Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Friday, May 22, 2009 - 12:13AM

Historic storm season?

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The current 'death ridge' upper pattern over the US is one of the largest and far-reaching ones I've seen since I began observing. This pattern has shut down thunderstorms across nearly the entire continental United States, unheard of in the month of May. While garden-variety storms may begin returning as early as this weekend (including around here in the Appalachians), severe storms (and tornadoes) look to be out of the picture for as far out as I can see on the model forecasts.

2009 may end up being one of the historic seasons in storm chasing lore, far surpassing 2006 and possibly even the infamous seasons in the late 80s, particularly if June can't get things going. And as far as the models are concerned, it still isn't looking good for the June redemption. We've still got a week or so to go before June starts showing up at the far end of the models' more reliable ranges. But one thing is for sure, it's going to take a pattern change of epic proportions to break down this ridge, get some moisture streaming back north and rescue the 2009 storm season. Not only that, it's got to go beyond a token 'season salvage' to get me back out there - in other words, I'm not spending chase money for anything less than great tornado setups. Even though the second week in June is beyond reasonable forecasting range, I have a feeling that another June 2005 is not likely. Maybe the atmosphere will surprise me though - so I'll give it 20 percent on the probabilities.

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 22
May 22-310%
June 1-1520%
No trip #280%

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