Storm chasing in May

May is the prime time for storms and tornadoes in the USA. It is the statistically most active period for tornadoes and the month when all things usually come together perfectly in the (Central) Plains: moisture return from the Gulf, drylines from the west and jet streaks from the North. This is when the Plains go nuts and is the time for tornadoes in the “tornado states”: Oklahoma, Kansas and the Texas panhandle. Usually, problematic weather patterns don’t linger too long and you are not as high risk of getting a 10 day period with no storms as in April.

So, is May when you should go storm chasing? Well, yes, if you have the possibility! The downside is that May is when almost everyone goes chasing in the Plains and chaser convergence can become a real problem while chasing on promising chase days, especially if it is during the weekends and close to metropolitan areas such as Oklahoma City. Chaser convergence can cause you to miss a tornado completely due to traffic and can also be very dangerous as was the case in the El Reno tornado of May 31st 2013. Tours are also often sold out most quickly in May so you have to decide quickly.

Tornado activity in early May
Early May puts a Bull’s Eye over Oklahoma City and it is easy to understand why most storm chasing companies base their tours out of Oklahoma City in early May. Map by


Even in mid May there is a Bull’s Eye over central Oklahoma and May really means Oklahoma tornadoes – as well as in Texas and Kansas. Map by


In the end of May, the Bull’s Eye moves further east and the entire risk area is extended further up north. The Texas panhandle is a place you are likely to frequent but you will probably go up and down the Central Plains. Map by

There is a small difference when in May you chase. Usually the end of May is better than the beginning of May in terms of overall tornado frequency. The earlier in May you chase the more south you are likely to go. Late May often means chasing in Kansas and possibly Colorado/Nebraska but Oklahoma is still very much in play.

Storm chasing tours in May

As May is the prime time for tornadoes all tour companies have tours running in May. Check out our list of all tours to see which dates tour companies are running tours in May.