2005 Season Review/2006 Season Preview

Shane Adams

Now that the 2005 season is finally ending (calendar says so, somehow I think the 2005 climo itself would still argue) it's time to relfect on the year and think ahead to next year. I think the most important thing learned in 2005 was a season can be made or broken by a single week. Even though 2005 will go down as the year that was saved by early June, there were a number of other good chase events throughout the season. Photogenic tornadoes were to be had consistently throughout the Spring. A glance at the Storms of 2005 menu shows this, with events from March, April, May and into June. Some of the most significant events early on were cold core setups, which proved difficult for a lot of us, while others excelled. May was the dead zone of 2005, but provided perhaps the most talked about chase event of the year - South Plains, TX, which will be remembered more for its gorilla hail then the tornadoes (though these were spectacular too). As for the best tornado event of the season, that will probably always be debated, between June 9 and June 12. The past few years have seen early June come back to life in the Southern Plains, something we'd not seen in several years prior. Overall, I think 2005 was an average year. My personal 2005 numbers stand thus:

MILES - 13,079
SUCCESS RATIO - 1 in 5.8

Now we look forward to 2006. I'll not waste any time here - I'm very concerned about the S Plains potential in 2006, because of this record-breaking drought we're in. The problem with a drought is, even when the pattern shifts back to normal or above normal precip, it takes time for the soil and other elements to recover. As others have pointed out, dry soil heats faster and thus we could be experiencing far more capped systems. Also, lack of surface moisture from saturated soil or "leftover" moisture near the ground will challenge any systems with decent return flow as far as depth of moisture. I hope it's still too early to worry and I'm just overreacting, but I get this sick feeling we may already be doomed before the season even arrives. Fortunately, chasing doesn't hing on the S Plains alone. Hopefully there will be some decent events as far south as Kansas (if the drought continues), and hopefully gas prices won't get out of hand too much, as it looks like we southern chasers will once again be making marathon journeys in all directions. Oh well, a tornado is a tornado, who cares if we don't get to eat in May or June :)

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on the past year/coming year.
MILES - 18,121
SUCCESS RATIO - average or less than average
STATES CHASED - KS,NE,SD,MN,IA,CO,MO,ND(almost OK,TX while in Liberal KS June 10th more or less flipping a coin to stay for the next couple days.....DOH!)

2005...hmmmmm a confusing year. One thing to note about the year was the lack of multiple tornadic cell days. I think this is why it was thought to suck so bad, for most. June 9th was really the only big plains day with multiple tornadic storms...or at least the biggest one of them. And if there were some others that would qualify I think they were confined to small areas anyway(like April 10). Looking at the year as a whole there were a lot of tornadoes to be had.

Snowing in NE, SD, and ND on May 1st was not a good sign for that month. The only 2 things I saw in May worth a darn was the Grand Island mothership May 10 and then the Aurora event May 14/15(which I was glad the plains were so cold still!). I was very worried about even being able to make a video at the end of May. I then busted on June 4th, which stung because I've chased that area several times and have yet to see one cool thing there...and it isn't far from home and those always hurt. I followed that up by not bothering with the NE target June 6th while 3 seperate chaser friends nail a couple nice tornadoes. I felt like I was in the May 3-9 2003 timeframe again only it was June now and time was seriously running out. So I HAD to drive to sw SD for that tube the following day and it was the most enjoyable little tube I've seen I think lol(I enjoyed it more than whatever amount I saw May 24 04). Then drove back to extreme se NE the next day for an interesting LP. Then came the crucial decision to keep a chasing the next day(June 9th). June 10 and 11 were to be the outbreak days and June 9th was the day before the day, day. I was getting sick of driving(to e co June 2nd and back, then down into ne ks, south of I-70 June 4 and back that night, then the June 7 to sw SD and back to far se NE the 8th). Sitting out on the 9th with the 10th and 11th coming up sounded so good. I nearly did(a late night after a chase followed by a too early morning looking at a long drive.....we all know these). Thank god I didn't. But, I followed the 9th and 10th up with blowing off June 11 and 12 figuring I still had July and August to get through. Not only was May about as bad as it can get(for sure here and for OK) but I don't remember a worse July AND August up here. It is safe to say OK sucked this year and NE and points north sucked...all year.

Then nabbed the tornado in IA in mid-november. That was a nice treat to this tough year.

I like odd stats in anything and I got one this year that is probably a bit odd. The 5 tornado days were each in a different state. NE, KS, SD, IA, MN(MN and SD both firsts). Too bad the NE one was pathetic looking from my angle, and both the SD and MN ones could be considered pathetic as well. So it wasn't like I was seeing that much.

