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                   Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 1:18AM CST

Storm Chasing & Photography forecast update for May 1-12

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
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It's finally here - the statistical peak of tornado season that will continue through June 15. As is typical many years, April was very active, being more of a peak itself than a 'ramp-up' month. It was certainly one of my more memorable Aprils for storm chasing, including my best Great Plains trip so far. It's definitely not usual to have 10 tornadoes logged this early.

So what's in store for May? As usual, past 4-5 days, we can only really get a general guess out to 7-10 days at absolute maximum. And that's only if the two widely-used long range models (the Euro and GFS) agree with each other and show the same general pattern for multiple days (consistency). Fortunately, that is occuring right now, with both the Euro and GFS depicting a western trough/upper low setting up southwest flow over the Plains beginning this weekend and into next week.

The trough as shown begins spreading weak (<30 knots) southwest flow over a dryline and deep moisture on Sunday, which despite the weaker upper support, would be a half-decent storm chase day in the OK/TX Panhandles if storms get established. The models show the jet intensifying with time, bringing the classic southwest flow dryline/triple point plays back to the western Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Panhandle regions into early next week. Not outbreak-grade setups, but good for a few tornadoes out on the remote, sparsely-populated High Plains (where storm chasers prefer them).

Now again, we must take these progs with a generous grain of salt, as models are notorious for botching dynamic spring systems even a few days out. A week is certainly a bit of a stretch to get too excited about now. However, if the above scenario does play out, it would occur in favorable timing with my normal days off from work (plus a vacation day or two) to make a second Plains storm chase expedition. I'll of course post more on my thoughts as the model trends evolve in the coming days.

The following table plots the chance of a Plains storm chase expedition happening in a particular date range (Midwestern storm chase days are not factored into this table):

2012 Plains Storm Expeditions - Probabilities as of May 1
May 1-50%
May 6-1240%
May 13-1930%

Any update on this yet Dan ?
- Posted by Mick from UK

Mick, the models are struggling with the details - but right now it doesn't look quite as good. Not terrible, but not worth a trip. Also, Sunday's risk looks to set up right here at home.
- Posted by Dan Robinson from New Baden, IL

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