Tuesday, January 26, 2016

El Nino, Tornadoes, and the 2016 chase season...

First off I will say most correlations with how the storm season will go and what El Nino is doing are very weak. This blog is just to point out some of the more interesting correlations with this El Nino and ones of the past. Also my focus is the Southern Plains, West of I-35 and South of I-70/I-80. This is for the Plains chasers.

One of my favorite correlations, that always catches my eye, is the coming out of El Nino and getting to neutral by mid year. Certain years really stick out there - 1995, 2007, 2010. All were huge years for the Southern Plains, especially the the TX Panhandle. 3 years that any chaser would take in a heartbeat. Currently it looks like our El Nino that is ongoing should follow this path and will be neutral by mid year. If anything will speak well about our upcoming season, that should get you excited. 

(all images are clickable and will enlarge)

Annual tornado map for 1995:

Annual tornado map for 2007:

Annual tornado map for 2010:

It is about more than just the number of tornadoes, but also the quality of chaseable tornadoes. That includes if they are photogenic and number of tornadoes days. All of those years were great in those aspects. 1995 may have been all in June, but it was a hell of a June. 2007 was done on May 5, but just about every week between end of Feb till then was very active. 2010 waited till late April, but offered numerous tornado days all over the Plains.

There are some other variables at play though, that should be mentioned. 1995, 2007, and 2010 never reached the strength that the 2015-2016 El Nino has. They were all moderate to weak El Ninos. It can definitely be a factor to consider. Other years that have reached the strong category include the springs of '73, '83, and '98. Below are the annual plots for those years.

Annual tornado map for 1973:

Annual tornado map for 1983:

Annual tornado map for 1998:

Those 3 years are not near as promising, especially 1998 which is down right ugly! It just shows how fickle it can be. There are also other patterns that play into or have even bigger effects than El Nino, but overall should spell good news for the Southern Plains. The drought is gone and should not be returning anytime soon with El Nino around. That alone should make for a decent year, but let's hope for a 95, 07, 10 and not a 73, 83, or 98. I will add that 2003 can be grouped in with the 95, 07, & 10 group. All I remember about 2003 is that it was the last High Risk for the TX Panhandle (May 15) and that OKC had a rough year.

This is a discussion that happens every year at this time. SDS makes you look for anything to hold on to. I guess we will see in July how it turned out. Most of my projects are done and I am ready for the new year.

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