In the future if someone brings up 2005 the first thing that will come to mind will be, "thank god for June 9th".

As for 2006....hmmmmm. I have a serious amount of money to make before I'll even be able to chase it. So, I'm worried about 2006, lol. I wonder how much I could make if I spent the amount of time I spend on here on it instead. Anyway.....nice topic.....
MILES: ~13,000
AVERAGE DISTANCE: not sure, most chase days started from prior day's finish point

I posted something like this on the other php board so I'll try not to duplicate. My season was mixed up, too. I left in late April to chase Arkansas, thinking it was the start of my vacation. What I didn't realize was that I was only desperate to leave Indiana. "You're a little early," a friend said on the phone. And after the goofy Arkansas chase, I turned around and trudged back home. Came out again several days later to chase whatever it was we were chasing in early May (I came to loathe the term 'upslope') until it all paid off with the GRI mothership and then the 12th and 13th in the Texas panhandle, though I really missed the best of those shows.

A week later I did something I've never done before: exited the plains in mid-May. I drove all the way back to Indiana to sit out the pattern, half-thinking we might be toast for the season. This was an interesting exercise for me, sitting home with no job (the semester was over) while all my friends darted around the plains. All I recall from that sabbatical was a lot of pacing, and interrogating every run of every model, each discussion from NCEP, and any tea leaves or tarot cards I found in the Barnes and Noble parking lot. I was no good for anything, but it saved me gas money.

Came out for the third time at the end of May and things turned around. Starting June 2nd, I had a string of chase days like none before, lots of miles, luck, and tornadoes. Without those last ten days, it would have been my worst season ever. With them, it was my best from a statistical standpoint. However, even when we were chasing high-based, moisture-starved, barely passable popcorn storms in the canyons of New Mexico in early May, I had a good time. I have a cool group of friends and that makes busting much more tolerable.

Looking at my numbers, I was surprised at the relatively low mileage. This is an interesting effect of “nomad chasing:†you're never tempted to turn around and drive home when your apartment is in Bloomington, Indiana. So when the chase is finished and the meal digested, you stop where you are unless the next day's target is significantly far away. So your mileage doesn't accumulate as quickly. It's odd to consider, but I almost expect I'll put up more miles in 2006 because I'm back in Denton, Texas.

What do I expect next year? Nothing that I expect in winter ever comes true, but I expect unfortunately to waste more gas and time in March and April than I have the last three years. I hope I'm smart enough to save gas money and energy for June, because I agree with Shane that the southern plains aren’t my first guess for 2006’s chasing hotspots. This can all turn around rapidly, of course, and I don’t know the hydrology behind how rainfall we see (or don’t see) today effects storm formation or moisture depth or mixing five months from now (does anyone?), but I can see and feel that this place looks like a desert, that I have my windows open on December 31st, that tomorrow is going to reach 80F near the river and with southwest winds and fireworks, half the place will go up in flames. Not conditions you associate with terms like “deep moist convection.â€

Who knows where we’ll end up? It’s fine with me. I like to drive and I like the element of surprise in chasing. Before a long trip I always savor the idea that, by the time I get home, there's no telling what I will have seen.
I agree about the mileage thing, it is odd how it works out. I kept track of mine this year for tax purposes and it surprises me I have more than some others. I'm often amazed at how many miles I do on close to home events. Greeeeat I just went to grab 2 examples and now can't find that word doc I kept track on. Well anyway the June 13th chase to Des Moines for a hailer ended up being like 600 and some odd miles. I was amazed one could tack on 600 for something that close. The other that stands out was the June 20 05 windy storm up by Vermillion SD. I drove nw of Sioux Falls a ways, busted on crap, then on the trip back took a quick jog east a ways into nw IA after a linear mess, then drove back west and got that storm about 80 miles from home. I think this chase was over 700 miles for something 80 miles away.

Edit: Found the mileage per chase doc and put it on my site in accounts:

Only 18,121 miles, not the 19,000+ I thought it was.
Chases - 10? 12?
Miles - lots
Tornadoes - 1
Average Distance - dunno
States - OK, KS, CO, MO, TX

After a successful finish to last year's season, the prospect of a new year excited me. The first chase opportunity I seized was April 10, and I witnessed the storm which passed right over Norman. We broke off at nightfall, shortly before the storm produced the small tornado near Lake Stanley-Draper.

