Is this really May???

Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
228
Location
Denver, CO
Well...I am beginning to wonder if we all turned to calender page to May 2005 a month to soon or even just skipped over to August. I mean come on, this May has been horrible. We have been stuck in this "Ridge of Death" in the plains for a bit. This May, we just can't get the right variables to come together. There have been days where mid and upper level support is great and moisture, well stuck down in the central gulf. There have been days where the moisture finally gets into the upper 60's, low 70's but the upper and mid level support is just pitiful.

Most the the systems this year have been moisture starved and we are all just left wondering...What if... Come on mother nature, this is May, we should not be questioning moisture. But the fronts have been just plowing into the gulf, scouring the moisture we need. At least we might be out of that pattern for now.

This year has been so hard on us chasers. We are currently in a NW flow pattern and we are trying to chase, it's not April!! It is even to the point now where it seems some of us are ignoring some of the variables when it comes of forecasting just so it might seem like May. Even some of the treads are getting a little heated with frustrated chasers and forecasters.

With only 97 tornados occuring this month as of this morning, it will be the lowest May total ever. Here in Oklahoma, we have only had TWO May tornado reports. :cry: That makes my jaw hit the floor. People have been comparing this year to 2002. Good comparsion I guess, but back in May 2002, there were 204 May tornado reports compared to 97 for this year. Eghhh!!! We are only about 160 tornado reports behind the 10 year average! :roll:

I keep telling myself "It's May, just wait." Well May is almost over, so I guess I have just been lying to myself all spring. Now I am trying to be optimistic about June, buts it's getting harder and harder. It just makes me wonder: Is this really May :?: :?:

*Numbers all from SPC
 
Well as bad as this season has been (especially for Oklahoma) I have sure had a great time chasing and loosing to the elements. I have been challenged this year when it came to making a forecast and making them in a relatively short matter of time. Although I have had only one tornado day this year I am still very pleased with what I have got. Great structure, lightning, hail (bitter sweat), and tornado video. Could be worse. lol

Although May very well may burn out with very little tornadoes June is still on it's way and we can always hope for the best. I would love to have a great tornado day in western OK this season before it’s all said and done.

My wx spirits are still high... Can't give up that easy.

Mick
 
Wow

I to am looking forward to June, for me June has usually been better than May. I do plan on chasing as much as possible this year until the end of October so I'm not to worried about May right now, hasn't been that bad (at least the beginning and middle of the month).

What I've seen so far this year:
1. 5 tornados
2. Hail up to the size of golf balls-twice
3. A number of wall clouds
4. Excellent lightning on a number of occasions
5. Flash flooding-once
6. A couple funnel clouds
 
Heh, told you guys back in Feb or March it was gonna be a repeat of 1988.

Horrible ridge, couple of OK events in the plains and eastern CO. Worst year ever unless this one tops it.
 
This year has had numerous strings of bad setups, but this year has also had plenty of good ones as well. I cannot complain, as I have had plenty of successful days this year... And many others have had a good amount success too!

Even in the quietist years, there is still a number of decent/outbreak days, and this year has had plenty of those. 21-April in KS, 10-May in NE, 12-May and 13-May in the TX Panhandles and several other notable days where many people saw stuff... The fact of the matter is, I don't find this year to be too bad. I seriously doubt I am the only one who thinks this way...
 
Nick,

Aside from the cold-core setups in March/April, I don't think I'd say that there has been a "number of decent/outbreak days". In fact, I don't think I'd say that there has been a single "outbreak day" in the Plains in terms of warm-sector convection. Again, there have been isolated tornadic supercells, such as the 5-10 and 5-12 chases. These were great I'm sure for the folks that were there. Afterall, you only need a supercell or two to make a great day for the folks on it/them. That said, I would still call those isolated events, certainly not of the likes of 5-7-02, 5-4-03, 5-8-03, 6-24-03, 5-12-04, 5-22-04, 5-24-04, etc. Again, you are correct in saying that a bad overall year doesn't mean a bad year for all chasers, since there are always going to be a few good storms. On the whole, however, I do think many would argue that this has been signficantly down/bad compared to previous year (not just the blockbuster 2004).
 
