If there is one way to describe May so far, it’d be in like a lion (May 2 and 4 were very active), hibernating like a bear in the middle, and perhaps storming out like an elephant (this weekend).

One of the chief reasons we’ve had a quiet middle part of the month has been repeated cold fronts which have limited moisture quality, leading to dry/outflow driven storms with a lot of dust, resembling the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Typically, storms on the plains aren’t meant to be dust machines and that’s usually a sign the season isn’t that active yet.

A graph of the yearly tornado count (red) compared to the average (black) and individual years (the other colors).

In fact, after starting early and often and east, tornado season has taken a big slumber since the early part of May with us beginning to flirt dangerously with crossing to below average on the year for the tornado count. By most any measure, the Plains storm season has been well below average in terms of production.

Severe Weather Will Ramp Up Starting This Weekend

The thing that is going to change starting this weekend is we likely will not see another big cold front intruding into the Gulf of Mexico for quite some time into the future.

While models still indicate some frontal pushes, they also stall these over the Plains instead of shoving them to the Gulf, lifting them back north as warm fronts. Additionally, the upper air pattern will have a storm system dipping onto the Plains this weekend into next week. While we may start to see ridging (sinking air) settle in over the southern Plains by the middle of next week, the jet stream should remain active from the central Plains and north into June.

The upper air pattern by the middle of next week will likely feature some type of a building ridge over the south-central U.S. with continued jet stream flow up and over that. The question will remain how far north the ridge reaches into the middle of June.

May will likely see a couple of active days to end the month (Sunday-Tuesday) with that active pattern stretching into parts of early June. With continued flow and moisture, it is likely we’ll see nearly daily rounds of severe storms over the Plains for the next 7-10 days minimum.

We’ll have one last update on the chase season in a week or so before we largely wrap up our work in Mid-June and then it will be time to start content production season. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok for our latest content as well as staying tuned to this newsletter!