Peering Deep Into the Future

2010_annual_map_torn This is what a storm chaser calls, a lull.  A overly quiet period across the great plains and upper Midwest.  Take a look at the map to the left.  Each dot represents a report of a tornado so far in 2010.  92 reports in 100 days sounds like a lot but it’s really not.  Taking into account the 3 year average, that’s almost 400 less than the US should see by this time of year.

Now I’m not saying the rest of the season will look this way.  Mother Nature has a strange way of suddenly ramping up the severe weather.  But I will admit it’s very unusual for January to be your busiest month thus far.

ecmwf_850_temp_168 So when will this pattern break? That could happen next week.  At this time most of the coming week still looks quiet.  But there are some indications storms systems will begin taking a more southerly track that’s more common for this time of year.

Trying to nail down the next threat for Iowa is, of course, impossible.  Long range models only give us vague guesses and are totally unreliable.  But focusing on the large scale patterns, I would believe the central US as a whole could see a return of organized severe weather late next week.

It’s too soon to put much weight behind that guess, and there’s no way of telling if it’s a long term shift in the pattern.  But as a storm chaser I’m always cautious because the pattern can shift quickly.  For now it’s a day to enjoy the break from the chase and take advantage of some downright gorgeous weather across Iowa.

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