State of the Chase Season 2022

Jeff House

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Welp. GFS caved to the faster Euro and Canadian for later this week into the weekend. GFS is usually too fast - until it's too slow and derails my plans. Un-Fn-believable! Actually it is. Happened a couple other years.

I think the weekend may feature a couple Hoosier Alley events, which typically don't show whites of their eyes until the day before - if that. On a weekend I might just go. Not too far relative to the Great Plains.

Looking ahead I think the Northern and High Plains, perhaps Upper Midwest, could have a good late May. Troughs try to poke into the Northwest. Don't see a solid Rockies trough; however, short-waves could eject from the Pac NW through the North.

MJO and Kelvin Waves are looking to tee up what would be an active pattern. However it's tough to bang into a stubborn ridge that wobbles across the entire Southern US (SW, Texas and SER). So, look North.
 

Warren Faidley

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The GPS is still smoking crack and trying to form a tropical cyclone in the Yucatan early next week and moving it into the Gulf by late May. Might happen in another dimension, but not in reality. Maybe. That would likely nuke the RH flow for the last week in May and maybe even the first week in June.
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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A few runs ago the GFS had the moisture being totally wiped away for most of next week (as @JamesCaruso noted in his most recent post), and now the 12Z run comes in with this over southeast Nebraska for Wednesday. I don't know what to believe anymore.

gfs_2022051712_204_40.25--97.0.png


Oh, and this run at this FH still has that monster May hurricane, down by the Yucatan.

* Alluding to the post Warren just ninja'd me with, verbatim it seems to be far enough south that it doesn't affect the moisture for this setup too much. And hey, if we could get the midlatitude trough without the hurricane (Bill Lumbergh voice)...that'd be greaaaaat.
 

Jeff Duda

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The models are really struggling past 4-7 days. I've given up looking at every run, and instead, I'm reading the NWS forecast discussions for the entire Plains region twice a day. The local forecasters are much better at handling mesoscale events in the long term.
I forget where I saw this, but I believe there is a known issue with certain model forecasts going through the spring season following a La Nina. There can be extended periods of time where medium-range predictability suffers. We may be in such a pattern, especially given weakened height gradients and lesser-organized flow over most of the CONUS right now. We may need a pattern change before any longer-term increases in predictability return.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Pretty stunning turnaround in the GFS as posted by @Andy Wehrle. Hadn’t looked at anything since last night’s 0Z… I am nearing a go/no-go decision relative to my Saturday departure… Do I delay a week or not?? One good day, if it verifies, is probably not enough reason to spend the week out there… Although in the earlier runs it looked like Friday 5/27 could also have some potential, in SE Nebraska. At the moment, I am inclined to give up the 5/21-6/4 block and exchange it for the 5/28-6/10 block. Quite a bit of overlap between the two options anyway… It all comes down to, will 6/5-6/10 be better than 5/21-5/26?? Obviously no way to know what 6/5-6/10 will look like, but 5/21-5/26 doesn’t seem too appealing at the moment.

I will probably need to make a final call before the end of the day on Wednesday so that I can change my flights, rental vehicle, and make sure my boss is cool with the last minute change…

I could head out on Tuesday for Wednesday, but for work it’s easier to deal with full weeks... If I leave on a Tuesday instead of a Saturday, I’ll probably still have to come back on the same day as originally planned, so the trip will just end up being shorter..
 
Taking my first look at the GFS for a planned Chasecation from 5-24 to 5-30. Tuesday doesn't look great right now, but Wednesday is looking better with Thursday looking great. These early GFS models can always change so much before we get NAM confirmation, but right now it's looking like I'll probably take it easy Tuesday and drive to Oklahoma for Wednesday's setup. Then chase eastern Oklahoma / Kansas on Wednesday, and then chase eastern Nebraska / Kansas on Thursday.

My only concern right now is that shear is lower than I would like to see, but again, it's early and I feel like we really don't get good modeling until 72 hours out. That said, it looks like overall severity increases as the week goes on. This could be a very busy memorial day weekend.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Been sitting here agonizing over these stupid models early this morning, when I should be getting ready for work…What a maddening avocation this is!

