August 19th looked too good not to chase. Good moisture, high CAPE values, strong lift with an approaching wave and good low level shear along a boundary would set the stage for a good day! Mid afternoon storms exploded over northeast Colorado and slowly intensified. One particular storm, south of Holyoke, CO became a supercell. As it drifted east/northeast along the boundary it took off and became tornado warned. Very very strong low level rotation was occurring and the low level mesocyclone eventually became rain wrapped where you couldn’t see it anymore. Extremely heavy rains (4-9 inches!) prevented me from taking dirt, now mud, roads to get into the notch for a better look. However, the storm did produce a tornado, possibly two, one of which was a fast funnel in the hook area before it wrapped up in rain. A fun chase day, and good results, just wished for a better view in the notch! Enjoy the pics!
Our 2021 Desert Thunder tour scored big this year, chasing nearly every day. A very favorable monsoon pattern was in place with a 4 corners high stationary the entire time, pumping easterly winds in the mid levels and surface moisture out of Mexico. Daily rounds of storms gave us some amazing scenes, and throw in the cactus varieties and mountains, and you have a winner! All guests got some incredible photos! It is nice being able to base yourself at ONE hotel to come back to each night and the Tucson airport Residence Inn is a great one! Please enjoy the pics and if you are interested in this “lightning and landscape” tour, check out the website! It is shown at the bottom of the list of tours.
July 14th had it all. Boundary, great moisture, instability and good low level shear. We blasted from Pierre, SD to central Iowa as storms formed and became severe and tornado warned. Several tornadoes did occur in central and eastern Iowa with one particular tornado we just missed by 15 minutes being the most intense near Lake City. Frustrating day to say the least, but we still managed some great supercells and a tornado late in the day. Moral of the story is to NEVER give up until storms are weakening and loss of heating reduce instability.
Conditions finally became conducive to severe weather again late on July 13th. Upslope flow into north central Wyoming off the Big Horn mountains would generate severe thunderstorms. Adequate wind shear, instability and moisture would be present for a couple of supercells. One such storm formed just east of Sheridan and tracked southeast to Gillette. It produced tennisball sized hail, high winds and had decent structure. As evening arrived, a complex of storms formed and extended all the way out to near Pierre, SD where we arrived at our hotel at 2am! The next day would take us to Iowa for a potent event! Enjoy the pics!
Our Photo Tour #3 had one of the worst weather patterns of 2021! This period usually produces great severe weather, supercells, lightning and tornadoes. Not the case for 2021. Since the pattern was dominated by a massive record breaking ridge of high pressure resulting in sunny hot days, we decided to take the group to Arizona to photograph monsoon storms. Much better than doing the park scene! We DO go the extra mile to at least find a storm, any storm, that is worthy to photograph! We spent most of the tour around the Tucson area as an active monsoon had set in. This is the first time we have ever taken a storm chasing tour to Arizona to chase in June! Some of the lightning we captured was super, and there was also a marginal supercell near Stafford. Upon our return to the Denver area on the last day of the tour, we did intercept a supercell just east of town. Enjoy the pics! We hope the weather pattern will be back to normal for 2022 Photo Tour #3!
June 22nd didn’t have a ton going for it. It was one of those surprise days when the atmosphere over performed. We started the day in York, Nebraska and just drifted north to Norfolk. Shear was pretty decent, but low level moisture had been scoured out by the Pella, IA event two days earlier. However enough moisture was present, as well as instability, to fuel a few supercell thunderstorms along a boundary over northern Nebraska. The first supercell we witnessed was a high based, hail and wind producer. Structure was decent. The second more intense storm occurred north of York (funny how this storm drove us right back to our hotel again that night in York!) and produced baseball sized hail and 70 mph plus winds. Structure on this storm steadily improved as it encountered greater moisture the farther south it traveled. Just before sunset it was an absolute beauty just southeast of town! We had the fun of driving through the front edge of the core and encountered tennisball sized hail as we headed back to our hotel for the night. Enjoy the pics! It was a beauty!
June 20th featured extreme instability, moderate wind shear and good lift along an advancing boundary over Iowa. We started the day from Denver, CO as it was the first day of the tour. After an early departure, we made it just east/southeast of Des Moines, Iowa (650 miles later!) just in time for storms to explode. The first supercell we intercepted was just east of Des Moines and never had the “look” like it wanted to become tornadic. Nice structure and a rotating wall cloud occurred, but it could never tighten up enough to produce a tornado. We dropped south and headed back west a little bit as a second storm quickly became organized. It developed a strong hook echo on radar to the west of Pella. As we arrived in town near the factory, we stopped to watch. Intense lightning was also occurring, a tell tale sign of storm intensification. Within a few minutes, a large bowl shaped funnel formed. Soon it developed into a full fledged cone shaped tornado that was on the ground for several minutes. In my haste to shoot video, time lapse and digital images, I failed to get a proper focus on my camera and thus most images were slightly blurry. The tornado dissipated and the storm eventually weakened as it moved east, ending our chase. A great first day for Tour 8!! Enjoy the pics, blurriness and all !!!!!
Arrival day for Tour 8 brought us out to chase! The Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ) was active, with steep lapse rates, moderate CAPE and the wind shift to set the stage for severe thunderstorms and nonsupercell tornadoes. Two such tornadoes occurred with early convection that formed along the boundary. Cells developed and back built on the boundary tapping into the vorticity that was present. One tornado was on the ground for about 10 minutes northwest of Last Chance and the second tornado for only a couple minutes to the south of Last Chance. A fun way for tour guests to spend arrival day! We’ll chase every day we can, even if it isn’t a scheduled day. Enjoy the pics!
June 13th was the last chase day for the next week as a massive ridge of high pressure dominated the western 2/3 of the US. Fortunately we were able to catch a few severe storms/marginal supercells in western Nebraska north of Alliance. Good CAPE, but marginal shear would let these storms become a cluster of outflow dominant storms late in the day. However they were quite electrified, before gusting out near Hemingford, Nebraska. Fun day, with 80mph winds, golfball sized hail and some pretty scenery to watch these storm do their thing! Enjoy the pics!
June 10th was a great set up in northeast Montana and western North Dakota. A warm front lay from Glasgow, MT southeast towards Dickenson, ND. Strong instability, good moisture and fantastic shear set the stage this day for multiple supercells and tornadoes along the warm front/dry line intersection north of Wibaux, MT. Cells initially formed all along the boundary, but the northern cells moved into cooler air and weakened. The triple was a storm producing machine firing off one supercell after another as they each matured and some became tornadic. The first tornado was my favorite, coming over the hills near the Roosevelt National Park area and was quite visible. The second tornado was a bit further away and choked with rain and very large hail, making photos hard to see. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular day and great results for Tour 7! Enjoy the photos!