Then nothing for two months (mostly because of my propensity to chase marginal setups out of sheer boredom or lack of desire to attend class), until on June 12 I witnessed a small tornado near Dickens, TX which was actually kind of anti-climactic when I got back and saw all the pictures from the southern storm. Thanks for that guys. :wink:

I am really looking forward to next year, and I think the idea of the "Chase cases" is great to keep everyone sharp for next season. Congrats to those who had successful years and I look forward to meeting many more of you in person next year.
MILES - 8380
TORNADO DAYS - 3 (3/21, 6/12, 8/17)
SUCCESS RATIO - 2790 miles / tornado; 1 tornado in every 6 chases -- bad.

Overall, a pretty poor year for me, especially following the 22 tornadoes I saw in 2004. There were two stretches of days during what I could not chase (May 12-May 15 and June 2-June 6), meaning that I missed May 12-13 and June 4-5 (days I would have chased if I could have). Sat out Jun 9th, and was on the wrong storm (a few 10s of miles north of the cylic tornadic supercell) on Jun 12th... Oklahoma was an obvious disappointment again... Oh well. What else should I have expected after getting a new camcorder and camera last winter :roll:
CHASES: ~18 (most ever, compared to about 13 in 2004)
MILES: ~16,000
AVERAGE DISTANCE: not sure... I was everywhere this year...LOL...

I think I posted my history in 2005 somewhere else... But will expand as briefly as possible here. I left for the plains with chase buddy, Kurt Hulst on April 27, to embark on a 3 week chase trip. We had to fool around with the AR/MS setup and chase an HP supercell into northern MS afterdark (hey, I needed a storm pretty bad LOL) and then headed for OKC and stayed at Shane Adams house for a few days, before going on a merry-go-round and ended up in Dodge City, KS for a few days. After busting and semi-busting in TX on May 7th and 8th, we headed north for the pretty decent setup in southern/central NE on the 10th, and got the sweet mothership supercell near GRI.

We then headed west from York, NE and semi-busted in southwest NE/northeast CO/northwest KS border area, barely missing the tornado that was produced by the one supercell. We then headed southward, and scored multiple tornadoes in the TX panhandle on the 12th, and then stayed the night in Childress with many chaser friends... Only to wake up in the next day's target, which was Childress. We all got the sweet classic x HP supercell and then headed to OKC only to leave north for NE a couple days later for the next setup(s).

We headed back on the 22nd and I stayed home, like Amos, hoping for things to change (it wasn't enough, and I wanted to go back out again) and it did. I left for the plains again on June 2nd, and wound up chasing a nice bow echo in KS just hours after I arrived in the state. I slept in ICT, only to meet the whole crew the next day, and once again paired up with Kurt Hulst. We headed north from Ponca City, OK (where we stayed the night) to play the nice-looking setup in SD on Day3. I got a nice tornado and supercell in SD on June 7, only to head south into northwest KS on June 9 to get an additional 6-8 tornadoes, then headed south for the TX panhandle on June 12 to get an additional 6-8. After that, I chased a nice tornadic sup in southwest KS/OK panhandle border on June 16th.

All in all, after my first 3 "seasons" of chasing mostly Great Lakes crap... I got a piece of the plains pie, and I have now moved on up to the east side. Yes, I finally got a piece of the pie. Sorry... :lol:

As for 2006, the southern plains drought does worry me a bit... But, while I plan on moving to Norman by the spring/summer (graduating this year)... I am completely content with traveling a distance for my storms, and I have been doing it since I started chasing, and I love traveling. I got my own ride for 2006, and my goal is to chase 50 times between March and July 2006 :)
MILES: unknown
TORNADO DAYS: 3 (5/13/05, 6/9/05, 6/12/05)

After a bunch of mistakes in '03 and '04 I really enjoyed this year. I wasn't feeling good and missed May 12, but got the other two big days of the year (and saw tornadoes on multiple storms both days).

Looking ahead to '06, I'm not too worried about the drought conditions. The only way to get true deep moisture is from the gulf. Evaporation and evapotranspiration over the land really only effect the air close to the ground. So either the gulf will get scoured out completely like the past couple of years or it won't and we'll have quality moisture around or lurking just to the south.

As for the cap, the vast majority of winters in western OK, the west TX, and eastern NM are very dry and don't really provide enough precip to have good ground moisture coming into March and April. Most of those areas only average one to two inches of precip from Dec 1 through Feb 28. Spread that out over ninety days and it's going to be dry "on average" anyways. So I think a drought might have a small effect on severe weather probabilities, but it won't effect it much (***This is only my guestimation, I could be wrong and would enjoy other opinions).

