Predicting the 2007 Tornado Season

Michael O'Keeffe

I know predicting what a season will be like so far out is almost an impossible task, but there are some clues on what to expect based on pasted seasons.

I have two links below:
January 13,2003 SST Anomaly chart
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.1.13.2003.gif

January 13,2007 SST Anomaly chart
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.1.13.2007.gif

I have noticed these are very similar. I also checked the winter of 2002/2003 and it was similar to the one we are expierencing now.

Keep in mind I'm not expecting another May 2003 here or anything, but maybe this could give us clues on where the severe weather epicenter should be, such as in 2003 KS and MO were effected a lot. This would make sense also, because we have seen system after system move through which could mean frequent severe weather events every few days.

I'm not a qualified meteorologist or anything, but this is what I've noticed. All of this is just a theory and I could be totally wrong.

I would appreciate it if some of you more expierenced chasers and meteorlogist could chime in.
 
Quick question, are those the normal ocean temps for the North Atlantic Ocean? There are areas of red and orange N of Europe that I would think would be blue meaning colder ocean temps if thats what that graphic is, ocean temps. If that is an accurate reading could that be why the polar caps are melting?
 
Be interesting to see how things play out. I for one am expecting a more active year this year. I was somewhat pessimistic last year as we had been extremely dry, but based on the already active storm pattern we have seen this year in OK (winter storms) and the return to a wetter pattern I have great hopes for this year in the Southern Plains.
 
Last year I said that 2006 would turn out like 1988. It pretty much did.

Sooo.... this year I have a gut feeling the southern plains is going to return to it's former tornado glory status. One thing I have noticed over the last 20+ years.... these things ALWAYS seem to balance themselves out sooner or later.... and it always seems like after we have had a "tornado drought" on the southern section of the plains, we always bounce back with a lot of activity.

Last winter for the southern part of the plains was dry and overly warm. Most of us didn't see much resembling winter. Quite the opposite this year with MOST of Texas seeing winter right now. We have had regular precip events every 7-10 days or so. Last year at this time it was MAJOR dry, with high winds and brush fires all over TX and OK.

Yeah, I suspect this spring will be exciting down here!
 
I would have to agree. I think the southern plains are going to see their glory year this year. Oklahomans, prepare for a chance of excitement :)

My reasons are as the others are saying, the active pattern developing and the southern tracks of the storms - and the hope that the gulf will remain wide open. We get some monster moisture, a strong jet, and things will be in business I am sure. I really am hopeful that this year will bring our Oklahoma chasers some much needed respite from 500 mile trips up north.

Let's hope that this is right on the behalf of our southern chasers.
 
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I know predicting what a season will be like so far out is almost an impossible task, but there are some clues on what to expect based on pasted seasons.

I have two links below:
January 13,2003 SST Anomaly chart
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.1.13.2003.gif

January 13,2007 SST Anomaly chart
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.1.13.2007.gif

I have noticed these are very similar. I also checked the winter of 2002/2003 and it was similar to the one we are expierencing now.

Keep in mind I'm not expecting another May 2003 here or anything, but maybe this could give us clues on where the severe weather epicenter should be, such as in 2003 KS and MO were effected a lot. This would make sense also, because we have seen system after system move through which could mean frequent severe weather events every few days.

I'm not a qualified meteorologist or anything, but this is what I've noticed. All of this is just a theory and I could be totally wrong.

I would appreciate it if some of you more expierenced chasers and meteorlogist could chime in.
2002-03 was a very cold winter for the east. Anything but so far in 2006-07.




1995, 1999, 2003, 2007......The super active four year cycle...that is if you believe in total chance! :confused:

1987 was very inactive, and 2004 was very active. ;)
 
Getting any sort of sizeable precipitation in the southern states usually means more opportunities (or at least chances) will present themselves. Two major factors in the hit-or-miss season last year were: the good events happened before May and the grass didn't get green in KS until early to mid April due to lack of moisture. April 6th was the classic example of this in action. High risk in NE KS, and the dewpoints struggled to see 60 (modified continental air) with temps in the mid-80s. The first three hours yielded some excellent tornadic supercells, but within 90 minutes of sunset, most of the fun in NE KS was over (SE KS still had a few after that).

