Season of Diminished Hopes

Dec 10, 2004
New Westminster BC Canada
Well, we have a Season of Broken Stuff thread, so how about a Season of Diminished Hopes?
As has already been pointed out, this has been a dismal year for tornadoes — not to mention severe storms. So I am suggesting a topic which lists all the logs of those who arrived in the Plains from elsewhere for a one, two or three-week chase season.

Here’s the Rayner log of nightly stops:
May 25 - Fly into DFW from YVR.
May 26 - Pampa, TX.
May 27 - Wakeeney, KS (for possible foray north the next day).
May 28 - Valentine, NB.
May 29 - Abilene, KS.
May 30 - Clinton, OK
May 31 - Ulysses, KS (in wait mode once more).
June 1 - Dalhart, TX.
June 2 - Colby, KS.
June 3 - Valentine again.
June 4 - Emporia, KS.
June 5 - York, NB.
June 6 - Castle Rock, CO.
June 7 - Amarillo, TX.
June 8 - Ft. Worth, TX.
June 9 - Dallas (from where we flew home in the evening after spending our
last chase day visiting the neat Amon Carter Museum).

Highlights: No tornadoes (for the second year in a row); three severe storms and the strange spectacle of a man with a rifle peering suspiciously into the ground-floor entranceway of a grain elevator somewhere in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Oh yeah, broken stuff. My son sat on his eyeglasses (again), which we managed to replace at a Wal-Mart, and the Mapsend program in my laptop suddenly decided it didn’t want to talk to my Explorist GPS anymore, which meant we couldn’t download any info.
I hesitate to make this reply, because I don't wish to sound whiney, but what-the-hey! That's pretty much the purpose of the thread, and I'd say we can be excused for being whiney on this 11th day of June!! :D

(Incomplete log. I chased quite a bit prior to May 22!)

5-22 New Mexico to Kearney NE (chased in CO) 5-23 York NE 5-24 Rock Falls IL 5-25 W IN 5-26 travel day to Chamberlain SD 5-27 Bismarck ND 5-28 bust day, travel to Columbus NE 5-29 Dodge City 5-30 TX PH 5-31 E CO 6-1 drove home to NM

6-4 travel, NM to Lamar CO 6-5 McCook NE 6-6 Off day 6-7 Valentine NE 6-8 MT 6-9 travel to Ogalalla NE 6-10 NE PH, mechanical problems

Mileage: ~7700 (since May 22 only)
Tornado count: 1 (possibly!)
States chased 1999 to 2005: 7 New states chased 2006 alone: 8 (MO IA IL WI IN SD ND MT)

I must say this, however: I have really enjoyed it. I feel as though I was in the right place, or close to it, more often than ever before. I saw great storms, even though they didn't tornado. I ran into a greater number of chasers I know, from here and elsewhere, than ever before. Some I had not seen for years, others I had never met before. It was an almost daily occurrence. That was fun.

2 Funniest Moments (it's a tie): Farmer in NE getting his mail from his mailbox riding a golf cart with a huge, like, 6-foot antenna on it.....which had me picturing him chasing in the golf cart. I guess you had to be there. Then, I was in my motel room with the door open, typing away on the laptop (in the chatroom), and some motion catches my eye. I look up, and there's a frog enthusiastically hopping toward the bathroom.


I called the front desk and asked the girl if they charge a surcharge to guests with pets. She said yes. I confessed to having a frog in the room. She said "I suggest you escort that frog right out of there and close your door!!" I said "Yeah, I agree. I don't want to have to pay that surcharge!"

Hmmm... I've done ~13,000 miles since the 12th of March (my only tornado day thus far this year) -- and have yet to have a real good supercell day since (>12,000 miles later) besides a couple decent supercells that had decent cloud-base rotation in OK on 4-1 and 5-9 but never produced any tornadoes. If I could trade the >12,000 miles (and while I chase in a Mustang and get relatively decent MPG -- you can still figure out how much I've spent roughly this far) I've done since the 12th of March, then I would with no problem. I didn't chase much of April due to being broke after buying my new car, and what extra money I did accumulate at work during the time period, I "saved up for May" (whoops). So far, I have seen two tornadoes this season (both of them near Springfield, IL) and while the storm was absolutely prolific -- there isn't much video footage to show for it -- given it was afterdark (and moving at raging speeds given the outragous deep-layer flow we had in the early season setups).

