1988 vs 2006--May and June

  • Thread starter Mike Hollingshead
  • Start date

Mike Hollingshead

I've always heard how bad the 1988 year was and now I've seen a completely horrid May, June myself. I'm wondering which year had a worse May and June(maybe we could include April in this too or do it as a whole year.....but May/June seems to be the chase vacation time). I have always wondered just how much chasing was done north of OK in 1988. I bet even now those that chased then do more chasing in the north now then did back then, but I really have no idea. One thing is for certain, there were far fewer chasers hitting the roads hard back then. I just have a hard time seeing something worse than May/June 2006. 2006 had a hell of a lot more chasers out there, as well as the internet(for spreading info on what was even seen), and there really was VERY little to be found the full duration of both months over a very widespread region.

It will be nice when NCDC updates. If 1988 was worse there should be no reason to see higher tornado reports on NCDC from 88 compared to 06.

NCDC numbers for 1988 for May and June ONLY:

OK 6
TX 14
AR 1
MO 0
MN 1
ND 8
SD 2
NE 14
KS 11
CO 26
IA 40

It seems those numbers in 88 for May and June would be better for NE, KS, CO, and IA than they were in 2006 and maybe close for OK and TX? IA, NE, and CO seem a sure bet for worse in 06.

Those IA and CO numbers alone seem like more than what 06 had in May and June in the whole plains(and those are 88 numbers when there was certainly less reporting).
 
Mike,

Are those numbers for individual tornadoes, or tornado county segments? The NCDC Storm Data reports tornado county segments, which may lead to an implication that there were more tornadoes than actually occurred.
 
Mike,

Are those numbers for individual tornadoes, or tornado county segments? The NCDC Storm Data reports tornado county segments, which may lead to an implication that there were more tornadoes than actually occurred.
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Well I imagine they are, but when the stats come out for 2006 they will be the same way. Even with that, 06 doesn't seem any better than 88. If there were many county line crossers in 88 that seems like a better stat than 06 alone, lol. If someone wants to figure them all out by taking away that aspect feel free. Perhaps Guekes already has?

Looking at IA for May 8, 1988 it looks like it had several long-track tornadoes(or several county line crossers).
 
At least 1988 had 05/08/88. SVR Plot shows 57 tornadoes in WI, IL & espically IA. Several long-track tornadoes in the F2-F3 range, with one 71miles in length. So it looks like 25 individual tornadoes for IA. But the rest of the plains looks single county, at least at a glance.
 
Using SVRPlot, here are the tornado counts I found for May-June 1988:

TX: 14
OK: 5
KS: 11
NE: 12
SD: 2
ND: 8
MN: 1
IA: 25
WI: 25
MO: 0


5/8/88 was a relatively big outbreak, with more than 50 tornadoes across WI and IA and several tornado tracks over 40 miles long!

Per OUN, it looks as though OK will barely miss the record low tornado count again this year, with 18 tornadoes in the state (not including June tornadoes, which may number 1 or 2). 2002 was also very low in terms of tornadoes in OK, with the yearly total only exceeding the record low by 1. See http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/tornadodata/ok/tornado2006.php

EDIT: LOL Scott beat me to the punch!
 
Using SVRPlot, here are the tornado counts I found for May-June 1988:

TX: 14
OK: 5
KS: 11
NE: 12
SD: 2
ND: 8
MN: 1
IA: 25
WI: 25
MO: 0
5/8/88 was a relatively big outbreak, with more than 50 tornadoes across WI and IA and several tornado tracks over 40 miles long!

EDIT: LOL Scott beat me to the punch!
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LOL, well thanks for tabbing them up. Not sure i'd rather have 1988's pattern to 2006. But at least there was a good outbreak of long-tracks. Supposedly that event set the WI record for tornadoes in one day. (another site said it set the Iowa record as well, but I think it's confused with WI).

Just for fun:
060709223429.gif
 
I have to wonder if the '90's was just a tornadic spike in the long run of things for the upper midwest. We broke or were near breaking the max number of tors for many years in the '90's and early '00's. Maybe we really are tranding back to 'normal'? Maybe this isn't all due to more people seeing TOR's in the 90's as we thought (assumed). Just a thought.

You have to wonder how much of this is all due to the drought gripping the central and SW states.
 
Using SVRPlot, here are the tornado counts I found for May-June 1988:

TX: 14
OK: 5
KS: 11
NE: 12
SD: 2
ND: 8
MN: 1
IA: 25
WI: 25
MO: 0
5/8/88 was a relatively big outbreak, with more than 50 tornadoes across WI and IA and several tornado tracks over 40 miles long!

Per OUN, it looks as though OK will barely miss the record low tornado count again this year, with 18 tornadoes in the state (not including June tornadoes, which may number 1 or 2). 2002 was also very low in terms of tornadoes in OK, with the yearly total only exceeding the record low by 1. See http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/tornadodata/ok/tornado2006.php

EDIT: LOL Scott beat me to the punch!
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Interesting to note the recently added tornado to the 2006 OK list (which has been 17 for weeks now) was the questionable tornado near Olney, OK from May 9. I was on that storm and missed the reported tornado. There's a meteorologist who keeps his own personal page for OK tornadoes, including a list of "under investigation" reports. I've seen reports come and go from this list, so I assume when the May 9 report disappeared from the "questionable" list, it was deemed bogus. Other tornadoes that have since vanished from the "Q" list have failed to appear on the official list.
 
