Chase Log

June 21st Northeast Montana Tornado Warned Supercell

June 21st was the first day we had decent shear, instability and some moisture to work with. A dryline and old outflow boundary set up in northeast Montana and would be the focus for supercells late afternoon. We drove to Bainville, Montana and waited at this cute little gas station/restaurant for storms to form and intensify. We were torn between cells near Glascow or further southeast near the Belfield, North Dakota area. We ended up choosing the northeast Montana storms. After a few cycles, a supercell emerged near Wolf Point as we drifted west towards Brockton to intercept it. Although it was a bit higher based, the structure was nice. As the supercell moved east, it became tornado warned near Culbertson. Near Fairview, a report of a tornado occurred, but we couldn’t see anything under the base. Not sure what the locals were looking at as with lcls at 800MB, it was pretty obvious the tornado threat was fairly limited. It stayed tornado warned all the way to Watford City, North Dakota where it was feeding on outflow air from storms to the east, and weakened quickly. Fun chase day, good storm, lots of lightning, hail and wind. Northeast Montana is a very pretty area to chase in!

 

June 13th Pueblo, Colorado Severe Storm

Colorado was our destination on June 13th. We found ourselves chasing close to home near the Pueblo area. An early day storm had produced a tornado near Trinadad, but we couldn’t make it there fast enough. We caught a marginal supercell as shear had increased. However low level moisture and instability were still very low for mid June standards. nonetheless this storm produced golfball sized hail, lightning and heavy rains.

June 5th Great Sand Dunes National Park Storms

June 5th continued the extended period of low severe weather potential across the United States. However, we always do everything we can to get our guests a storm of any kind! June 5th looked like a good day for storms in the Alamosa/Great Sand Dunes NP area. So off we went. By mid afternoon storms formed over the mountains and some slid off the mountains into the valleys below. It just so happened to be in a very scenic area in the Great Sand Dunes park.  When there’s not much of a chance of severe storms we like to take our guests to scenic areas, with this area being quite pretty. Storms rolled over the dunes and produce heavy rain, lightning, wind and small hail. All in all it made for a pretty satisfying day, with a nice Mexican dinner in Alamosa to follow.

 

June 1st Marathon, Texas Supercell Thunderstorm

June 1st continued the streak of limited moisture and shear for the US. We decided to chase the Davis mountains in southwest Texas and were treated to a pretty storm with very large hail to tennisball size.  Two supercells emerged from the mountains with one storm in particular becoming a prolific hail producer. It tracked from near Marathon eastward to Sanderson where it dropped its largest stones of the day, measured 2.5″ in diameter.  Later on, the storm gusted out and outflow kicked up a cluster of new cells on the Mexico border that were producing an incredible amount of lightning strikes. Pretty indeed, and a great way to finish the day!

May 31st Lamesa, Texas Supercell Thunderstorm

The latter part of May and early June was a period of little severe threat in the US. Record low numbers of tornadoes in this period would attest to the poor set up. We searched high and wide for those little needles in the haystack, sort of speaking, for any tidbit of severe weather we could find. May 31st was one of those days. A cluster of storms formed over west Texas, and one storm near Lamesa latched onto an old boundary and rode it, twisting, turning and spinning for a couple hours. It’s structure was pretty, and coupled with the red dirt of west Texas, made for an interesting sight!

 

May 24th Southwest Kansas Tornadic Supercell

May 24th had the best of both worlds. As Photo Tour #1 went to Colorado for its rewards, Tour #4 had a special day along an outflow boundary south of Dodge City.  As Tour #4 moved north out of Oklahoma, hard cumulus towers formed along the boundary near Minneola. Soon, a storm emerged from these towers and would become an intense tornadic supercell as it drifted north towards Dodge city and spun like crazy. It took it awhile to really get going good, but when it did, a huge wall cloud formed, and started spinning wildly. The first of a dozen tornadoes would form of every shape, size and intensity, and at some point as many as 3 tornadoes were on the ground at the same time. Dodge city eventually came under a tornado emergency as a large multivortex tornado hit the west side of town. As the supercell moved north of town, many other storms formed and eventually turned into a huge cluster of severe storms that moved across Kansas. As that happened, we left the storm and went to Garden City for the night. An amazing day, with a dozen tornadoes from this storm and the fact both of our tours capitalized on the days potential was even more special!

