Is this what 1988 was like.........

Dec 26, 2004
Booneville, KY regards to severe weather and chasing? And how does it compare to 2005 so far? Hehe.

I ask because 1988 seems to be the year most chasers use when wanting to mention a horrible chase year. I'm just curious as to what the issues were that year that it made it unusually bad.

I must say that thus far (yes, there is most of May and June awaiting us), 2005 seems to be one of the least active years I can remember since I began closely following severe weather around 1995. However, last year was a GREAT year for storms and most of that activity occurred from mid May through June. So there is still a shot left at a great year.

But is anyone starting to think....."oh no, not another 1988 again" yet? I have noticed over the past few days that many chasers (veteran and newbie alike) are starting to sound less than enthusiastic about the status of the chase season.

Anyway, it seems there have been a bunch of chances at major league severe weather and tornado events already this year, but for whatever reason, things just hasn't come together to get a nice, big event going in the Plains. So just for the sake of asking, how does 2005 compare to 1988? Was 1988 a year in which the ridge built in during May, killing chase season? Or was it plagued with phasing issues like we have seen thus far this year?

Nope... the music was MUCH better in 1988! :lol:

I hope this year doesn't turn into a 1988... :cry: But I can't complain just yet... I've enjoyed the chasing I've had as I have managed to find storms all 5 times I've ventured out; so long as I can do that, I guess I won't complain too much...

And as you said, still some time left before things go summer, but I guess concern is starting to grow...
LOL @ the music comment. I agree. In 1988, rock still rocked (and existed).

BTW, I didn't mean this as a gloom and doom thread, so nobody please take my starting of it as any sort of prediction as to how I think the season will end up. I haven't the slightest clue. Heck, for all I know, there could be a 50 tornado outbreak somewhere in chase land next week. Or May could end up like like last year with big event after big event (though it's unlikely ANYTHING will ever equal that again soon).
Originally posted by George Tincher
LOL @ the music comment. I agree. In 1988, rock still rocked (and existed).

BTW, I didn't mean this as a gloom and doom thread, so nobody please take my starting of it as any sort of prediction as to how I think the season will end up. I haven't the slightest clue. Heck, for all I know, there could be a 50 tornado outbreak somewhere in chase land next week. Or May could end up like like last year with big event after big event (though it's unlikely ANYTHING will ever equal that again soon).

Well, in all fairness, that's what we said after the "10 Days in May" in 2003... We've been below avg in the Jan-Apr period, so the big days in May helps us reach and exceed average. Last year was a record year for tornadoes, but largely because of the remarkable, unprecendented number of tropical cyclone tornadoes.

Personally, this year has looked a lot like... 2002 is many regards. I haven't seen many upper-air charts from 1987-1989 period, so I can't really compare it to that horrid stretch. We've had a persistent Hudson Bay upper-level low that has allowed these Canadian airmasses to surge southward and scour the Gulf of any real moisture. With only low-60 Tds (at MOST) much of the season so far, things just haven't worked out. In addition, we've had many (many) cut-off upper-level low that have taken their time progressing from the Rockies into the eastern U.S.. Sure enough, we get another big, cut-off low in the western U.S. this week... These big, blocking patterns tend not to be very favorable for tornado outbreaks if the Plains is ridged. For example, Weds would be a decent day in the Plains if the upper-level low would move out of the intermountain west. Instead, we have weak deep-layer shear resulting from the >30kt flow staying west of the CO/KS line.

The persistent cold frontal passages through the Gulf has also resulted in widespread below-average Gulf sea-surface temperatures. I see that the SSTs at the buoys are recovering, and we are finally getting some serious moisture up into the southern plains for the first time this year. However, as noted above, the better mid-upper level flow stays will to the north and west. As the cold front slides down the Plains mid-late week, any real mid-upper level flow will stay above the cold-sector, yielding poor shear profiles in the warm-sector.

It does look like we may see SOME change by the middle-end of next week, at least per the ECMWF, which shows a large jet streak diving southeastward into far southern California. Hopefully we can develop a more progressive pattern more conducive for tornado events. Granted, it's discouraging to note that the models bring northerly flow through the entire Gulf yet again for the umpteenth time this spring by late in the weekend and early next week, which may act to scour out the moisture. The more we get into late-May and early June, the more we need those upper-60 and (particularly) low-70 Tds.

