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 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 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.
May 20th took Tour 4 and Photo Tour #1 to far south Texas. This is an area we don’t frequent too often due to usually poor results. Murky skies, little shear and messy storms are what often occur here. Today would be different though! Abundant moisture, high instability and moderate wind shear would kick off storms off a cold front and push them southeast. We arrived near George West, Texas to be treated with a very pretty supercell!! This storm had classic supercell structure and was a lightning/hail machine! We stayed with the storm for a few hours till it dissipated south of town. One of the prettiest supercells of the season to date!
May 18th had amazing potential. Great shear, moisture and instability would be present on a day that SPC had a High Risk out for. The main caveat would be too many storms firing too fast, making for a very messy day. We started the day near Clinton, OK and would chase the first supercell, and most tornadic, southwest of there. This storm produced a couple of tornadoes early on, then too many cell mergers would result a messy modes. It seemed that would be the result of this day, where very few tornadoes would actually occur. After chasing the initial supercell, we dropped south towards the Red River to intercept a supercell that was also tornado warned. Again too many cells on it’s upshear flank would make a messy situation on this storm as well. Still, it was a fun chase day with results that certainly didn’t support the High Risk issued.
May 16th was advertised as a great potential day. The dryline in the Texas panhandle would be the focus for supercell development. It did not disappoint! Mid afternoon brought several supercells to the area, with one in particular near McLean. Strong shear, deep moisture, great instability and lift would set the stage for several tornadoes to form this day. Most tornadoes occurred over open countryside, however one strong EF3 tornado did strike the Elk City, Oklahoma area causing significant damage. We witnessed the McLean tornado from it’s birth to death, then followed the Elk City storm from the TX/OK border to Elk City, where we chose to let it go. The tornado was completely rain wrapped and not visible. Storm structure was also fantastic this day, and the hail was huge, up to softball sized. Great first day for Tour 4!
May 15th was the arrival day for Tour 4. We did our usual arrival day chase and headed to the panhandle. Moisture wasn’t optimum, but was sufficient for severe storms. Shear was great, and most storms that developed spun quite nicely. We caught one storm near 4 Way and followed it to Stinnett, where we were able to watch it roll across the countryside. This supercell would produce hail baseball size and had nice structure. A great way to start Tour 4!
May 9th was a wild day in Texas and New Mexico. A large closed low over the desert southwest would slowly approach the region. Strong deep layer shear, however with fairly weak surface winds, would overspread the area by late afternoon. Decent moisture and instability would contribute to a very unstable airmass. Storms exploded in the higher terrain of northeast New Mexico first, then later developed over southeast New Mexico and eventually spread into southwest Texas. We intercepted a tornado warned storm near Clovis, New Mexico which didn’t have the appearance of becoming tornadic. Then another supercell developed in southwest Texas and moved towards Enochs. Just northeast of Enochs it produced two tornadoes. We would continue following it northeast until it weakened near dark. At that time another supercell formed near Hobbs, New Mexico and quickly raced northeast towards Whiteface, Texas. This storm spun hard, but never could produce a tornado. Overall, the weak low level shear would result in only brief tornadoes this day, but it was still a great chase event.
May 8th had potential in Colorado, as well as eastern New Mexico. It was the first day of Tour 3, and we decided to play the Palmer Divide area. Decent shear, moisture and instability would set the stage for intense severe storm development by mid afternoon. With a 650 mile drive from Oklahoma City, Tour 3 guests made it in time for a beautiful long lived sculpted supercell. However, we would miss a brief tornado that SLT Co-owner Caryn Hill caught early in the storm evolution. Sometimes time and distance won’t allow you to get where you would like to before storms fire up. This supercell would mature and produce large hail, strong winds, lightning and gorgeous storm structure. This would be the first of 4 straight days Tour 3 and one of our On Call Tours were treated to tornado warned supercells.
April 29th was the inbetween day from Tour 1 and 2. However, we also ran an on call tour this day. Many guests from Tour 2, and the On Call tour, went to northeast Texas to chase. As things started to become clear, we blasted south towards the Canton, Texas area. Strong southeast surface winds, extreme instability, high dewpoints in the mid 70s and strong shear set the stage for supercell storms to form and intensify as they moved northeast. Several tornadoes formed as storms matured, with one tornado in particular staying on the ground for 50 miles and over 2.5 hours, getting a rating of EF4! Unfortunately this storm caused significant damage and fatalities in Canton, Texas as well as Fruitvale, Texas. Our hearts go out to those who suffered this day and we hope for a speedy recovery.