2018 has been a fairly quiet year, both in terms of chase opportunities and overall tornadoes. Currently, the US is nearing 80 tornadoes so far this year, which is below average. Two people have died from tornadoes so far, both on February 24th (1 in Arkansas and 1 in Kentucky). On March 19th, a Moderate risk of severe weather was issued with a 15% significant tornado risk outlined, mostly for northern Alabama. The first EF3 tornado in the US since May 16th, 2017 touched down in Calhoun County, Alabama and struck Jacksonville, causing considerable damage at Jacksonville State University. Although this tornado and several weaker ones damaged populated areas, fortunately no one was killed that day. In terms of chasing, it’s been a pretty lean first three months. In fact, it’s only been in the last week that any chasers caught any remotely interesting storms. On both March 16th and 17th, there were some photogenic supercells in central Texas. Then, on the 19th, some chasers had good video of an EF1 tornado that struck Russellville, Alabama. Compared to last year, which had the significant event on February 28th and several other chase days, we’ve seen a slower start to the chase season.
Starting this weekend, a seemingly more active pattern for chasing will develop across the southern Plains states. An upper-air trough will move into the southwestern US, setting the stage for several days of active weather for KS/OK/TX. Sunday may be the day with the most potential, especially across Oklahoma, but other days may prove fruitful for chasers. Right now, I have my eye on Monday, which looks very similar to my last real chase, April 19th, 2017. Hopefully, I’ll get to try out my new camera in the field very soon.