Wayyyyyyyy too much time spent chasing this year for very little so far, and living in Detroit and chasing the plains is no way a fun task (way too much time spent on the road and money wasted on gas). Out of MI, I'm pretty much only willing to chase IN/WI/IL/IA the rest of the season -- unless the setup looks like a classic high-end MDT (or HIGH). I'm so hoping for nice late June-July setups around here (and I recently just missed the damn WI tornadoes -- although virtually every chaser whom lives out of state did too. I honestly didn't see much of anything that day in my early analysis that would have made me wanna travel 300-500 miles west).
I'm less worried about this year and am already hoping we don't repeat it again next year. I always knew sooner or later there would be a year like this, and this probably isn't the worst one I'll ever experience. I guess the thing that stands out the most to me is the sensation of being a "normal" person during what is usually the time of year when I feel most like a chaser. Not having chased since May 9, I'm basically over it all. I've been living my "normal life" mode for over a month now and I'm already back in the "waiting til next year" groove. It's weird getting up everyday feeling like it's July and it's May/June. I already am constantly unaware of what day it is, because of my job. The only time of year I'm up on dates is Spring....but with my season in ruins, I have to look at the computer or a calendar to know what day it is. Feels like I'm just going through the motions. There's no purpose in what I do lately, because I should be still chasing but I'm not. I guess "aloof" would describe it best.

Fortunately this crap season paralleled a very bad six weeks financially, so I didn't miss too much. Had this been an active or even average season, I would've missed everything. So I guess I lucked out there.
Yeah this year has really sucked. We have had two chase days (one in Nebraska and one in Illinois) in which we did not see much. I am still hoping that something chaseable will come later this month but I am not expecting it. It is close to time to wait for next year and endure 7 months (Oct-Apr) of snow and no thunder. :angry: I guess it is a bad sign when Oregon had more tornadoes in May than Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma (according to SPC preliminary data). :( Good luck to anyone who gets some kind of chance to chase!
Two words describe this season...incredibly frustrating. Only had 6 chases, two of them "ladies chases", simply because there were storms in the neighborhood, two cap busts, but two good chases (April 1 and May 30). I was stuck at work on the only tornado days, and the most frustrating day was the El Reno tornadoes that I watched OUT THE WINDOW from work. The fact that I didn't get a confirmed tornado this year doesn't bother me because I chase for the storms...I'm quite happy with decent structure, lightning and hail.
There may be more storms later this summer, and maybe there will be something in the fall...who knows? There's always next spring.
Like Shane said I have written off 2006 and am ready to call it good til next year. Of course we will have some decent setups this Summer and Fall, but probably not to a great magnitude (like last November). I chased like 12 days this year so I will not call it a failure. I did catch the tornado south of Beatrice on April 15th. This year seems like it has either been very fast moving storms, weak 500mb winds and moisture (esp. in May), storms that looked awesome with good rotation but just not quite able to produce (at least it seemed like this to me anyway). April 1st in SW OK is a good example of well as April 6th in SE KS. March 12th storms were moving very fast, terrain wasnt too good once storms hit Missouri, and it got dark early. Actually when you really stop to think about it the things that storms did on March 12th is absolutely amazing, esp. the cell that started as a radar blip in Osage Co. Oklahoma and had its last radar return in Michigan. April 1st in SW OK the cell south of Sayre looked really good but was just not able to produce. April 6th I saw several funnels in SE KS, but tornadoes just never happened. Overall I guess 2006 can be summed up like this. (1) An active March and April more so than most years.
(2) The very fast storm motions on a few very good looking days (3) May where there were hardly any good days (4) May where it always seemed that when you looked at a chart the 500mb winds were absolutely horrible (which is mostly due to the ridge i think). Congrats to those that did catch tornadoes and better luck to those next year that didnt. Another thing about this year it seems that many chasers including myself drove very far on very marginal setups due to being so far in between chase days. I am sure May will return with a bang sometime in the next few years. Just have to wait til next year and see.

