Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 11:48AM

Plains shutting down for the long term

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This is becoming one of those seasons where I really feel for those who have non-flexible plans for storm chase expeditions right now. Since my last forecast post, the models have come into much better agreement on the lack of a western US troughing pattern for the foreseeable future. There is no sign of a tornado season (southwest flow aloft over the Plains) for as far out as all of the models go. As always, there will be Front Range and needle-in-the-haystack setups for those who are stuck with chase vacations during this period. For me though, those types of setups are generally not worth spending money for a long extended trip. I can get plenty of marginal storms (sometimes better ones) close to home! In a nutshell, the outlook is not good for a second Plains trip happening anytime soon.

There is always hope for a turnaround before the end of the season (remember 2005!), and the models (as we've seen numerous times) can sometimes be wrong. But I think the window for something to happen is getting smaller. Thankfully the models can't see the end of the month yet - which means anything is possible - so there is still hope. At this point though, I'm wiping out the probabilities for the next two weeks while raising the June and 'no trip' percentages.

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 9
May 9-152%
May 16-2210%
May 23-3129%
June 1-1529%
No trip #230%

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