These maps break down July tornadoes based on where they begin.

july-tornado-touchdown-conus-grid

July is often thought of as the beginning of post-season when it comes to tornadoes, but the reality is that the month is the fourth most active of the year. In fact, partly since it’s so warm across the whole country and storms are numerous, the month has seen several thousand more twisters than March, a month often thought of as a big one for tornadoes.

As across the warm season months, there is again a noticeable (if less stark because cumulative numbers are dropping) shift to the north and west for the most consistent tornado activity. The front range of Colorado and Wyoming continues to be a hotspot, but the states up near the Canadian border put up quite a fight there overall.

Where tornadoes form: October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June

July averages about 120-135 tornadoes depending on the length of and specificity of the period used. That’s only about half of June’s total. So while tornadoes remain quite common in July, there’s a noticeable down-tick in activity most years.

Continue reading »

Going with the abridged version today because my work schedule is crap right now, and will continue to be. This will probably be the last “regular” forecast for this year, though I will issue special forecasts if a decent tornado setup comes along.

1-3 Day
20150623_tornado_forecast1-3
Tuesday

Mid-Atlantic, southern New England — TORNADO RANGE: 1-3 — CONFIDENCE: High
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None

Wednesday

Northern High Plains — TORNADO RANGE: 0-2 — CONFIDENCE: High
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None

Western Midwest — TORNADO RANGE: 2-5 — CONFIDENCE: Normal
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
 

The break for storm chasing and recovery is over, so it’s time to get back to making some forecasts! We are going to post a chasecation 2015 summary at some point this summer, with some extra details, stats, and even more storm pictures.

1-3 Day
20150615_tornado_forecast1-3
Monday

Eastern Wyoming — TORNADO RANGE: 1-3 — CONFIDENCE: Normal
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None
Pros: Good directional shear, decent speed shear, low to moderate instability.
Cons: Little upper-level forcing, concerns with storm mode.

Western Gulf Coast — TORNADO RANGE: 0-2 — CONFIDENCE: Normal
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None
Pros: Low to moderate instability, decent low-level shear, low LCLs, some semi-tropical forcing.
Cons: Weak mid-to-upper level speed shear, weak mid-level lapse rates.

Tuesday

Central High Plains — TORNADO RANGE: 1-3 — CONFIDENCE: Normal
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None
Pros: Low to moderate instability, good directional shear, decent speed shear.
Cons: Mid-level winds are a bit weak, lack of upper-level forcing.

Eastern Texas — TORNADO RANGE: 0-2 — CONFIDENCE: Normal
Expected Tornado Hotspot: None
Pros: Low to moderate instability, decent low-level shear, low LCLs, some semi-tropical forcing.
Cons: Weak mid-to-upper level speed shear, weak mid-level lapse rates.

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
 

The Kansas/Nebraska border was an almost-perfect play, except the atmospheric cap that had been absent all spring suddenly decided to show up. The cap kept the best potential tornado environment mostly under blue skies this afternoon.

Storms did eventually fire along the “dry” line in the evening, but they were not in the best atmosphere for tornadoes. While we watched people snag awesome tornado shots in Colorado, we dropped southwest onto a storm that was producing a prolific amount of lightning.

We stopped and watched this storm near Gove City, Kansas as it put down very vibrant and photogenic cloud-to-ground lightning as often as every 3-5 seconds for what felt like forever. It was a great way to save another day of missing tornadoes, and was the best lightning display I have ever seen.

20150604_ianLightning

Tagged with:
 

Today took us to Wyoming to take another stab at getting some upslope tornado action. What was originally thought to be an early show for storms actually waited until the end of the afternoon and early evening.

After watching many convective towers fail at reaching storm status, a few storms did eventually develop in east-central Wyoming that were chaseable. The storm we were on had a wall cloud at times, but did not produce a tornado, at least not while we were on it. There was some convincing scud at times, though, as we sat on the southwest side of the storm.