Originally posted by nickgrillo
...but this year has also had plenty of good ones as well. I cannot complain, as I have had plenty of successful days this year... And many others have had a good amount success too!
As Jeff said, if you were on the storms that produced, you can call it a good day. But many out there haven't been as luckly (personally I have had a good year, given the bad overall patterns). I would disagree about plenty of good setups. Perhaps the only good setups would be May 12. Compare that day to last years good setups. They wouldn't even compare.
 
If you just go by the stats, I think it is fair to label this a down year so far, but that doesn't necessarily mean an unusual year. Even if you take OK, this year, true - you have to go back all the way to 1967 to see a May with just 2 tornadoes. However, there are many years w/ only 4,5,6,7 tornaodes. Derived from the NCDC database, the avg # tornaodes for OK in May from 1950 to 2004 is 22. However, the standard deviation (which measures variability) is 21. That means a wide variance from the mean is normal, so to speak. Stated another way, in fully 33% of the seasons over this time period, there were only 8 or fewer tornado reports in May.

The point is, when it comes to weather there is a big difference between what is normal and what is average. You have to consider variability before declaring a season, day or event abnormal or unusual. For an excellent discussion of this topic by Chuck Doswell, read:

http://www.cimms.ou.edu/~doswell/Normals/normal.html
 
A few years back on WX-CHASE I talked about this a little. My topic was about making the most of what Nature gives you, whether the overall year is good, bad, or somewhere in between. I think it's important to take a storm season one event at a time, and not get caught up in the overall Big Picture. Some of my best chase days have come in my worst chase seasons, notably 2002 and this year. Perhaps I'm biased because I've been fortunate in lean years, but I've never panicked in a season because time was running out and I wasn't doing well. I think worrying about running out of time takes away the focus a chaser needs to do his/her best at making the most of whatever opportunities do arise.

As has been mentioned, it is May. I remember 1997, that year May had done squat until Memorial Day weekend, when a two-day tornadofest saved what had been a lackluster year. These weren't the type of events you see coming a week in advance. They were your prototypical May type events, buried within days upon days of seemingly-unspectacular synoptic setups. Point being, this is May 24. May 29-31 might be amazing, no one can say either way at this point. In the meantime, there are events and opportunities every day this week, they're just a bit more dofficult than the traditional Plains events to forecast.

Whatever the situation with my season, I prefer to spend the rest of it focused on trying to see tornadoes, not obsessing about how bad a year it's been. Yes, 2005 has been probably the worst season I've seen in my ten seasons of chasing, save for maybe 2002 (take your pick). But for me personally, it's definitely in the upper half of my ten seasons. It only takes one day to turn a year around, and in a year filled with unsure events and setups and unpredictable forecasts, anything can happen.

The last thing I want to touch on is "biding your time" I see a lot of chasers who seem to deal with early/mid season slowness or failure by falling back on the standard "wait til May" philosophy. I've seen people practice this to the point where they actually ignore early/mid season chases to "bide their time" for May. IMO this is a debilitating habit; look at what May's done so far. I'm not trying to poke people with sticks, kick them while they're down, or (most-importantly), criticize their chase decisions/philosophies or forecasting ability. But I have to wonder, what are all the folks who put their faith in May thinking now?

Personally, dealing with 2005 has been easy (even before I'd seen tornadoes) because I always keep perspective in mind. After the gifts of 2003 & 2004, one has to assume sooner or later that Nature will even things up a bit. I can't openly complain about 2005 without feeling like a spoiled brat; I had a wonderful season last year and a lot of chasers never see a year like that their entire lives. Sure, I am always wanting more, always. But when I don't get it, I can't cry about it. All I can do is look at a chase partner every once in a while and say "Man, this has been a really crappy year." Not in anger or contempt, but fascination, at the whimsical ways of the atmosphere. In a way, we're living through history. Ten years from now, the chasers of my generation will be lamenting years like 2002 (and perhaps 2005) the way our predecessors remember the late 80s. Every generation has their crappy periods. Perhaps 2005 will be ours. But either way, I want to look back on this season (and every season for that matter) and know that, whatver results may have come, I did my very best and never gave up until it was over.

Some of the best days a chaser will ever experience are the least-suspected or anticipated. That one magical day, the season-saver, is always ahead, somewhere, lurking, waiting...
 
If you guys think the plains have been "dead" for storms, you should see how dry it is here in Ontario. Dave Sills, a severe weather researcher with Environment Canada, says so far this is the most quiet storm season here in 27 years, making this the most boring storm season in my life, given I am 25 yrs old.

