Best year in the history of chasing

Best season in chasing history

  • 1991

    Votes: 6 10.0%
  • 1995

    Votes: 4 6.7%
  • 1999

    Votes: 4 6.7%
  • 2003

    Votes: 9 15.0%
  • 2004

    Votes: 35 58.3%
  • Other year (specify)

    Votes: 2 3.3%

  • Total voters

Dan Robinson

I'd like to know what the consensus between veterans and new chasers alike is on the best season that chasers have experienced. This isn't a poll on your best personal chase year, rather base your vote on the season with the best overall quantity, chaseability and photogenic quality of storms and tornadoes - not just the ones you successfuly intercepted yourself. If you think another year other than the ones listed should get the distinction, vote 'other'.

1995 was a legendary chase year in my book and it was difficult to choose between it and 2004, but I had to go with 2004.
i would say the first 10 days of may 2003 have proved to be the best years, when i think bout may 10th and the numerous photos ive seen from IL n MO and may 4th around the KC area and Girard Ks, Platte City, and last but not least around the OKC area on may 8th and 9th i think those 10 days could have made chasers years

although 2004 did have a lot of good moments but i would choose 03 over 04 but they were both real close, i know your not asking for personal chases but 04 was my personal best, but i think i would choose 03 just by sheer magnitude of the season
I choose 2004. One of the reason I think 2004 was the best for chasing is the span in the dates of the events, it seems like there were events through out the entire summer not only May and June as both July and August produced numerous tornadoes which when you reside in the heart of tornado alley allows for an exciting year.
2004 and not because I live in Iowa and watched the may 22 outbreak that produced 36 tornadoes across Iowa unfold or the outbreak before that in Iowa just 1-2 days earlier but I picked 2004 because of the record days we had over 80 tornadoes or close to that and for the record year I think in most tornadoes ever seen. Plus we had outbreaks start from spring into fall. Also several towns were wiped out including Bradgate Iowa and I think a few in Nebraska and Mo. Mabey Halem NE? Cant remeber. 2003 would be the next on my list.

I was suprised you have only earlier dates as I am sure there was some great chase years before 1991. Not sure how good the 80's was for chasing storms?
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I didn't chase all of the years that were listed but out of the years mentioned that I did chase I would go with 2004.
My best year as a chaser was hands down 1999, but I would have to give 1995 a vote...May & June of that year was incredible and I wished I could have chased more events that year. June 8 was an awesome day I wish I could revisit.
haha wow now that mike hollingshead named all those days i tried to do the same for 03 but have come up empty i even forgot about the IL days and i actually chased those days grrrr well cant change my vote but reconsidering my previous thoughts
From the chase accounts I've read from some longtime veterans (Moore, Doswell, etc), the 80s had their days, but nothing like the 90s and 00s. Of course, most of that was due to the small number of chasers and the smaller territory covered. I guess you could look at climatology to see if there were good events in places like Colorado or the Dakotas, areas that are routinely chased today that may not have been as much back then. Other than by knowing storm motions, it would be hard to tell how photogenic and truly 'chaseable' those events would have been just by looking at the raw numbers.

From the chase reports I've read, the late 70s seemed to have some banner seasons which may be comparable to recent big years. I was hoping a few chase vets could give us some insight on how today's 'dream seasons' stack up to those.
2003 was active too obviously, but should come up short I'd think.

I'll try some from 2003.

May 3 had some long-lived cycling supercells in western to central NE and there was a beast in TX as well
May 4 KS/MO outbreak
May 8 about a carbon copy of May 4(I was at the stupid sfc lows seeing jack both days)
May 9 okc night tornado after the Moore tornado the day before.
May 10 big outbreak MO, IL
May 15 TX Panhandle area tornadoes
then it was dead as hell till May 31
May 31 NE panhandle had one tonrado and a long lived supercell
then nothing stands out to me till June 9
June 9 2 big tornadic supercells in nc-c Nebraska as well as a couple in SD
June 22 2 big tornadic supercells in sc NE(deshler and Aurora record hailstone producer)
June 23 at least one(deadly) tornado in ne NE
June 24 record tornado outbreak in se SD(Manchester, etc)

yeah i could only add
may 30th - tornado outbreak in northern and central illinois
1982 was a pretty intense year of chasing...looking back at things in the good 'ole figures my first semester at OU was in the fall of that year !!
Being a so-called "veteran", I would go with '91 or '95. I guess it depends on where you begin your chases and how important you rate tornado quality versus miles driven.

