of moisture to work with, although the GFS disagrees with the CMC/Euro on how long it’ll stick around. It’ll be interesting to see what we can get out of this time frame.
 

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Jason N

EF1
Mar 2, 2021
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South Carolina
Well, a quick glance so far, March did perform rather well as I had mentioned. April perhaps a bit quieter but with our count still above average, that seems to track decently well. As others have shown, the upper pattern looks to become a bit less favorable for the next week or 2. if the projections about the upper pattern for May do develop, I suspect our average will dip. Weve been a bit busy here at SPC so haven't had a ton of time to look at everything yet. haha
I do not doubt you being busy in the least.
 
Oct 10, 2004
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Looks like early next week could bring some decent days for the southern plains. The SPC is bullish on a day 5 threat for west TX and a day 6 threat for northern TX into eastern OK. Guidance also has a pretty potent shortwave in the Rockies next Tue/Wed with plenty of moisture to work with, although the GFS disagrees with the CMC/Euro on how long it’ll stick around. It’ll be interesting to see what we can get out of this time frame.
Yes, despite a less than ideal large-scale pattern (mainly due to the persistent -NAO), model indications and the SPC 4-8 actually look seasonably active at the end of April and start of May, which has not often been the case for about a decade now.
 
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adlyons

EF2
Feb 16, 2014
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180
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29
Norman, Oklahoma
Theres an intriguing signal coming out of the weekly and ensemble guidance after week 2 of some potentially more favorable troughing like Warren has pointed out. Theres a lot of uncertainty with these lower amplitude flow regimes. The ensembles could be just smoothing out northwest flow and the occasional trough, but the agreement from guidance seems positive. Im cautiously optimistic we may develop sustained low-amplitude southwesterly flow over much of the Plains through late May and possibly early June. That would really make some chase opportunities possible without the bigger gulf clearing events that you see with higher amplitude flow. Now there's some other issues with that like warm 500/700 temps, but Ill chance that for multi day dryline chasing any day of the week. It probably wont be overly productive on storms/tornadoes either, but they could be quite chaseable. Heres hoping!
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Last night 4/29 Augusta/Andover is a reminder that no matter how pessimistic you are about the overall meteorological trends of the season, you can have a great chase, even a career day, that puts the season at or near the top of your personal list…

 
Apr 25, 2022
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North Carolina
Multiple days of solid potential for the southern plains chasers.

We will sit up north and continue to freeze and live vicariously through you.

Large scale patterns still aren't ideal and long range outlooks are still somewhat depressing but enjoy this window of opportunity.
I am in AMA now waiting. Hoping for some motherships this afternoon/evening. Obviously tomorrow we will be in OK.
 
Jan 7, 2006
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The period starting this past Fri (4/29) and extending through at least next Sun (5/8) or so looks to be easily the most active for the core of the S/C Plains since at least May 2019, and also the most active for early May since at least 2015. Both of those periods featured impressive patterns that were marred by frequent early CI and general "messiness." This upcoming week may have a bit of that issue on some days, but in general, it appears capping is the bigger concern -- at least WRT widespread, "up and down the dryline" events. For chasers, that's obviously the better problem to have of the two.

To me, the ceiling for 4/29-5/10 is a very memorable stretch that would be reminiscent of the "good ol' days" of the 1990s and 2000s. Of course, the devil is in the details each day, and I'm not saying that outcome is likely. But it is almost hard to believe my eyes as I scroll through the GFS/ECMWF and their respective ensembles the past couple days -- these progs do not look like the S/C Plains we've come to know over many recent spring seasons!
 

Cameron L.

Enthusiast
May 14, 2018
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With the next couple of weeks looking active, I'm looking towards 2nd-half of May (my chasecation is last week of May). Currently seeing signs that 2nd half of May could be stuck in ridging (Based on GEFS). EPS and GEPS seem to be agreeing as well. While the EPS and GEPS don't go as far out as the GEFS does, they show riding at the end of their runs.

Chicklets seem to show a cool-off in activity around the same timeframe as well (with an increased activity in June). Obviously, they're not a great marker, but interesting to see the models lining up for the 2nd half.

This all being said, I'm still new at long-range forecasting; I've likely missed important details. I would love to hear others thoughts on the matter.
 

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Warren Faidley

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I'm not too worried. Forecasting for the second week of May through the first week of June is based on a lot more than April-sized systems. In fact, those dynamic set-ups can ruin an entire week this time of year by sending the RH to the Yucatan. The GFS and ECMWF are in a battle royal concerning the situation for next week. The GFS wants to set-up a pattern that nukes the RH, while the ECMWF keeps it west.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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My two-week chase vacation does not start until May 21. Because it is set without flexibility, I am not going to bother torturing myself with long-range prognostications. I don’t know how reliable any of it is. I know for sure operational models aren’t worth much beyond 7-10 days. Look how active this two-week period we are in is turning out to be, right on the heels of so many here lamenting the state of the season.

The one thing that does concern me is seeing a lot of early activity. I always worry that means the season will also shut down early.I can’t remember there ever being a sustained six good weeks in a row; it seems there is a limit to how many good weeks can occur. Maybe it’s just anecdotal, maybe it’s just law of averages and reversion to the mean… Perhaps no meteorological or climatological basis whatsoever… Although I do remember @Jeff Duda posting in one bad chase year about how many troughs had come out early in the year before the moisture and instability were available, such that the atmosphere had almost exhausted itself of energy before the traditional season. I know I am probably mischaracterizing this and apologies in advance for doing so, but I know Jeff will correct me if that’s the case.
 

Jeff Duda

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Oct 7, 2008
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Although I do remember @Jeff Duda posting in one bad chase year about how many troughs had come out early in the year before the moisture and instability were available, such that the atmosphere had almost exhausted itself of energy before the traditional season. I know I am probably mischaracterizing this and apologies in advance for doing so, but I know Jeff will correct me if that’s the case.
Nope. That's a great paraphrasing of what I have said, and I have been noting that this year, too. I get nervous when we see a synoptically active April like we've had in 2022 because it is almost always followed by a dead May pattern where we are down to mesoscale setups only.

I hope I'm wrong about that, but recent past has not suggested it.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Agree that looks pretty good Warren, but that just makes me even more nervous, given that it runs through the 19th. Makes it even more likely that by the time I get out there on the 21st it’s all over…