Wow, all I can say is WOW! What an amazing supercell this day produced! Great shear, good moisture and instability, and lift along a boundary and mountains would provide all that was needed to get the best structured supercell of 2021 to form. After hanging out in Havre, MT waiting for a storm to get going, we finally got our wish. Due to the late setting sun in Montana in June, we had several hours to watch this storm ramp up and become a jaw dropper! The one unfortunate thing that occurred were the poor road networks in Montana. We were able to stay with this mothership supercell for a few hours east of Lodgepole and enjoy the treat! Incredible structure and the beautiful countryside in Montana made this day one of my favorite for 2021! Please take time and enjoy the photos of this stunning storm!
We weren’t expecting a great show this date as the ingredients just weren’t there. Marginal moisture and weak wind shear would limit the longevity and structure to storms this day, but we did manage to capture a couple of pretty supercells. We started the day in Lubbock, Texas so it wasn’t far to get into position. An old outflow boundary would provide to focus for storms. Due to the steep lapse rates and rapid cooling of the hot boundary layer as air rose aloft, storms became hailers and also were nicely electrified! The cells shown below produced hail the size of golfballs and 80 mph outflow winds, which generated a lot of blowing dirt across west Texas. It was getting late in the season to chase this far south, but you go where you need to. Many days of excessive heat dried up the landscapes which fueled the fire so to speak with intense blowing dirt. Fun day regardless! Enjoy the pics below!
May 31st took us to the Davis Mountains of southwest Texas. Good upslope flow, along with ample moisture and instability, would provide the needed ingredients to get tornadic storms to form. Good low level wind shear caused this supercell to spin like a top, and as it moved off the mountains into the nearby terrain, it produced 3 tornadoes that we could see. The road network is very poor in this part of Texas, so you had to position yourself where you could see what was happening. Most of the time we were at least 10 miles away from the tornadoes because of this. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular sight to watch this storm roll across southwest Texas. Enjoy the pics!
May 30th was the first day of Tour 5 leaving from Denver. It was a long drive to our target of Roswell, NM, but we made it just in time. A tornadic supercell formed west of town and tracked east/southeast. A couple of tornado reports were made and I can’t argue with them. A few spin ups under the updraft occurred as rotation was strong above them. Good CAPE, moisture, and a boundary set the stage for this supercell to form. Nice structure and huge hail also fell from this cell. As it moved east later in the day, it weakened and another supercell formed on it’s outflow. This storm was jaw dropping gorgeous and rolled eastward towards the Texas border in the evening hours. A fantastic day after an extremely long drive, but well worth it! Enjoy the pics!
May 24th had substantial potential in western Kansas. A very moist and unstable airmass would develop over the region with multiple boundaries around for storms to form and spin on. We chose to play the usual triple point north of Leoti, where the first severe storm of the day formed. The triple point is the location where 3 air masses meet and it typically spawns one of the best storms of the day! It would struggle to sustain itself due to some small capping issues, but it eventually became tornado warned. However off to the north, a supercell formed and drifted north and produced tornadoes near Selden, Kansas. Since it’s a chasing rule never to leave your storm if it has a tornado warning to chase a different one (because, you KNOW what the one you left would do!), we stayed with it. More storms developed west of Garden City and would also become tornado warned. Our storm weakened, as did the Selden, Kansas storm, so south we went to play the tail end storm. What a beauty! Big, wet classic supercell with beautiful structure that would go on through the evening hours! At times the rotation became pretty tight, but it just couldn’t get a substantial tornado to the ground. We stayed with it till dark and then went back to Garden City for the night. Another day, where a secondary target produced tornadoes and the primary target would not. Such is the life of storm chasing! Please enjoy the pics!
May 22nd had great potential in Colorado. Good upslope flow and moisture, as well as great instability and wind shear would set the stage for intense tornadic storms! One storm formed early in the afternoon and produced a fast tornado west of Akron. A second supercell formed south of Limon and produced several tornadoes. We were able to intercept the first supercell and tornado west of Akron, but tried to blast down towards Limon later and couldn’t get there in time for the second storm. Still we caught a pretty tornado and then the end of the second tornadic supercell. A fun day, very hectic and exciting!! Enjoy the pics!!!!
May 23rd had great potential in Colorado and western Nebraska. A strong upper low over the Rocky Mountains would draw in large amounts of moisture, while the lift and diurnal heating would generate large amounts of instability. The upper flow was weaker than we would like, which would likely result in high precipitation type supercells, very dangerous storms. A tornado watch was issued before noon and the initial storms formed east of Pueblo, CO. Fast motion carried them towards Limon and points north where one supercell emerged. This storm had a nice wall cloud and tail cloud and had a couple of funnels/weak tornadoes under them. The storm became strongly HP in nature so we eventually left it for points south where shear would allow more isolated updrafts with better visibility under them. All in all, this day under produced, which we were afraid of due to the weak winds aloft. However, any day where you catch a tornado, no matter how brief it was, is always a good day! Enjoy the pics!
What do storm chasers and cattle rustlers have in common? Well, we found out this day and it almost cost us a pretty tornado! Seems the locals didn’t know that we were storm chasers and called the county sheriff to report us as suspicious parties and potential cattle rustlers? WHAT???? Seriously! We were pulled over by the sheriff and local police and asked who we were and that we were potential cattle thieves. After proving who we were with the sheriff, who also asked for a business card, we were turned loose and blasted west to this tornadic supercell. We ended up 10 miles away from the tornado as we lost 25 minutes with our cattle rustler situation, but we still captured the beauty of the event! Storms initially formed as high based and disorganized, but a feed of moisture arrived just in time to cause this storm to explode. It also spun quickly and dropped a nice elephant trunk shaped tornado. The storm structure was top notch as this LP supercell churned on through the evening. A great treat, an interesting day to say the least, left our guests with stories to tell LOL!!! Enjoy the pics!
May 13th took us to the triborder area between CO/NE/KS. Strong shear, but marginal moisture would be the story this day. A supercell formed mid afternoon and tracked south along the dryline. Structure, lightning and big hail would be the results from this pretty supercell. A couple of shear funnels occurred as well. The storm rolled south until about 9pm when it dissipated. A fun chase day and we got more than we thought we would. Sometimes good shear can overcome a limited moisture set up and still produce a beautiful storm! Enjoy the pics!
May 8th took us to central Kansas along I-70. Good shear and convergence along a boundary would provide the focus for severe storms. However limited moisture and instability would eventually temper the overall threat. A supercell formed at the triple point southwest of LaCrosse, KS. It looked like THE storm to be on, however, it ingested dry air and died a couple hours later. Outflow from a decaying cluster of storms over northern Kansas would fire off several supercells in the daylight and darkness, of which a couple became tornado warned. There was little threat of a tornado due to the high bases of these supercells. They did produce baseball sized hail and a lot of lightning. Fun day for Tour 3! Enjoy the pics!