I've spent a wonderful week with the family since coming home early from the Plains. We went to the beach, have spent awesome time together, and actually enjoyed chasing a school of stingrays that had traveled close to the shoreline (something I'd never seen before). It's been wonderful. But, of course, now I'm back to work and missing the Plains a little bit, knowing I'm still about 11 months away before I'll be back out combing the place for severe weather.
It's true that this year is a statistical oddity. A sufficient outlier from the norm, even some of the most veteran chasers I know are struck in amazement at the silence of our usual stomping grounds. I think some perspective is in order. First of all, the following graph is based on the weather in the contiguous lower 48 states. So the bars represent total numbers of reports of severe weather. Here is May, 2009:
The irony, naturally, is that the nadir in weather began EXACTLY on the first day I was out chasing. In contrast, here's May, 2008:
Now, last year there also definitely was a small nadir right before the massive outbreak of storms that resulted in the biggest and most destructive tornadoes I've ever witnessed. But the frequency of severe weather seemed to follow an appropriately oscillating sine wave as would be expected in weather. And while that sine wave is also present on this year's weather reports, the height is absent.
At the moment it appears that this trend will continue with only scattered severe weather here and there. The SPC is reporting that during the latter half of May they issued the fewest number of Severe Weather Watches ever. Just thought this was kinda interesting.