I hope I'm wrong.
While the last couple years have been good, 00/01/02 were not on the whole. I'm hoping 05 wakes up before it's too late.

I just looked at the GFS and I gotta wonder what the hell is going on. I prefer not to believe that the cold temps it brings into Nebraska on Wednesday and drags into the Gulf by the weekend actually exist at this time of year. I'm not even chasing until the end of the month, but this makes me sick for others who have to schedule a week or two, travel to the Plains, and hope.

Curse you, GFS!

[rant mode apparently on; off now] :?
Yeah, I think 2002 would be a decent comparison. It seems that year had all sorts of phasing issues also along with moisture scouring cold front after cold front.. I can only recall two events in the Plains that year which stand out....May 5 and May 7. The other two days that come to mind were April 28 and November 10, which were the year's biggest outbreaks. Both of those, unfortunately, were well outside the traditional tornado alley.
I seem to remember 1988 being the year of the Death Ridge, but I was only 10 years old at the time. So, someone who chased that year might be able to provide more details.

Like Jeff, 2005 (thus far) reminds me an awful lot of 2002, with continuous cold air intrusions and poor quality moisture. My 2002 season didn't amount to much, save the Happy, TX event on May 5.

I'm reluctant to say much more about this year as it's not quite mid-May yet. I fear we're still feeling the effects of the eastern Canadian low that plagued us in late April, at least as far as moisture return is concerned, so it may just be a matter of giving May a little more time. On the other hand, blocking patterns such as the one we're looking at now can be frustrating, and given how we've been dealing with blockiness for months now (remember February?), I worry about what'll happen once the first good ridge of the season settles in.
All this talk has me worried. I need to check up on my rental car company's policy on early returns. If I'm out five days and a death ridge sets up, I'd much rather come back and save a couple hundred dollars than sit out there for the last five days and stew in it.
I was a new intern at the NWS in Sioux City (SUX) in 1988. I issued one severe thunderstorm warning all year. Spring was quiet, but Summer was dead with the ridge of death over the central U.S. That was the year of all the Yellowstone fires. In September, lights would come on in the daytime in Sioux City from how thick the smoke was aloft.
I bet gas prices were not as high in 1988 as they are now!!!

To me that makes a difference between chasing something marginal or promising.

Therefore, I am reluctant to farther than 100 miles to the west of me if the situation looks "marginal".
1988 was horrible...not only with the weather, but in mid-May of that year my car decided that it was a neat thing to throw a rod, leaving me stuck 150 miles from home (my uncle towed it home).

Let's PLEASE not go there again!
1988... can't say I remember it all too well, especially for chasing, seeing as I was 3 years old.

All I can remember is what people have told me, and that was that 1988 was an incredibly HOT year in Michigan. By May 29st, it was 91 degrees, and started four days of consecutive record breaking highs. By June 25th, it was 101 degrees F. It would reach 101 degrees again on July 6th (a tad out of the usual by this point, but it was still oppressively hot), lasting in the upper 90s to lower 100s until July 10th. Effectively, it was a record heat wave after another with a short intermission of 'cooler' temperatures inbetween.

I hope that doesn't happen again. I can stand the heat, but that kind of heat is a tad much.
Years like '88 are pretty rare. I would be very surprised to see it get even close to that again anytime soon.

I was only 11, but I remember it being VERY hot and dry. I went swimming about everyday that summer.
Things look to be shaping up in the southern plains for teh next few days as this next trough approaches from the west. I started my ~10 day vacation on sunday and so far ahve had a decent chase day every day since and will continue to have chase days for at least the next 4-5 days.

So I'm pretty happy. Sure none of those super outbreak days forseeable in the near term but who the hell likes those? I don't. I love those obscure events with one or two storms that give you a 2-3 tornado day and it ends up being all that was reported. :wink:
From my perspective 1988 was, one of the worst years I can remember. On July 15 my home town was struck by an F3. It touch down 2 blocks west of my house and cut a path diagonally across town.
So far, atleast in Nebraska things look pretty active, adding last nights 14 touchdowns with last weeks 13 and a couple of stragglers here and there we are already approaching normal,32, normal 42, and the season is just beginning. It is starting to look like another Nebraska/California, oops I mean Nebraska/Iowa year.