We had about 3 non severe t-storms so far this year. Overall, temperatures have also been below normal. I am beginning to wonder if severe storms even exist anymore. Personally, I think you guys have been spoiled. Heh.

I guess we have just have to accept what happens because we have no control over the weather, and we should just take each day as it comes and realize that there will always be tomorrow. And that I should find a new hobby to pass the time... and maybe a new place to live :lol:
 
It looks like this thread is a good one for my first post, since I probably shouldn't be so bold as to start my own.

This was my first chase and unfortunately it was largely a bust considering how much time I had. Started out in SoCal drove to Lake Texoma on the Red river just east of the I35 line between and roughly equadistant from Dallas and OKC. RV spot was nicer than I expected and unfortunately or fortunately the weather was probably 'better' than it was back home near Los Angeles. I was just behind the May 12 activity in the TX panhandle, I could see tops of the lightening activity from Tucumcari, NM that night. Next day drove to Amarillo then 287 to Wichita Falls and on to Texoma. I was about three hours ahead of the supercell on the 13th that formed near Childress. While at Texoma the only day I decided might be good to try was Wed. 5-18. Drove Texoma to Wichita in the chase vehicle and sat next to the Holiday Inn Express just northeast of the airport. Ate dinner at Denny's and saw some potential but being a novice wasn't real enthused for my chances given what I was looking at. About 1930-2000, almost as if out of thin air, the storms fired right in the vacinity of ICT and moved northeast along and ahead of the frontal line that took storms all the way into Iowa. As I sat with the laptop on wifi it was fun to read guys with special privileges on the chase and forecast forum talking about the storms I was observing and the ones with some tornadic activity in Iowa that night. The guys at the NWS office in Norman who gave me a quick tour about 1500 that day, were right, they fired near the center of their severe tstorm watch trapezoid, but weren't severe.

On the way home it was fun to see other chasers. One was a guy driving a dark early 90s Crown Vic with OKStormWatch.Com in the rear window. He was watching his laptop as he drove south towards OKC on I35. Anyone know him? Later I saw two white vans southbound I35, that were somehow indicating they were storm chasing, with University of California at Pennsylvania on the side. That threw, me because I'd never heard of it before and it sounded odd.

I left the area on 5-20 largely empty handed but enthusiastic for the future. It appears I didn't miss anything signficant in the area on the way home, though now I'm seeing alot of activity in eastern CO and one tornado in east central OK. My gut feeling as I set out on the trip was it was either going to be a bust or a boom. I have a couple questions for those in the know:

1. Are there theories or better on why the weather patterns are noticeably unusual in many areas of the country this year? My first eyewitness experience of an oddity in the pattern this year occured in the Wendover, UT area last mid-August. I often travel to and sometimes participate in land speed racing on the Bonneville Salt flats. Usually any precip in that area during the middle week of August shows up as what I'd call high base low precip airmass thunderstorms one would find generally associated with the 'monsoon' flow found in the southwest. In 04 we had a low pressure system roll by that caused moderate rain and Tstorms for a whole day into the next morning. Driving home a day or so later, I drove through a severe monsoon type storm north of Vegas. For the last three years at least, we have not had any monsoon events in the Los Angeles basin. This winter SoCal came within an inch of breaking a rainfall record set in the 1800s. the first rain here was earlier than usual in early October, out last was late in early May, and the middle was really strong. It didn't stop raining for five days in December. It wasn't an El Nino year, which seems to be the pattern usually associated with heavy rain in SoCal. Now we're seeing this noreaster in the northeast really late. Many things seem to be more out of kilter than one would tend to see in the normal variability in weather patterns year to year. What are the experts saying?

2. One of the Twister Sisters emailed me early May when I inquired about their services. She said are you sure you don't want to be in the high plains from 12-24. I kind of scratched my head. Sure enough, NE has been more active than OK or KS. The historical data lead me to believe that based on the historical average OK would be best near where I was between KDFW and KICT, with the activity moving toward the high plains as the season progressed. What did they know or at least have a hunch on that most of the rest of us didn't know?

My profession is in the aviation industry and I love TStorms but I'm not as diehard as many of you. However, I'd like to give it at least one more 7-14 day shot. For next time I think I'll haul one of those toy hauler/living quarters trailers to the alley, with a chase vehicle in it. Instead of being tied down to one area I can move from easter Co to Iowa to AR to TX to OK and all points in between. If I somehow total the chase vehicle I can put it back in the trailer and switch to the pickup or just haul home.
 