The '91 season was fantastic in KS/OK because there were significant tornado days about every 1-2 weeks from 21 March through 26 May, then it just shut down. In other words, not an excessive number of days to chase, but no long down periods and a high % of quality tornadic storms. '95 had a larger number of storms, including the incredible week in early June.

Keep in mind that there were fewer chasers in the early-mid 90s, and there was no such thing as mobile internet access or ThreatNet. I would guess that 2004 leads because more chasers on this forum were comfortable chasing in 2004 compared to 1991 :D
I would have to go with 1991, mainly for the reasons Rich gave...very chaseable, photogenic storms. 1998 was also a good one for me, as was 1999...the 00's have been a down time for me, mainly because my chase range is much more limited, but 2003 was a decent year...


I would agree with 2004 being the greatest season. For one, May 30th 2004 was my first tornado and that's all that need be said for my opinion.
Otherwise Mike's list is another great reason....
I'd go with 1999. Too bad I was completely free that spring, sitting at home in ND unsure of what to do with my life and meanwhile wishing I knew how to chase storms. One reason I chose this year as the best was it that it was extremely active in the Dakotas... including the June 6 event in northeast ND, which was a part of the June 3-June 6 madness. Then of course there were April 8 and May 3. While probably not as big a year as 2004 considering sheer number of events, those 3 outbreaks were tremendous in their magnitude IMO. Sitka and Almena occurred that year as well, and there are others I'm sure I'm missing.
I decided to vote based on personal experience rather than history, so I went with 2004. Personally, I think 1991 was probably the best year start to finish, because it started in March and never let up, where 2004 was practically dead in April and much of May. As I expected, 2004 is winning in a landslide, which reflects the overall newbie nature of the majority of ST chasers, and more to the point, non chasing members.

If you gave this same pole to the CDFG group, it'd be a runaway between '91 and '95.
I have to agree with Shane. In the 9 years I have chased 2004 is by far the best chase year, but chasers with 20+ years would likely pick a different year. In the past I have posed this very question to several veteran chasers and most bring up 91. I know Gene Moore brought up a year in the 80's but I can't remember witch one.

My original vote was for 2004 but now I have had a little more time to reflect on what more experienced chasers have said.

This is how I would rank the chase years listed:
1. 1991
2. 2004
3. 1995
4. 1999
5. 2003
I'm surprised there are no choices for 1982, 1977, and 1974. For the veteran chasers, these were fantastic years in the Plains. 1982 had a number of special events in the TX Panhandle, plus the Altus tornado. The "Seven Days of May" in 1977 brings back many memories for some veterans. 1974 had a number of events, including the 6/8/74 Central OK outbreak.

I began active chasing in the Plains in 1987, and by far, my best year was 1991. It seemed that for every severe weather outbreak, you could not buy a bust. There was something magic in the air that year - if there was a chance of severe weather, there was a going to be a photogenic storm/tornado somewhere. 3/21, 3/26, 4/2, 4/12, 4/26, 5/10, 5/11 (see avatar), 5/15, 5/16, 5/26 were tremendous (I probably forgot some). A "Storms of 1991" would have had to take up at least two full-length DVDs (one just for 4/26 alone).

Believe it or not, I saw my highest number of tornado days in 1992. But I would rank it "in the middle" since many were not photogenic and/or short lived.
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As Greg S. mentioned, you couldn't seem to go wrong in '91.
3/21 - southern and southeast OK (at least 1 F3)
3/26 - infamous "night hoses" including 44 mi F3 nrn OK
4/12 - tremendous tornadic storm near Pond Creek, plus
other tornadic storms closer to OKC, and in N TX.
4/26 - Andover/Red Rock outbreak
5/10 - Lazbuddie TX
5/11 - Boise City OK
5/15 - Laverne OK
5/16 - near Wichita KS
5/26 - Woodward OK, Towanda KS, and near LBL

The vast majority of the tornadoes occurred during daylight, and even the nocturnal ones were visible on 3/26. Also, most of these days included multiple F2+ tornadoes that lasted 15 mins to 1+ hr.

1982 would also rank up there with NINETEEN tornado days in OK during May. I've only heard stories and seen pictures of May '77, but the quality of storms was similar to June '95.

2004 would probably flirt with the top 5 for many of the long time chasers.
Heck yes! I saw my first 'real' tornado in May 1991 in western SD just by accident so there must have been alot of tornadoes around. That was the year that really got me hooked - I'd love to do historic 'Storms of' DVDs if there was enough material sent in and chapter producers.

I didn't even own a camera back then!
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