How many of you would have liked this system to occur in April or May rather than January? ;)
 
I am by no means an expert, but if this pattern continues through April, May, and hopefully June, it will be a great year for chasers. More snow in the rockies, lowered jet stream, decreased drought leading to increased moisture and lower LCLs, and the storm systems going through the southern plains. All in all, its looking to be a better year than last year. My hope is that all the good stuff holds off till May and June, when I'll be out there. I'd love to get my first daytime Oklahoma tornado/s and my first Texas tornado. Preferably in the Panhandle ;)
 
I agree with David when he says that things will balance out. I really do think it's going to be one heck of a season this year. Eastern CO and Western KS along with the TX panhandle should be under the gun all season. I just have that gut feeling...
 
Souns like you gentlemen have some credible theories and evidence to hint at a better year. I noticed that gas is $1.90 where I live here in Indiana, wouldn't it be awesome to be chasing around with those prices! Hopefully they stay low until June or later.

As for '07 prediction... I expect hell to pay for a lack of hell in' 06, lol.
 
Last year I said that 2006 would turn out like 1988. It pretty much did.

Sooo.... this year I have a gut feeling the southern plains is going to return to it's former tornado glory status. One thing I have noticed over the last 20+ years.... these things ALWAYS seem to balance themselves out sooner or later.... and it always seems like after we have had a "tornado drought" on the southern section of the plains, we always bounce back with a lot of activity.

Last winter for the southern part of the plains was dry and overly warm. Most of us didn't see much resembling winter. Quite the opposite this year with MOST of Texas seeing winter right now. We have had regular precip events every 7-10 days or so. Last year at this time it was MAJOR dry, with high winds and brush fires all over TX and OK.

Yeah, I suspect this spring will be exciting down here!

Hope you're right David, but don't say it too much loud:p You know well that the God of the chasers can change idea whenever he wants:D
This year I'm going to come another time in the Plains so it must be an incredible season;)
 
Increased snow pack in the Rockies this year should help keep the cap under control. There is definately more moisture from TX through the OH Valley this winter and barring a return to drought would certainly help in evapo-trans department come spring green season. The Gulf is taking some seasonal punishment right now but I assume temps are still above normal there. All in all, the cards seem to be in place. Not sure how the Nino pattern fits or what the forecast calls for but some Australian forecasters suggest the pattern will break down before summer. Whatever happens, it cannot get much worse than post April 2006. The last two years I was on vactation when the best events happened where I live. Head to ND/SD/MN when I'm out of town.
 
At this early point in the season it's a crapshoot, but it's fun to speculate!

The notable early trends IMHO are the developing ridge over the northeast Pacific and the warmer west Pacific waters beginning to circulate eastward at mid latitudes. I think that these general trends will reinforce and by spring the Gulf of Alaska waters will be above normal. Meanwhile the colder waters will push south down the North American west coast.

I think this suggests that the persistent Hudson's Bay trough establishing in tandem with the east Pacific ridge and a more zonal flow over North America will be characteristic of the next two or three months. Insolation and continental snowmelt will work to flip this relationship in a rather normal fashion with a relatively high-index flow and weakness off the west coast developing through the spring, together with an energetic subtropical jet.

In sum my guess:

March -- fuggetaboutit, unless you're chasing the Gulf coast states.
April -- some severe activity up into AK and the TN Valley, late some fast movers in OK - MO - KY.
May -- near fond memories of normal, if there is such a thing, with TX opening up and decent progressive dryline Panhandle - OK setups and KS - MO - IL mid - late.
June -- some sweet times in KS, NE, IA; the upslope and SD mid - late.
Early summer -- ND, SD, MN, IA, with a few late surprise shots at the CO - WY - MT upslope.
Mid - late summer -- the Plains are going to fry (TX - OK will steam), and chasers should have their passports with them, or be Canadian citizens. [ed. By Canada, I mean the parts of Canada east of the Rockies where there are some roads, I guess.] ;)

FWIW. :rolleyes:
 
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Can't be any worse than last year, so Im ready for a big season! Last year moisture was definitely an issue. I'm already ahead of my snowfall for all of last winter, and at least some of the 1-10 ft of snow that is still covering the E CO plains is gonna hang around a while, so that's good news.
 
