Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
Weather, photography and the open roadClick for an important message
Storm Highway by Dan RobinsonClick for an important message

May 5: Plains quieting down, postponing for a week or so

The latest model runs confirm our suspicions. We'll likely have a ridge and northwest flow after May 9. This means we need to put the trip on indefinite hold until a new pattern begins to emerge. We will keep watching the models and hopefully by mid-week next week, something better will emerge for the future. It's May, so there is plenty of hope. Last year this pattern set in and lasted for 3 weeks, which is very rare. Even if the same thing happens this year, it happening more than a week earlier - giving a lot of time for a pattern change before June. We'll set a second tentative date for Saturday-Monday (the 13th through the 15th) and keep watching for a western trough.

Just a note - severe storms can and do occur in ridged northwest flow environments, but the wind shear profiles are usually not supportive of tornadoes. Don't be surprised to see some moderate risks and even a few isolated tornadoes out in the Plains during the upcoming 'quiet' period. But, these setups are very difficult to photograph storms and rarely yield any success for storm photographers aside from lightning and some storm structure shots. We will be much better off to save our money for a better pattern that supports strong, multiple, long-lived tornadoes.

If you followed our blog last year, you know that this type of planning-hesitating-postponing-planning-again cycle is a normal thing in storm photography. We are completely at the mercy of the weather patterns and have no choice but to wait for them to cooperate. As long as we stay ready, patient and flexible, we have a good chance of being successful.

Now a note about our chase transportation side of things. We have installed most of the new vehicle components, and this afternoon we'll work on configuring everything. Postponing the trip will give us some more time to fine-tune the new configuration. Stay tuned for some photos of the setup later this evening.

Based on the current outlook, this probability table charts the chance of our trip starting on a particular date:

2006 Storm Photography Expedition - Departure Date Probability as of May 5
May 6-122%
May 13-1610%
May 17-2028%
May 21-2729%
May 28-June 429%
No trip2%

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