July 8th was the arrival day for our final tour of the year, Tour #9 the Great North Tornado Hunt. Due to the weather forecast that day, we took the group out for a chase in southeast Colorado. A supercell formed east of Colorado Springs late afternoon and spun like crazy all the way to Kim, CO near the New Mexico border. With strong shear, good moisture and instability in place, the storm would become a long-lived supercell and produce hail 3.5 inches diameter, as well as a nice tornado north of Kim that was on the ground for a few minutes. The structure of this supercell was one of the best of 2023! By mid evening it dissipated, so we went back to Denver to get ready for our official start of the tour. A great way to spend arrival day chasing a stunning tornadic supercell! Enjoy the pics!!
June 23rd had significant potential in southeast Wyoming as well as southeast Colorado. We chose to play the Wyoming target instead of Colorado. And both produced tornadoes!!! When you get upslope flow into the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming with decent moisture and instability, you chase there, plain and simple. Good shear and lift into the mountains were also present and by midafternoon storms erupted west of Chugwater. It took a bit for storms to become organized, but one such supercell over the town of Chugwater became the primary supercell this day. It spun east all the way past Scottsbluff, NE and produced at least a half dozen tornadoes, a few of which we were close to and became pretty photogenic! A Tornado Emergency was issued for one large tornado near town and fortunately did not cause any serious injuries or fatalities. Storm structure was pretty as well and the supercell also produced softball sized hail at various locations in the lifetime. A great chase day and fortunately the results were good for the local residents. Enjoy the pics!
June 22nd took us close to home. We approached Denver after chasing north the previous day. We arrived as a supercell was coming off the foothills and intensifying as it right turned towards the Highlands Ranch area. Soon, a low level mesocyclone formed as a clear slot wrapped around it. Within a few minutes a low hanging wall cloud started spinning. Then a rather large barrel shaped tornado formed in the rich moisture and strong wind shear, and descended on Highlands Ranch. EF1 damage occurred as the tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes traveling several miles. As the storm moved east, it back built on the southern flank towards the Palmer Divide. As we dropped south, another funnel cloud formed, but did not touch down. As we headed east from Peyton, CO the new southern storm became quite strong and was also tornado warned. However, it did not produce, but certainly was intense. Crazy day, and thankfully nobody was killed in the Denver metro area from this tornado.
June 19th took us to the upslope area of the Big Horn mountains in southeast Montana. These mountains are notorious for producing beautiful supercells when upslope conditions occur with decent westerly flow aloft. This day would be no different. Mid afternoon, a cluster of high based storms formed near Sheridan, WY and slowly tracked northeast. One storm on the southeastern side of the cluster tapped into better moisture and instability and eventually became the storm of the day. There wasn’t a tornado threat due to limited moisture, but between wind shear and instability, it developed into a jaw dropping gorgeous storm! As the storm passed into the southeast corner of the state near Baker, it had beautiful structure and also hail the size of golfballs. In the evening, it slowly weakened as it moved into southwest North Dakota. Just a stunning storm on a day when all the ingredients weren’t there! Montana is one of our favorite states to chase in during late spring. Enjoy the pics!!
June 15th featured very high dewpoints and instability, as well as good shear and several boundaries for storms to form on. A cluster of storms formed in southwest Oklahoma later in the afternoon and became severe. We followed them towards Lawton as another storm developed on it eastern flank. As we approached Commanche it became tornado warned. Just north of town, it developed a rather large wedge tornado that persisted for over a half hour although it became rain wrapped. If was briefly visible near Loco, OK and caused EF2 damage along the way. After the storm weakened we dropped south on a tail end supercell that was just gorgeous and also tornado warned. Our thoughts and prayers for the town of Perryton, TX that was also hit by an EF3 tornado that day causing much damage and a few fatalities. The down side of storm chasing.
May 11th had a lot going for it. Good upslope flow into the Raton Mesa, decent moisture and instability and great wind shear would set the stage for supercells this day. Storms formed early afternoon and became tornado warned. We blasted west from the Oklahoma panhandle into the mesa in time to watch a supercell get very interesting. Couldn’t confirm any tornadic activity, but it certainly looked like it had potential. This storm also produced baseball sized hail and high winds. It was a treat to photograph and watch spin across the mesa into the Oklahoma/Texas panhandle. Fun day for all the guests who witnessed this beauty! Enjoy the pics!
May 18th featured a short wave trough moving into the Texas panhandle. It also had a dryline extending along I-27 south and north of Amarillo. Storms started forming mid afternoon along the dryline. Although they couldn’s sustain themselves and eventually died off, they did produce some severe weather. Late afternoon a cluster of storms formed northwest of Amarillo. Due to weaker wind shear, we hoped something would emerge from the cluster due to storm interactions. It certainly did! A supercell emerged west of Chunky, TX and drifted slowly east. It tried to produce a tornado a few times, and was tornado warned. It could never keep a rotation couplet tight enough to produce one. The storm produced baseball sized hail and had very pretty structure. Whenever you get that stack of plates look, you know it is a special storm! Moving very slowly east, it kept it’s intensity for several hours before finally decaying mid evening. A great day and a fun chase! Enjoy the pics!
May 13th showed significant moisture and instability along a warm front and outflow boundary from previous days’ convection. The boundaries met and formed a triple point southwest of Des Moines, Iowa. Storms fired very early by 1pm and became tornado warned. Nothing significant formed but we stayed with them. Several false reports of multivortex tornadoes occurred, which has been the case all spring. The old philosophy of if you aren’t sure it’s a tornado, it is not one should be taken by many storm chasers! Numerous tornado warnings were issued, and the monster supercell spun like crazy. It eventually weakened as it moved east off the boundary. Another supercell formed southwest of Pleasantville and produce at least 3 tornadoes that we witnessed. A multivortex, an elephant trunk and then another multivortex that was less than a quarter mile from us! The motion was incredible right over the vans as this tornadic storm drifted northeast and produced. An overall exciting day that the guests loved! Enjoy the pics!!!!
A great set up on May 12th took us to an arching boundary across central and eastern Nebraska. Early day storms produced weak tornadoes over north central Nebraska, but since our target was further east, we decided to wait it out for what we hoped were more violent storms. The wait paid off and numerous storms formed, almost all tornado warned, from northwest of York to north of Lincoln. One particular storm became violently tornado near Scribner, NE as we watched it produced a large partially rain wrapped wedge, then another elephant trunk shaped tornado in front of it. The wedge was rated EF-2 and the elephant trunk EF-1 as they hit a few structures, but fortunately nobody was killed. It was a murky day with a lot of low level moisture in place so apologies for the murky looking photos! Enjoy!
Great potential on May 11th!! Good moisture and instability would occur, as well as lift along a dryline, would result in several tornado warned supercells and one that produced a couple of night time tornadoes near Noble, OK. We chased south of the OKC area early as a supercell formed. It eventually died off as it ingested dry air. However, north of that several storms went up and spun, becoming tornado warned. One storm took us towards Lindsay, OK and attempted to drop a tornado. The funnel came halfway down and receded. Structure was very pretty as the supercells became very well organized. In a weird ending, one of the first storms we chased dropped the tornadoes. This storm was in the middle of a line of supercells, which typically is unusual. Almost always chase the tail end storm that has no competition for air, but this was not the case today! Enjoy the pics!