Chase Log

May 20th South Texas Supercells

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 Oklahoma Tornadic Supercells

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 Texas Panhandle and Southwest Oklahoma Tornadic Supercells

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 Texas Panhandle Supercell

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 Southwest Texas Tornadic Supercells

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 Eastern Colorado Tornadic Supercell

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 Canton, Texas Violent Tornado

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.

 

April 21st Pilot Point, Texas Tornadic Supercell

April 21st had high potential. Strong shear, high CAPE and deep moisture would provide the ingredients for intense supercell storms. One storm formed over southeast Oklahoma. We decided to wait it out for later storms to form over northern Texas. A cluster did form with the tail end storm becoming a beautiful HP supercell. It produced a tornado north of Pilot Point, which was mostly rain wrapped. It tried again later in its cycle as you can see from the photos below. Finally, at dusk, another supercell formed and tracked over the region in the dark. Amazingly eery sight watching a storm spin in the dark. Enjoy the pics!

 

April 15th Protection, Kansas Tornado Warned Supercell

April 15th brought us to southern Kansas for what appeared on paper to be a respectable set up. A strong capping inversion would prevent storms for sustaining themselves until stronger forcing would arrive from the west. Finally by early evening a storm formed and intensified west of Protection. It had decent structure, huge hail and was tornado warned for an hour.

Check out this time lapse from this supercell:

July 17th Northeast Colorado Tornado Warned Supercell

July 17th was a high plains upslope set up. Southeast winds along a boundary would funnel moisture into the Cheyenne ridge. A supercell formed early afternoon near Chugwater, WY and would right turn and track down the boundary into northeast Colorado. This storm was outflow dominant most of its life cycle and was a major hail producer. In Colorado it became tornado warned, although not a big threat in my opinion since it was outflow dominant. We came across some beautiful landscapes to photograph the storm, and everyone had a great time with it. The storm never produced a tornado but it did produce significant hail the size of baseballs along its path.  This was to be the last great day for the season as we wrapped up tours and headed home to Denver. Thank you all for a wonderful tour season. We have the best guests and guides on the planet!