This is gonna sound kinda bad, but I think I picked the right year to leave for the chase season :p. At the start of the season, I was getting kind of down because there were tornado reports period, but now that I've seen all the complaining done on the board, I don't feel so down in the dumps about missing tornados :oops: . Thanks, guys :p. Keep it up because it makes me feel better!!! (Totally just kidding...I hope June is much much better than May)
 
I agree what Shane said 100%...

I'm sorry, but I guess that I am simply getting tired of these "2005 sucks" threads popping up every day, it seems. You've gotta take what Nature gives you (like Shane said above), and you have to deal with it. Right, it only takes one supercell to make the day a success, and that is usually all your gonna get even on days like 29-May-2004/4-May-2003, as your probably only gonna get to be on one or two good storms in a day. Don't wait for the perfect setup, because there is no such a thing in the first place. You don't need a HIGH risk day to get yourself tornadoes...

Can we PLEASE stop starting these kind of threads? They are pointless, and this topic has already been covered, everywhere else on this board...
 
Comparatively speaking this season has sucked a** when put up against other seasons. Also proven, it is not the worst compared to others seasons. I think for anyone in OK and TX who can not get out of their states for what ever reason, this year is dry and boring with only a few handful of chase days in these areas. Some people just can’t take off weeks at a time to do nothing but chase these “marginal setupsâ€￾. I happen to be one of them. I juggle a lot of responsibilities in order to chase when I need to and it is not easy.

I personally do not mind seeing a thread like this start. Facts are facts no matter which way you choose to perceive it. I'm not going to bitch about this season because I have had my fill, but understanding that other wx fans have not. Therefore I am sure it sucks for them.

Mick
 
Well said, Shane. I like your philosophy. Perhaps we need a bumper sticker that says:

"A Bad Year of Storm Chasing Beats Still Beats the Best Year of Work".

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
May sucks threads

For those of you who are tired of seeing threads similar to these ones, why not skip over them? It's that simple. What's wrong with voicing an opinion. We live in a country with the freedom of speech and expression so preach on stormtrackers.

In regards to May 2005...this is my first summer in Norman as a college student. I am unemployed at the moment through hastily trying to find a job, and have been free to chase since graduation. Unlike Melissa, I chose to study abroad in England last year, which was a wonderful chase season with numerous outbreaks. I consider an outbreak to be a season where an active dryline exists across several states and supercells develop tornadoes across a broad region. Accoring to my simple definition, this year has had ZERO outbreaks, which I think is more rare than the fact Oklahoma has had just 2 tornado reports.

I can't figure out how to blame the climate either. We are in a very weakly negative ENSO pattern, which means an El Nino, but the only correlation with a climate pattern like El Nino tends to develop split flow across the West. We observed this quite a bit early on in the season in the way of cutoff lows rather than shortwave troughs which typically provide a broad area of southwesterly flow. So early on in the season, we were dealing with backed mid-level flow, which typically favors more linearly organized storms, while we chasers prefer supercells. There were a few gems however, so it wasn't a complete wash. My best chase was April 11, the storm that went right through Norman, which isn't something to boast about.

Since then, I have dealt with several cap busts on decent setups including May 11, the one day an outbreak looked feasible across the TX panhandle, W KS, and W NE. I flew out to Shamrock, or Scamrock after a 1:30 pm final to find a receding dryline and dying Cu.

This I can only playfully attribute to Global Warming! It's a good thing my attitude in life doesn't depend on how many tornadoes I witness in a given year. There's a lot to be happy and thankful for in all facets of life.
 
Originally posted by Justin Walker
Here in Oklahoma, we have only had TWO May tornado reports. :cry:

Can someone tell me what day the tornado reports occurred in OK because I just checked the SPC backlog of storm reports and it confirmed what I thought was true, that this May has not seen a single tornado report in Oklahoma...but perhaps I am mistaken?
 
2145 8 N SALLISAW SEQUOYAH OK 3558 9479 RELAYED THROUGH MEDIA OF TORNADO SPOTTED NEAR BRUSHY LAKE. (TSA)

There's this one from yesterday, but that has been the only one I have been able to find for Oklahoma for this month. Before yesterday, I don't see any tornado reports for Oklahoma on the SPC Storm Reports website since April 21st.
 
