2019 in retrospect and a look ahead to 2020

2019 was an odd year for chasers. We are likely to end the year above average for tornadoes, and late May in particular featured an outbreak sequence with over 300 tornadoes in a span of twelve days. However, it wasn’t a perfect year for chasing. Several big busts in that span, combined with some tough conditions for chasing, made 2019 a difficult year for some. Locally, May 21st was an amazing day, probably the best chase day in northeast Kansas in many years, but I completely busted. August 15th made up for that somewhat, though this year has left me wanting more. There were other notable events (May 28th especially) that featured tornadoes but not particularly photogenic ones. Overall, 2019 was a good year, both overall and in C/E Kansas, but not all-time great.

I believe I did a pretty good job with my forecast released after the 2018 season. So what will 2020 hold? That question might be a little tougher than last year. My forecast confidence is not quite as high as last year, though in general, I believe 2020 will be good-to-great, much like I thought 2019 would be. There are several factors that come into play when I make a spring forecast. I take ENSO, PDO, and other teleconnections into account, and create an analog composite. While not technically at El Nino levels at the moment, the atmosphere is largely behaving similar to some weak-moderate Nino years past. The PDO fluctuates, but has been trending lower. With all this in mind, my top 5 analogs are 1968, 1993, 2003, 2010 and 2019.

1968 and 2010 were likely similar in that they “spread the wealth.” The Southern Plains, Midwest and Northern Plains all had good events in both years. Chasers in each region would be pretty satisfied with a repeat of either year. 1993 had a very good three-day stretch in early May, and another good stretch in early June, but mid-late May was probably disappointing. 2003 had an incredible first ten days of May, and another big stretch in mid June, but had its down times like 1993. 2019 was summarized earlier so I won’t bore you with that again. After going through the analogs, at this point in time, I think the goalposts are similar to last season, with a decent year at worst and a pretty high ceiling.


Top 5 analogs with no weight


10 analogs with weight

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