The Nebraska sounding for Wed 5/25 that @Andy Wehrle posted looks like it was a flash in the pan… The 0z 5/18 run looks much different than the 12z 5/17, as can be seen in these two dewpoint depictions:

572EBF4F-08C2-4633-A4A9-478F1E376FCF.jpeg
ADA42928-3318-4DE1-A68D-4A275CE08CE0.jpeg

500mb looks NW for Wed. Euro shows a ridge and keeps the moisture in eastern OK and KS. Not seeing much to get excited about on Thursday either, when GFS now shows dews hitting 70 in eastern OK but under a ridge. Euro gets 60s dews into Nebraska on Thursday 5/26 but under a ridge, with the flow north of there in the Dakotas. Friday 5/27 looks a little better on GFS, with 70 dews in eastern KS, 60s into SD and some southwest 500mb flow as the ridge shifts east. The Euro also gets 60s dews into SD, with the ridge axis just to the west, allowing WNW flow into the region.

Actually looks like Monday 5/23 could have some potential in SE NM / SW TX, with the GFS advecting in adequate moisture beneath SW flow (not taking the time to look at other parameters right now). Not sure I have the stomach for a drive from my Denver landing all the way down there, especially if later in the week ends up back in Nebraska or South Dakota…

TLDR: The real lesson here is that the models are fluctuating wildly and are not dependable this far out. Maybe I sound like Captain Obvious there but my point is they seem particularly volatile right now, as @Warren Faidley and @Jeff Duda noted above. May just be futile to try to time the trip perfectly and may be better off just heading out and taking my chances. Trying to put too fine a point on timing, for example flying out Tuesday instead of Saturday, really does nothing to help me extend my trip on the back end, because I would still be missing most of the week at work. To extend on the back end would mean staying at work at least through next Thursday, and I’m not sure I want to give up on the entire week given that there are some flashes of hope on certain days in different runs. Considering the last “big day” was 5/4, by Monday we will be going on nearly three weeks of nothing; climatology alone would argue for some reversion to the mean and some chase opportunities next week. Maybe better to just head out for the original 5/21-6/4 schedule. If the week after that looks really good, I’ll worry about it then, maybe try to negotiate an extra day or two…
 

Cameron L.

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Been doing the same myself James (agonizing over models each morning). I pushed back my chasecation from May 20th to the 25th, hoping to stay until June 3rd if I can. I can't move it again, so I'm in "hope for the best" mode at this point.

From reviewing the models every morning and night the past couple weeks, I've noticed the same inconsistency mentioned in this thread. Most notably, perhaps, is that the GFS has shown ingredients come together on the far end of it's runs, only to eventually blow them away as they get closer. This happened with the moisture scouring system as well - just last Friday it looked decent on the GFS and by Sunday the trough had sped up and the moisture was completely wiped out. I'm seeing the same thing again now, with the GFS saying the 25th is downtrending and the end of May looks half-decent (at least ingredients wise). I don't have any confidence that these scenarios will play out given the inconsistency of the GFS and other models as well (ECMWF and CFS haven't fared any better).

One thing that is interesting is the chicklets (which is based on CFS) have been calling out this dead period consistently since May 10th. I don't put too much weight in them but I do enjoy seeing if they were correct or not, and if so, how far out did they catch it. They've been consistently calling for an uptick in activity around the end of May, so we'll have to see what happens. chicklits.png
 
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Matt Hunt

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My chasecation begins in a couple days. I'm toying with the idea of going to North Dakota prior to the plains becoming active again, as it would mark my 48th state! But with the inconsistency, that's a tough decision, as I don't want to be way up north and have the southern plains suddenly light up. I think we're just in the position of having to focus only on the next few days. I'm okay with the lack of predictability, just as long as there are some good chase days within the next 2 weeks! I'm remaining optimistic about Memorial Day weekend into the following week. If nothing else, at least this weekend's trough will get rid of the summer-like heat!
 
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The closer I get to my chasecation next week, the more I'm going to be in an excited check the GFS every 6 hours type of mood. The models are looking worse for Wednesday and Thursday next week, and looking great for Friday. Eastern Nebraska is looking really good with plenty of moisture, bulk shear > 50 kts, and CAPE > 5,000. Unfortunately, as others have said, far out the models look great, and then as we get closer they start to break down. I know I should just not look until Sunday or Monday, but I think I'm addicted.
 