One thing is for certain, there were far fewer chasers hitting the roads hard back then. I just have a hard time seeing something worse than May/June 2006. 2006 had a hell of a lot more chasers out there, as well as the internet(for spreading info on what was even seen), and there really was VERY little to be found the full duration of both months over a very widespread region.
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I really think that this is the relevant point here- in this day and age during May and most of June it is virtually impossible for any legitimate tornado to occur in the Plains with no chaser seeing it. Conversely, back in 1988, there were very likely quite a number of weaker and more remote tornadoes that occurred that were not reported- therefore it seems pretty safe to say that there is little doubt that 2006 was a much more sparse year for tornadoes in the Plains than in 1988. During my vacation of May 22- June 11 I personally saw no tornadoes- the first time since I began chasing in 1991. Jim Leonard, who has been chasing since the 1970's, says that 2006 was his worst chase season.

Matt
 
LOL, well thanks for tabbing them up. Not sure i'd rather have 1988's pattern to 2006. But at least there was a good outbreak of long-tracks. Supposedly that event set the WI record for tornadoes in one day. (another site said it set the Iowa record as well, but I think it's confused with WI).

Just for fun:
060709223429.gif

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Scott...

The Wisconsin daily tornado record was set by that event which was then exceeded again on August 18, 2005. However, the site would have been correct in saying Iowa as well, as the event also set the daily tornado record in that state as well. This event most people tab as "the Mother's Day Outbreak of 1988".

I've been trying to research that and the Palm Sunday Outbreak of 65 a bit to build up the local historical event database but the 88 event, believe it or not, is a lot harder to find information on.
 
Scott...

The Wisconsin daily tornado record was set by that event which was then exceeded again on August 18, 2005. However, the site would have been correct in saying Iowa as well, as the event also set the daily tornado record in that state as well. This event most people tab as "the Mother's Day Outbreak of 1988".

I've been trying to research that and the Palm Sunday Outbreak of 65 a bit to build up the local historical event database but the 88 event, believe it or not, is a lot harder to find information on.
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Thanks for adding that. That's quite an event for such a quiet year. One thing I forgot to mention is there was also a big outbreak in Texas in August of 1988 as well. I can understand the frustration with researching the 88 event, a good 30 minutes of searching kept getting me the same paragraph. I even checked Jonathan Finch's website, to no avail.
 
Interesting to note the recently added tornado to the 2006 OK list (which has been 17 for weeks now) was the questionable tornado near Olney, OK from May 9. I was on that storm and missed the reported tornado. There's a meteorologist who keeps his own personal page for OK tornadoes, including a list of "under investigation" reports. I've seen reports come and go from this list, so I assume when the May 9 report disappeared from the "questionable" list, it was deemed bogus. Other tornadoes that have since vanished from the "Q" list have failed to appear on the official list.
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Val Castor did get video of that tornado, very brief, very weak, but there was condensation to the ground. He reported a second tornado as well in the same area, but after further review he is unsure whether it was actually a second tornado or part of the same circulation from the first..it is still on the investigation list and may be discounted.
Regarding 1988...I agree there would have been more reported tornadoes had there been as many chasers then as now, but I don't believe at all it would have been a significant increase. This year, the first 10 days or so were fairly active, especially across parts of Texas...that didn't happen in '88..this year, there were 45 tornado reports in Tx as opposed to 7 in '88. More than a few chasers came away with some good stuff during that time, in an area one would expect. This area didn't do squat in '88. In May of this year, I chased 4 times and came away with nice storms 3 of those 4 days..no tornadoes, but storms I was happy with. May of '88 I only chased once and it was a blue sky bust (the day before the IA/WI funfest), so for me I would have to say May of 1988 was worse than this year. Now, if you throw June into the mix I think things swing back to 2006 being the overall worse.

Rob


Thanks for adding that. That's quite an event for such a quiet year. One thing I forgot to mention is there was also a big outbreak in Texas in August of 1988 as well. I[/b]

Do you have any more info on that August '88 event? Storm Data shows 2 tornadoes in Tex. that month and nothing unusual in terms of other severe events? There were 45+ tornadoes in Sep 1988, most of them associated with the remnants of Gilbert...

Rob
 
Do you have any more info on that August '88 event? Storm Data shows 2 tornadoes in Tex. that month and nothing unusual in terms of other severe events? There were 45+ tornadoes in Sep 1988, most of them associated with the remnants of Gilbert... [/b]

Had to double check, Storm Data is right, those were in fact September and from Gilbert. So, The highlights being 5-8-88 and 11-5-88.

For instance on Nov 15th there are tornadoes across OK/IA/IL/AR. (Topeka & St. Louis tornadoes)

Click Here for Jonathan Finch's information on 11-15-88.

