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!
July 9th had big potential. It wasn’t clear whether that would be across the international border into Canada or if storms would right turn along a warm front into northeast Montana and northwest North Dakota. Fortunately, for ease of chasing, storms crossed into the US and gave us quite a show! An intense supercell cycled and really ramped up as it crossed north of Plentywood, Montana. Due to high CAPE, strong deep layer shear, dew points in the lower 70s and the aforementioned warm front, the stage was set! This supercell became a monster, the storm of the day, as it rolled through Plentywood, MT and into far northwest North Dakota. Huge hail to baseball size, microburst winds of nearly 120 mph and an EF1 tornado that hit Plentywood, would be the highlight this day. A second supercell soon followed the path of the first and had just amazing structure as it rolled through Plentywood. Highways ended up being blocked due to debris from downed trees, power lines and houses through town. Fortunately there were no fatalities. Check out the photos below. Enjoy!!!
An incredible day! The most significant tornado outbreak of 2018 to date occurred from one supercell this day! Southeast Montana and northwest South Dakota was the scene for this cyclic tornadic supercell that produced at least 8 and possibly more tornadoes in that area. The highest CAPE values I’ve seen in this area in 33 years of chasing occurred with 8000 joules of CAPE! Strong shear as well as mid 70s dewpoints, and throw in an awesome Black Hills Convergence Zone boundary and it would be only a matter of time before this supercell formed and morphed into the best storm of 2018! By mid afternoon several cells fired along the boundary and drifted north. All but one cell continued on this trek, with the one lone cell quickly becoming a supercell, which right turned along the boundary and turned into a beast! The structure was top notch and the tornado event that unfolded was incredible. Tornadoes of every shape, size and strength would form from late afternoon through sunset as the cell continued its slow march into northwest South Dakota. At one point we even had an anticyclonic tornado that developed on the south side of the updraft and raced directly towards us. Caryn would see it and take evasive action quickly as it passed in front of us. Then a large half mile wide wedge formed directly in front of us and roared across the countryside getting an EF3 rating! An amazing sight to behold!!! The storm continued into northwest South Dakota south of Camp Crook and continued producing tornadoes in the dark. Lightning would illuminate them making for some of the most spectacular storm photography this season! Please enjoy the pics!
June 26th looked iffy. A mistimed short wave would fire numerous storms early in the day. However it also left an outflow boundary across southern Kansas. Extreme instability, mid 70 dewpoints and moderate shear would fuel and organize storms along the boundary. The first supercell produced a fast rope tornado that was on the ground for 1-2 minutes before dissipating. A second boundary intersected the outflow boundary just east of Wichita and that triple point would be the focal point for 4 distinct and strong supercells. They each produced very large hail to baseball size, copious amounts of lightning, a couple tornadoes and some of the best storm structure one would ever want to see!!! These supercells fired one after the other, and tracked east and southeast along the boundary. The last one of the day by early evening had insane structure and was firing off cgs every few seconds as it was tornado warned for hours! It would rage on for a few hours before dying off as a line of storms formed west. Incredible day for what could have been a total bust due to subsidence behind the early day wave! Enjoy the pics!
June 19th had tornado written all over it. It didn’t disappoint either! Fantastic wind shear, high CAPE, good moisture for the high plains and upslope flow into the foothills provided all the ingredients needed to get tornadic supercells to form. An amazing sight, 3 significant supercell storms formed at the same time, situated about 50 miles apart. Usually the tail end storm is the cell you want to target, however, an old outflow boundary existed in which the middle cell developed on. It would be that cell that would go on to have amazing structure and produce the Prospect Valley tornado. All 3 storms would become tornado warned during their lifespans. The middle storm we watched grow from a smaller storm to a well structured tornadic supercell as it crossed I-25 and moved eastward. Various wall clouds, each time showing rotation, formed until finally rotation tightened to produce a tornado. A long snaking tornado was on the ground for nearly 10 minutes before roping out. After the tornado, the storm still spun as it moved across eastern Colorado before dying south of Ft Morgan. At that time, we blasted south to Limon and points east as the tail end storm took over the show. It also was tornado warned and may have produced a rain wrapped tornado north of Genoa. Structure was beautiful HP supercell, and it also was highly electrified. By early evening the storms lined out as they moved into Kansas producing high winds and heavy rain. A fantastic day for the tours as nature gave us quite a show!
Days like June 18th don’t happen very often. With good moisture, shear and instability, it was a pretty good bet supercells would form. However, we didn’t anticipate the shear number of supercells that would actually form! A boundary laying east/west across the northern Denver metro area extending into northeast Colorado would provide the needed focus for storm development. One supercell after another formed and tracked along the boundary. Every different type and structure of storm occurred and made for a photographer’s delight! Sculpted updrafts with good lightning, wall clouds, colors, possible tornadoes, and hail happened! Storms would rage on through the late evening hours before diminishing just before midnight. SLT co-owner Caryn Hill’s intercept of the Roggen, Colorado storm superseded the structure shot she got from the night before near Otis, Colorado! Absolutely stunning sunset supercell! Please enjoy the photos! They were gorgeous!
June 17th had big promise. Great wind shear, good moisture, high CAPE and a dryline and outflow boundary intersection set the stage for what would be a great day! We started in Ogallala, Nebraska and just had to drift westward towards northeast Colorado. Mid afternoon initiation was pretty convincing that supercells and possible tornadoes would occur. The initial supercell spun like mad, dropping baseball sized hail and producing at least two tornadoes. Structure was very pretty, however blowing dirt in the rear flank downdraft area (rfd) would block viewing of the mesocyclone at times. A big dusty tornado occurred near Julesburg, CO followed by another tornado near Big Springs, NE. The cell would eventually gust out northwest of North Platte, NE but not before producing one more small tornado. A fantastic day that produced an awesome supercell. Meanwhile, SLT co-owner Caryn Hill chased locally and intercepted a highly sculpted tornado warned supercell near Otis, Colorado! Probably the best structure for 2018 to that day! Enjoy the photos!
June 12th really didn’t look that good on paper. Weak wind shear should have resulted in storms being multicellular or pulse. However, one storm formed on the Kansas border and drifted southwest and became a very pretty supercell. The big story with this storm was lightning and structure. At one point this storm was producing cgs at the rate of 5 per minute. Instability was quite strong and lapse rates were very steep. The storm drifted westward for several hours and maintained its intensity. At one point it was a pretty stack of plates looking supercell. Colors were fantastic as well. Kudos to local fire departments for getting out and putting out the grass fires that were caused by this cell! There were many!! Mid evening the storm weakened and still gave us quite the light show as we drove to our hotel. Enjoy!
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!