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The models are looking worse for Wednesday and Thursday next week, and looking great for Friday. Eastern Nebraska is looking really good with plenty of moisture, bulk shear > 50 kts, and CAPE > 5,000. Unfortunately, as others have said, far out the models look great, and then as we get closer they start to break down.
Friday 5/27 has looked consistently promising for a couple of days' runs, even as days before next Friday have whipsawed back and forth. The Euro is similar to the GFS in bringing plenty of moisture into eastern Nebraska, although the 500mb flow is displaced to the north. But those are details that could easily change in our favor (or, of course, in the other direction) between now and then.
 
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I feel for those of you in the midst of, or losing sleep over upcoming, chasecations. To my eyes, there's still a lack of persistent, legitimately encouraging signals in the modeling out to at least D10. It looks more and more certain that May will go into the books well below average for Plains activity, barring a huge turnaround in the final 5-6 days.

I just ran my chase season scoring code on updated data (QCed SPC data thru 2020; preliminary NCEI Storm Data for 2021). The quality of late season (May-June) Plains chasing over the past decade is enough to drive anyone but the most easily entertained mad. From 2014 on, there have been only two late seasons that scored above the long-term median. In only one other instance dating back to 1955 can you find an 8-year stretch with only two "blue bars."

scplains_lateseason.png
scplains_spring.png

Now, we're in a position where June will need to overperform for the first time since 2014 in order to bring the late season as a whole up to par. Evidence continues to mount that we're living through a decadal stretch equal to or worse than the infamous mid-late 1980s, wherein making big life sacrifices to chase the Plains aggressively has almost become a fool's errand.

I'm "fortunate" enough to live in OK, so I was able to see a couple tornadic storms during the 4/20-5/4 stretch, and the current dead May blues are only starting to get to me this week. If we can somehow pull off an active June with a few obvious, targetable days, I won't be too upset, what with my ever dwindling annual expectations. But there's no clear signal for that in NWP, there's no precedent for it over the past decade, and the combination of drought and bathwater in the Gulf encouraging ruinous early-season TCs are weighing on the wrong side of the scale. Anymore, I have to wonder if ST will still consist primarily of handing each other :( reactions by the time we're all retirement age.
 

Warren Faidley

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This is one of those increasingly frequent years where you have to work very hard if you want to see some type of tornado after the first week in May. For example, there were landspouts today (5-18-22) in Eastern Colorado. There will likely be a few NW flow tornado events in the SP's and the Denver Cyclone is always a play. NP tornadoes are possible in June if the RH can move (and stay) north. Classic, late May set-ups are still possible, although each storm-less day that passes is one less opportunity.
 

Bill Hark

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The models are really struggling past 4-7 days. I've given up looking at every run, and instead, I'm reading the NWS forecast discussions for the entire Plains region twice a day. The local forecasters are much better at handling mesoscale events in the long term.
Warren, I am assuming you are reading the forecast discussions for each NWS office in the Plains. I don't know of a broad discussion covering the Plains other than the SPC Day 1-8 outlooks.
 

Matt Hunt

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Aug 2, 2009
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I feel for those of you in the midst of, or losing sleep over upcoming, chasecations. To my eyes, there's still a lack of persistent, legitimately encouraging signals in the modeling out to at least D10. It looks more and more certain that May will go into the books well below average for Plains activity, barring a huge turnaround in the final 5-6 days.

I just ran my chase season scoring code on updated data (QCed SPC data thru 2020; preliminary NCEI Storm Data for 2021). The quality of late season (May-June) Plains chasing over the past decade is enough to drive anyone but the most easily entertained mad. From 2014 on, there have been only two late seasons that scored above the long-term median. In only one other instance dating back to 1955 can you find an 8-year stretch with only two "blue bars."

View attachment 22804
View attachment 22805

Now, we're in a position where June will need to overperform for the first time since 2014 in order to bring the late season as a whole up to par. Evidence continues to mount that we're living through a decadal stretch equal to or worse than the infamous mid-late 1980s, wherein making big life sacrifices to chase the Plains aggressively has almost become a fool's errand.

