Quiet For a While

Oct 10, 2005
After a fairly active last week of Febuary it looks as though we may go into a hibernation phase in regards to severe weather. There is really nothing on the long range ensambles that stands out as a severe weather producing pattern. Im looking out to 362hrs and really dont see a whole lot of anything beyond northerly or zonal flow. I know that models are not always reliable even at 12hrs but after getting the feeling of spring in the air im a bit depressed. Curious to see what thoughts everyone else has.
I think this is a good thing for the country right now its March 1 and were already nearing 30+ fatalities to tornadoes. That number is alot higher than it should be for the day and age we live in. People need to come out of thier bubble and pay attention to things like what happened today.
It definitely looks like a quiet period is setting up, which I'm happy for because I still have a ton of stuff to do to get ready for the 'real' chase season (if there's such a thing anymore). It definitely looks like we might be quiet for TESSA and possibly beyond. I'm going to bet things start changing AoA March 20th or so for the better, but that's with absolutely zero evidence to support it :p
I'm with Chris on that. I have a new chase vehicle to get set up and could use some calm, nice, warm days to get things done.
This is a wakeup call... lol
To always be ready..

Last year at the Storm Chase convention the power went out and many of us without a skip pulled out our little led lights and made our way about...

Im constantly reminded by Susan ( fiance ) of how strange she thought this was how we ( convention participants ) were all prepared for a lights out event.
One of the first things I did was to check the long range forecast at the hotel Thursday night after chasing in tuscaloosa, AL. I agree. Nothing for a "LONG" time. I'm glad too. The past week has been something else! Two chases, over 2100 miles, three nights in hotels, and over 37 hours driving. I have a LOT of work to catch up on, and this is only March 3rd. I know this is VERY early, and not reliable at all, but there may be a chase coming up around the 20th-23rd of this month. Some arctic air may be breaking away from the polar regions later on, and....well...this is just to far away to really know. I need a break anyway!! lol
Well it looks like i may have spoke a little too soon and we may get "Some Kind" of storms fired up late this week here in the sooner state and maybe North texas. Here is what the TSA AFD said this morning:
Yep, day 4-8 SPC hints of something going in plains....Only a matter of time until we, "East tornado alley" gets action. Noticed May was very quiet here but I guess after the April we had made up for it. Late this coming week bears watching close.
I dont think i want to hear you Illinois folks whine. LOLOLOL. You guys have had a lot of tornadoes over the last 3-5 yrs. In fact either last year or in 2005 you set some kind of record for the most Tors in a season for the state?
LOL! Yep it was an active year Strongest tornado was near KPAH area Madisonville, not sure but close. F-4 at 210 pegged. Illinois as far as I know was tornado capital of country and set all time record. We set personal record with F-2/F-3 tornado & 2 other wall clouds visable at same time. Perry co. Mo/Il we tracked 28 miles at night..... That storm was first that really scared us. Prolly upon appraoching we had edge of rotating wall cloud above us in rockwood and banking on storm to stay at NE heading
This weekend could be somewhat interesting, but a lot needs to happen before we can be sure. Moisture content is very questionable, but the 00z GFS has 55F dewpoints all the way into E OK/W AR. A cold front and lead shortwave will move into the Central Plains during the day Friday and would be the focus of thunderstorm development. Very low instability and weak lift concerns me at the moment, still bears watching to say the least.