Hmmm..........maybe the season isnt over yet.........afterall it is June 12th and something is bound to happen........or not :) .....will just have to dream about June 12 last year and 2004
2006 was the year of my first chases. I wasn't too disappointed, since it was an opportunity to have unobstructed views and photo-ops of thunderstorms. I would have loved to see a tornado, but oh well. For me 2006 was lightning and structure. From a dark menacing shelf cloud on the 23rd in NE, to a cluster of supercells in the MO bootheel on the 25th, to an electric evening supercell over Bismark, ND on the 27th, it was great for structure and lightning. That cluster of storms on the 25th produced over 5000 CG's per hour! I'm pretty sure I saw over half of them, lol.
For me, it's a matter of perspective. I don't live in the Great Plains and have been limited in my ability to break away from work and chase. But two of the times I did get out this year resulted in my first successful chases since 1996. I caught the Missouri/Illinois outbreak in March and tracked that event's big beast of a supercell from west of Columbia, MO, all across Illinois--where I witnessed the tornado plow through Springfield at night--and on into Indiana.

Then a month later, I saw my first wedge in Iowa and watched a large funnel move across Iowa City after dark.

I couldn't have afforded to chase in May even if it had been a good month. I'm hoping that June will still offer a couple opportunities as I've finally acquired that mandatory tool of the trade, a notebook computer. But whatever happens, I'll count this year as a good one.
I have had several good chases this season, but most were close to home. I did witness a multi vortex crapnado, sampled hail big enough to leave dents and winds strong enough to make me change lanes but for the most part it was a year full of busts, crappy structure and no rotation. I made two trips to the plains one was a 2600 mile 54 hour trip and the other was a 1700 mile 30 hour trip. Both were insane goes at bad setups but what was 2006 without a bad setup? Anyways, I can't say that I regret any of the trips or the money spent and I always have tropical systems to look forward to. The best part about living in Ms is I am in reach for any tropical system and we get a severe weather pattern in November which is usually very productive.
Log of the student chase trip I helped lead with Dave Carroll and Seth Price:

May 14 -- chased North Carolina, filmed a tornado near Durham, stayed in Rocky Mount, N.C. ... 1st day of a chase trip and we're 70 miles from the Atlantic Coast ... very WEIRD
May 15 -- travel day, overnight in Lebanon, Tenn. (just east of Nashville)
May 16 -- took students to tornado destruction scenes in Caruthersville, Mo. and Marmaduke, Ark. (the dark side of severe weather; they were deeply moved by it), observed some pulse storms in the Mo. Bootheel, catfish supper and overnight stay in Jonesboro, Ark. (where I stayed with my parents and woke up to the chase van in their driveway, also VERY WEIRD feeling)
May 17 -- chased central Illinois, best storm of trip, numerous striated wall clouds, overnight in Decatur, Ill.
May 18 -- travel, overnight (and Lambert's Cafe throwed rolls) in Sikeston, Mo.
May 19 -- busted chase day in SE Missouri, overnight stay across the state in Joplin, Mo.
May 20 -- basically a travel day, though we hung around SE Kansas a while in slim hopes that small chance of t-storms would come to fruition, overnight in Hays KS
May 21 -- chased NE Colo, SW Neb, gustnadoes and some severe, overnight in McCook, Neb.
May 22 -- busted chase day in Yuma, Colo., overnight stay in Grand Island, Neb.
May 23 -- chased NE Neb., SE S. Dakota, some lowerings, a squall line, and the ever-debated gustnado-tornado north of Vermillion (we didn't count it as a tornado), overnight in Vermillion, S.D.
May 24 -- chased NE Iowa, NW Ill., S. Wisconsin, observed 1 lowering that tightened into a rain-wrapped circulation, some neat structure, overnight in Bloomington, Ill.
May 25 -- chased western/central Indiana, most frustrating chase of the trip, on wrong side of tornadic supercell in bad terrain, overnight in Columbus, Ind.
May 26 -- returned 2 days earlier than originally planned to Blacksburg/Roanoke, Va.
2005 november (I forget the exact day) A f3 twister moved through Woodward Iowa nearly destroying the whole town. That was for november this far north! The outbreak is also playable on the NOAA "Hotseat" if you want to see how bad it realy was. (Find the hotseat thread to play it) That day we had many tornadoes possible close to 20 including 1 many saw go right by Ames. Just because MAY/JUNE may be the best months for seeing tornadoes does not mean the rest of the year should be ignored. For all you know summer/fall could be realy big on twisters this year. There will be more tornadoes this year you just have to have patience and wait. You will get in the habit of chasing every little setup that comes and waste lots of money and gas for nothing when you dont have patience aswell as give up half way through June like alot of people are thinking of doing and probibly miss some nice outbreaks during the summer/fall. Like November 2005 tornado outbreak for Iowa when everyone was ready to call it quits look what happend? So I would not call it quits as of yet for 2006. Just have patience. Starting this type of thread will only discourage others from chasing more this season reminding them how bad it has been so far. March and Aprill was pretty good so I dont think this season has been that bad as we did have some nice outbreaks. We even had a nice outbreak in Iowa that produced I beleive 17 twisters! ( I think that was in aprill but I forget) -MatthewCarman.
Still wondering if there are any good severe wx setups left in the tank. I am growing more concerned about the early and steady shift of the 582 500mb heights hiking up towards the Canadian border, and the main jet riding across the extreme Northern US & S.Canada now. If this does mean summer, I will have some good fall chasing to utilize some unused vacation time (if/when those better setups come along in the sometimes decently active September & October). I am in agreement with Shane, this year was a good year to just stay put and save the frustration that has been troubling most chasers. While certainly I do miss the chasing so far, I just know that some oddball setup WILL happen at some point this summer...and probably a few nice events this fall. No biggie.
Season of diminished hopes, huh.....

I thought last year was bad, at least got 1 good tornado (6/04; MO). Actually that was my real only chase day then, too. And now this?! UGH!! I agree with Shane about seemingly going back to "normal" so early in the year. But odd, because I didn't figure normal would feel abnormal. But 2 yrs running, now normal seems normal (?!) For me it worked out as well. A few retirements put me in the top 8 in seniority (more $$), but when you have $$, you have no time to spend it. And reversed. So in some ways, it worked out...sort of.

I haven't completely closed the book on this year. But I am, however, looking at the back cover. Time will tell. We may have one sneek up on us.

I do feel bad for all the people who made long ventures out for nothing, seemingly time and again. I was more picky of my setups this year, and subsequently only made it out 2x, locally in central Il.

Second year in a know what they say though, 3rd time is the charm. Keeping my fingers crossed for next year.
Still wondering if there are any good severe wx setups left in the tank...While certainly I do miss the chasing so far, I just know that some oddball setup WILL happen at some point this summer...and probably a few nice events this fall. No biggie.

That setup may be just around the corner, if the 12Z GFS verifies. After 1100 miles and not much to show from this past weekend (the ogallala storm was nice, but not worth 1100 miles), i was ready to write this miserable season off yesterday. Now, my mind is blown by seeing an upper low sitting over the TX panhandle this coming weekend. No classic setup, but it sure is tempting. Hope its not just taunting me :unsure:
That setup may be just around the corner, if the 12Z GFS verifies. After 1100 miles and not much to show from this past weekend (the ogallala storm was nice, but not worth 1100 miles), i was ready to write this miserable season off yesterday. Now, my mind is blown by seeing an upper low sitting over the TX panhandle this coming weekend. No classic setup, but it sure is tempting. Hope its not just taunting me :unsure:

maybe I am a pessimist but I dont share the optimism of some, I just figure that even if we get a nice surface low and a great wind profile to go with it wont matter because every set up in the plains this year has featured the same thing: moisture completely mixing out. Moisture depth simply will not be sufficient I dont think. Maybe its the drought?
maybe I am a pessimist but I dont share the optimism of some, I just figure that even if we get a nice surface low and a great wind profile to go with it wont matter because every set up in the plains this year has featured the same thing: moisture completely mixing out. Moisture depth simply will not be sufficient I dont think. Maybe its the drought?

