2018 Storm Outlook: Another View

This seasonal forecast is based on the La Nina/El Nino patterns Rodney mentioned in his outlook. It leans toward more overall activity in Tornado Alley. In Kansas? Maybe not so much.

We all like to get meteorologists pinned down on what they think the upcoming season holds — especially in the spring, it seems. Already, Rodney and Mark have weighed in on the season. Here’s another (research) meteorologist’s take based on the statistical variation of tornado season based on whether we’re in an El Nino or La Nina year, or in transition as we are forecast to be late in the season.

(For those who like to dig into such things, here are the links to the Methods (PDF), the ENSO and Tornadoes, and the Why We Care items listed in Michael Tippet’s tweet.)

As Mike Smith says, “Given the very slow start to the 2018 severe weather season, this forecast will either be in error or it will be a vicious April and May.”

Let’s look in a bit more detail

For the western third of Kansas, this method would give a 35-40% chance of having more tornadoes and severe hail than average. The eastern two-thirds would have a 40-50% probability of an above-normal year. That dark green area from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex into Oklahoma east of I-35 would be forecast with a 50-60% probability of having an above-average tornado and hail year.

If this plays out I’ll probably be sitting out many events. I’ve learned not to chase in the forest/mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. I occasionally range between I-35 and the Indian Nation Turnpike, but not often. I made it down last year, solely because some chaser friends were in OKC in late April and the risk was in that I-35 to Indian Nation Turnpike triangle. We did get a couple good shots of tornadic storms, like this one:

I’m wavering on the line somewhere between Rodney and Mark. I share Mark’s worries about the drought, mostly from the impact the stunted vegetation will have on evapotranspiration (loosely, plant sweat), which helps build moisture in the air for storms to use. I hadn’t considered that the dryline might setup east of Highway 281 instead of near the Kansas/Colorado line, and push east of most of the state before storms fire. I’ve heard Rodney’s take from several people, and Chiara Lepore’s research is consistent.

All I can say at this point is, I’m not in any rush to put the cameras and so forth in the StormBurban. After the engine work is done next week, then I’ll get going on equipping the truck. I’m sure the shakedown cruise will be a trip to central or southern Oklahoma — it nearly always is. But I don’t see anything that has me chomping at the bit to get that direction before the first week of April…


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