June 29th took Photo Tour #3 westward to Theodore Roosevelt National Park area where a triple point would set up and cause supercells to form. Strong shear, high CAPE values, good moisture and lift at the triple point helped to generate one intense supercell northeast of Wibaux, Montana that moved into western North Dakota. We positioned ourselves down wind to allow the storm to mature as it approached. A large wall cloud formed that started rotating with wrapping rain/hail engulfing it. A brief tornado occurred that we could see in the distance. Unfortunately there weren’t many roads to allow us to get closer or even stay with it. Numerous other storms formed and became quite a messy MCS. We stayed with them all the way to New Town, ND where another tornado warning was issued. A messy murky system approached as we decided to retreat and get out of it’s way. We headed on northwest to Williston for the night. Yours truly lost his cell phone as huge hail started falling and ended up driving back to the park in the middle of the night to find it. Success, it was found! (Destroyed and cracked, but it was found!!!) Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
June 28th took Photo Tour 3 to North Dakota. Good moisture and instability, coupled with weaker shear would allow a squall line of severe thunderstorms to form northeast of Bismark, ND. We managed to find an old abandoned farmstead south of Wing, ND where we were able to set up and capture some amazing images! The storms, coupled with the lowering sun in the evening, along with the old farmstead, allowed us to capture some of my favorite images from 2020! We stayed in place for a couple of hours photographing the area, and eventually headed back to I-94 and west to Bismark. A landspout tornado occurred well to our south near the South Dakota border, but everyone didn’t mind based on the images each person captured. Spectacular day with nature painting the Photo Tour one of the best set ups one could want! Please click on an image for a larger photo. Enjoy!
We had high hopes for some great supercells in southern Kansas on June 24th. The atmosphere didn’t disappoint! High CAPE, strong shear, moderate moisture and decent lift along existing boundaries would set the stage for afternoon severe thunderstorms. An explosive supercell formed in central Kansas mid afternoon and became severe. This storm produced hail to baseball size and high winds. It weakened as it remained nearly stationary and other storms formed south and west of it. A well structured supercell emerged and became very electrified. A grassland fire occurred and fortunately was put out before consuming any farmsteads. As it continued to move south/southwest, it became undercut by outflow and slowly weakened. It continued to produce very large hail and high winds during the remainder of it’s life as it slowly drifted south into far southern Kansas. A fun day of chasing with well structured storms and very large hail. We stopped and examined the hail stones we found up to tennisball sized. Click on a pic for a larger photo. Enjoy!
June 21st looked like a big messy day. Forecast was for thunderstorms, including supercells to form along multiple boundaries in western Kansas. It was thought that storms would congeal into a large MCS and track into northern Oklahoma later. That is in fact exactly what happened. Storms formed first along a weak front in northwest Kansas and tracked south. Other storms formed along old outflow boundaries in southwest Kansas. Eventually they all merged in a large high wind producing MCS. Moisture was marginal, but shear and CAPE were fairly high. As they became outflow dominant, a fast moving convective system produced 80 mph winds and golfball sized hail as it tracked in the Oklahoma panhandle. It was a fun day for lightning, and a well defined shelf cloud formed with the complex. Please click on an image for a larger photo. Enjoy!
June 19th was the last day of Tour 7. The weather pattern kept us fairly close to home, with the set up over the Raton Mesa between Colorado and New Mexico. Upslope flow would push decent moisture into the region and thunderstorms would form by mid afternoon. Moderate CAPE and shear were also present as the storm intensified and moved eastward. The region is known for it’s lack of good roads, so we ended up on a few poorer gravel/dirt roads. We arrived as the storm was very intense, producing golfball to tennisball sized hail. Love the “hail core green” color to the clouds when they are suspending millions of hailstones in them. The region is very colorful with many red rock buttes and ridges in the area adding to the already pretty scene. The terrain has been very dry in 2020, so little vegetation was growing. Eventually the storm moved out over the Black Mesa area of the Oklahoma panhandle and weakened as it moved further east. A fun last day was a pretty storm and countryside! Click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
June 14th was a northern plains/high plains set up. A weak front was draped across eastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming. Moisture was streaming northward as well. Moderate CAPE and good shear developed as storms initiated off the triple point in northwest South Dakota and then a bit later over western North Dakota. We watched the South Dakota cell go up, but it was extremely high based. Better low level moisture existed across western North Dakota, pooling along the front and an old outflow boundary. A storm developed rapidly near Beach and slowly tracked northeastward across Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It had decent structure and produce large hail. At one point northwest of Dickenson, a funnel appeared for a few minutes, but was never a threat to touch down. We stayed with the storm until it weakened early evening, then headed to Bismark for the night. A fun day, very scenic area for chasing and a pretty storm! Click on a pic for a larter image. Enjoy!