I think the large scale upper air patterns are going to play a much larger impact than the lack of rain over the past few months. At some point mother nature is going to have to even herself out and give us a great year here in the southern plains, why not this year?
Chases: 30(Estimate)
Miles: 20,000(Estimate)
Tornadoes: 19
Tornado Days: 8
Average Distance: no idea
States Chased: TX, OK, MO, NE, IA, MN, SD, ND, WY, MT

Overall it was a decent year, but the quality of tornadoes was a little dissapointing after 2003 and 2004. I got off to a good start with the 4/21 tornadic supercell in Neosho county(F3 and F1). Then May happened. June was a season saver for me (like it was for many others) and then the last week of June and the first week of July brought me a little luck.
I have a lot of good memories from the 2005 season, but I will always remember it for having the worst May ever. It was tough to endure after missing the May 12 supercells because of finals.
IMO 2006 will be better. The stats looked good for 2005, but I am hopefully optimistic that the quality of tornadoes will improve in 2006. Time will tell, but I think it will be a great season.
MILES: 10,000
AVG CHASE DIST: 300-500 miles

2005 actually wasn't such a bad year even though the season got off to a slow start and I spent a lot of my chase budget on chasing May setups which yielded beautiful supercells but no tornadoes. From a tornado standpoint I guess it was pretty disappointing, I missed alot of the true outbreaks this year, the number one reason being I chased to much in May or made bad strategic decisions (like to return home on May 10th instead of begin working down to the S Plains for May 12). Continuing to chase while it had become obvious the Gulf needed a little recovery time from the blocking and scouring that had gone on would have indeed been a good decision. My tornado to chase ratio was similar to Jeff's at about 6 to 1.

For some reason I chased a lot of the less obvious events this year. As far as total busts are concerned this year has only seen a few with most chase days yielding a supercell. Best period would be 6-3-05 Colorado Mothership/Possible Tornado and 6-4-05 1-3am S KS night tornadofest as well as 6-5-05 which I believe was the High Risk Day, we actually did quite well and caught a beautiful classic supercell with a brief lifespan north of Lincoln, Omaha. Other noteable events include the Supercell in La Qui Parle county in MN early in May and also the Murdo LP Mothership (biggest SD convergence I've ever seen!) Several great chases in North Dakota this year as well as. May 10, 2005 was the first real nice chase of 2005 for me and I was on the IA Supercell, though like several others I got stuck behind the cell as it developed a nice rain curtain and hook.

September and October also yielded an unusual number of SD and IA chases though some were mariginally severe at best others were exciting.
Two of the last chases I had were around O'Neill Nebraska with the first being a beautiful tornado warned cell that didn't produce. I only got to see one severe squall though which is disappointing.
Tornadoes: 14
Chases: at least 20
Mileage: over 20,000

2005 was a great year if you happened to be out on the half dozen or so good days. I saw more tornadoes in 2005 than in the banner year of 2004.

Good and bad years are often relative - depending on the chosen chase dates and targeting successes of each chase. 2003 was a record breaking year in which I chased with fervor but saw nothing, and so is a season I personally consider bad. For others, '03 was a great year. '05 is no different - if you couldn't stick around for the June show it was likely a bad year for you.

2006? For the past five seasons I have chased long and hard to add tornadoes to my video collection and personal 'before I die' experiences list. 2001 through 2005 gave me everything I wanted out of chasing - the meteorological aspects (tornadoes, hurricanes), the social aspects (finding some great friends in the chasing world), and to a lesser extent the business aspect (TV work experience). I've pushed myself hard and made some big financial, career and lifestyle sacrifices to be able to chase the way I wanted to. I feel like those sacrifices have paid off.

Now that I've fulfilled all of my chasing goals, 2006 is going to be a different year for me. I'm going to relax and sit back for a while. As much as I'd enjoy it, another long-duration chase trip to the Plains is going to be expensive for me (as it always is every year). A expense I can't bring myself to justify this year. I've been trying to talk myself into it again, but the practical side of me is at odds with my adventurous side. I guess I'm just getting old :)

I'm allowing for *one* marathon drive out west if a good multi-day outbreak looks certain. And only if I can round up a carpool to help with gas and hotels. There's always Ohio and Indiana just a few hours away, and I have a feeling Ohio's due for a big event.

Of course, these are my feelings now and are subject to change when I see the big trough showing up on the models in mid May.