June 11th featured very high surface moisture and extreme instability. A boundary laid across eastern Nebraska and would be the focal point for severe and tornado warned storms this day. By mid afternoon, strong convergence along the boundary would result in rapid supercell development, with one storm in particular near Fremont, Nebraska becoming tornado warned. Shear steadily increased through the afternoon and caused this supercell to spin wildly! It produced a couple funnels, large hail and some wind damage! After a few hours, numerous storms formed and quickly developed into a linear MCS that marched across the area into western Iowa, becoming tornado warned periodically. A fun and exciting day for the tour that really wasn’t expected just a couple days before! The old motto of never give up holds true!!!! Enjoy the pics!
We expected a good day this day in South Dakota! Great instability, near 70 dewpoints, good shear and a dryline/outflow boundary intersection would set the stage for intense supercells late in the afternoon. By mid afternoon, a cluster of congestus formed in northwest South Dakota south of Buffalo. Soon several cells tried initiating there, with one dominant storm taking over the show. It quickly grew to 60,000 feet tall and became severe warned. Structure was decent and a wall cloud, complete with clear slot formed as it became tornado warned. This cell would weaken and intensify several times, but it never seemed a major threat to produce tornadoes. The tornado warning on the supercell continued for several hours, as broad cyclonic rotation occurred. It just never seemed like the rotation tightened enough to produce more than a weak funnel or two. By early evening, the storm lined out with a really pretty shelf cloud that had embedded mesocyclones that also became tornado warned. Still, a fun day, giving us many hours of chasing time on this pretty storm!
June 6th sent us to central and eastern Wyoming. Upslope flow into the Big Horn mountains, along with decent shear and moisture would provide the ingredients to get intense storms developing. Several formed and a couple were tornado warned, and rolled across northeast Wyoming. These storms were quite pretty and produced copious amounts of lightning, providing us with ample opportunities to stop and photograph it. A fun day!
June 3rd was a strange day. Never, in 33 years of chasing storms have we chased a set up in the New Mexico mountains and Rio Grande valley like this day looked like. Decent moisture, good instability and shear, as well as lift along the central mountain chains would set the stage for supercells. As one intense storm rolled off the mountains it started spinning wildly. It had good structure and a strong gustnado on the leading edge of the RFD wrapping around the back of the storm. It also produced hail nearly baseball sized as it moved east. As it weakened, it’s outflow produced another storm that became tornado warned. It had classic supercell features and a very low hanging wall cloud that was rotating rapidly. Soon, precip and hail wrapped around the lowering and due to poor road networks we couldn’t get into the notch to see if it was producing anything. An hour later it lined out producing a nice shelf cloud. Quite a surprising day with 2 intense supercells in an area that is considered high desert and doesn’t get much rainfall each year.
May 29th took us to northern Oklahoma. An outflow boundary and advancing cold front across Kansas would provide the focus for supercell thunderstorms this day. Good moisture and extreme instability, as well as good wind shear would provide the ingredients needed for storms to sustain themselves and be intense. The first supercell formed over northern Oklahoma west of Alva and become severe. Later it would be tornado warned and produce a weak tornado. The structure was quite pretty and the storm exhibited decent rotation from time to time. However it could not focus in one spot and usually had broad rotation. Nonetheless, it was a good long lived supercell and provided us many photographic opportunities along the way for Tour 5 and the Photo Tour #2! Enjoy the pics!
May 28th had good potential. An outflow boundary laid across eastern Colorado from north of Seibert, Colorado to Colby, Kansas and points east. Great shear, instability, moisture and lift along the boundary, as well as the dryline extending south from Oakley, would allow numerous storms to form. A couple became tornado warned in far eastern Colorado. One particular supercell anchored itself north of Seibert along the boundary and became a tornado machine. We were on the scene early and watched as numerous tornadoes formed, with up to 3 on the ground at the same time (Total of 11!!). Several of the tornadoes were actually landspouts (nonsupercell tornadoes), however a couple certainly had mesocyclones and were therefore supercell tornadoes. It was an amazing sight for our guests to witness as we were able to get within a mile of a few tornadoes, and within a half mile of one stronger tornado! Please enjoy the photos from this amazing event!!!!!
It’s not often you wake up in Roswell, New Mexico with screaming southeast winds and 67 dewpoints. Low stratus clouds were racing west towards the Sacramento mountains! Even though mid and upper level winds were not particularly strong this day, there was sufficient speed and directional shear to get a supercell to form. We weren’t expecting tornadoes, but with high dewpoints and strong instability we knew the potential existed. Funny thing was most chasers were racing north to play a system in the central plains, but we couldn’t pull ourselves away from Roswell. In the end, we’re certainly glad we did! There wasn’t another chaser that witnessed what we did this day, with a quarter mile wide strong tornado under an amazing sculpted updraft! This cell produced huge hail as well and rolled across the countryside for hours all the way to Roswell. One of the most rewarding surprise days of 2018 for the tours!!! Enjoy the pics!! Please don’t forget to check us out on Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram!
May 22nd took us to New Mexico for what appeared to be a decent set up for severe storms, but not much tornado threat. Good mid level shear, decent surface moisture and instability would set the stage for storm formation off the mountains west of Roswell. By mid afternoon several supercells formed and kept forming over the same region as they moved east off the mountains. We intercepted a few storms that had good structure, big hail and a lot of lightning. Storms persisted through the evening hours as they approached town with hail, high winds and plenty of electrical activity. All in all a good day for Tour 4 and Photo Tour #1 as plenty of opportunities for photography/videography were available!
A complex, but decent set up occurred on May 18th. A dry line, warm front and cold front would be big players this day, but the question was which would produce the best storms. The dryline fired up early and often producing numerous storms with huge hail. The cold front fired up in Colorado with clusters of storms moving into western Kansas. But it would be the warm front in northern Kansas that would produce the longest lived supercells, nearly anchored along it. Unfortunately, none would produce significant tornadoes, but a couple would produce hail baseball sized and as well as one landspout tornado. We chased a cell south of Oakley that would have pretty structure, tons of lightning and even a cone funnel that would could not determine if it touched down or not due to the angle it was from us. I fun and exciting day ended with a fantastic lightning show in Garden City, Kansas.
May 14th took the May Minitour to southern Kansas. A storm formed near Arkansas City and anchored itself. Due to extremely high dew points and CAPE, the storm grew very large quickly. Wind shear was enough to start it spinning as well. It became severe and soon also was tornado warned. As the base lowered and a wall cloud formed, an elephant trunk shaped funnel dropped down and touched down for a couple of minutes before roping out. The storm maintained its structure for a couple more hours before it merged with a line of storms coming in from the west. A surprise event as it wasn’t forecasted, but nonetheless was pretty intense. Large hail also accompanied this supercell during its lifetime.