Let me first explain what made last year the storm chasing super turkey it was, and then explain what makes me so optimistic about the chase potential this year.
Like Stan mentioned, last year moisture (or the lack thereof) was a serious issue. But what was an even bigger issue, especially in the western Great Plains, was the constant wind. It was the windiest and warmest winter and early spring anyone around here remembers, I think we only had maybe two dozen days at most between November and May where the wind wasn't blowing and we had only 22 inches of snow between October and April at our farm; our 'normal' snow total is around 55 inches.
What the wind did was completely dessicate the soil profile, and since there was no moisture to replace it, every time the wind blew it kept sucking more moisture out of the soil. We had to dig out a hydrant in late April, and we discoverd that the soil profile was bone dry until you got
5 1/2 FEET DOWN! This lack of moisture kept the grass from greening up in the western High Plains until almost June and prevented farmers from planting many of their crops because there was no moisture to sustain them. You ask, what does this have to do with the abysmal chase season last spring/summer? Everything.
Most everyone here is familiar with transoevaporation. In a normal year, the peak heating evapo-transpiration from the grass, crops etc. and from the soil itself help increase the dewpoint values by 5-10 degrees during the mid to late afternoon hours. The problem is that because of the combination of the constant wind and the lack of moisture, the entire Great Plains soil profile was Atacama desert dry, the grass greened up two months late, and a lot of the crops (wheat, triticale, grain sorghum, etc.) which normally would have been providing daytime evapo-transpiration hadn't been planted. This in turn resulted in lower dewpoints/higher LCL's all season long, which made it next to impossible for tornadogenesis to occur even in the most fantastic shear and forcing setups. Also the soil temperature was far warmer than it normally would have been, which helped create the 'unbreakable' caps which resulted in the many bust situations we endured last year.
The wind, warmth and abnormal dryness of last winter was directly responsible for making 2006 the terrible chase year that it was. :mad:

This winter, at least thus far, is a completely different animal from last year. At our farm, I've recorded 34.5 inches of snow since October, which is already one and a half times as much snow in four months as we accumulated in seven months last year. At this point it appears the storm/jet stream track we've been seeing since the middle of December is going to continue to persist across the Southwest/southern Plains through at least March, if not longer. I totally agree with Jason; If this pattern does persist, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the Southern and Central Plains will likely see some awesome outbreaks at least through late spring. It's a little too far out to speculate reasonably about the summer months, but I can say this: if we continue getting good moisture the rest of the winter and into this spring, and the farmers are able to plant the crops they couldn't plant last year, and the grass greens up when it's supposed to, the evapo-transpiration from those crops and that grass is going to play a significant role in raising dewpoints/lowering LCL's during the late spring/early summer, and at the very least increase the chances of tornadogenesis occurence. :D
I, as much as the rest of the ST community, am painfully aware that a lot of things could change between now and spring; in recent years there has been so much variability from season to season. There is no single, established long term weather pattern which we can use for reference and guidance, but rather a plethora of smaller patterns with one or two distinguishing features and a host of variables which can be present in several different patterns, which can fool us into believing we're in one weather pattern when we're really in another.
About all that we can do is attempt to identify the primary pattern indicators, using prior experience and knowledge from which we can put forth our best guess as to what variables will occur within the main pattern. When the variables manifest themselves, then, and only then, can we can make a truly informed forecast. That's meteorology for you.;)
I have a gut feeling that 2007, if anything, will overcompensate for 2006. It seems that in meteorology, as in life, things tend to swing from one extreme to another, and amidst the chaos caused by the respective extremes, perfect balance is achieved.
 
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Good points Alex....also it remains to be seen if historical winter weather events carry over into the following spring. It looks like the High Plains north of a Roswell NM to Abilene TX line have seen a good deal of moisture...well up into the Rockies and Sangre De Christos. I would think certainly this will certainly keep the out of control hell caps to develop/spread out as early as they have been. Plus one more thing to throw out was how severely veered the low level jet was last year. This year I am seeing less of that showing up. Maybe this spring we can get back to a consistent lee cyclogenesis pattern instead of the surface lows wrapping up over/east of the Mississippi Valley.
 
