Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
Weather, photography and the open roadClick for an important message
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                   Friday, May 15, 2009 - 5:44PM

No return of Plains tornado season in sight

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Models continue to be persistent and in agreement in no semblance of a western US troughing pattern for the next two weeks. This means the Great Plains will be in 'down mode' for tornadoes through that time (if the far end of those forecasts are correct). There are also indications of a tropical or sub-tropical low forming in the Gulf of Mexico by next week. This creates an even worse situation for tornadoes, as the low will prevent good moisture return northward into the Plains. Again, as always, there will probably be isolated/difficult tornado opportunities for storm chasers who are stuck with firm vacation plans through June 1. But for those of us who chase opportunistically from great distances, there is no sign of any reason to make a trip to the Plains for as far out as I can see.

So, the early-June-or-bust season scenario is looking more and more likely. I am becoming less optimistic about spending my remaining spring trip budget for a second run out west, barring an amazing string of tornado setups in June. I can think of several other chases I might like to try instead (like another Sears Tower lightning trip). That's just my current feeling though, subject to change as always.

Based on the current outlook, this probability table charts the chance of the second Plains storm chase expedition starting on a particular date:

2009 Storm Chasing & Photography Expedition #2 - Departure Date Probability as of May 15
May 16-221%
May 23-3113%
June 1-1536%
No trip #250%

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