Planning a 2 week chase trip to the alley

If you were planning a 2 week chase trip in the alley, what time of the season would you go? My friend whom I am going with says end of May to early June is good... what do you guys think? This will be my first alley chase trip... been chasing in Ontario since 1998. Hope I am good financially.... :lol:
 
Originally posted by Laura Duchesne
If you were planning a 2 week chase trip in the alley, what time of the season would you go? My friend whom I am going with says end of May to early June is good... what do you guys think? This will be my first alley chase trip... been chasing in Ontario since 1998. Hope I am good financially.... :lol:

My thoughts... DON'T PLAN TWO WEEKS! :lol: Learned the hardway last year. Once you set those weeks in stone, you're stuck with them; and if its like the 2 weeks in May I played last year, you're gonna hate yourself when you're sitting at home as the best week of the season happens after you've returned home.

To answer your question, there is no real good week. Do whatever your schedule allows, but planning beyond a month is a risk you're going to have to take. To narrow down which two weeks, I don't know. 2003 was the first two; 2004 was the middle two; 2005 was in June... take your pick!
 
Originally posted by Laura Duchesne
If you were planning a 2 week chase trip in the alley, what time of the season would you go? My friend whom I am going with says end of May to early June is good... what do you guys think? This will be my first alley chase trip... been chasing in Ontario since 1998. Hope I am good financially.... :lol:

Prior to past year, I generally chased the Great Lakes and upper Midwest in 2003 and 2004.

Like I have said before, it all depends on the year... If you went in 2003, then the first 10 days of May would be perfect... If you went in 2004, then the last 10 days of May would have been superb... If you went in 2005, then the first 2 weeks of June would have been good (in a whole, May was pretty inactive in 2005). Like Tony just said, if possible, don't narrow down the weeks so far ahead of time... If possible, wait until the timeframe you plan on going becomes clear in the longer-range models. I left for the plains for about 3 weeks in late April / through mid-late May... Then I returned home and waited to see if the pattern changed (the last two weeks of May was pretty bad) as I desired to leave again for the plains (didn't get a fill).

Then, by the late May... The models began to point to a much more amplified upper-air pattern, with the first big event looking to be June 4th -- as a strong shortwave ejected out and moved over impressive boundary layer moisture -- with the following two weeks looking extremely impressive (zonal flow remaining with numerous smaller waves ejecting out over the central and northern plains). I had very high confidence in this pattern, so I left again on June 2nd. So if possible, wait until the timeframe you desire to chase in draws closer.
 
Originally posted by Laura Duchesne
If you were planning a 2 week chase trip in the alley, what time of the season would you go? My friend whom I am going with says end of May to early June is good... what do you guys think? This will be my first alley chase trip... been chasing in Ontario since 1998. Hope I am good financially.... :lol:

That's fantastic, Laura! I'm glad you finally have the opportunity to make it out to the plains. :D

I agree with Tony's take on climatology; if you can spread it out a bit, or wait until things look good, you should do that.

If you can't, I would suggest taking 2 weeks off centered around May 15th. I don't think there has been a year (that I know of) where something chaseable hasn't occurred within a week of that date. 2002 might be the lone exception, with very few chaseable days occurring during that time period. However, if this year is like '02, it doesn't matter what two weeks you choose! :lol:

Gabe
 
The time for chasing depends what you like...faster outbreak type stuff late April into Mid May...or the high CAPE supercells of late May and early-mid June. I am beginning to prefer the latter just for the sake of picturesque monster supercells (and tornadoes too). I would probably hang in that May 25 - June 8 time frame...that's my suggestion and this is when I am planning my most active chase period this spring (ie taking vacation time for chasing). Best of luck to you on your "Tornado Alley" chase whatever time you choose.
 
For me I have no choise. I'm probably gonna only get the 12th of may to sometime in late may(probably late may) early june. After that I have to go to my 'internship' which would be pretty hard to get away from to go to the plains on a good day. So that's when I'm going, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
 
Thanks for the replies everyone. Unfortunately this is not something I can plan within a month before the trip... my friend offers private chase tours out of Ontario (very good might I add); he will have other clients to take on trips... so it's better for us to plan this ahead of time so someone else doesn't take my time frame with him.

I think I like the sound of end of May into June... quite a few really good days in the past occurred within that time frame. I realize that every year is different, but I am willing to take that risk.
 
I'm thinking of doing some day chasing south from my location into Iowa or Illinois on good chase days with someone around here. The reason I don't think I'd ever like setting aside a couple weeks at a time is that I could waste a lot of money and net a lot of nothing. Since I'm in closer proximity to good chase territory, day chasing would probably be more plausible for me. So its a tough call for you.

I don't know what everyone will think of this idea...but perhaps set aside two one week periods and space them nicely over chase season so if one half of the season is poor...you can still possibly nab something on the other end.

Some tidbits...

