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.
May 7th was advertised to be a strong tornado threat. In the end of the day, there really weren’t many tornadoes and none that were strong/violent. Too many storms would form and create a competition where none were able to be long lived tornado producing machines. We were able to chase 3 significant supercells, one near Stinnett, Texas, one near Amarillo and another near Tulia, Texas. The Tulia storm was the only one that produced, and even that was not significant. We arrived near Tulia a few minutes too late to see a weak bowl with a couple condensation fingers and also another small tornado. As we arrived, video caught a tornado in the distance about 10 miles away. The storm was high precipitation and very messy. We stayed with it as long as we could, however the caprock escarpment has few roads off of it and it made it impossible to stay with the storm. Later in the evening we chased 2 other tornado warned supercells in southwest Oklahoma near Hobart and Vinson. Fun day, a bit frustrating, but we still had several tornado warned storms to chase!
A day of anticipation was what May 6th brought. Models showed an approaching wave to move into Kansas late, but would it be enough to spark thunderstorms before dark. Finally about 6pm storms initiated along a boundary in central Kansas. High shear, good moisture and instability would allow storms to quickly become severe. Initial daylight supercells spun nicely and became tornado warned. Due to many cell mergers nothing would produce a tornado……until after dark. A supercell west of Belpre, Kansas would become quite well structured at dusk and soon became tornado warned. We drifted north to look down the notch of this violent storm. Lightning constantly cut across the sky and the large mothership supercell spin crazily! As a strong hook formed, precip started wrapping around the storm’s updraft, constricting flow into it. A wall cloud soon appeared and a cone funnel formed. It touched down for at least a couple minutes that we could confirm before the rain and hail in the hook area of the storm wrapped around it. A great evening and day of chasing and to be treated by a nice night time tornado was icing on the cake! Enjoy the photos and video grabs!
A fantastic day and great way to end the Caprock Magic tour this day! High based LP supercells formed west of Channing and Adrian, Texas this day amidst modest moisture and instability. Great wind shear allowed these cells to spin, enhancing hail production and longevity. We watched one supercell west of Channing try hard to stay alive, but it just didn’t have the needed instability to survive long. We dropped down to I-40 west of Amarillo and headed towards a cluster of storms near Adrian. When we arrive it was apparent that one cell was anchored, enhancing its ability to rotate. As another cell approached from the west, the downdraft from that cell hit the anchored storm causing the low levels to rotate strongly. A white funnel formed and touched down for about 3 minutes before dissipating. The storm eventually became a very pretty high precipitation storm as it moved south of Amarillo. What a great day and an amazing event that caused our supercell to produce a tornado. Enjoy the photos!
May 1st was a great setup. An outflow boundary lay in northern Texas with 70 degree dewpoints to its south. High CAPE, strong shear and lift along the boundary would cause several tornado warned supercells to form. However, only one would produce any tornadoes. We sat in Seymour for a couple hours waiting for initiation to occur at the triple point just southwest of town. Soon, a storm developed and shot to 55,000 feet in height. We blasted south through intense rain and lightning only to be greeted by the first tornado about 7 miles to our west. Poor road networks prevented us from getting close to this beauty! It lasted about 10 minutes and dissipated. Not long afterwards, a new meso formed to the east and started rotating intensely. A multivortex tornado touched down and lifted several times before a slender cone tornado formed. It bounced around the ground for a few minutes before lifting. We were about 1 mile from it when it occurred! You could hear the waterfall sound of the rear flank downdraft winds as it crossed to highway just north of us. Eventually the storm weakened as we blasted west to another tornado warned supercell. This storm became high precipitation quickly, but it tried hard to drop another tornado to our north. I cannot confirm if it did or not based on our position, but it spun wildly. Enjoy the photos!
A day of big hopes was April 30th. Great moisture, high CAPE and strong deep layer shear would set the stage for supercell development. We started the day in Wichita Falls, Texas only to move across the Red River into southern Oklahoma. It appeared that storms would form along a cold front and intensify as they crossed the river into Oklahoma. We played with a cell near Randlett, OK initially, which never did much. It was severe, but never looked like a threat to produce tornadoes. Eventually a couple of cells formed in front of the cold front and rapidly became severe. One storm near Byers, Texas dropped a significant tornado just across the Red River from us. We figured since the storm was moving northeast at 35 mph that we would stay on the Oklahoma side of the river (since there are FEW crossings!) and wait for the storm and tornado to approach. To our much surprise the tornado dissipated and the supercell died as it came to us! There was NO reason for the NEW supercell to abruptly diminish! However it did, but not before we were able to get some photos of the structure and of the tornado in the distance. It was only about 8 miles away when it’s demise occurred. Fun day, frustrating day, but we all enjoyed ourselves!
April 28th had potential. A warm front was draped across northern Kansas, while a moisture gradient/boundary was draped across southern Kansas. Both areas appeared to be primed for severe weather. Strong shear, good moisture, moderate CAPE and lift along the boundaries would result in intense severe thunderstorms along the northern boundary. The southern boundary stayed capped through the day. We went with the northern boundary and intercepted a very pretty, INSANELY electrified, tornado warned supercell not far from Sanford, Kansas. The storm had latched onto the boundary and spun hard, becoming tornado warned for hours. It also had baseball sized hail and 80 mph winds. We stayed with the storm to Ness City, Kansas and left it as it bowed out and eventually weakened. A great day and a fun and exciting chase for all the guests! Enjoy the pics!
Triple point action would be the play this day as a moist southeast surface flow would advect decent moisture northwestward towards a surface low in southwest Texas. By late afternoon, decent CAPE, moisture, shear and lift would result in a few storms developing at the triple point south of Seminole. After an hour of pulsing, one storm intensified and right turned along the boundary, becoming a supercell and eventually becoming tornado warned. It spun had as a very low hanging wall cloud would form. It just couldn’t focus in one area very long before shearing apart and a different area started spinning. As we moved east along highway 180, it became continuously tornado warned, but just couldn’t focus enough to produce. A couple of high based funnels occurred, as well as hail golfball size. If low level flow would have been a bit stronger, it may have eventually produced a tornado. By early evening the storm weakened and dissipated as the sunset and stabilization occurred. Fun day for us all!
July 10th lived up to the potential forecast models showed! A strong shortwave trough would traverse across southern Canada and Montana, as a dryline/cold front and associated warm front would slide slowly east. Strong shear, deep moisture, high CAPE and several boundaries would be the focus on severe storms. The question would be whether or not they would be isolated or clusters/linear. Fortunately a cluster of supercells formed over southern Saskatchewan and the tail end cell anchored along the warm front west of Killdeer. This storm would become a tornado machine as it produced at least 9 tornadoes we counted. More may have occurred as multiple occlusions occurred and some were quite messy with low visibility. This was one of the best tornadic events we’ve witnessed in Canada in 20 years of tours! Fortunately the tornadoes stayed over rural countryside and did little damage. A couple of these were quite strong. This storm slowly moved east riding the warm front all the time and eventually was choked off by outflow from a linear complex over Montana. Amazing event and a great way to end our tour season! Enjoy the photos and video stills!