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!
June 13th appeared to be a decent chase day. An approaching shortwave would induce a lee cyclone that would in turn draw moisture northward into western Nebraska. A developing dryline would be the focus for several storms that would form. We played the tail end storm as it developed eastward and spun very hard. Due to fairly high cloud bases, this storm became a tad outflow dominant and never could produce a tornado. It was tornado warned twice in it’s life cycle. It did have very pretty structure and also produced very large hail and high winds. The sandhills of northwest Nebraska provide an amazing foreground for storm photography!
What can be said of this day! Caryn ran a private tour and this was one of the final days, and an amazing event it was! A warm front lay across southern Nebraska, while a dryline extended south from the surface low. By late afternoon several storms formed north of the warm front in the cold air where there was not a capping inversion in place. Finally the triple point storm formed, and rapidly became severe. It didn’t take long for the supercell to nearly anchor and become violently tornadic. It produced several tornadoes, including a huge wedge near the town of Sutton, Nebraska. It also produced numerous tornadoes Caryn and the tour were able to witness, of about every shape and size imaginable! Roger was in Oklahoma City with a new tour arriving this day and managed to run north into Kansas and capture a couple very pretty supercells, one of which likely produced a brief tornado.
October 4th looked crazy on paper. Great shear, super lift, great instability and moisture for Oct spelled big trouble for the folks in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. We left early morning in heavy snow and fog from our home in Colorado, and headed towards Lincoln, NE where we’d decide to head north or east. A supercell formed north of Columbus and was moving away from us so we decided to play the patience game for something further east. Soon a wedge tornado formed from the first supercell and we were feeling pretty bummed. Finally our storm got going as it crossed into western Iowa, dropping a large tornado west of Sloan. After an occlusion, a second, third and fourth tornado formed and the latter becoming a large 1.5 mile wide wedge heading near Climbing Hill northeast towards Cherokee. We had to stop the trip as we encountered a destroyed farmstead north of Climbing Hill, where our search resulted in no injuries, except farm animals. Fortunately, no fatalaties occurred that day, but a lot of destruction of property. Here’s a 10 minute video from this day:
July 9th appeared to be a marginal set up. Shear wasn’t very good, and moisture was fairly lacking. However, moisture pooled along a boundary and winds on the north side of the boundary were easterly, giving a bit of enhanced low level shear. By mid afternoon, several storms developed, with one cell north of Cozad becoming a monster supercell very quickly. The rapid development stretched low level vorticity very fast and a nonsupercell type tornado formed. It persisted for about 5-7 minutes before dissipating. Please excuse the poor quality of the tornado shots as they were taken out the windshield while moving. Other cells become photogenic (and severe) as we chased till mid evening.
What a surprise this day was! After a cluster of weakly organized storms formed over the sandhills early afternoon, another storm, a rotating supercell, developed near Hyannis. Shear increased as evening came and so did the structure! A very pretty tornado warned supercell that was quite photogenic and electrified continued until near midnight.
Wasn’t really confident in a decent storm on May 26th. Nature sure changed that though in a hurry! An intense, highly striated supercell formed northeast of Broken Bow, Nebraska and became one of the best structured storms of 2013. It was tornado warned for hours as well. The storm produced baseball sized hail and was also quite electrified in its lifetime.
June 22nd had some great potential. A warm front lay across the NE/SD border, with a dryline extending south from it. I have to admit, my target that day was the warm front/dry line intersection near Lusk, then eastward as storms could potentially ride the warm front. Indeed, the storm of the day did just that and we missed it due to the this being the final day of the tour and our tendency to lean south towards the Cheyenne ridge, which was also a viable target. We intercepted a supercell near Sidney, NE that rode eastward and became a very nice supercell. It produced a brief, 2 minute tornado, before becoming extremely photogenic.