I'm "fortunate" enough to live in OK, so I was able to see a couple tornadic storms during the 4/20-5/4 stretch, and the current dead May blues are only starting to get to me this week. If we can somehow pull off an active June with a few obvious, targetable days, I won't be too upset, what with my ever dwindling annual expectations. But there's no clear signal for that in NWP, there's no precedent for it over the past decade, and the combination of drought and bathwater in the Gulf encouraging ruinous early-season TCs are weighing on the wrong side of the scale. Anymore, I have to wonder if ST will still consist primarily of handing each other :( reactions by the time we're all retirement age.
This is interesting to look at. Of course for those of us taking a 1-2 week chasecation, all we really care about is how those weeks are! 16 was my best chase season by far, and I see it's in the red. But it sure would be nice to get another stretch like 89-93. When this season started off active, I was afraid of exactly this happening. We hit what's usually the peak of the season only for it to be rather quiet.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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This is interesting to look at. Of course for those of us taking a 1-2 week chasecation, all we really care about is how those weeks are! 16 was my best chase season by far, and I see it's in the red. But it sure would be nice to get another stretch like 89-93. When this season started off active, I was afraid of exactly this happening. We hit what's usually the peak of the season only for it to be rather quiet.
Agree on all counts. I had the same fears about what the active late April / early May would portend, and there are some posts exchanged on this somewhere above. We are now over two weeks past the previous ”good tornado day” of 5/4. Let’s hope that by this time next week, when it will be three weeks since then, we find ourselves reverting to the mean, whatever that is these days.

I also agree that us chase vacationers only need to worry about how our individual weeks are… It‘s a roll of the dice that can easily be better or worse than the overall season. In fact, I was amazed to see that, with the exception of 2010, my own trips have had an inverse relationship to the chart. I did not see tornados in the “blue years,” which is due to a combination of bad trip timing and my own personal failures. Meanwhile, my only trips with tornados since 2010 (Campo) were all “red years”: 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2021. (Hard to believe I am even still chasing, with no luck in 2013-2015, and again in 2017-2019 (no chasing in 2020)). Epic personal failures squandered the great stretch of the last two weeks of May 2013 (surprised to see this one in blue, I mean those two weeks were incredibly active but I thought that was perceived as a lackluster season overall because of how little activity there was outside of those two weeks?)

Anyway, I became even more depressed than I already was after seeing Brett’s analysis… But had to remind myself that this does not preclude decent mesoscale events. Sort of like, even when you know your baseball team sucks and the season is lost, you still have a chance to see them win when you go to the game!

One thing that would be interesting to analyze and measure somehow is, how “concentrated” was each season? So for example, a May that had consistent activity throughout the month would score higher than a May with the same number of tornados but disproportionate number of them occurring in two weeks of the month. “Score higher” is of course a relative term, because if you happened to pick the right week(s) for a chase vacation you would prefer the more concentrated distribution… But you get what I’m saying, just another way to judge the attributes of a season…
 

Warren Faidley

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Warren, I am assuming you are reading the forecast discussions for each NWS office in the Plains. I don't know of a broad discussion covering the Plains other than the SPC Day 1-8 outlooks.
Yes, the individual NWS Forecast Discussions. For example, AMA and LBB are nothing severe for possibly this M-W. The GFS soundings also support SVR or marginal tornado risks in some spotty areas. The SPC has nothing outlooked... yet. Still too early to go bonkers, but none-the less a notable trend in late May.
 
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I'm a little sketchy on MJO connection but perhaps some decent activity (finally) going into Phase 6 being modeled for the end of the month is at least an an encouraging sign?

Interesting to note both the GFS and CFS are going deep western trough during the same time frame. Just trying to inject a little optimism (it's hard for me).
The ECMWF forecast MJO progression does look intriguing, as phases 8, 1, and 2 are correlated with western troughing and enhanced severe activity in the springtime. Taken literally, and assuming the MJO continues to propagate eastward without weakening after the end of the projected circuit, that would suggest some hope for early-mid June. If that comes to fruition, perhaps we could hew fairly close to 2009 (a decent second Nina analog) which had a fairly active March-April, absolutely dead May, and then a resurgence of activity from about June 5-17.

