Tag Archives | tornado

May 20th Northeast Colorado Tornadic Supercell

May 20th looked decent on paper. Strong shear, decent moisture, and moderate CAPE set the stage for intense storms. An outflow boundary/cold front pushed slowly southeast across Wyoming and northeast Colorado. We dropped from Cheyenne into Weld county, Colorado as numerous towers formed. We noticed a column of dirt in the distance (some 20 miles away!) and it turned out to be a landspout tornado that occurred near Greeley. We couldn’t get close enough for a good photo, but a few guests got a shot or video or two of it from our vantage point. The storms congealed into a tail end supercell and were very electrified! As the sun set, the forward flank downdraft lit up with the most incredible orange I have ever witnessed in a storm!  After sunset, the sky was illuminated with numerous continuous lightning strikes that were a treat to watch. Click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!

May 14th Orion, Oklahoma Possibly Tornadic Supercell

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!

May 11th, Anton, Texas Spectacular Supercell

May 11th brought about a boundary that stretched from northeast New Mexico, southeastward across the Texas panhandle north of Lubbock. Moisture initially wasn’t high quality, although shear and lift were very good. Storms first went up southwest of Lubbock, followed by more storms northwest of Lubbock along the boundary. One storm rode the boundary, and started to get very organized. This supercell eventually merged with another cluster of storms. It later emerged from the line of storms and become a stunning supercell, with very strong rotation on the eastern side of the storm. We watched this entire sequence of developments, amazed at this storm’s ability to push through other weaker cells and emerge as the most intense cell of the day. It also became extremely photogenic as it marched southeast toward the north side of Lubbock. Producing huge hail and very strong winds, it pushed across town and eventually weakened. Enjoy the photos! Please click on an image to see a larger photo.

July 15th Northeast Wyoming Potentially Tornadic Supercell

July 15th had the right stuff. Good moisture, instability and lift were available, however shear was a touch weak. Storms formed over the southern end of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming and tracked east/southeast becoming severe. One particular cell near the Pumpkin Buttes area southwest of Gillette, quickly intensified and became a strong supercell thunderstorm. Strong low level shear along a boundary caused it to spin viciously. A couple of funnels formed, but we could never confirm anything on the ground. However by the appearance and the damage we saw afterwards, it would not be a surprise if there was a tornado. The storm was quite electrified and intense. As it moved off the buttes towards Wright, it steadily weakened and dissipated east of that area.

July 4th Chugwater, Wyoming Tornado

What a way to spend the 4th of July! We decided mid morning that it looked too tempting not to chase this day. Upslope flow into the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming was the hot spot. Good shear,  instability and moisture would help form an intense supercell mid afternoon. This storm crossed the Laramie Range and intensified as it moved east off the higher terrain. We were just west, then southwest of town as the storm spun hard. A funnel formed and nearly touched down as it crossed the mountains. Once close to town a very low and strongly rotating wall cloud formed. Soon a nice cone shaped tornado touched down and stay on the ground for nearly 25 minutes! It crossed I-25 south of town and as the cell moved east it encountered more stable air and weakened.

This supercell had fantastic structure, intense cloud to ground lightning and baseball sized hail.  The tornado caused no damage thankfully and was a treat to watch and photograph. In hindsight I wish we would have stayed south of it instead to trying to stay in front of the storm. The views from the south were stunning! A fun way for us to spend the 4th of July. Once we got back home after dark, we had our own private fireworks from a large pack we bough last year in Missouri. Enjoy the pics!

June 27th Judith Basin, Montana Tornadic Supercell

We had high hopes for June 27th in central Montana. Great shear, instability and decent moisture would provide the needed ingredients for storms this day. Lift in the mountain areas would give us the final missing link for storm formation. Mid afternoon storms developed southwest of Eddie’s Corner where we had made our base. As the cells came over the mountains, they intensified and became supercells. One storm southwest of Utica, MT spun wildly and was very pretty. It didn’t take long for a cone tornado to form. It stayed in the higher terrain where there was no road network, so we had to position ourselves to get the best distant view of it. As the cell approached us, it was nicely structured.

We decided to drop south to the tail end storm, which was also tornado warned. A pretty sculpted supercell was quite photogenic! Outflow from northern storms gushed south, undercutting the supercell and killed it. Further south near Judith Gap, another storm form and became my favorite cell of the day! Gorgeous structure, strong rotation and intense lightning occurred. As it moved east, we decided to take the dirt roads eastward toward Roundup. The storm became a jaw dropper and drifted east over the yellow sweet clover fields and made for an amazing sight! It became tornado warned one last time just north of Roundup where we waved goodbye and headed to our hotel for the night. An awesome day and the guests on Photo Tour #3 got their money’s worth from this event! Enjoy the pics!!!!!

June 25th Devil’s Tower, Wyoming Tornadic Supercell

June 25th had a lot going for it. Strong shear, good moisture and increasing instability were present, as well as a nice boundary along the Black Hills Convergence Zone (BHCZ).  Initially storms formed in the drier, well mixed air off the Big Horn mountains in north central Wyoming. These cells moved east with one storm in particular taking over and becoming a pretty high based supercell. We stayed on the back side of it east of Wright and watched it race off into the southern Black Hills.

I had a hunch that more storms would form along the boundary, and due to good moisture, these cells would not be so high based. A few storms formed south of Broadus, Montana and moved southeast along the boundary. The tail end cell, as usual, took over and became a very formidable supercell. As this storm approached the area just north of Hulett, twin EF1 tornadoes formed (Per NWS damage survey). We could briefly get a visual of one of them.  Structure was superb, and the lightning was very intense. As the storm approached us, we had to blast south to Hulett to get out of it’s way. It raced eastward and we had no way of staying up with it. Other storms also formed and became quite electrified. We stayed with this cluster through dusk when they weakened. Two pretty, but very different supercells from each other and two tornadoes. Indeed, a great chase day to kick off the SLT Photo Tour #3! Enjoy the pics!

June 21st Palmer Divide Briefly Tornadic Supercell

We weren’t expecting anything significant on June 21st. However, as often happens in the upslope regions of Colorado combined with terrain features, a decent supercell formed north of Colorado Springs along the Palmer Divide. Good directional shear due in part to strong easterly winds helped the storm to organize and rotate. As the cell approached the town of Kiowa, the low levels started spinning strongly. You can see a hook forming visually and rotate pretty rapidly. A tornado warning was issued by the NWS and soon an area of rotating debris was seen under the hook area of the storm. This weak tornado only lasted a couple of minutes.

As the cell moved further east, it encountered less surface moisture and instability, which caused it to steadily weaken and eventually dissipate east of Limon. Several other storms initiated in the cold side of the first cell’s outflow and never could really intensify for long periods. A fun chase and right in our backyard.