Chase Log

June 28th Iowa Tornadoes

June 28th held good promise for supercell storms and potentially tornadic ones to boot. Great moisture, instability and wind shear were forecast across southwest through northeast Iowa. A composite warm front/outflow boundary existed along that corridor and would be to focal point for several tornadic supercells. We were in the Des Moines area and drifted southwest towards Winterset.  Soon a cluster of updrafts rapidly formed at the triple point south of Nebraska City, Nebraska. One dominant storm emerged from them. As we blasted west, then south towards Bedford, Iowa (our target!) a tornadic storm developed southwest of Corning, or about 25 miles north of the Bedford target. Since this storm was insanely electrified, had a large wall cloud and great structure, we couldn’t leave it to drop to Bedford for the approaching tornadic storm west of town. It became tornado warned, like the Bedford storm did as well. We stayed with it and watched several tornadoes form and the storm cycle numerous times. We thought it would produce a significant tornado a few times. Most were short lived and sometimes hard to view. Still, a very successful day, 4 tornadoes later, and a pretty supercell. There were over a dozen tornadoes in Iowa this day and a couple were very pretty.  Late June and July in Iowa can sometimes be magical!

 

June 26th Kansas Sculpted Tornado Warned Supercell

June 26th on paper didn’t have a lot going for it.  We fully expected high based storms to form along a slowly advancing cold front over northern Kansas and southern Nebraska.  Early afternoon storms formed in south central Nebraska, but we decided to wait till later and chase in the area where the best parameters were, over northwest and west central Kansas. The wait was well worth it! One storm formed northeast of Colby, Kansas and became severe. Structure was decent and hail large.  Soon another 2 storms formed west of it along the same boundary. The lead storm left an outflow boundary that the second storm injested.  The air, full of moisture and helicity caused the updraft of the second storm to spin, soon becoming tornado warned near Oakley, Kansas. We intercepted it there and stayed in front of it all the way south of Scott City, Kansas where it moved south of the instability axis and weakened. The storm had top notch structure, was tornado warned its entire life cycle and also produced hail the size of softballs. An amazing and unexpected treat to watch this thing on the first day of the Reunion Tour for hours!

 

June 20th Southern Nebraska Lightningfest

June 20th took us to southern Nebraska.  Excessive heat, steep lapse rates, moderate CAPE and moisture, as well as a local boundary across the I-80 corridor would set the stage for severe storms this afternoon and evening.  Clusters of storms formed west of Kearney, NE and drifted south. Their outflows kicked up new storms ahead of them by early evening.  Due to steep lapse rates and optimum freezing levels, the storms were incredibly electrified!  Some of the best lightning of 2017 occurred that evening, well into the night time hours. We stayed in front of the cluster of severe storms into Kansas well into the night time hours. A great day for the lightning lovers! And who isn’t one????

 

June 15th Central Kansas Supercell

What appeared to be a marginal risk day in Kansas ended up producing a decent supercell. High CAPE, moderate shear and moisture, with convergence along an old frontal boundary, would spawn severe storms this day. A couple supercells became tornado warned not far from Hays.  They also produced hail baseball sized. Very steep lapse rates would be the culprit for the large hail, as well as decent directional and speed shear. The storms persisted through early evening as the turned southeast towards the Wichita, Kansas area, maintaining their severity all the way.

 

June 12th Carpenter, Wyoming Strong Tornado

June 12, 2017….it started out like any other day.  Too busy to think, let alone chase and then load a trailer for a big show in Amarillo, TX that I was leaving for the next day.  But I did and the reward was worth the, “Am I going to get there in time” thoughts I was having.  And that is because I didn’t leave Denver until 2:15PM.  Yes, 2:15pm. And no, there wasn’t any speeding involved.  Just pure LUCK.  That and Starbucks, YES, you read that right.  I stopped at Starbucks on my way to catching the Carpenter, Wyoming tornado.

Roger had told me that morning, as well as several days before, that if there was “ANY WAY YOU CAN CHASE”, how many times have I heard that phrase???…I should do it. I was torn on going as I also had a gal coming in from Yuma, AZ that afternoon that was going to TX with me the next day.  It wasn’t until noon that day that I just told her I couldn’t resist the chase.  The sky in Colorado was showing me I HAD to chase!  Sooooo,  I did.  After contemplating on which route would get me north the quickest, I soon decided to high tail it on up I-25 and then north on highway 85 from I-76.  My first stop was in Brighton, CO for a STARBUCKS.  What????  With a sky like THAT…I stopped??? Can’t a girl eat, drink and chase all at the same time???!!!  As I sat ordering my drink and munchies, I watched as a HUGE towering CU was going up directly to my N/NW and man was it GROWING.  As I watched radar, I could soon tell I wasn’t going to make that first cell but little booger blowing up on the south side was soon showing me I had a chance!  So with renewed hope, I took off with my Grande Very Berry Hibiscus and headed north.  And then it happened…that darn Highway 85 construction happened.  UGH.  I said MANY cuss words as the 45mph speed limit was starting to give me heart palpitations.  I soon realized that if it wasn’t meant to be, well, it just wasn’t meant to be.  BUT…I DO NOT GIVE UP EASILY!!! I eventually conquered the chase that day, as I remained steadfast with trusty ol’ Radarscope…yes, I chase mostly by Radarscope, and Google maps by my side.  I managed to chase the sequence of events that day as instinct lead me along several dirt roads, a herd of cows and eventually to the promise land of Carpenter, Wyoming where I eventually watched an a “drill bit” tornado that lead itself in to an incredible rope out.  I also came across the damage path where a barn roof was laying in the middle of road. I did stop to make sure no one was hurt and when I realized all were OK and that hissing sound wasn’t a snake in the grass, it was high time to boogie on!  Several houses had damage but from what I understand, no one was injured.