This chase season can be either awesome or horrible, depending on your frame of mind, I suppose. Went chasing for the first time this year. Yeah, my first chase was a horrible bust - and it was also the most fun I've ever had in my entire life. Is this me being overly optimistic? Maybe. Is this me being overly enthusiastic? Probably. It was the trip and not the (unfortunate) results that made the chase as much fun as it was. I learned a ton, I got to know some really cool people, it just seems like a win-win situation to me. (I suppose I should point out that on my final chase I did end up seeing a tornado, which was beyond cool, but that's beside the point :)).
"Always look on the bright side of life!"
Sarah
 
Originally posted by Ben Prusia
2145 8 N SALLISAW SEQUOYAH OK 3558 9479 RELAYED THROUGH MEDIA OF TORNADO SPOTTED NEAR BRUSHY LAKE. (TSA)

There's this one from yesterday, but that has been the only one I have been able to find for Oklahoma for this month. Before yesterday, I don't see any tornado reports for Oklahoma on the SPC Storm Reports website since April 21st.

I find this one a bit hard to believe as of now....I've yet to see a single legitimate report from an eyewitness or any video. You'd think with the "media" tag on this report, there would be video. I'm also not so sure about the April 21 Ok tornado report; all the chasers I've talked to who were in NE OK that day said the tornado reports were bogus. I guess we'll find out eventually.

This is the second time in three years OK has been flirting with its all-time record low for tornadoes. This certainly won't help the state's reputation of late among outsider chasers. The sleeping giant continues to slumber...
 
I'm not a meteorologist or a climatologist and have no idea what it means, but passing through western Oklahoma and the panhandles earlier this month, it was striking how dead and dry everything looks. I have read that there's a modest seven year drought underway, and what I saw certainly corroborates this idea.

In the Oklahoma panhandle, particularly, I passed over small lakes and reservoirs that were missing entirely--long bridges over acres of dried lake-bed and post-flooded timber.

In the Texas panhandle, the Canadian and Red Rivers are shadows of their former selves.

It was eerie and brought to mind Steinbeck's Dust Bowl era fiction.

AM


Originally posted by Shane Adams+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Shane Adams)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Ben Prusia
2145 8 N SALLISAW SEQUOYAH OK 3558 9479 RELAYED THROUGH MEDIA OF TORNADO SPOTTED NEAR BRUSHY LAKE. (TSA)

There's this one from yesterday, but that has been the only one I have been able to find for Oklahoma for this month. Before yesterday, I don't see any tornado reports for Oklahoma on the SPC Storm Reports website since April 21st.

I find this one a bit hard to believe as of now....I've yet to see a single legitimate report from an eyewitness or any video. You'd think with the "media" tag on this report, there would be video. I'm also not so sure about the April 21 Ok tornado report; all the chasers I've talked to who were in NE OK that day said the tornado reports were bogus. I guess we'll find out eventually.

This is the second time in three years OK has been flirting with its all-time record low for tornadoes. This certainly won't help the state's reputation of late among outsider chasers. The sleeping giant continues to slumber...[/b]
 
Originally posted by Amos Magliocco
I'm not a meteorologist or a climatologist and have no idea what it means, but passing through western Oklahoma and the panhandles earlier this month, it was striking how dead and dry everything looks. I have read that there's a modest seven year drought underway, and what I saw certainly corroborates this idea.

In the Oklahoma panhandle, particularly, I passed over small lakes and reservoirs that were missing entirely--long bridges over acres of dried lake-bed and post-flooded timber.

In the Texas panhandle, the Canadian and Red Rivers are shadows of their former selves.

It was eerie and brought to mind Steinbeck's Dust Bowl era fiction.

AM


It is kind of weird. Earlier this year, we used up this year's quota of moisture. (Think three days of rain a week for about a month, plus 10 inches of snow in 24 hours). But now everything is bone dry again. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, because the heat is a "cool heat", as the saying goes. It's easily reaching 100 everyday, but the humidity is so low (12%) that it doesn't feel that bad at all, as opposed to Oklahomans, or Mississippians or Floridians, whose temperatures reach the same heights, but with 50% rh. But I suppose my question (amongst all my rambling) is what creates droughts?
 
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