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.1.13.2007.gif

I have noticed these are very similar. I also checked the winter of 2002/2003 and it was similar to the one we are expierencing now.

Keep in mind I'm not expecting another May 2003 here or anything, but maybe this could give us clues on where the severe weather epicenter should be, such as in 2003 KS and MO were effected a lot. This would make sense also, because we have seen system after system move through which could mean frequent severe weather events every few days.

I'm not a qualified meteorologist or anything, but this is what I've noticed. All of this is just a theory and I could be totally wrong.

I would appreciate it if some of you more expierenced chasers and meteorlogist could chime in.

Also remember though, May 2003 was basically only May 1-10th, and even more specifically the 3rd through the 10th. With the exception of that week, the 2003 season was relatively quiet in most places.
 
The CPC is out with it's 3 month outlooks which take us through April 2007. It looks like above normal precip and near normal temps are expected in the southern plains. Let's hope it has the effect of giving us a normal chase season in May and June. :)

20070119_droughtOutlook.gif
 
Also remember though, May 2003 was basically only May 1-10th, and even more specifically the 3rd through the 10th. With the exception of that week, the 2003 season was relatively quiet in most places.

2003 was ridiculously active from Apr 15 thru May 10 w.r.t. the sheer number of progressive shortwave trofs acting on (primarily) abundant BL moisture. Several events were tough to chase and/or weren't necessarily prolific tornado producers, but I saw gads of gorgeous/vicious supercells during that period. June also had four nice Plains events, including the "obscure" June 24th set-up that I was unable to chase.

Back OT, I have high hopes for a few nice southern Plains events in Spring 2007 (based on the active southern branch and recent drought relief).. including a couple in OK. I've only chased in OK maybe three times, and have never seen a tornado there.
 
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You know I am in the same consensus with most of the other post about the optimisms about the 2007 season, especially in regards to the Southern Plains states (OK and TX to more direct).

Back in Feb 2006 while at one of Rocky’s chase parties, I overheard Rocky telling Shane that he was very concerned with how the ongoing 2006 drought would effect the upcoming 2006 season in regards to limiting moisture due how dry the soil had become. Rocky, IMO, was right on the money with his concerns I have no doubt. Also Mark Farnik wrote, in his earlier post for this topic, how much transevaporation really effects the Td’s in a synoptic scale. IMO, 2006 proved how effective transevaporation / soil moisture effects a potential setup.

Now it goes to prove that even when you think you have it figured out, talking with a chaser, like Rocky, who has 20+ years of chase experience under his belt proves a very educational experience. I had simply never thought about transevaporation and quality soil moisture, and the funny thing is I don’t know why I didn’t. What he said about the drought (soil moisture) made such perfect sense. Kind of like a Homer Simpson moment, D'OH!!

Anyway, I agree that the 2007 will be much improved in regards to more opportunities down here in OK and TX as long as we keep this pattern up (although I wish it would just be rain rather than snow and ice). However, an active winter does not predict an active Spring. At least we have some assurance that, maybe, we can some-what rely on soil moisture to help raise those Td’s, lower the LCLs and CAP strength. Those low Td’s and high LCLs are good for the Caprock of TX though (in which I am now hooked on when it comes to those setups).

We will see…

Mick
 
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I'm not sure 2006 was given the chance to see what the drought would do to things. That massive, stuck, east coast trough after May 9 surely had a worse effect than any drought in place(with its offshore flow). Moisture was making it's way north well enough in March and April wasn't it(relatively speaking)?

As for 2007, I hope we get out of this cut off pattern by April.
 
Ya Mike there is far more to the 2006 bust than just simply moisture, but for the few chances we had here in the SP it sure hurt us in a big way.

If I recall by my research for the Storms of 2006 (get your copy today!) project, both March 12 2006 and April 15 2006 were low 60 tds yet very shallow. With those two days at hand, and as much shear as we had, even those somewhat high based supercells had plenty to work with. IMO Those conditions would have never worked had it been down further south into OK and TX.

But that is just my opinion.

Mick
 
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