I really don't see anything more than a marginal setup for this weekend. I do see severe weather likely, like earlier put between the March 20th-23 timeframe. This works out nicely because I have Spring Break during that time. ;)
Well from what Im seeing in tonights GFS model run is that this weekend could possibly be ok. It shows a fairly decent s/w moving through the c/s plains on friday and a cold front moving through Oklahoma. Dewpoints are forcast to be in the upper to mid 50s with surface based cape possibly reaching 1000j/kg across southern Oklahoma and north texas. However the wind feilds to me dont look that favorable for tornadoes with NW flow aloft in place.
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Didnt last year start off with what looked to be a record setting tornado year? Then it fell off like a lead weight......I too am tired of Illinois...Indiana....Missouri...Arkansas getting these big storms and outbreaks.....Its time for the real tornado Alley to live up to its old days....Texas Panhandle, North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas , and Nebraska need storms to end the drought....
I would actually not mind a it of a down period but with some good moisture return over that period.....lets get some actual moisture to work with when we get these big systems coming out and eliminate some of the guess work with regards to moisture an instabilty.....
Maybe early April will have some big storms in the southern plains with the "big ones" some of the older chasers are used to...
I understand you want storms, but why would want them like we've had. Actually, f this, yall can have, take em and let em hit ur towns this time, bout ti8red of many of these getting personal. May 11,2003 April 2 and 7,2007, April 16,1998, May 3,1999 , and this past one in Enterprise. Seems like my family and friends just need to move to Toronto.:p
i have a thought (would be a theory if i had testable material but i dont) that the reason that we are seeing some sort of chain reaction in regards to severe weather placement. Last year areas of western tx/ok/ks and ne saw very little in the way of severe weather. There were several days when the dryline would race across the west and set up along a emporia to tulsa to denton line which is where initiation would occur. the dryline would move so fast because of the very limited moisture in the west. im wondering if that becasue the drought is soo severe that the ground was eating that moisture up and in return we have no or very few storms. this year the situation is not much better and already with the first few systems we are seeing a similar trend set up for 2007. Storms with great dynamics and starting in E OK/ks/tx and moving into the ozarks and beyond. The amount of moisture that it is going to take to pull the west out of this drought is extreme and although they did get some snow this winter and some recent rain, there has been no resolution to date. Im wondering if it is goign to take the plains a while before they become active again.. think about it... if each year we get a little help (1"-4") surplus of precip, how long will it take before we are back in the hunt? If this were a thesis statement it would read "The impending drought in the western parts of KS/OK/TX is resulting in a faster than normal progression of sfc features across the area allowing for the better dynamics to impact areas East of the traditional Tornado alley. This creates a much higher impact of severe weather across these regions. The traditional tornado alley may take several years to recover from this lack of moisture and have the products in place to produce more than a handful of severe weather events per annum." Obviously im not an English or Letters major, but you get my point.

I would also like to look at the severe weather events that occured after the dust bowl. If states east of OK/KS/TX recieved above average numbers then that would help my point some.
One of the more serious issues that I saw last year was vertical mixing of the moist layer to the point that it was insufficient for true surface based convection. There were plenty of days where chasing was possible in the traditional tornado alley, but IMO, the lack of evapotranspiration and other microscale process associated with ground layer moisture were lacking, or non existant. Concerning the dryline moving to E. OK, I feel that it is more a result of the synoptic scale features than the meso/microscale features. (i.e. closed lows with sweeping Pacific fronts and those warm fronts the stretch across 3 states). It takes quite a bit of forcing to push a true "dryline" through the wheat belt and the remainder of E. OK and N. TX.

In regards to the current drought conditions across Oklahoma and N. Texas, I would say that we are miles ahead of last year in soil moisture content, due to the fact that we haven't had the extreme wildfire issues that we were having at this time last year. Hopefully somebody with more knowledge on this subject will step in and enlighten us.
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Climatology-wise...March is a month typically when you get maybe a significant event or two in before March 20th. Then things start rising dramatically with severe wx events as you approach April 1st. Then comes the month of April which can be a wild card of sorts for severe wx events. Some mention has been made that this year's pattern may end up mirroring that of 1998. Things got pretty much active after March 20th that year. I know if it truly is a carbon copy of 1998 where I will be on June 23rd ;) Know what I mean Mike H.
Brian has some good points there.

