June 17th had big promise. Great wind shear, good moisture, high CAPE and a dryline and outflow boundary intersection set the stage for what would be a great day! We started in Ogallala, Nebraska and just had to drift westward towards northeast Colorado. Mid afternoon initiation was pretty convincing that supercells and possible tornadoes would occur. The initial supercell spun like mad, dropping baseball sized hail and producing at least two tornadoes. Structure was very pretty, however blowing dirt in the rear flank downdraft area (rfd) would block viewing of the mesocyclone at times. A big dusty tornado occurred near Julesburg, CO followed by another tornado near Big Springs, NE. The cell would eventually gust out northwest of North Platte, NE but not before producing one more small tornado. A fantastic day that produced an awesome supercell. Meanwhile, SLT co-owner Caryn Hill chased locally and intercepted a highly sculpted tornado warned supercell near Otis, Colorado! Probably the best structure for 2018 to that day! Enjoy the photos!
June 11th featured very high surface moisture and extreme instability. A boundary laid across eastern Nebraska and would be the focal point for severe and tornado warned storms this day. By mid afternoon, strong convergence along the boundary would result in rapid supercell development, with one storm in particular near Fremont, Nebraska becoming tornado warned. Shear steadily increased through the afternoon and caused this supercell to spin wildly! It produced a couple funnels, large hail and some wind damage! After a few hours, numerous storms formed and quickly developed into a linear MCS that marched across the area into western Iowa, becoming tornado warned periodically. A fun and exciting day for the tour that really wasn’t expected just a couple days before! The old motto of never give up holds true!!!! Enjoy the pics!
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 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!
June 20th took us to southern Nebraska. Excessive heat, steep lapse rates, moderate CAPE and moisture, as well as a local boundary across the I-80 corridor would set the stage for severe storms this afternoon and evening. Clusters of storms formed west of Kearney, NE and drifted south. Their outflows kicked up new storms ahead of them by early evening. Due to steep lapse rates and optimum freezing levels, the storms were incredibly electrified! Some of the best lightning of 2017 occurred that evening, well into the night time hours. We stayed in front of the cluster of severe storms into Kansas well into the night time hours. A great day for the lightning lovers! And who isn’t one????
June 12th had the potential to be a record breaking event for eastern Wyoming, as well as the Nebraska panhandle. At the end of the day numerous tornadoes formed across the landscape! Very high moisture, extreme CAPE, very strong wind shear and upslope into the Laramie Range would cause several supercells to form. We chased the first supercell of the day, which produced a couple of tornadoes near Lingle, Wyoming. This storm was tornado warned for many hours as it moved northeast across eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.
Later we would drop south towards Scottsbluff, Nebraska and catch a tornadic storm that came out of Colorado (See the next chase account from SLT co-owner Caryn Hill!!!!!). We witnessed 3 tornadoes from this storm. Later in it’s life cycle, it would become one of the most photogenic supercells of 2017 as it rolled across the Nebraska Sand Hills headed for southern South Dakota where it dissipated after midnight. For an event to be this strong, this far west, it was almost unprecedented. SPC even had a Moderate Risk for eastern Wyoming, only the second one in history! They were also forecasting strong tornadoes, which did occur. Hail and lightning in these monster supercells were incredible as well! Enjoy the photos!!!!
The first day of the Reunion tour provided a decent high plains set up. Upslope flow into western Nebraska would push 60 dewpoints along a boundary as moderate westerly mid level winds would help generate enough wind shear for supercells. Two such storms formed along the northwest/southeast oriented boundary and would produce giant hail to softball size. Both supercells were tornado warned with the second storm producing a confirmed tornado near Eckley, Colorado. Structure was decent as well. We came back through the area the next day to find thousands of acres of cropland shredded to the ground, mostly corn. Sometimes hailstorms can produce more significant damage than a tornado can. This was the case with these storms.
July 18th took our Great North Tornado Hunt towards the North Platte area. Modest shear, great convergence, good instability and moisture would result in numerous storm developing. We targeted a cell northwest of Hershey that ended up anchoring itself there for a couple hours as it intensified. The structure on the storm was quite nice, and as it moved towards Hershey, a long slender funnel formed near the clear slot of the supercell. We stayed with the storm until it decayed near dusk. Overall a great chase day and results for the tour. Something about Nebraska in July produces very pretty storms often!
As if often the case on this particular tour, storm structure and quality was amazing this day. We started in Rapid City and spent the entire day with one supercell that formed early afternoon. This storm rolled over the Black Hills and turned due south into northwest Nebraska where it became tornado warned. It did not produce a tornado, but the structure was simply a photographers delight! It produced very large hail and an incredible amount of lightning. This was our last tour day of 2014, and a fantastic way to finish the season!
First, our heart felt sympathy goes out to those who suffered losses on this day. When we awoke on the morning of June 16th, I had butterflies in my stomach. I knew there would be potential for strong to violent tornadoes in Nebraska. Unfortunately those fears were realized as at least a half dozen strong or violent tornadoes would ravage the area east of Norfolk. The town of Pilger would be particularly hardest hit. We spent a good chunk of the day around Columbus analyzing data and watching things unfold. With a temp of 83 and a dewpoint of 78, stiff east winds buffeted the area along a warm front. Conditions were ripe for powerful supercells and tornadoes. Mid afternoon storms formed along and north of the warm front. They moved into colder air and weakened. We knew it wouldn’t be long before storms would form along the warm front and ride it eastward with extreme shear. Southeast of Norfolk the first tornado formed and tracked near Stanton. Another tail end cell developed and produced the rest of the tornados this day with twin EF4 tornadoes destroying Pilger and other locations northeast of there. We watched from the back side of the tornadoes, about 1-2 miles east of us as the event unfolded. An event we’ll never forget! Tornadoes of every shape, size and strength occurred. The last time twin violent tornadoes occurred so close together was nearly 50 years ago! Amazing, and devastating to say the least!