July 14th kept us in Colorado to chase off the Palmer Divide into southeast Colorado. A sagging cold front we push moisture westward into the Palmer Divide, causing storms to develop by mid afternoon. Those storms produced copious amounts of hail, but became undercut by outlfow and died. The boundary pushed south as more storms formed along it east of Pueblo. Near the town of Sugar City, one storm formed and spun hard. It quickly became tornado warned and stayed that way for a few hours. A couple of times, it had the look like it wanted to drop a tornado, but it never did. As it merged with numerous storms west of Lamar, the storm interaction with others caused it to produce a quick 1 minute spin up. The structure with this supercell was quite nice. It was also quite electrified! Eventually this cluster of storms pushed into western Kansas and weakened as we followed it east to Garden City. Great day! Beautiful storm and it certainly tried to get very interesting! Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
July 13th was the second day of our Tour 9, Great North Tornado Hunt tour, and it took us east of Denver towards the Kansas border. Decent shear, limited moisture and CAPE, and an approaching dryline, would set the stage for high based storms to form. As the storms moved into Kansas, they intensified and the bases came down. We had a couple very pretty rotating storms in far western Kansas that were quite electrified. The final storm of the day was a very nicely structured LP supercell near Leoti, that spewed out numerous lightning strikes and intercloud discharges. I thought for a minute that it had some tornado potential, however the base lifted, the wall cloud dissipated and it eventually died as well. A fun day, great storms and super lightning. Please click on a pic for a larger photo. Enjoy!
July 3rd brought us back to Colorado for the final day of the Photo Tour. Nature decided to give us some pre4th fireworks! A boundary set up north/south of a line from Ft Morgan to east of Limon. Intense storms formed along it and with a wind shift in place, two landspout tornadoes formed that we were able to witness. They lasted several minutes each before dissipating. Storms were quite sever with hail tennisball sized and lots of lightning as well. We intercepted the first cells on highway 71 south of Brush and followed the southward building line from there. Good shear, moderate CAPE, but limited low level moisture fueled the severe storms till eventually they gusted out and weakened. Fun final day of chasing for the tour before returning to Denver later in the evening. Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
May 24th appeared to be a more marginal day. But sometimes, those days pleasantly surprise! This would be the case this day as good upslope flow would allow for a couple isolated supercells to develop in southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas. The best moisture was in southwest Kansas along an outflow boundary, but sufficient moisture was pushed into Colorado to support moderate CAPE and long lived supercells. We intercepted our storm east of Springfield, Colorado and stayed with it through the evening hours east of Hugoton, Kansas. This storm was well structured and produced baseball sized hail. The inflow into this storm was severe in strength and was amazing to see this storm process the amount of air it did! A great chase, fun day and everyone thoroughly enjoyed this supercell! Please click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!
May 20th looked decent on paper. Strong shear, decent moisture, and moderate CAPE set the stage for intense storms. An outflow boundary/cold front pushed slowly southeast across Wyoming and northeast Colorado. We dropped from Cheyenne into Weld county, Colorado as numerous towers formed. We noticed a column of dirt in the distance (some 20 miles away!) and it turned out to be a landspout tornado that occurred near Greeley. We couldn’t get close enough for a good photo, but a few guests got a shot or video or two of it from our vantage point. The storms congealed into a tail end supercell and were very electrified! As the sun set, the forward flank downdraft lit up with the most incredible orange I have ever witnessed in a storm! After sunset, the sky was illuminated with numerous continuous lightning strikes that were a treat to watch. Click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!
We weren’t expecting anything significant on June 21st. However, as often happens in the upslope regions of Colorado combined with terrain features, a decent supercell formed north of Colorado Springs along the Palmer Divide. Good directional shear due in part to strong easterly winds helped the storm to organize and rotate. As the cell approached the town of Kiowa, the low levels started spinning strongly. You can see a hook forming visually and rotate pretty rapidly. A tornado warning was issued by the NWS and soon an area of rotating debris was seen under the hook area of the storm. This weak tornado only lasted a couple of minutes.