IMO I think this season has in a way brought me to think of it being a 1995 or 1999. The very early season setups such as February 23-24, 28 and March 1 remind me of the Janruary 1999 outbreaks as they were so early in the season just a bit further west and south. If this is true, as of now is pretty much a wishcast. :rolleyes: Like Brian put, things really got going in 1999 after April 1 like a typical tornado season. Though I don't think the South Plains drought is totally dissapeared, it wasn't as wet as could be in 1999 either. Lets hope for this to be true and if it is a normal to slighty above normal season may be in store.
Of course then if we are wishcasting then i would say that this is the beginning of the 3 yr supercycle!!!!!. Regardless of all the climatology we need to see some real quality moisture and less ridging along the gulf coast. This all seems to come to light if you believe in the pattern forecast for the mid to late part of this month. Is there any data or does anyone know of years that we have such as 2007 where we are going from an El NINO` to a LA NINA`? I am wondering what that may do since its forecast to offically start in May
It's important to realize that the synoptic-scale pattern is largely responsible for mesoscale weather situations and storm formation. You could have all the moisture in the world, but if you've got a big ole ridge sitting on top of you, your chances of seeing active weather (i.e. severe weather) are pretty low. There are large factors that determine the particular upper-air pattern that sets up, such as ridging, troughing or blocking. Last year, and the year before that there seemed to be quite a bit of blocking that persisted for months. One of those seasons (2005) brought many intense storms into the West Coast with California being hit especially hard as intense troughs developed offshore and moved inland, as a ridge was often built up over the Rockies and a strong Hudson-Bay Low dominated the eastern half of the nation with dry and cool NW flow for the Plains. Last year, another block set up and we just had a huge dry high over the inter-mountain West and Plains. The drought was a result of this pattern.

If the Rocky mountain ridge breaks down and turns into a pronounced trough, even if the ground is virtually arid, strong sweeping SEerly winds would advect abundant moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico (provided there is enough time for this to occur) and set the stage for active convection.

In thinking, reading about this and talking to experts the second part of the equation is of course surface conditions, with how moist or dry the land is being a pretty interesting factor when it comes to the evapo-transpiration process and the possibility to have dewpoints higher by several degrees if there is ample soil moisture across the region. The difference of several degrees in dewpoints can mean the difference between a severe storm and a tornado sometimes, and can even factor into breaking the "cap".

As far as last year went, true we were in a massive drought but that was a result of the whole scale atmospheric pattern over N. America with systems flying through quick and not digging far enough west to allow for moisture to stream in over the Plains. As they swept by us, the moisture set up just to our east, and the big-time stuff resulted.

We are really in a different situation this year with respect to soil moisture. While there are still pockets of drought over OK, western TX, and the northern Plains this is more a result of cumulative years of drought rather than the past several months, which have been notably wetter-than-normal in OK. In addition, look at the snow pack that is STILL over western KS and CO! This is from the series of snowstorms dating back to December. As it melts the water will flow down the plains from west to east in streams and further add to the soil moisture across the Plains. There were quite a few times this winter with snow/ice pack over a lot of the Plains which has definitely added to the ground moisture situation. Additionally, we were locked into cold weather for so long this winter, with 20s and 30s and snow/ice versus the 60s and 70s with dry wind and fires of last year. Further, a significant snow pack has set up over the Rocky Mountains this go-around. I have heard theories with regard to that *possibly* reinforcing troughing and at the very least sustaining/helping mid-level cooling crossing the Rockies.

Looking at the gfs, it's showing hints at a period of possible rain/storms to get going and last several days around the Red River area with slow moving troughiness and a stalled-out front toward the end of the week.

Interesting thread!
I started thinking during my managerial accounting class and wondered what the drought conditions were like from March to March of the current year (I.E. March 2006-March 2007) and whether or not those years had more or less than average Tors. I know its not a solid reason but kind of neat to look at. I found the historic drought conditions and recorded every other year for the last 10 yrs. Below each link is the total tornadoes for that year.

1996- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/1996/12mar96lg.gif
Total Tor-1173

1998- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/1998/12mar98lg.gif
Total Tor-1424

2000- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/2000/12mar00lg.gif
Total Tor-1167

2002- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/2002/12mar02lg.gif
Total Tor- 941

2004- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/2004/12mar04lg.gif
Total Tor- 1819

2006- http://drought.unl.edu/monitor/spi/2006/12mar06lg.gif
Total Tor- 958

2007-from last march to January 2007
Total Tor thus Far- 151
These are very interesting Matt. The closests I could find that resembled the latest drought map was 2004. Hmmmmm....oo who am I kidding it couldn't happen again.:confused: :p
I know I am fishing with out bait here, but the long Range GFS gets pretty interesting as we near the 21 and 22, definitely not even close to considering its solutions factual this far out, however it is a trend that will need to be monitored as it could be a possible indication that the zonal flow pattern may begin to change as we near the latter portion of the month.
*looks at calender*

Wow, it's March 5th and we are already comparing this "season" to seasons in the past.

Is it me, or do chasers get more and more antsy to make a comparison for everything each year? ;)