State of the Chase Season 2024

Despite ample moisture and modest to moderate flow over OK/TX for most of the next 5-7 days, it does look like "a mis-timed shortwave a day keeps the chasers away" for at least the first part of that period. It's late May and moisture in the warm sector should be seasonably rich (at least before convective overturning), so it's unlikely we make it through Sat-Sun without a couple decent tornadic storms, even if their predictability and targetability is poor. And there's still certainly a chance for one or two more substantial chase days to materialize in the Thu-Sun time frame, but it looks likely that they'd be in the general I-35 corridor of OK/TX (maybe NW TX if we're lucky), which is relatively disappointing this late in the season.

Afterwards, it's hard to find any signal other than doom and gloom beyond this weekend. New ECMWF weeklies today show continuous Rockies ridging and eastern troughing throughout June, as usual. The endless sloshing dryline and/or SW flow upslope days of 2004, 2008, 2010, or that one glorious week in 2016 -- where you'd jump between cheap rooms in Dodge, Salina, and Kearney for high CAPE setups that had real potential -- seem like archeological history at this point. I respect the perseverance of the Northern Plains contingent that hasn't drifted out of the hobby entirely. But at least the season has been better than many recent years already, especially if you ignore geographical preferences within the Alley, predictability, and a preference for the late season's sunset times.
 
I respect the perseverance of the Northern Plains contingent that hasn't drifted out of the hobby entirely.
Thankfully I have several other hobbies (and work) to keep me busy, otherwise I probably would have called it quits a while ago given the pitiful last 5-6 years. Or 12 years if you want to isolate it to the northern plains.
 
I like the northern Plains, in a big part because the hordes have become unmanageable farther south. After that stretch is over, I am hoping to go up there sometime in June.
 
All long range ensemble guidance looks pretty bleak starting about 2 weeks from now. Right in line for the start of my vacation from the 8th to the 15th. I guess the good thing about June is that unless you have the worst death ridge pattern imaginable, you can still get some pretty supercells on the high plains most days.IMG_0919.pngIMG_0920.pngIMG_0921.png
 
This week is off to a bang. Sunday was a classic Oklahoma dryline day, followed by a high plains chase on Monday, then another historic tornado day in Iowa, followed with tornadoes deep in the heart of Texas yesterday. Today is another classic Oklahoma dryline day (sadly I can't chase), followed by a potent setup Saturday, then further east on Sunday. I find it kinda silly to be talking down on 2024 at this point. I haven't had anywhere as productive of a year as I was hoping (blasted life responsibilities keep coming up), but still plenty of opportunity ahead. It does appear things may quiet down some next week, but I suspect there are more mesoscale days coming that models don't resolve well at this range.
 
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2024 in the Plains is perhaps best summarized by a phrase someone posted on the Discord just as $@#! was about to hit the fan in Texas, then Oklahoma, then Arkansas yesterday evening:

"Night wedges incoming."

Tough year. Perhaps more high-ceiling setups than we've seen in several years; but nearly all significant tornadoes with them occurred after dark (4/27, 5/6, 5/25) and/or were fast-moving and hit populated areas (4/26, 5/21). Edit: @Brett Roberts summed it up pretty well in his Reports post for yesterday.

We did at least have a few relatively lower-key risk days that produced somewhat slower-moving, photogenic daylight tornadoes, at the start of May and again late last week.
 
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I pity anyone who booked a June chase tour. The dreaded "death ridge" looks to be upon us. Get your passports ready.
It’s me, hi 👋🏻 I have a tour booked for the second week of June. Looking at the long range data is…well, not fun right now, to say the least. I’m banking on some NW flow events or rogue shortwaves to save the day because troughing in the west is most likely not happening for my tour. Today’s 12z GFS actually doesn’t look half bad given the recent guidance showing crapola, but I need to see a lot more than one long range GFS run before I start feeling better about that week.
 
After a wild weekend, I need a couple of days to regroup. I like these upcoming low-key setups with a sharp dryline and subtle shortwaves. Eyeballing Thursday. There are a couple of waves after that into the first week of June that may be worth chasing as well. There is a pretty strong signal for ridging around the second week of June, but there have been indications of additional troughing (fairly consistent signal on CFS) later in June, primarily for the central and northern Plains. By that point, the southern plains should be shutting down. Still, I don't think we are done yet in the plains, and I expect a few more quality chase opportunities before we get into the typical summer pattern.
 
Yup, going to have to respectfully disagree with @Matthew Crowther here. I don't think June is a write-off this year, and in any case it's far too early to call it for the entire month. Might not have any major outbreak possibilities, or it might (although we've seen what can happen to "major outbreak" setups the day of). Either way, there should be some opportunities out there.
 
After this upcoming weekend the upper air pattern becomes nightmare fuel. Is it too much to ask for one historically active June in the north-central plains? What's it been, 2014? Last year doesn't count as everything happened in the Mountain Time Zone!
 
I haven’t looked at things in detail yet, but just glancing at the long ranges, there’s near-daily moisture, waves of 20-40kt of flow aloft and convective precip being plotted almost indefinitely north of the Red River. There should be storms to chase, especially on the High Plains.