As the cell moved further east, it encountered less surface moisture and instability, which caused it to steadily weaken and eventually dissipate east of Limon. Several other storms initiated in the cold side of the first cell’s outflow and never could really intensify for long periods. A fun chase and right in our backyard.
This day had a lot going for it. Great shear, good moisture and instability, and a dryline would help set the stage for intense supercells. Our first storm of the day formed near Ft Morgan and tracked northeast along I-76. It became a rather large and occasionally disorganized supercell. However as it approached Sterling, it wrapped up hard and produced a brief, small tornado. Further to the east, a second, well organized and photogenic supercell formed. It produced a few brief tornadoes, however the structure of this storm would be one of the prettiest for 2019! As it came towards Imperial, a beautiful sculpted storm was present. At one point west of town, not only did the storm have a stunning appearance, but a partially rain wrapped tornado became visible. The cone shaped twister was on the ground for a few minutes before wrapping in rain again as we lost visibility of it. An amazing day with gorgeous storms and a few tornadoes! Enjoy the photos below!
May 26th ended up being an exciting Colorado storm day! We captured a tornadic supercell just north of Lamar that had a brief pretty white elephant trunk shaped tornado. The day started out really messy as numerous elevated thunderstorms formed over eastern Colorado. An existing boundary that was visible underneath the elevated storms would set the stage for late day supercells, one of which was long lived and quite nice. By mid afternoon we were watching storms west of Lamar. They were in drier air with high cloud bases and could never really get intense.
Further east towards Lamar one storm rapidly developed along the boundary and tracked northeast. Moisture, instability and wind shear was much better in this location! It quickly dropped a funnel that persisted for nearly 10 minutes, touching down a couple times but causing no damage in the rural areas. It moved northeast and weakened as a second storm approached from the southwest and became tornado warned. It tried hard several times to produce but in the end it never did. We followed it northeast to the Kansas border before dropping further south and east into Kansas for late evening lightning. An exciting day in Colorado and western Kansas! Enjoy the pics below. (First bright pic of white tornado is a cell phone shot)
June 19th had tornado written all over it. It didn’t disappoint either! Fantastic wind shear, high CAPE, good moisture for the high plains and upslope flow into the foothills provided all the ingredients needed to get tornadic supercells to form. An amazing sight, 3 significant supercell storms formed at the same time, situated about 50 miles apart. Usually the tail end storm is the cell you want to target, however, an old outflow boundary existed in which the middle cell developed on. It would be that cell that would go on to have amazing structure and produce the Prospect Valley tornado. All 3 storms would become tornado warned during their lifespans. The middle storm we watched grow from a smaller storm to a well structured tornadic supercell as it crossed I-25 and moved eastward. Various wall clouds, each time showing rotation, formed until finally rotation tightened to produce a tornado. A long snaking tornado was on the ground for nearly 10 minutes before roping out. After the tornado, the storm still spun as it moved across eastern Colorado before dying south of Ft Morgan. At that time, we blasted south to Limon and points east as the tail end storm took over the show. It also was tornado warned and may have produced a rain wrapped tornado north of Genoa. Structure was beautiful HP supercell, and it also was highly electrified. By early evening the storms lined out as they moved into Kansas producing high winds and heavy rain. A fantastic day for the tours as nature gave us quite a show!
Days like June 18th don’t happen very often. With good moisture, shear and instability, it was a pretty good bet supercells would form. However, we didn’t anticipate the shear number of supercells that would actually form! A boundary laying east/west across the northern Denver metro area extending into northeast Colorado would provide the needed focus for storm development. One supercell after another formed and tracked along the boundary. Every different type and structure of storm occurred and made for a photographer’s delight! Sculpted updrafts with good lightning, wall clouds, colors, possible tornadoes, and hail happened! Storms would rage on through the late evening hours before diminishing just before midnight. SLT co-owner Caryn Hill’s intercept of the Roggen, Colorado storm superseded the structure shot she got from the night before near Otis, Colorado! Absolutely stunning sunset supercell! Please enjoy the photos! They were gorgeous!