Hey Sam: thanks for keeping this post going--it deserves to be front and center (im not ready to chase hurricanes this year quite yet!) I understand your pessimism, with me it's even more depressing cause this is the first season ive had a chance to chase on days off rather than cross my fingers and buy a plane ticket.
While the drought is a possible problem, blaming the drought implies that evapo-transpiration is a major issue. I don't think it is--i think the drought PATTERN is more to blame (course, there could be feedback mechanisms playing into the pattern, but then you have to consider the whole global circulation and not just our regional drought) There's moisture down there--we just have to get it up here! I've noticed the moisture mnixing out a lot, but ive also noticed a lack of decent LLJs, and for that matter a lack of decent surface features. All tied into the lack of decent jets/troughs! It does seem like many setups have gone to waste, but i wonder if that's partly just our perception--we think every setup around the corner looks great when really it sucks compared with other years. That's why i'm not holding my breath for the remainder of June, but i would like to see something left this season-S
While not the first year I have chased; it is the first year I have frequently chased long distances of 300 miles or more. While it definetly has been a slow year I have not been dissapointed, first of all I have had some very successful chases; two Tornadoes, Marysville KS and Beatrice NE not to mention some decent structure chases as well Oklahoma on 4-1, and just recently 6-10 in Colorado. I think these slow years are extremly important esspecially for younger more inexperienced chasers; I myself have learned a ton about forecasting sever weather this year (a lot of credit goes to those I have surrounded myself with). Personally I feel I have learned more about forecasting due to looking at data from a "whats limiting" standpoint as opposed to just finding the best looking varibles and driving to them. I think years like this determine the trully passionate chasers from the rest, plus years like this are what make finnally bagging something so fun, if we just went out and easily filmed tornadoes the excitment of one would surely decrease. It has been a Productive year for me and I still have high hopes; all it takes is one unexpected summer afternoon to make 2006 un-forgetable.
I definently share your thinking about learning in slow years, let me say this, just 3 years ago I did not even know what a computer model was, I did not even know there was such a webpage as "SPC Mesoscale Analysis", I knew the very very basics about weather from watching the weather channel through my childhood, but I was no where near where I am now, and closlely looking for details that bust a set up helped me along so I definently think slow years help you learn faster.

I suppose it is just the gas prices getting to me. Maybe I will get over it, but a nice tube would sure help the healing process
Many of the thoughts echoed here are my own. Going into the season, I was somewhat pessimistic as Oklahoma (my home state) and Texas were in an extreme drought. This really tempered my enthusiasm, but after the wild day on March 12 I started to hold out some hope for the season.

Then as things really went nuts through March and April, I really felt better. I chased several times in March and April, and although we hit tornado warned storms on each occasion, we failed to get footage of any tubes.

However, as May fell apart and June collapsed, I have gotten a sinking feeling of despair. After a great start, things sure went south in a hurry.

I recently did a simple study of tornadoes that have occurred from 2000 - 2005 and some surprising numbers came to light. I compared the number of tornadoes that had occured in 17 different states for this time period and found some interesting trends. During this time period, my home state of Oklahoma finished 9th in the number of tornadoes that had occurred. Eastern and northern states such as Alabama and Minnesota had more tornadoes during this time span. I have mentioned for several years, that I feel that Tornado Alley may be shifting more to the east (& now I suspect north as well). Now I know that a five year study is not a real representative sample and it may represent more of a short term "hiccup" rather than a real pattern, but I found it interesting nevertheless. Any thoughts from anyone else?