I’m exhausted and tapped out on travel funds and PTO after near-constant being on the road since April 1 (storms, eclipse, auroras) so I’m likely done with out-of-home-area trips for the season. I’d actually welcome a more relaxed week of slow-moving structure/lightning/landspout/occasional tornado producers in western Kansas and Colorado if I had more resources to stay out.
 
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Looks like models are trending away from the “apocalyptic death ridge” scenario and giving us some NW flow to work with in 1-2 weeks. Some OP runs and ensemble members even have decent shortwaves or troughs in the plains, and the CFS REALLY likes the southern plains for some reason. Still not the ideal pattern but hey, some chasing is better than no chasing.IMG_0943.pngIMG_0944.png
 
I have some decisions to make about whether to stay out here… My son has to go home on June 5. My chase buddy may or may not come out this weekend; he wants to make sure at least two of the next three days (Sat June 1 - Mon June 3) have reasonably good chase opportunities. If he decides not to come out, or stay out during the ridge, I’m not thrilled with the idea of sitting out here working in a hotel room by myself in the hope that the action starts again by June 11. I have to head home on June 15 at the latest (preferably June 14), so I’m not sure two or three additional days of chasing is worth enduring a week of downtime, especially since the last day or two of chasing is restricted by having to get to the departure airport (“lame duck day”, as Jack Corso used to call it).
 
After Tuesday's potential in the northern Plains:

Honestly the weather pattern next week favors back East starting midweek. We all know it's horrendous terrain, full or urban centers, or mountains, and forests. But.. the meteorology says back East.
 
Just taking a look at things this morning it looks relatively quiet on the Plains through the next 10 days or so owed largely to the troughing over the east and ridging across the southwest. That may be the end of the traditional season across the southern Plains as is climatological expected by early June. There may likely still be some upslope setups east of the Rockies as well as some mesoscale opportunities before the northern Plains gets more active late next week or starting the week of the 17th once we can get some more robust moisture return to coalesce with some of the signaled ambient upper-level waves that traverse the northern CONUS after the 14th/15th. I'm always reminded that there are traditionally some gorgeous storms (and tornadoes) in June and July across those climatological favored regions, especially CO/MT/WY and into the Dakotas.
 
Just taking a look at things this morning it looks relatively quiet on the Plains through the next 10 days or so owed largely to the troughing over the east and ridging across the southwest. That may be the end of the traditional season across the southern Plains as is climatological expected by early June. There may likely still be some upslope setups east of the Rockies as well as some mesoscale opportunities before the northern Plains gets more active late next week or starting the week of the 17th once we can get some more robust moisture return to coalesce with some of the signaled ambient upper-level waves that traverse the northern CONUS after the 14th/15th. I'm always reminded that there are traditionally some gorgeous storms (and tornadoes) in June and July across those climatological favored regions, especially CO/MT/WY and into the Dakotas.
I agree 100%. I will return in a week for a two-week trip; I love the far northern Plains, fewer crowds, and beautiful storms, and I will chase Canada if need be. Looks like the 15th could be the first chase day. Plus, if there are down days, there are always national parks, etc, to visit.
 
I agree 100%. I will return in a week for a two-week trip; I love the far northern Plains, fewer crowds, and beautiful storms, and I will chase Canada if need be. Looks like the 15th could be the first chase day. Plus, if there are down days, there are always national parks, etc, to visit.
100% concur as well on all points. The 15-16-17th timeframe has had a signal for the Northern Plains for about a week now. May venture a spot trek on west as well.
 
I could have stayed out here working remotely and chasing as able through June 15, but I am heading home today. My son has to leave today, so I’ll just go with him. Unfortunately, my long-time chase partner was unable to come out during the late May active stretch. He was hoping to come out this weekend and couldn’t get flights, so missed out on Silverton day with us. He was hoping to join me this week and next, but it no longer looks like that’s going to be warranted. I could fly back out on Sunday if things change and look good for next week, but doesn’t seem likely. I’ve already used more PTO than I expected during my two and a half weeks out here, so I wouldn’t be inclined to chase marginal setups with upslope and/or NW flow anyway.

As much as I love chasing, it’s hard to break the inertia and embark on another trip out here from the east coast, once I’m back home, make the mental transition back to normal life, immerse myself back in the normal work/family routine, and my calendar starts filling up with personal and professional commitments…
 
Am I missing something? The GEFS is strongly hinting at a decent setup Friday and a somewhat lesser setup Saturday over the central and high Plains:

View attachment 25834View attachment 25835

Hope I didn’t leave prematurely! But SCP doesn’t take the cap into account, does it? My understanding is it describes an overall favorable environment, but does not take into account whether storms will initiate (cap and/or weak forcing). Cap looks strong on operational GFS, particularly on Friday.

Also, NW flow could “mathematically” result in adequate shear, but still not great for tornados (if I am understanding it correctly).

Either way, next week looks like crap! ;-)
 
It does look like the season of classic SW flow dryline days south of the Nebraska/South Dakota border is coming to an end. That usually is what wraps up my Plains trip season. Thanks to last year’s dearth of Plains days, I had a lot of travel funds and PTO saved up that was very useful this year. I can eke out one more trip this season if the mid-month systems pan out, but it’s going to need to be a pretty robust one on the level of Pilger, Columbus or Manchester to get me back out there. Not likely, but it’s 2024 so who knows. Seems like we’re due for one of those big mid/late June days.
 
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