What meteorologist doesn’t dream about being able to go storm chasing? This year I’ll have my chance! I’m heading out to the Plains on June 8th for a week of tornado hunting with my buddy Chris.
Tornado season typically peaks in May in Oklahoma and then migrates north and northwest into the northern plains and high plains. Climatology tells us that as the jet stream retreats north from May into June the best tornado threat does as well. Here’s a look at the tornado climatology for mid May and the second week of June. Notice how the core of best tornado odds shifts north.
At this point all we know is that we’ll be flying into Denver. Our target area will likely be somewhere in eastern Colorado, Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma or Nebraska. Hopefully we won’t have to travel much farther east into eastern Nebraska since I-80 is one of the most painful roads ever paved (161 miles in Pennsylvania to and from PSU is more than anyone should have to drive).
Ultimately, the short term forecast will dictate where exactly our target area is but this is a broad idea. Whether or not this has to be shifted north or south will be dependent on the weather.
On the days we will be out there June 8-13 I went back and looked at how much severe weather there has been the last few years.
June 8-13, 2012
- Nothing on June 8th
- Numerous severe hail reports on June 9th well north into South Dakota
- Isolated severe hail/wind northeastern Kansas on June 10th
- Numerous severe hail/wind reports north of DFW and in southern Oklahoma on June 11th
- Several tornadoes and large hail/wind reports eastern New Mexico and Texas Panhandle on June 12th
- Large hail/wind southern South Dakota
June 8-13, 2011
- Several severe hail/wind reports in northern Colorado and also southern Kansas on June 8th
- Tornado and many severe wind/hail in southern Kansas west of Wichita on June 9th
- Sporadic wind/hail central Oklahoma and southeast Kansas on June 10th
- Several tornadoes and severe hail/wind reports in the Oklahoma panhandle and southeast Kansas on the 11th
- Several tornadoes and severe hail/wind in the western Dakotas and eastern Wyoming
June 8-13, 2010
- Tornado near Denver and several tornadoes and wind/hail reports near Wichita, KS on the 8th
- A number of giant hail reports in southeast Wyoming near Cheyenne on the 9th
- Tornado outbreak in the high plains of Colorado on the 10th
- Tornadoes in the high plains of Colorado and also northwestern Kansas and southern Nebraska on the 11th
- Tornadoes in central Kansas and Texas panhandle on the 12th
- Several tornadoes in the Oklahoma panhandle on the 13th.
There was also a large tornado outbreak on June 11, 2008 in Kansas and Nebraska. Storm chases are a crap shoot – but with some luck we’ll be in business. A tornado would be great but even some monster supercells on the plains would be awesome too.