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 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.
We weren’t expecting much on May 14th. We had gone to northwest Oklahoma to watch a triple point area for storm development. Shear, moisture and instability were there, but so was a strong capping inversion. Some models forecast storms late, and others showed no initiation whatsoever. We waited and watched a couple LPish storms form and quickly die as the cap was too strong. We decided to head down I-40 towards OKC and see if anything would form. It certainly did! Off to our north, an updraft formed and looked to struggle. Eventually it intensified and we went north to catch it. We intercepted the strongly rotating updraft northeast of Seiling near the town of Orion. Structure was fantastic. It developed a low hang, rotating wall cloud, which looked like it produced a tornado. We could not absolutely confirm it, however other chasers in the areas said there was a brief touch down. We witnessed a couple of funnels as well. We stayed with the storm until it weakened late evening and then headed off to Oklahoma City. Great day for what appeared to be marginal at best! Please click on a photo to see a larger image. Enjoy!
What a surprise day this was! Upslope flow and terrain circulations can do magical things in the high plains and this day would be one of the best! Poor wind shear, marginal moisture, but decent CAPE would provide at least some threat for severe storms. We were in Roswell, New Mexico the night before and decided to stay around for the action on June 4th. We dropped to west of Artesia as one LP supercell formed and produced copious amounts of hail. As it moved off the higher terrain it weakened and died. However, a group of storms formed and slowly intensified as they remained anchored on the foothills west of town.
As we positional ourselves on the eastern most storm, something strange happened. The storm started to get well organized and show signs of rotation. Soon a small wall cloud formed. From this wall cloud, a funnel dropped down and planted firmly on the ground for a few minutes. However due to the higher cloud bases and lack of appreciable moisture the funnel never fully condensed to the ground, but a debris cloud rose up from the ground to show it was connected. It persisted for several minutes before weakening and dissipating. We then came back into town and dropped south to Carlsbad to watch the cell drift towards town. It maintained it’s supercell characteristics for a bit before gusting out and dying. A great day and a nice surprise tornado kept our streak of consecutive tours alive with all seeing at least one tornado!
This day had a lot going for it. Great shear, good moisture and instability, and a dryline would help set the stage for intense supercells. Our first storm of the day formed near Ft Morgan and tracked northeast along I-76. It became a rather large and occasionally disorganized supercell. However as it approached Sterling, it wrapped up hard and produced a brief, small tornado. Further to the east, a second, well organized and photogenic supercell formed. It produced a few brief tornadoes, however the structure of this storm would be one of the prettiest for 2019! As it came towards Imperial, a beautiful sculpted storm was present. At one point west of town, not only did the storm have a stunning appearance, but a partially rain wrapped tornado became visible. The cone shaped twister was on the ground for a few minutes before wrapping in rain again as we lost visibility of it. An amazing day with gorgeous storms and a few tornadoes! Enjoy the photos below!
May 26th ended up being an exciting Colorado storm day! We captured a tornadic supercell just north of Lamar that had a brief pretty white elephant trunk shaped tornado. The day started out really messy as numerous elevated thunderstorms formed over eastern Colorado. An existing boundary that was visible underneath the elevated storms would set the stage for late day supercells, one of which was long lived and quite nice. By mid afternoon we were watching storms west of Lamar. They were in drier air with high cloud bases and could never really get intense.
Further east towards Lamar one storm rapidly developed along the boundary and tracked northeast. Moisture, instability and wind shear was much better in this location! It quickly dropped a funnel that persisted for nearly 10 minutes, touching down a couple times but causing no damage in the rural areas. It moved northeast and weakened as a second storm approached from the southwest and became tornado warned. It tried hard several times to produce but in the end it never did. We followed it northeast to the Kansas border before dropping further south and east into Kansas for late evening lightning. An exciting day in Colorado and western Kansas! Enjoy the pics below. (First bright pic of white tornado is a cell phone shot)
My 20th looked downright scary on all models. SPC issued a HIGH RISK for long tracked violent tornadoes and had a greater than 95% probably of numerous/violent tornadoes on their tornado watch box they issued. Schools closed, Air Force bases evacuated aircraft, lots of safety precautions were made. It ended up being a major, major bust. Very few tornadoes occurred and there were no violent tornadoes. Fortunately we played the dryline in northwest Texas where strong heating and good convergence would result in a couple of supercells forming by mid afternoon. We blasted down to Paducah, Texas from Childress and watched one storm produced two tornadoes. One was on the ground for about 5 minutes and the other about 10 minutes. They were fun to watch skipping across the countryside! Chaser convergence was horrendous this day, as expected being close to Oklahoma. We opted for another target later in the evening instead of fighting with the mobs in Oklahoma, but neither target panned out. Fortunately we got tornadoes this day as many, many chasers did not! Fun day, frustrating day and a disappointing day in the end. No lives were lost, very little injuries occurred. Good news for the plains!
May 17th was an amazing day. Storms formed along a dryline in northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado and pushed into southwest Nebraska. One supercell approached McCook, NE and dropped a few tornadoes along the way. Strong wind shear, great instability and good surface moisture set the stage for this and other storms to form. The first tornado was quite pretty as it tracked just west of town. A couple more formed in the hills where roads were bad and thus not greatly visible from where we had to intercept them. None the less the storm was a very pretty supercell and long lived. It persisted for several hours before weakening north of Kearney, Nebraska.
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 12th really didn’t look that good on paper. Weak wind shear should have resulted in storms being multicellular or pulse. However, one storm formed on the Kansas border and drifted southwest and became a very pretty supercell. The big story with this storm was lightning and structure. At one point this storm was producing cgs at the rate of 5 per minute. Instability was quite strong and lapse rates were very steep. The storm drifted westward for several hours and maintained its intensity. At one point it was a pretty stack of plates looking supercell. Colors were fantastic as well. Kudos to local fire departments for getting out and putting out the grass fires that were caused by this cell! There were many!! Mid evening the storm weakened and still gave us quite the light show as we drove to our hotel. Enjoy!