:arrow: 44% of all US tornadoes occur in May and June, with May being the most active month and June being the second most active.
:arrow: A paper from Mark C. Bove at FSU says that during La Nina events (which we are experiencing) the Ohio Valley and Deep South typically experience much above average tornado conditions...and from practical experience, La Nina events have coincided some of the more notable severe weather outbreaks, not just in the OV or DS either.

I would probably agree with Brian and you, Laura, that late May into Early June might be your best shot to get a tornado, but it seems to me that most major outbreaks occur before May 15.

Oh well, in the end its your call but if I was in your position I would consider a week from like April 28 to May 4 and a week like May 27 to June 03...something like that.
 
You know even if you don't end up finding any tornadoes for whatever reason, it should still be a very enjoyable trip for you. It'll be nice to get out on the plains and see some different types of scenery than you're used to; and see many cool new places. On your off-chase days you'll surely be able to find other cool things to do. 8)
 
Originally posted by Joel Wright
You know even if you don't end up finding any tornadoes for whatever reason, it should still be a very enjoyable trip for you. It'll be nice to get out on the plains and see some different types of scenery than you're used to; and see many cool new places. On your off-chase days you'll surely be able to find other cool things to do. 8)

This is true. You may want to consider basing each day near a fairly large city so there's something to do if nothing happens. As fun as frisbee sounds, I imagine you could get bored of it after several hours of waiting for a cap to break :D No offense to frisbee...its awesome...especially ultimate frisbee :wink:
 
It's hard to bet against the second half of May plus the first half of June, tho any given year does whatever it wants. If you must plan in advance, like those of us living outside the Alley must, that's your window.

One issue I discovered last year was the problem of chasing during Memorial Day weekend because of the abundance of HiPols looking for any reason to pull you over. So I plan to start chasecations just afterward as a general rule.
 
I looked it up when I was a new chaser for the same reason you are asking. As I recall - as was stated May is typically the maximum month for tornadoes, and toward the end of May is when the peak is hit. That said the reality of what actually happens can be substantial. Sometimes it does it all early in May and there is a lag in the middle until later in June. That's what happened last year. Sometimes you don't have a June season, but the norm the last 5 or so years at least is June has been a big month. There used to be a paper on Storm Track - probably in the archives. Perhaps another online tornado climatology would show it as well.
 
When you have to plan a set schedule to chase, there's not really any good advice, because everyone has their own opinion of when is best to chase. All I will say is I hope you have good luck with the two weeks you're here.
 
Originally posted by Bill Tabor
There used to be a paper on Storm Track - probably in the archives. Perhaps another online tornado climatology would show it as well.

where's that link to the NWS animation of peak tornadoes? I can't find it in the archives.
 
Laura:

I agree with all the comments that other folks have mentioned.

Here is my experience/suggestion:

Beg/borrow/steal/convince your spouse/partner/employer to take 3 weeks off for chasing instead of two. That sounds like a bunch of time, but this is what I've done during the 90s with great success. For some reason, that extra week really helps, as it gives the atmosphere time to change dramatically from a death ridge to some great southwesterly flow to chase along with good moisture improvements.

After all..life is a one way street. There may be a time where our health will prevent us from chasing. I say...enjoy it now (within reason)...we may not get another chance.

If you're 30 something, and based on average life spans/mobilities..there are only 30+ springs left in your lifetime to physically chase and enjoy the atmosphere.

Tim
 
Here is another recent thread with more info:

http://stormtrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?...ht=productivity

Currently I am very blessed to have a very flexible job that allows me to maximize my tornado chances. I block off May 1 to June 15, not scheduling any major meetings, activites or anything important during that time. I still work normally, but after May 1, I go on 'standby' mode, ready to leave town at a moment's notice and be gone 1, 2 or 3 weeks.

I stay out on the Plains as long as there is an active pattern, then go home. If there is another active period, I'll go out again. It's cheaper for me to go back home during an incative time than to stay out there waiting. I live an average of 17 hours away from the typical Plains target, but from May 1 to June 15 I act as if it's a trip across town. That sounds like a long distance, but it's just 1 day of driving - very doable. We spend all day driving when chasing anyway, what's one more day out and back.

If you can't take three weeks as Tim said, see if your employer will at least allow you to adjust your departure date backward or forward at least one week if the pattern warrants. An adjustable departure date, even by just a few days, will work wonders for your chances.

When it comes to chase planning, flexibility=tornadoes.
 
Originally posted by Edward Ballou+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Edward Ballou)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Bill Tabor
There used to be a paper on Storm Track - probably in the archives. Perhaps another online tornado climatology would show it as well.

where's that link to the NWS animation of peak tornadoes? I can't find it in the archives.[/b]

Some of the old Stormtrack issues had info or topics related to chase climatology. Here are some that I found:

'When To Chase' - by Robert Prentice Nov-Dec '92 Vol 16 http://www.stormtrack.org/library/forecast...st/besttime.htm

'Chase Climatology' - by Eric Bucsela March-April '97 Vol 20
(Couldn't find it online in the Stormtrack archive)

Of course there is the very good NSSL online reference: "Severe Thunderstorm Climatology"
http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/hazard/
(Looks like they updated it some recently)
 
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