The final tour day of our 2020 season brought us into southeast Wyoming to play in the upslope flow into the Laramie Range. Several storms formed in this region and tracked southeast towards Cheyenne and points east. Decent moisture and instability, coupled with moderate shear, would help storms become organized and develop into some pretty structured supercells. Our first storm, north of Chugwater, had nice structure and produced a lot of hail. It spun hard a couple times and at one time we thought it had some tornado potential. It get really messy so we decided to target a new cell southeast of Cheyenne near Carpenter. This storm was a treat to watch! We found an old abandoned car that became the centerpiece of our photos/video as the cell slowly dropped towards us. The storm’s structure was that of the classic “stack of plates” and was fun just to watch as it drifted towards us. Both of the storms we chased this day had great structure and were very photogenic. Enjoy the pics!
July 19th was a spectacular day! Good moisture, high instability, good wind shear and a boundary along the Wyoming/Montana border would set the stage for intense supercell development. One such storm formed northwest of Devil’s Tower and drifted southeast. As it crossed Devil’s Tower we had quite the lightning show! I managed to capture a bolt hitting the top of the tower! As the storm moved southeast near Sundance it became extremely electrified producing a CG every 3-4 seconds! At one point, it had an appearance like it was ready to produce a tornado. We lost visibility in the hills and could not confirm one way or another if it did. Later, a second supercell tracked southeast from near Buffalo, WY down to Lusk, WY. This storm constantly spun hard, had pretty structure and was also tornado warned numerous times! It’s structure was top notch and had various rotating wall clouds throughout it’s life. But, as continued to be the theme for 2020, storms had great structure but just couldn’t produce significant tornadoes. Overall it was my favorite day in July for chasing, and one we captured some incredible photos! Enjoy!
July 14th kept us in Colorado to chase off the Palmer Divide into southeast Colorado. A sagging cold front we push moisture westward into the Palmer Divide, causing storms to develop by mid afternoon. Those storms produced copious amounts of hail, but became undercut by outlfow and died. The boundary pushed south as more storms formed along it east of Pueblo. Near the town of Sugar City, one storm formed and spun hard. It quickly became tornado warned and stayed that way for a few hours. A couple of times, it had the look like it wanted to drop a tornado, but it never did. As it merged with numerous storms west of Lamar, the storm interaction with others caused it to produce a quick 1 minute spin up. The structure with this supercell was quite nice. It was also quite electrified! Eventually this cluster of storms pushed into western Kansas and weakened as we followed it east to Garden City. Great day! Beautiful storm and it certainly tried to get very interesting! Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
July 6th was an inbetween day for our tours. However, as we often do, if there is a decent set up, we’ll run one of our on call tours. That’s exactly what we did the 6th and 7th! On July 6th we started in Denver and blasted to southeast Montana where storms were forecast to form along a boundary with good instability and shear. We’ve seen numerous tornadoes in this region over the years and some outstanding supercells! Today would be no different! We made it south of Broadus, MT and turned east on a dirt road near Biddle. We had a great view of the developing supercell. As we continued east, the forward flank core caught up with us so Caryn had to push it a bit to get out of the heavy rain so we wouldn’t get stuck. Low and behold as we were blasting east on muddy roads, trying to get south of Alzada to head south towards Hulett, WY, our wonderful storm tornadoed. Couldn’t see it from our location, thanks to horrid road network. However, if you were north of Hulett, you had a decent, albeit distant view. We stayed with the storm as it crossed the Black Hills near MT Rushmore and onto the nearly plains. It became a stunningly beautiful supercell as it tracked towards the Badlands. Gorgeous!
On the 7th we played southeast Montana again. However moisture quality was much poorer than the day before. Storms formed along a boundary and became a squall line as they moved east. They were still pretty and offered some very photogenic moments! We stayed in front of them back to Rapid City, SD where we spent the night before returning to Denver the next day.
Please click on a photo for a larger image. Enjoy!
July 3rd brought us back to Colorado for the final day of the Photo Tour. Nature decided to give us some pre4th fireworks! A boundary set up north/south of a line from Ft Morgan to east of Limon. Intense storms formed along it and with a wind shift in place, two landspout tornadoes formed that we were able to witness. They lasted several minutes each before dissipating. Storms were quite sever with hail tennisball sized and lots of lightning as well. We intercepted the first cells on highway 71 south of Brush and followed the southward building line from there. Good shear, moderate CAPE, but limited low level moisture fueled the severe storms till eventually they gusted out and weakened. Fun final day of chasing for the tour before returning to Denver later in the evening. Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
June 29th took Photo Tour #3 westward to Theodore Roosevelt National Park area where a triple point would set up and cause supercells to form. Strong shear, high CAPE values, good moisture and lift at the triple point helped to generate one intense supercell northeast of Wibaux, Montana that moved into western North Dakota. We positioned ourselves down wind to allow the storm to mature as it approached. A large wall cloud formed that started rotating with wrapping rain/hail engulfing it. A brief tornado occurred that we could see in the distance. Unfortunately there weren’t many roads to allow us to get closer or even stay with it. Numerous other storms formed and became quite a messy MCS. We stayed with them all the way to New Town, ND where another tornado warning was issued. A messy murky system approached as we decided to retreat and get out of it’s way. We headed on northwest to Williston for the night. Yours truly lost his cell phone as huge hail started falling and ended up driving back to the park in the middle of the night to find it. Success, it was found! (Destroyed and cracked, but it was found!!!) Please click on a pic for a larger image. 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.
May 21st had a lot of potential. A surface low and triple point was over southwest Kansas. Strong instability, good shear and lift along the various boundaries would set the stage for intense, potentially tornadic supercells this day. We targeted the first intense storm to go up near Lamar, Colorado. It produced tons of hail, great lightning and a couple of weak landspouts. As it pushed east, a second storm formed and quickly became tornado warned. It had great structure and was quite severe. The best storm of the day, however formed near Satanta, Kansas and was an absolute treat to watch. Incredibly electrified and well structured, it persisted for a long time. Just before dark, it produced a couple of funnels, but just couldn’t get the circulations to the ground. One of my favorite chases of 2020 thus far! Please click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!!!
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!
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!