Tag Archives | May

May 29th Northern Oklahoma Tornado Warned Supercell

May 29th took us to northern Oklahoma. An outflow boundary and advancing cold front across Kansas would provide the focus for supercell thunderstorms this day. Good moisture and extreme instability, as well as good wind shear would provide the ingredients needed for storms to sustain themselves and be intense. The first supercell formed over northern Oklahoma west of Alva and become severe. Later it would be tornado warned and produce a weak tornado.  The structure was quite pretty and the storm exhibited decent rotation from time to time. However it could not focus in one spot and usually had broad rotation. Nonetheless, it was a good long lived supercell and provided us many photographic opportunities along the way for Tour 5 and the Photo Tour #2! Enjoy the pics!

May 28th Eastern Colorado Tornado Outbreak

May 28th had good potential. An outflow boundary laid across eastern Colorado from north of Seibert, Colorado to Colby, Kansas and points east. Great shear, instability, moisture and lift along the boundary, as well as the dryline extending south from Oakley, would allow numerous storms to form. A couple became tornado warned in far eastern Colorado. One particular supercell anchored itself north of Seibert along the boundary and became a tornado machine. We were on the scene early and watched as numerous tornado formed, with up to 3 on the ground at the same time. Several of the tornadoes were actually landspouts (nonsupercell tornadoes), however a couple certainly had mesocyclones and were therefore supercell tornadoes. It was an amazing sight for our guests to witness as we were able to get within a mile of a few tornadoes, and within a half mile of one stronger tornado!  Please enjoy the photos from this amazing event!!!!!

May 18th Northern Kansas Supercell

A complex, but decent set up occurred on May 18th. A dry line, warm front and cold front would be big players this day, but the question was which would produce the best storms. The dryline fired up early and often producing numerous storms with huge hail. The cold front fired up in Colorado with clusters of storms moving into western Kansas. But it would be the warm front in northern Kansas that would produce the longest lived supercells, nearly anchored along it. Unfortunately, none would produce significant tornadoes, but a couple would produce hail baseball sized and as well as one landspout tornado. We chased a cell south of Oakley that would  have pretty structure, tons of lightning and even a cone funnel that would could not determine if it touched down or not due to the angle it was from us. I fun and exciting day ended with a fantastic lightning show in Garden City, Kansas.

May 14th Southern Kansas Tornadic Supercell

May 14th took the May Minitour to southern Kansas. A storm formed near Arkansas City and anchored itself. Due to extremely high dew points and CAPE, the storm grew very large quickly. Wind shear was enough to start it spinning as well. It became severe and soon also was tornado warned. As the base lowered and a wall cloud formed, an elephant trunk shaped funnel dropped down and touched down for a couple of minutes before roping out. The storm maintained its structure for a couple more hours before it merged with a line of storms coming in from the west. A surprise event as it wasn’t forecasted, but nonetheless was pretty intense. Large hail also accompanied this supercell during its lifetime.

May 13th Texas Panhandle Supercells

May 13th brought a good set up with strong convergence, good instability and moisture, but weak shear. This would result in high precipitation storms nearly anchoring across the Texas panhandle into south central Kansas. These storms would produce copious amounts of huge hail, high winds and especially flash flooding. Due to weak low level shear, they would not produce tornadoes. One particular supercell grew to a very large storm. A second storm was south of it and the inflow was so strong from the main supercell it pulled to southern storm into it and completely destroyed it! Crazy to see this happen! The large storm became a formidable high precipitation supercell as it slowly moved east towards the Oklahoma border. Lightning was also intense in many of the storms and we were treated to quite a light show as we drove back to Oklahoma City.

May 11th PyroSupercell in the Texas Panhandle

May 11th brought about one of the most unusual events we’ve ever witnessed! A massive grass fire in the Texas Panhandle southeast of Amarillo generated a pyrocumulus cloud. This cloud forms due to intense heat causing the air to rise and condense into a cumulus cloud. What we had never seen before was one of the pyrocumulus cloud grow to such enormous proportions that it was able to move away from it’s heat source and continue to grow, eventually turning into a supercell! Amazing! This storm would move all the way to the Oklahoma border before dying. It produced enormous amounts of cloud to ground lightning, which in turn sparked over a dozen new fires! It also produced hail the size of golfballs! Strange, beautiful and bizarre!!!!

May 10th Southwest Nebraska Supercell

May 10th took us to western Nebraska for severe storms.  Good instability and shear, as well as convergence along the dryline, would allow significant storms to form. However, due to lack of good deep moisture, the cells would be higher based than you would like to produce tornadoes. We intercepted a few storms this day, but the best and prettiest was a supercell that formed southwest of Ogallala, Nebraska later afternoon. This cell would have that classic mothership appearance, produce baseball sized hail and also became quite electrified. We were able to capture some great images. Also, we deployed our slow motion lightning camera which caught numerous bolts in slow motion!

Here’s a link to the lightning video:

May 7th Valentine, Nebraska Electrical Storms

May 7th really didn’t have much going for it. It was the first day of Tour 3 and we wanted something to chase. We left Oklahoma City early bound for Valentine, Nebraska, some 650 miles away. Decent shear, but very limited moisture and instability would result in high based storms to form. What we didn’t expect was the amount of lightning that was occurring with these storms. Right around sunset they became quite electrified producing numerous cloud to ground lightning strikes. We pulled east of town as they became severe warned and watched the show. Very pretty and long lasting lightning display rolled on for hours.

Enjoy the photos!

May 2nd Oklahoma Briefly Tornadic Supercells

May 2nd showed great promise from the eastern Texas panhandle across western and central Oklahoma. Good shear, moisture and instability would be found and a sharp dryline would provide the convergence necessary to initiate intense supercells. Clusters of storms formed first in southwest Kansas at the triple point, while numerous storms formed a touch later down the dryline. One storm we targeted was severe just northeast of Shamrock, Texas. We were quick to find out the failure mode this day and that would be too many cell mergers, splits and interactions. This first storm had merger issues and never got to what it could be. So, we targeted a new cell to our south that became tornado warned off and on for several hours. As the storm moved east to Binger, OK, it cycled several times and had great structure. It tried to produce but just couldn’t focus long enough to get a tornado down. The lightning on the cell was intense at times and occasionally wouldn’t allow us out of the vehicles. Soon, as models suggested, a long line of storms formed and became a wind producing machine as they marched across Oklahoma, with mesovorticies occasionally developing along the leading edge.

May 1st Kansas Tornadic Supercells

May 1st had a lot of promise. However there were certainly some issues with the set up. Storm mode was unclear near the front in northern Kansas and a strong capping inversion southward along the dryline could result is very short storm lives in that area. We started near Great Bend and jumped on a storm that formed northeast of Dodge City. It quickly became tornado warned. Based on initial visuals of the storm, it had little tornadic threat at that time. As the storm moved northeast towards Interstate 70 it really ramped up, getting tornado warned for nearly 3 hours. Rotation was visibly increasing and the structure of the supercell became quite nice. Unfortunately a left moving split further south came crashing into it and basically killed it. Other storms formed north and south, and opting for the usual tail end storm this day proved to be the wrong play. As the tail end supercell moved east away from the dryline, it showed a nice hook on radar and became tornado warned. As we raced south, leaving the messy northern play to get on the tail end storm, it weakened and eventually died. Before dying, it gave us a very nice look at the updraft as it became a low precipitation supercell. 9 out of 10 times this play works. However this day it did not as a cluster of storms north of the interstate rotated and one dropped a significant tornado.

Enjoy the photos as it was a pretty supercell!