June 8th would provide us with ample opportunities to intercept numerous severe thunderstorms in central Nebraska. By mid afternoon several intense supercells formed along a weak front. Two storms became tornado warned as they spun across the region near Anselmo. Strong shear, decent moisture, high CAPE values and the boundary provided the focus for storms. We caught the first storm as it spun across with a large wall cloud that was rotating steadily but slowly. It tried to produce a tornado but never could. The second cell was by far the prettiest of the day. It had fantastic structure, a very large wall cloud and a couple of weak spin ups. At one point a dusty debris cloud formed underneath a small funnel that touched down for about 1-2 minutes. The storm became a formidable supercell and it moved across the region. Several other storms formed and a couple were also tornado warned, but did not produce. A fun and exciting day with these cells for all tour guests! Enjoy the pics and please click on one for a larger image.
June 6th appeared to be a day of fast moving squall lines, and it panned out to be just that. Storms formed early afternoon over Colorado and Wyoming and raced north, at times over 100 mph, to the northeast! These storms produced extreme wind damage as the pushed through the Dakotas by evening. As they approached Badlands National Park, they were severe with hail and winds, while the badlands themselves, provided a very photogenic foreground. Please enjoy the pics and click on an image for a larger photo.
We had high hopes for June 27th in central Montana. Great shear, instability and decent moisture would provide the needed ingredients for storms this day. Lift in the mountain areas would give us the final missing link for storm formation. Mid afternoon storms developed southwest of Eddie’s Corner where we had made our base. As the cells came over the mountains, they intensified and became supercells. One storm southwest of Utica, MT spun wildly and was very pretty. It didn’t take long for a cone tornado to form. It stayed in the higher terrain where there was no road network, so we had to position ourselves to get the best distant view of it. As the cell approached us, it was nicely structured.
We decided to drop south to the tail end storm, which was also tornado warned. A pretty sculpted supercell was quite photogenic! Outflow from northern storms gushed south, undercutting the supercell and killed it. Further south near Judith Gap, another storm form and became my favorite cell of the day! Gorgeous structure, strong rotation and intense lightning occurred. As it moved east, we decided to take the dirt roads eastward toward Roundup. The storm became a jaw dropper and drifted east over the yellow sweet clover fields and made for an amazing sight! It became tornado warned one last time just north of Roundup where we waved goodbye and headed to our hotel for the night. An awesome day and the guests on Photo Tour #3 got their money’s worth from this event! Enjoy the pics!!!!!
June 25th had a lot going for it. Strong shear, good moisture and increasing instability were present, as well as a nice boundary along the Black Hills Convergence Zone (BHCZ). Initially storms formed in the drier, well mixed air off the Big Horn mountains in north central Wyoming. These cells moved east with one storm in particular taking over and becoming a pretty high based supercell. We stayed on the back side of it east of Wright and watched it race off into the southern Black Hills.
I had a hunch that more storms would form along the boundary, and due to good moisture, these cells would not be so high based. A few storms formed south of Broadus, Montana and moved southeast along the boundary. The tail end cell, as usual, took over and became a very formidable supercell. As this storm approached the area just north of Hulett, twin EF1 tornadoes formed (Per NWS damage survey). We could briefly get a visual of one of them. Structure was superb, and the lightning was very intense. As the storm approached us, we had to blast south to Hulett to get out of it’s way. It raced eastward and we had no way of staying up with it. Other storms also formed and became quite electrified. We stayed with this cluster through dusk when they weakened. Two pretty, but very different supercells from each other and two tornadoes. Indeed, a great chase day to kick off the SLT Photo Tour #3! Enjoy the pics!