And if you are wondering, Roger and I like to cover 2 target areas, when and if needed.  He remained up north and managed to catch tornadoes with his tour group, as I fed him images from my solo chase.  My chase ended that day when my gps went out and I had NO idea where I was at.  I chuckled as I knew if I just headed towards those Rocky Mts, I would eventually find my way home.  Most chasers continued on that day and went north with what ended up being a beautiful supercell.  (check Roger’s chase account from this day) But as you have read, I had a huge show to cover the next day in Amarillo, TX and had to get home.   I hope you enjoy the sequence of events that unfolded for me on June 12, 2017 as I sure had fun with my Starbucks, Radarscope and that never-ending feeling of, “Gotta get there!!!”.

Caryn Hill
SLT Co-owner

 

June 12th Wyoming and Nebraska Tornadic Supercells

June 12th had the potential to be a record breaking event for eastern Wyoming, as well as the Nebraska panhandle. At the end of the day numerous tornadoes formed across the landscape!  Very high moisture, extreme CAPE, very strong wind shear and upslope into the Laramie Range would cause several supercells to form.  We chased the first supercell of the day, which produced a couple of tornadoes near Lingle, Wyoming.  This storm was tornado warned for many hours as it moved northeast across eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

Later we would drop south towards Scottsbluff, Nebraska and catch a tornadic storm that came out of Colorado (See the next chase account from SLT co-owner Caryn Hill!!!!!). We witnessed 3 tornadoes from this storm. Later in it’s life cycle, it would become one of the most photogenic supercells of 2017 as it rolled across the Nebraska Sand Hills headed for southern South Dakota where it dissipated after midnight.   For an event to be this strong, this far west, it was almost unprecedented.  SPC even had a Moderate Risk for eastern Wyoming, only the second one in history!  They were also forecasting strong tornadoes, which did occur.  Hail and lightning in these monster supercells were incredible as well! Enjoy the photos!!!!

 

June 8th Texas Panhandle Supercell

June 8th on paper didn’t look that great. Limited moisture would be the biggest factor in getting tornadic storms. However, decent shear, CAPE, and a sharp dryline would provide the necessary ingredients to sustain severe storms.  By mid afternoon a couple of storms formed on the dryline near Dumas. They quickly went severe due to very steep lapse rates which enhanced hail size. It took awhile for the tail end storm to take over the show, but it did, and it gave us quite the view from our position. The storm spun hard and produced copious amounts of hail to baseball size. It also produced a couple of funnels that never had the appearance of touching down. For several hours the supercell persisted while slowly drifting south. Well south of Amarillo it eventually dissipated in the night sky after a gorgeous sunset. It was a treat to watch this storm for hours!

 

 

June 7th New Mexico Supercell

June 7th didn’t have a lot going for it. Limited moisture, instability and shear would cause Tour 6 to head for higher terrain. We arrived near Las Vegas, New Mexico as a supercell came off the mountains, headed for flatter lands.  This storm looked nice, albeit high based, and produced a lot of hail, lightning and wind. We followed it to Vaughn, New Mexico where it weakened and eventually dissipated. For a very marginal day, we had good results and a very nice supercell!

May 31st Northwest Kansas Tornado Warned Supercell

May 31st was an interesting day.  An outflow boundary stretched the entire length of the state of Kansas. Along and just north of this boundary strong shear, decent moisture and good instability would develop.  The best moisture, but worst shear was in southeast Kansas. That’s where many folks would chase. We decided to head to far northwest Kansas and play just north of the boundary in the upslope flow. It was a move that paid of well. Tour #5 and Photo Tour #2 were treated to one of the best supercells of 2017! This storm went on for many hours and was occasionally tornado warned as well. The inflow into this beast was incredible!  Storm structure quickly became top notch as the supercell organized and grew late afternoon. It produced softball size hail and 80 mph winds. We almost had the cell to ourselves!  The storm weakened by late evening as it approached Garden City, Kansas as we checked in to our hotel for the night. A great chase! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this strong supercell!

 

May 26th Eastern Colorado Tornado Warned Supercell

May 26th took us to eastern Colorado to play upslope off the Palmer Divide. Strong shear, decent moisture and instability would set the stage for several severe storms.  The best of these would form and move into far east central Colorado by later afternoon.  Although higher based, this supercell would become tornado warned and produce a couple brief spin ups.  Hail was up to baseball sized and the structure was very nice. The storm eventually merged into a cluster as it moved into western Kansas during the evening.