Agree on all counts. I had the same fears about what the active late April / early May would portend, and there are some posts exchanged on this somewhere above. We are now over two weeks past the previous ”good tornado day” of 5/4. Let’s hope that by this time next week, when it will be three weeks since then, we find ourselves reverting to the mean, whatever that is these days.

I also agree that us chase vacationers only need to worry about how our individual weeks are… It‘s a roll of the dice that can easily be better or worse than the overall season. In fact, I was amazed to see that, with the exception of 2010, my own trips have had an inverse relationship to the chart. I did not see tornados in the “blue years,” which is due to a combination of bad trip timing and my own personal failures. Meanwhile, my only trips with tornados since 2010 (Campo) were all “red years”: 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2021. (Hard to believe I am even still chasing, with no luck in 2013-2015, and again in 2017-2019 (no chasing in 2020)). Epic personal failures squandered the great stretch of the last two weeks of May 2013 (surprised to see this one in blue, I mean those two weeks were incredibly active but I thought that was perceived as a lackluster season overall because of how little activity there was outside of those two weeks?)

Anyway, I became even more depressed than I already was after seeing Brett’s analysis… But had to remind myself that this does not preclude decent mesoscale events. Sort of like, even when you know your baseball team sucks and the season is lost, you still have a chance to see them win when you go to the game!

One thing that would be interesting to analyze and measure somehow is, how “concentrated” was each season? So for example, a May that had consistent activity throughout the month would score higher than a May with the same number of tornados but disproportionate number of them occurring in two weeks of the month. “Score higher” is of course a relative term, because if you happened to pick the right week(s) for a chase vacation you would prefer the more concentrated distribution… But you get what I’m saying, just another way to judge the attributes of a season…
So many great points here from the fixed-period vacationer perspective. The scoring system is designed to reward activity that is spread across more days over activity concentrated within a small handful of days (i.e., tornado days are part of the formula, in addition to total monthly tornado count), but the concentration of the days themselves is not considered (an incredibly active May 1-5 would score the same as five similarly active days spaced out evenly through the month). That is an interesting idea to consider, though.

It's definitely important to stress the limitations of these scores: they are purely a function of tornado and hail reports, so storm/tornado quality really cannot have any impact (beyond longer-path tornadoes being rewarded), and they also use a very crude method of addressing report inflation over the years. It's probably fairer to call them "chase season activity scores" as opposed to "chase season quality scores," which is why very messy, firehose El Nino years like 2015 and 2019 rack up so many points. I recall the 2019 end-of-year thread here being surprisingly gloomy, with many of us feeling it wasn't subjectively much better than the two far less active seasons that preceded it. Obviously, the converse can also be true: some of the "red bar" years may have disproportionately tended toward high-quality events when storms did happen: I'd suggest 2021 fits this description, given how dreadful its score is; 2016, perhaps, too. There are no doubt a ton of legitimate, conflicting viewpoints on any of these seasons individually... yet it still seems safe to say there simply hasn't been a great, classic Plains season since 2010, and also that the period from 2017 to present has been really bad from an objective/activity standpoint overall.
 
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Well I have decided (at least for now, I still have 24 hours 😏) to stick with my originally-planned trip of 5/21-6/5. Next week does not look good, and it is an option to delay a week and change to 5/27-6/10. But I feel it would be foolish to bail on all of next week based on models that have been fluctuating all over the place. Regardless of which trip I do, I will be out there for Memorial Day Weekend and the week that follows. So the “swap” would be to give up 5/21-5/26 in favor of 6/6-6/10. Obviously we can’t say with any confidence how 6/6-6/10 looks; it has just as much chance of being even worse than next week. If by some miracle it looks great, I’ll worry about it then… Maybe try to squeak out a few extra days, especially if I am able to get work done during the down periods. That week is shorter for me anyway; I would have to return home on Friday 6/10, instead of on a Sunday like I usually would, because of a major family event.

My other option is to back the trip up just a few days instead of a whole week… But I really don’t like doing that… A two-week trip that starts in the middle of a week disrupts three different work weeks. And the models present the same conundrum as to exactly when to head out. Unless I could make the decision the day before - which I really can’t - it’s a pretty futile exercise.

