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EPS Spring Outlook: Chase On!

The annual drip of tornado season forecasts has begun across social media and while it's not necessarily unusual for the majority of them to bring some hype, this years atmospheric background state does seem to support ideas of an active storm season across the Central U.S. in Spring 2024 quite well.

Essentially, a fading El Niño and other teleconnections point toward an energized jet stream delivering routine storm systems to the Plains and Midwest during peak storm season, roughly bounded by the months of April, May, and June. That would seem to favor an active storm chasing season and perhaps elevated tornado + severe weather numbers during this stretch.

The March run of the EPS Seasonal global forecast model gave ideas of an active spring from the Plains to the Midwest a shot of caffeine when it was released this morning.

Below is the precipitation forecast for April-May-June 2024 represented by total forecast precipitation departure from normal. That's a strong signal for an above-average, wet & stormy spring, perhaps favoring parts of the Central Plains into the Mid-Mississippi Valley.

The 500 MB jet stream heights forecast for the same time period depicts lower heights in the western U.S. suggesting upper level low pressure in this area and westerly/southwesterly flow across the Plains and Midwest with lee-side cyclogenesis favoring storm systems in the Central U.S. and an active storm track atop much of Tornado Alley.

Unfortunately for Southern Plains chasers, it does looks like New Mexico and west Texas may have used up all of their good fortune in May & June 2023 while the rest of Tornado Alley was ridged out. With the largest wildfire in Texas state history burning over a million acres of the Texas Panhandle in the last week I sometimes wonder if the season is starting to tell us the quiet parts out loud.

Drought in parts of the Southern Plains should at times push the dryline / EML eastward from it's usual home along and west of I-35. Could the dryline event in Illinois on February 27th also be a bit of foreshadowing?

I'm admittedly a bit gunshy after calling for a relatively active, stormy spring 2023 across the Central U.S. only to have an epic forecast bust and one of the driest springs on record across a large swath of the Midwest & Great Lakes.

The latest seasonal forecast data from the NMME also supports above-average precipitation and a potentially active storm season across portions of the Central Plains and Midwest.

As I mentioned above, there are already quite a few wonderful seasonal tornado / storm chasing forecasts for the 2024 season - I'll link a few of my favorites below:

This is of course all speculative at best, and none of us knows exactly how the spring will play out. In some cases, an active, wet & stormy spring does not even correlate to an easy time documenting a high volume of photogenic supercells and tornadoes... and other times some of the best stretches of storm chasing in U.S. history have not been correlated with high-end, widespread above-average precipitation signals.

Still, if you're hoping to document supercells and tornadoes from the Plains to the Midwest, you'll take the hype instigating above-average precipitation forecast for April, May, and June every time.


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