Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Thursday, May 16, 2024

Season forecast update 12, for May 16

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
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As often happens during active seasons, a solid tornado opportunity has emerged on a day I originally wasn't paying attention to. Sunday's setup has most of the features you'd want to see for a good supercell/tornado event: more than 30 knots of flow from the midlevels to the surface, a sharp dryline, dewpoints in the upper 60s and a cap that will hold off storm formation until late afternoon. It's not an outbreak setup, but looks a like a classic isolated supercell event for central Kansas.


GFS 500mb forecast for Sunday evening, May 19

This event will mark the entry into what looks like an active one-to-two week stretch in the Plains, where multiple setups like this (and better) look possible every couple of days. To add to this, a few of these systems are shown also bringing supercell and tornado risks to here at home in the Midwest, some simultaneous with their Plains counterparts. Again, as I've said before, I've already been on three Great Plains trips and my PTO isn't unlimited, so I'm having to be more judicious and picky for the rest of the season. Sunday's event is atractive because it looks to be only a one-day outing that would minimize the time off I'd need to take, and it appears that there will be no competing Midwest-event-at-home. That makes Plains trip #4 look very likely to start on Saturday night, Lord willing.

Thanks to the more unsettled and subtle nature of the upcoming pattern - that is, smaller and more numerous waves as opposed to easier-to-predict big troughs - I'm not going to be able to plan ahead much nor have much of substance to say about things more than a couple of days out. I'm just going to give the May 20-28 period a blanket 75% trip probability, as it's that likely there will be at least one setup worth making another run to the Plains during that time. And it may end up being that the entire stretch will be trip-worthy in a best-case scenario. As always, stay tuned to my Twitter/X feed and Youtube channel for more up-to-date postings of catches - and this blog for more detailed accounts and additional imagery as time allows.

The following table charts the probabilities of a Great Plains chase expedition taking place during the date ranges shown:

2024 Plains Chase Expeditions - Probabilities as of May 16
May 18-1980%
May 20-2875%

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