Tag Archives | July

July 15th Northeast Wyoming Potentially Tornadic Supercell

July 15th had the right stuff. Good moisture, instability and lift were available, however shear was a touch weak. Storms formed over the southern end of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming and tracked east/southeast becoming severe. One particular cell near the Pumpkin Buttes area southwest of Gillette, quickly intensified and became a strong supercell thunderstorm. Strong low level shear along a boundary caused it to spin viciously. A couple of funnels formed, but we could never confirm anything on the ground. However by the appearance and the damage we saw afterwards, it would not be a surprise if there was a tornado. The storm was quite electrified and intense. As it moved off the buttes towards Wright, it steadily weakened and dissipated east of that area.

July 11th Black Hills of South Dakota Severe Storm

We weren’t expecting much on July 11th. Nature decided to give us a pretty storm southwest of Spearfish, SD late day. The cell was very photogenic, and throw in the fields of sweet clover and you had a winner! The cell traveled for a few hours across northeast Wyoming into western South Dakota, where it dissipated over the Black Hills. Very pretty to watch and photograph! Enjoy the pics!

July 4th Chugwater, Wyoming Tornado

What a way to spend the 4th of July! We decided mid morning that it looked too tempting not to chase this day. Upslope flow into the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming was the hot spot. Good shear,  instability and moisture would help form an intense supercell mid afternoon. This storm crossed the Laramie Range and intensified as it moved east off the higher terrain. We were just west, then southwest of town as the storm spun hard. A funnel formed and nearly touched down as it crossed the mountains. Once close to town a very low and strongly rotating wall cloud formed. Soon a nice cone shaped tornado touched down and stay on the ground for nearly 25 minutes! It crossed I-25 south of town and as the cell moved east it encountered more stable air and weakened.

This supercell had fantastic structure, intense cloud to ground lightning and baseball sized hail.  The tornado caused no damage thankfully and was a treat to watch and photograph. In hindsight I wish we would have stayed south of it instead to trying to stay in front of the storm. The views from the south were stunning! A fun way for us to spend the 4th of July. Once we got back home after dark, we had our own private fireworks from a large pack we bough last year in Missouri. Enjoy the pics!

July 10th Killdeer, Saskatchewan Canada Tornadofest

July 10th lived up to the potential forecast models showed! A strong shortwave trough would traverse across southern Canada and Montana, as a dryline/cold front and associated warm front would slide slowly east. Strong shear, deep moisture, high CAPE and several boundaries would be the focus on severe storms. The question would be whether or not they would be isolated or clusters/linear. Fortunately a cluster of supercells formed over southern Saskatchewan and the tail end cell anchored along the warm front west of Killdeer. This storm would become a tornado machine as it produced at least 9 tornadoes we counted. More may have occurred as multiple occlusions occurred and some were quite messy with low visibility. This was one of the best tornadic events we’ve witnessed in Canada in 20 years of tours! Fortunately the tornadoes stayed over rural countryside and did little damage. A couple of these were quite strong. This storm slowly moved east riding the warm front all the time and eventually was choked off by outflow from a linear complex over Montana. Amazing event and a great way to end our tour season! Enjoy the photos and video stills!

July 9th Northeast Montana Tornadic Supercell

July 9th had big potential. It wasn’t clear whether that would be across the international border into Canada or if storms would right turn along a warm front into northeast Montana and northwest North Dakota. Fortunately, for ease of chasing, storms crossed into the US and gave us quite a show! An intense supercell cycled and really ramped up as it crossed north of Plentywood, Montana. Due to high CAPE, strong deep layer shear, dew points in the lower 70s and the aforementioned warm front, the stage was set! This supercell became a monster, the storm of the day, as it rolled through Plentywood, MT and into far northwest North Dakota. Huge hail to baseball size, microburst winds of nearly 120 mph and an EF1 tornado that hit Plentywood, would be the highlight this day. A second supercell soon followed the path of the first and had just amazing structure as it rolled through Plentywood.  Highways ended up being blocked due to debris from downed trees, power lines and houses through town. Fortunately there were no fatalities. Check out the photos below. Enjoy!!!

