June 27th had 2 different targets. One by the Nebraska/South Dakota border, and a second along the Chugwater low at the Nebraska/Wyoming border. We hoped to chase the northern target, but nature had other plans. We went south and caught an intensifying supercell west of Bridgeport, NE. We had to punch through the core and encountered pingpong ball sized hail as we approached Broadwater, NE. Once on the east side of the storm, intense lightning was occurring. Structure became quite nice as the storm spun hard moving towards the east. After it passed Oshkosh, it started weakening as it encountered a capping inversion. We followed it through the sandhills and had a nice sunset with great color and lightning! Enjoy the pics!!!
May 7th brought our first chase of the season. Tours began and we hit the road for the triple point near Childress, Texas. By late afternoon, a storm formed on the boundary and moved southeast while intensifying. As it moved east of Childress, it produced very large hail over baseball sized and had incredible structure. It was never a threat to become tornadic, as the base was a tad too high. We stayed with this supercell to the northwest side of the DFW metroplex when we let it go as to not take a chance chasing in a huge city. Please click on an image below to see a larger photo. Enjoy!
July 15th had the right stuff. Good moisture, instability and lift were available, however shear was a touch weak. Storms formed over the southern end of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming and tracked east/southeast becoming severe. One particular cell near the Pumpkin Buttes area southwest of Gillette, quickly intensified and became a strong supercell thunderstorm. Strong low level shear along a boundary caused it to spin viciously. A couple of funnels formed, but we could never confirm anything on the ground. However by the appearance and the damage we saw afterwards, it would not be a surprise if there was a tornado. The storm was quite electrified and intense. As it moved off the buttes towards Wright, it steadily weakened and dissipated east of that area.
We weren’t expecting much on July 11th. Nature decided to give us a pretty storm southwest of Spearfish, SD late day. The cell was very photogenic, and throw in the fields of sweet clover and you had a winner! The cell traveled for a few hours across northeast Wyoming into western South Dakota, where it dissipated over the Black Hills. Very pretty to watch and photograph! Enjoy the pics!
July 7th was the first day of tour 9. We headed north from Denver to arrive in southeast Montana. Decent shear, moisture and instability provided the needed ingredients to get severe storms going this day. By evening clusters of storms formed and as the sun went down they were beautifully electrified! We were headed just north of Broadus when a new updraft developed and started sparking quickly. We stopped on the side of a road and watched as the storm had tons of cgs in it. As the storm weakened we headed north to our hotel. Enjoy the pics!
We had high hopes for June 27th in central Montana. Great shear, instability and decent moisture would provide the needed ingredients for storms this day. Lift in the mountain areas would give us the final missing link for storm formation. Mid afternoon storms developed southwest of Eddie’s Corner where we had made our base. As the cells came over the mountains, they intensified and became supercells. One storm southwest of Utica, MT spun wildly and was very pretty. It didn’t take long for a cone tornado to form. It stayed in the higher terrain where there was no road network, so we had to position ourselves to get the best distant view of it. As the cell approached us, it was nicely structured.
We decided to drop south to the tail end storm, which was also tornado warned. A pretty sculpted supercell was quite photogenic! Outflow from northern storms gushed south, undercutting the supercell and killed it. Further south near Judith Gap, another storm form and became my favorite cell of the day! Gorgeous structure, strong rotation and intense lightning occurred. As it moved east, we decided to take the dirt roads eastward toward Roundup. The storm became a jaw dropper and drifted east over the yellow sweet clover fields and made for an amazing sight! It became tornado warned one last time just north of Roundup where we waved goodbye and headed to our hotel for the night. An awesome day and the guests on Photo Tour #3 got their money’s worth from this event! Enjoy the pics!!!!!
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 11 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!
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!