May 24th Eastern Colorado Tornadic Supercell

May 24th was a day that had huge potential. Unfortunately there were two pretty clear targets. Play the upslope in eastern Colorado for what would certainly be a pretty tornadic supercell, or play southwest Kansas with high instability along an outflow boundary. Fortunately we had two tours going at that time, Tour #4 and also Photo Tour #1. After considerable discussion Photo Tour #1 headed for Colorado while Tour #4 headed for southwest Kansas. Both tours scored big this day!  Upon arrival in Colorado Photo Tour #1 intercepted an intensifying supercell east of Denver. This storm would become a formidable supercell that would cycle multiple times and produce a half dozen tornadoes.  As this storm approached an area south of Ft Morgan it began it’s tornadic phase as it intercepted better moisture and instability and the storm’s base came down. the Photo Tour, true to its name, found numerous beautiful places to photograph this supercell and it’s tornadoes all the way out towards the Kansas border. It kept producing tornadoes off and on the rest of the day and into the evening. Nothing wilder than night time tornadoes. Finally as it moved into northwestern Kansas, the Photo Tour dropped off it and headed to their night destination.

 

May 23rd Northfield, Texas Night Tornadoes

May 23rd was a big day of ups and downs. Nature seemed to play a cruel joke on us and give us all the potential ingredients for a major severe weather event, but put all those ingredients too far east of the dryline in the Texas panhandle to do much good. Storms formed and were high based, never a tornadic threat, along the dryline. These cells would move off and die due to a capping inversion. Finally late afternoon one storm formed at the tail end of a cluster and moved far enough east to intercept 70 degree dewpoints and 4000 CAPE values. This storm would go crazy near dark and produce at least 2 significant tornadoes. The first tornado, a tapered cone, churned across the countryside west of Northfield, while the second tornado, a large EF3 multivortex turned wedge tornado, would be very close to Northfield. Lightning would illuminate this tornado and at one point, 4 bolts were visible around the tornado. An AMAZING event to say the least! Fortunately there were no fatalities from these tornadoes. Night time tornadoes are especially dangerous as you cannot see them unless they are lit by lightning or hit power lines to cause them to glow green.  An incredible event to what would be the warm up day for the next day, the largest tornado outbreak in a couple years in western Kansas!

May 22nd Ochiltree County, Texas Tornadoes

Storms abound on May 22nd. The Texas panhandle and northwest Texas were the target areas. We played the dryline first, west of I-27, but a confluence boundary east of the I-27/287 corridor would end up being the favored area. A few tornadoes occurred southeast of Amarillo as storms formed and spun, but they were quite messy. A second area of storms formed northeast of Amarillo in Ochiltree county. An outflow boundary on the south side of the developing storm would be the focus point for storm rotation. A weak tornado occurred before we got there. As we arrived, southeast of Spearman, an elephant trunk tornado formed and touched down briefly.  It happened so fast and was so messy we couldn’t get any photos of it. Minutes later a large wedge formed and moved southeast towards our location. A huge blob of wet RFD hit us with 80 mph winds as we scurried east to get out of the way of the tornado.  It wrapped in rain after a few minutes and was no longer visible.  We stayed with the tornado warned supercell for hours after this as it cycled many times, but never became tornadic again. A fun day and a very large tornado!!!!!

May 21st Leoti, Kansas Incredible Supercell

May 21st was the first day in a period that would be the best of 2016.  This day featured a triple point over western Kansas, as well as good shear, strong instability and decent moisture. Storms appeared they would form on the HP side of thing and they sure did. The triple point and warm front lit up like crazy mid afternoon, and the tail end storm would become the storm of the day. Anchored at the triple point, this supercell would cycle many times and each time get prettier and prettier. It produced a couple weak, short lived tornadoes in its lifetime, but the story of the day was the storm’s structure. It was a sculpted twisting, turning supercell, easily the prettiest of the year. Each updraft that formed at the triple point would be ingested into the main storm’s updraft, proving a fresh poof of warm moist air for the cell to feed on. Helicity was quite strong in this beast and I was actually surprised it did not produce a significant tornado.

By mid evening, the storm was running out of available instability, and it started to weaken. Right at sunset it was quite pretty, with a liberty bell appearance and tons of lightning. Finally just after dark it died off, and the skies calmed for the night. This would be short lived as the next day proved to be quite volatile a bit further south in Texas.