Rob's point about at least having some decent storms to chase, is the reason I think 2006 was a better chase year then 1988. Of course better, is in releation to the worst year. However, if I chased exclusively for tornadoes, there would be little difference between May-Jun 88 and May-Jun 06, IMO. Im not sure I would want the deadly 1988 heatwave though:

Drought/Heat Wave Summer 1988. 1988 drought in central and eastern U.S. with very severe losses to agriculture and related industries; estimated $40.0 (61.6) billion damage/costs; estimated 5,000 to 10,000 deaths (includes heat stress-related).
 
1988 was one horribly hot spring chase season as I can remember. The May 8th Iowa-Wisconsin tornado outbreak in 1988 was the only spring event of significance. This past spring (as poor as it was and seemed) had 3 to 4 events I would deem a significant event. These spring season 2006 dates are March 12th, April 2nd, and April 7th...with the fourth event a toss-up. I will still keep 1988 as THE worst spring tornado season since I first started chasing in 1984. 2006 is a close second however !!
 
Yeah there is no disputing if you count stuff before May in 2006.
 
Good day,

If you are all talking about the entire season of 2006, compared to 1988, there is a good chance that SO FAR - 2006 is better, because of the March and April activity as opposed to May 8, 1988 only.

Now, for May and June, ESPECIALLY May 2006, yeah - MUCH worse than 1988. In '88 you at least had May 8 - In May 2006, you had NOTHING (no major / chasing type tornadoes).

I remember Tim Vasquez quoted "1988 is the ashtray of all chase years, plagued by the "death ridge" and moisture problems. Little chasers had any luck, with the only storms weak ones in New Mexico".

I don't smoke, but I sure did not feel like having an ashtray thrown at me in 2006. Well, maybe I should say, "I survived a 1988 like may and I didn't die"!

Congrats to all you others who did too ;-)

Chris C - KG4PJN
 
I chase with a crew from Virginia Tech and Pulaski County High School (Virginia). We actually had a few decent storms in 2006, though our only brief tornado intercept was in Durham, NC. We had some good supercells in IL, WI, SD, NE and a squall line mess in IN.

[attachmentid=474]
Maroa, IL, 5/17/06

[attachmentid=473]
Southern WI, 5/24/06

The key this year was making lemonade from lemons and chasing in non-traditional locations. I've chased with this crew for a few years now, and this year holds the records for:

1. Earliest chase (normally we travel for two days, but we had a storm in NC after loading up!)
2. Number of Mississippi River crossings (4 I think?)
3. Shortest trip home after chase (1 day- left from southern IN)
4. Largest amount of chase time spent behind trees (all day in IN)
5. Number of gustnadoes we heard reported as tornadoes (there were several in SD)

Let's hope 2007 has a much better pattern. Getting the storms we did required much more than average forecasting, and it really was picking and choosing, versus the typical dryline panhandle of TX scenario. Good luck to all of you in 2007 (and for the rest of 2006)

73

Seth Price, N3MRA
www.n3mra.com
 
This is related to 1988 vs. 2006 discussion...

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE("NWSFO MPX")</div>
The period of relative calm so far throughout 2006 is very apparent when examining the very small number of tornadoes that have occurred across this region, and more specifically, the NWS Chanhassen County Warning Area. To date, there have been no tornadoes reported in any of the 42 Minnesota counties or 9 Wisconsin counties served by the Chanhassen NWS, and even more striking is the fact that no Tornado Warnings have been issued either. Both of these facts either place this tornado drought near or past record status.

Since 1950, when accurate tornado statistics for the entire United States were first compiled, the farthest into a calendar year that the first tornado was reported in the NWS Chanhassen County Warning Area was August 2nd, 1988, when a tornado touched down in Carver County. If there are no tornadoes reported before Wednesday, August 2nd, the year 2006 will surpass 1988’s record. By contrast, the earliest in a calendar year that a tornado was reported was March 18th, 1968, when a tornado touched down in Watonwan County.
....
When it comes to Tornado Warnings, NWS Chanhassen has already surpassed its previous latest calendar date since 1986 for issuing the first Tornado Warning of the year. Previously, the year 1995 registered the latest date, having issued the first Tornado Warning of the year on June 27th for Meeker County;....[/b]

READ HERE
 
Well, looks like it broke the curse, although I haven't seen it on SPC's reports as of yet and not very impressive on radar......

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN THE TWIN CITIES HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN LAC QUI PARLE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA...
YELLOW MEDICINE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA...........LAW ENFORCEMENT
IN DAWSON ALSO REPORTED THIS STORM BRIEFLY PRODUCED A TORNADO.[/b]
 
Well, looks like it broke the curse, although I haven't seen it on SPC's reports as of yet and not very impressive on radar......
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I cursed the near-record!

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE("MPX NWSFO")</div>
The likely first tornado of the season was reported near the community of Dawson in Lac Qui Parle county on Thursday Night. Confirmation of this tornado will be done during the day on Friday. If this indeed was a tornado, this will end a near record drought for tornadoes across the NWS Chanhassen County Warning Area.
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Likely Tornado Thursday Night Ends Near Record Tornado Drought
 
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