Fall chasing...

This is my first year chasing so I am curious about the fall prospects.

Is it worth camping out on the plains in the fall for some Tornado viewing or should I just wait, and wait and wait till spring ?

My job allows quite a bit of flexibility and commuting to the plains is more expensive than just spending a week or two out there.

I thought there was a fall maximum of Tornado occurance but I can not find the statistics.


Opinions ??
Sept, Oct, Nov ??
KS, OK, NE ??
 
October can be very rewarding in the southern plains and other areas. But it's nearly impossible to say in advance when one should choose vacation time. The tornado climatology isn't as definitive as spring, when the last week of May and the first week of June are relatively safe bets annually. You have to be prepared for whenever an October chase may pop up, and if you live far away (like me for a little while longer) it's tough.

As for this October, I don't think there's any way to know. I've asked several chasers and people seem to have a strong hunch that we'll see a few good chases. That may come as much from last October's having been so dead as anything else, but it's still worth noting. I expect to see some supercells this October, and with a little luck, something more.
 
I can't wait for late Sept-early Oct. There are almost always a few chaseable days - but as Amos mentioned, it's unpredictable. It's the kind of thing that makes it pay off to live here, but difficult to judge whether a person should take time off and come for a vacation.

Had a nice taste last night with a few cells that came up - enough structure to spark a few tornado dreams when I slept last night. Very cool.

I'm hoping for an active fall -
 
Falls occasionally brings great chase opportunities. I've never seen anything quite like October 12, 1993 in the Abilene TX area. Everywhere you looked, in all directions, there was a monster Cb. I chose to go south to the Paint Rock area and saw some great sculptures.

Also that late-September 1996 squall line in central Oklahoma produced some absolutely amazing lightning.

Tim
 
This is my first year chasing so I am curious about the fall prospects.

Is it worth camping out on the plains in the fall for some Tornado viewing or should I just wait, and wait and wait till spring ?

My job allows quite a bit of flexibility and commuting to the plains is more expensive than just spending a week or two out there.

I thought there was a fall maximum of Tornado occurance but I can not find the statistics.


Opinions ??
Sept, Oct, Nov ??
KS, OK, NE ??

Not worth camping out for. However, sometimes a day or two in the Fall will be huge and be no worse than those wonderful days in May. October 4, 1998 and October 9, 2001 are the obvious examples with substantial chaseable tornado outbreaks in Okalhoma.

Personally, I wouldn't even want to guess when to hope for a chase in the Fall. That's just one of those things I love about living in the southern plains.
 
October 24, 2001 and November 10 2002 were very active days in the Midwest. Numerous tornadoes on Oct 24 and the big F4 Van Wert on November 10th.

You may want to consider staying home in Ohio. LOL. 8)
 
Nick is right. The past three years have brought some legitimate chase days east of the Mississippi during late fall. 10/24/01, 11/10/02, 11/12/03 were all prolific days that I went out for in Ohio and Kentucky. Chasing was difficult due to high speed storms, but during these fall chases I've experienced lightning, hail, mammatus, power flashes, tornado sirens and high winds - a treat for October and November. The drives to the target are great with the warm temperatures, fall colors and the southerly breeze blowing the falling leaves around. Chances of seeing a tornado are slim, but do exist (Van Wert). It's a great time to get out for one last real chase before winter sets in.

It's also fun to be where the forecast goes from 75F and t-storms in the evening to 30F and snow the next morning! Last November I was in tornado-warned Canton, Ohio as sirens blared, while the NWR played a heavy snow advisory (1 to 3 inches) for the overnight hours.
 
Refered to by many chasers, the "Fall chase season" on the Plains is the one of the most overhyped aspects of chasing. Our fine Climatologist, Mr. Geukes posted his findings on fall tornado climatology a while back and it was an eye opener to me. I can't seem to find it on here anymore but I know it's still on the WX-CHASE archives. If I remember correctly, Oklahoma had the highest probability of a tornado in October on the Plains but even then, it averaged a little less then one tornado day per year during that month. I think Kansas and Nebraska were around 0.5 tornado days average for the month of October.

That being said, chasing that day or two in the Fall can still be very rewarding as Amos and Kenneth pointed out. Also check out SamB's STORM NEWS and Archives page
http://www.k5kj.net/news.htm to see some more links to past Fall events.

One advantage to chasing in the Fall may be that many times the setups are deep trof/strong low pressure systems ejecting out onto the Plains. Many times these can be picked up well by the models 2-3 days in advance so if you do have a flexible job you can work it out to getting where you need to be in that time compared to taking weeks off at a time in the Spring and rolling the dice if you are going to see anything.

So what do I think for this year? You got me, let me flip a coin and I will tell you, better yet let me get back to you in November :)
 
I'd say the best window of opportunity for chaseable weather in the Plains during the fall would be between the second week of September and the third week of October. But at best there may be only about three to five events worth chasing during that whole 5-6 week span...and some years (like 2003) there may not even be one event worth chasing in all of September or October. Nearly all the "outbreaks" during September and October last for one day as well, multiple chase opportunites in a week are very rare that time of year. So if I had the flexible job schedule and there were clear signs there was going to be an outbreak two days ahead of time I'd come out here for a one-day event, but I wouldn't sacrifice two weeks of vacation weeks in advance with the slim chance I might get to chase one or two events over 14 days.
 
Starting this Monday looking a bit interesting to say the least.
 
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