July 29 – August 12 Desert Thunder Tours

Each year, in conjunction with our sister website, www.southwestphotographytours.com, we spend 2 weeks in Arizona conducting our popular Desert Thunder Tours. We keep these as small one van tours, with 6 guests. The Arizona monsoon season peaks in July and August, with southern Arizona receiving the brunt of the thunderstorm activity. We had a very successful monsoon season in 2017, with storms on 75% of the days! We travel anywhere we believe the most intense, and pretty, storms will occur.  We spent time in southeast, southern and central Arizona, and even in southwest New Mexico. We photographed storms over Saguaro National Park, Kitt Peak, the desert floors, Sedona, Cathedral Rock, the Chiricahuas, the Superstition Mountains and many others. Some of the most spectacular lightning in the country occurs here each season! Below are many photos of the events we captured while on tour this season. We hope you enjoy the photos and we hope to see you with us on tour in the years ahead!

July 13th Central Alberta, Canada Tornadic Supercell

After our adventure in North Dakota on July 11th we knew we had to head well into Canada. A strong upper level low with great flow aloft, good moisture and instability, and lift along a dry line /Canadian Rockies foothills, would keep us in this region for several days.  However, July 13th was by far the best set up in the area! We spent several nights in Red Deer, Alberta and chased west and north of there each day, capturing everything from supercells and tornadoes, great lightning, large hail, clusters of storms, and even a superb Aurora Borealis display on night!

July 13th looked like the peak of action and it certainly was.  We targeted a boundary and foothills intersection west of Drayton Valley and we were on the storm as it developed west of there by mid afternoon.  We watched the storm cycle several times until it finally intercepted better moisture and instability and took off.  It rapidly intensified and started rotating. Soon the roar of the winds with the RFD of the supercell could be heard, followed by the winds from the tornado it produced. It started as a multivortex and morphed into a cone before it completely wrapped in rain. It was rated EF1, the strongest tornado in Alberta in 2017. The storm had fantastic structure, and throw in the canola fields of Canada and it was stunning! A great day and 4 day period for us in Alberta. Beautiful countryside there! Enjoy the pics and the Aurora as well!

July 11th North Dakota and Minnesota Tornadic Supercell

July 11th took as to eastern North Dakota.  An advancing dryline, strong moisture return and extreme instability would set the stage for numerous supercells, some tornadic. We started the day just west of Grand Forks, ND as convergence caused cumulus towers to explode. It didn’t take long for severe and tornado warnings to be issued! We played with the first to do so northwest of town. It had decent structure and very large hail. A large wall cloud formed and spun strongly. An occasional shear funnel would occur, but nothing imminent to touch down. Soon, a supercell formed on the southern end of the line and quickly became severe. It developed a strong area of rotation and a hook on radar. we quickly dropped south to intercept the storm, driving through blinding rain and hail golfball sized. As we cleared the core, a large circular updraft came into view and it was obvious it was spinning strongly. A mulitvortex tornado occurred back in the core that we couldn’t see. It stayed on the ground for over 20 miles as it approached the Minnesota border.

We stayed with the storm all the way to northeast of Fargo is the structure was jaw dropping! At one point, the rain cleared enough to get a brief glimpse of the large tornado! (pic below) Eventually it weakened as upshear convection would form and interfere with the supercell. The lightning was extreme, intense and very close numerous times. Several times we had to get back into the vans for our safety and to keep our guests safe. Finally near sunset, we let the storm cluster go and headed west for what would be several days of chasing in Canada!

 

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!

July 15th Syracuse, Kansas Tornado

July 15th had big potential. An outflow boundary lay across the Kansas/Colorado border area by early afternoon. A cold front intersected that boundary near Cheyenne Wells, CO. Deep moisture, strong shear and high instability formed along and east of the boundary. By 2pm a severe storm formed and quickly became supercellular. It tracked due south right along the outflow boundary. We encountered huge hail the size of baseballs to softballs near Arapahoe, Colorado. Fortunately we did not lose any windows. We dropped south and had to stay on the western side of the storm where very hot and dry air was being entrained in the supercell creating a violent downdraft with intense blowing dirt and 90 mph winds. Finally at Granada, CO we were able to go east and get into the better moisture. As our storm gusted out, another storm formed on the boundary and ingested 84/70 air! A lowering quickly formed and within 20 minutes started rotating. A truncated cone funnel formed and dissipated 5 minutes later. We were right in the path of the mesocyclone. We moved a mile east and stopped. Rotation dramatically increased and soon a tapered white funnel formed. Another one formed and wrapped around the larger one. The larger funnel touched down and became a stout stovepipe tornado. It widened into a large cone. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was this May or July?  This was the largest July tornado I had ever witnessed in Kansas. The tornado moved south with a large debris cloud and after 19 minutes, roped out. It was quite the sight to see! An absolutely amazing day for the Great North Tornado Hunt tour again!