With the Wyoming supercell picture below, we have now chased storms in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. We will try our luck in KS/NE again tomorrow, which will probably be our final chase day in the Plains.

20150603_supercell1_1080

Tagged with:
 

These maps break down June tornadoes based on where they begin.

june-tornado-touchdown-conus-grid

June is the typical end of peak season when it comes to tornadoes. It’s historically the second most active month of the year. While major outbreaks are a little less common than in April and May, days featuring tornadoes are at yearly peak for much of the month.

Like prior months, there’s a noticeable shift north and west when it comes to the most frequent activity. The high Plains, the central Plains, northern Plains and upper Midwest are particular hot spots.

Where tornadoes form: October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May

Tornado averages for the month range from about 230-250 depending on the length and recentness of the averaging period. Throughout recorded history, June has about 1,000 fewer tornadoes than May but that’s still considerably more than April.

Continue reading »

I don’t throw superlatives into my discussion often, so take note of that fact when I tell you that today’s lightning show behind the Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) in Nebraska was pretty awesome.

We spent the day getting bored in South Dakota as our original target area just couldn’t get storms going behind a brief shower. After that disappointment, we drifted southwest to try to catch storms closer to the Nebraska border.

Upon seeing how the MCS was playing out, it was decided that we would salvage the day with some good lightning behind the line of storms. The day was indeed salvaged.

Below is one of my best images of the day, but James and Ian also got some other incredible shots.

20150602_lightning1_1080

Tagged with:
 

Today brought us to the Rapid City, South Dakota area on the northern end of the Black Hills. A brilliant supercell eventually appeared over the Black Hills, though good vantage points to see it well were difficult to find due to the terrain.

The next couple of days hint at more possible tornado activity after a lull over the past several days. The threat areas will be focused over the northern and central Plains, and there is a possibility of a more enhanced threat in the central Plains on Wednesday.

Here’s one shot of today’s supercell that just sat over the Rapid City area for a few hours.

20150601_supercell1_1080

Tagged with:
 

Today we found ourselves tracking south out of North Platte, Nebraska to get to an area that had good convergence and even a mesoscale low to help pop storms near the Kansas/Colorado border around I-70.

It was a “northwest flow” setup over the central Plains, with northwesterly winds aloft causing storms to travel south and southeast instead of your more typical east and northeast storm motion.

The road networks along the Kansas/Colorado border made chasing storms fairly easy today. We caught two supercells, one in Kansas and one in Colorado that both looked good for a bit, but the cloud bases were too high and the wind shear was not quite strong enough to produce tornadoes.

What we did get was a couple of storms that had their own good qualities about them. Not great structure, but pretty good. Pictured is the second, more southern storm that was traveling along the KS/CO border, with a hail shaft dropping near the left updraft on the image.

20150531_hailshaft1_1080

Tagged with:
 
7107640335_9ae810e091_o

Deadly F5 tornado moving through Niles, Ohio. Photo by Mike Zahurak.

Northeastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and Ontario, Canada are generally not the first places you would think of when hearing the phrase “major tornado outbreak.” However, on the final day of May in 1985, residents of this region suffered one of the most intense tornado events in North American history, as a powerful storm system brought destruction from the skies in a manner unprecedented this far east on the continent.

The May 31, 1985 outbreak is staggering in many ways in addition to its unusual geographic location. The count of violent F4/F5 tornadoes it produced outnumbers all but four tornado events since 1950, and its death toll exceeds everything else in the period between the two massive outbreaks of April, 1974 and April, 2011. At this longitude in North America, only two tornado events have lead to a comparable or greater number of deaths in at least the last 125 years; the Worcester, Massachusetts tornado on June 9, 1953 and the Appalachians tornado outbreak on June 23, 1944.  It is also one of the only known North American tornado events to produce significant tornadoes in both the United States and Canada on the same day, making it a truly “international” event.

Continue reading »

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.