Still hoping for some LP supercell potential on Monday 5/23 near the TX/NM border between Hobbs and Midland, where I was actually able to get a forecast GFS sounding (issued 0z 5/20) with a marginal TOR.
 
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There is also this: New developments the last few days. Before anyone jumps all over me, yes, I know it's probably too little too late for this chase season. I know how fickle ENSO forecasting is. I know there is "lag" time involved. But the CFS has had a great handle on it all year, it was the first to predict the late winter/early spring season dive back into deep negative territory.

I am searching for any bit of hope I can both for chase season and some sign of drought relief. nino34Mon.gif
 

Warren Faidley

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From MAF this morning regarding Monday. I'm only re-posting this to show how quickly things can change right now.

THE UPPER TROUGH MOVES THROUGH WEST TEXAS AND SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO
MONDAY AFTERNOON, WITH MODELS PERSISTING IN FORECASTING SCATTERED TO
NUMEROUS T-STORMS OVER MOST OF THE CWA AS IT MOVES THROUGH. GFS
FORECAST SOUNDINGS DEVELOP AFTERNOON CAPES OF ~ 2000 J/KG OVER THE
LOWER TRANS PECOS, IN 30-50KTS OF DEEP LAYER SHEAR. STEEP MID-LEVEL
LAPSE RATES AND DCAPE IN EXCESS OF 1000 J/KG SUGGEST A FEW SEVERE
STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE, BUT THIS IS TOO FAR OUT FOR A MENTION ATTM.
 
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From MAF this morning regarding Monday. I'm only re-posting this to show how quickly things can change right now.

THE UPPER TROUGH MOVES THROUGH WEST TEXAS AND SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO
MONDAY AFTERNOON, WITH MODELS PERSISTING IN FORECASTING SCATTERED TO
NUMEROUS T-STORMS OVER MOST OF THE CWA AS IT MOVES THROUGH. GFS
FORECAST SOUNDINGS DEVELOP AFTERNOON CAPES OF ~ 2000 J/KG OVER THE
LOWER TRANS PECOS, IN 30-50KTS OF DEEP LAYER SHEAR. STEEP MID-LEVEL
LAPSE RATES AND DCAPE IN EXCESS OF 1000 J/KG SUGGEST A FEW SEVERE
STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE, BUT THIS IS TOO FAR OUT FOR A MENTION ATTM.
Doesn't the DCAPE suggest more of a wind event, anyway? Better than nothing, I guess but most chasers are looking for tornado threats. I get derechos at home.
 

Matt Hunt

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Well I have decided (at least for now, I still have 24 hours 😏) to stick with my originally-planned trip of 5/21-6/5. Next week does not look good, and it is an option to delay a week and change to 5/27-6/10. But I feel it would be foolish to bail on all of next week based on models that have been fluctuating all over the place. Regardless of which trip I do, I will be out there for Memorial Day Weekend and the week that follows. So the “swap” would be to give up 5/21-5/26 in favor of 6/6-6/10. Obviously we can’t say with any confidence how 6/6-6/10 looks; it has just as much chance of being even worse than next week. If by some miracle it looks great, I’ll worry about it then… Maybe try to squeak out a few extra days, especially if I am able to get work done during the down periods. That week is shorter for me anyway; I would have to return home on Friday 6/10, instead of on a Sunday like I usually would, because of a major family event.

My other option is to back the trip up just a few days instead of a whole week… But I really don’t like doing that… A two-week trip that starts in the middle of a week disrupts three different work weeks. And the models present the same conundrum as to exactly when to head out. Unless I could make the decision the day before - which I really can’t - it’s a pretty futile exercise.

Still hoping for some LP supercell potential on Monday 5/23 near the TX/NM border between Hobbs and Midland, where I was actually able to get a forecast GFS sounding (issued 0z 5/20) with a marginal TOR.
I'm trying to decide whether or not to drive all the way down to NM/TX from Idaho for that (currently) marginal setup. 2, maybe 3 marginal days. When you have that far to go it's tough to make the call 2 days out not knowing if the ingredients will come together better, or fall apart completely.

I'm more optimistic about Memorial Day weekend at the moment, but that's still a ways out and obviously a lot can and likely will change between now and then.