On the positive side, I did order the WxWorx system in May and got to try it out on the supercell around Cheyenne, OK on May 30th and I was amazed at how much this system helped me out. I found the data gleaned from this tool to be incredible. I do not have a wireless data plan (and it would probably have not worked anyway in this particular region) and the ability to have access to the type of data delivered by the WxWorx system is incredible.

So although, this season has been rough (many miles, no tornadoes), I cannot feel too bad. On all chases this year but one, I have managed to be on storms with tornado warnings, but I just haven't been able to pull in the elusive tube. Although, I would like to think something may still pop in the next couple of weeks, I am not optimistic and it is frustrating. (I have not had any tornadoes since Mulvane in 2004). But overall, I have had the opportunity to be on some great storms this year and so I can't call the year a total "wash" (but a tornado or two would sure help out!). :p
About the coming systems and moisture. I really don't think the drought problems have had much at all to do with there being poor moisture to work with(I agree with Stan). I don't remember really any onshore flow after that one strong gulf scouring many many weeks ago now. That must have been after those storms in TX in early May when there were high dews up into OK that the gulf got slammed by a front. Most of this whole time there's either been no flow at the gulf or even offshore flow. All we keep getting is continental air(bad at that) being used over and over. I keep looking at the surface obs down there and seeing the same sad story over and over. Well that is until just now. Tonight is the first night I remember looking at the gulf and seeing se winds in a looooong time. I'm pretty doubtful it will amount to much for tomorrow's system, but would hope things would change quickly now in regards to getting deep moisture onshore.

The gfs shows a nice fetch starting up now and continuing. HERE

Now that it looks like we should start seeing deeper moisture in place I'm sure the jet will shift way the hell into Canada anyway. If it doesn't I would certainly say game on! I wish this had started a few days ago so tomorrow would be in better shape.
This year has been pretty bad, but it hasn't been quite as bad as 1988. The entire April-June period accounted for 3 tornadoes in OK, along with zero thunder days in April 1988 at OKC. It wasn't much better across the rest of the Plains, except for 8 May in IA/IL. You should try picking up chasing with 1987-88 as two of your first three years :eek:

I will admit that it's been the worst 2 year weather stretch I can recall in central OK in the past 21+ years. We've had almost no snow in the winter, thunder and precip have been near record lows for much of the past 18 months, and the average monthly temperatures for 2006 have been about a month ahead of "normal". About the only thing more exciting than normal has been the fire weather season.

I've been unwilling to drive 500-1000 miles per day for subpar moisture and a rather hostile large scale pattern. Similar to Shane, I've only chased once since 3 May, and I've only been on three chases where we didn't cut our losses before dark (12 March KS/MO, 30 March OK/KS (my only tornado), and 1 April OK). Until we see a change in low-level trajectories and precip across the Plains, the moisture will continue to be a problem. Maybe next year...

Rich T.

p.s. I will say that I'm not upset about the lame season. It's not like I missed much on the days I could not chase due to work, and the pattern has been so obviously bad that there's little reason for false hope :)
[attachmentid=374] May 9th was the most recent storm I got to see, since then nothing. We are having a severe drought down here and need something other than clear blue skies.

STDS (Severe Thunderstorm Deprevation Syndrome) setting in...I can't go on much longer...storms I need storms.
Hey...we've still got the second season coming this fall so maybe we'll get some chaser treats then...sometimes Sept/October in the Plains can come alive with some pretty good chasing. Just wished
I did not have to wait another 3 months before the next good chase opportunity. I am pretty much in agreement with Rich that this spring was in the same category as 1988...but 1988 had a great event on May 8th up in Iowa so this year may be suckier than that one !! If the fall craps out too...then it WILL be the worst year I have experienced as a chaser. :unsure:
About the only thing more exciting than normal has been the fire weather season.[/b]

And the cause for very busy emergency management services in the state of Missouri during March.
Maybe Drylines pushing that far east was an omen?

We had abnormally high winter temps, abnormally low precip/VERY little snow preceed that
violent little stretch in Mo. and then followed by more of the former, excepting the first two cold weeks of May. I can't remember such persistant low Td's along the western arc of the GOM extending so late into June.