June 28th had a lot going for it. Good moisture, strong instability, superb wind shear and the upslope play of the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming. A supercell formed mid afternoon and became an electrified beast! As the storm spun east/southeast, it produced huge hail baseball sized, but never really was a tornado threat. As it moved into far southwest Nebraska, it encountered better moisture which allowed the cloud base to come down. That helped the storm tap into greater low level wind shear and develop rotation. A couple of funnels occurred before a rather large, dusty tornado formed about 8 miles south of Kimball. The tornado was on the ground for over 10 minutes as it moved slowly southeast. The storm continued to spin strongly off the Cheyenne Ridge into far northern Colorado. It weakened for a time and then reintensified east of Sterling. It continued its slow march to the east, now producing huge hail and flash flooding. We let it go at that point and went to the hotel after shooting lightning for awhile. Crazy fun day and thankfully the large tornado stayed over open lands. Enjoy the pics!!!
June 23rd had significant potential in southeast Wyoming as well as southeast Colorado. We chose to play the Wyoming target instead of Colorado. And both produced tornadoes!!! When you get upslope flow into the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming with decent moisture and instability, you chase there, plain and simple. Good shear and lift into the mountains were also present and by midafternoon storms erupted west of Chugwater. It took a bit for storms to become organized, but one such supercell over the town of Chugwater became the primary supercell this day. It spun east all the way past Scottsbluff, NE and produced at least a half dozen tornadoes, a few of which we were close to and became pretty photogenic! A Tornado Emergency was issued for one large tornado near town and fortunately did not cause any serious injuries or fatalities. Storm structure was pretty as well and the supercell also produced softball sized hail at various locations in the lifetime. A great chase day and fortunately the results were good for the local residents. Enjoy the pics!
An extremely volatile day was in store on March 31st. A powerful trough was moving out of the Rockies onto the plains as a surface low intensified north of Omaha. We took our on call tour towards the Des Moines area in anticipation of rapid supercell formation early afternoon. The dryline lit up like a Christmas tree shortly after noon as storms raced northeast at 60-70 mph! Strong shear, good moisture and instability and a strong jet would fuel these storms. By 2pm a large thunderstorm formed in northwest Missouri and rapidly moved northeast, becoming tornado warned as it approached Ottumwa, Iowa. We moved to position ourselves in front of it to see what it could produce. We approached the small town of Packwood as a cone tornado stabbed down to the ground west of us and grew to massive proportions.
As we drove west on highway 78 towards Hedrick, the tornado wedged out becoming a massive twister less than a mile from us! The roar of the tornado and rear flank downdrafts winds filled the senses with the sound of a rushing waterfall. Due to fast storm motions and the unfortunate road closures in the area, we were only able to stay with it for about 15 miles before we lost it. This tornado caused a lot of damage, but fortunately no fatalities. It has been officially rated EF-4 by the National Weather Service.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected throughout the central and southern plains this day as 60 tornadoes raked the region causing many casualties and much damage.
What a day! We certainly weren’t expecting what happened this day to occur. Limited moisture, but good shear and a dryline would set the stage for severe thunderstorm development. There is a term chasers use in the Texas panhandle called “panhandle magic” and it certainly was the mode this day! Storms developed in eastern New Mexico and clustered as they moved into west central Texas. It was a very messy storm mode. Eventually the tail end cell in the cluster anchored and started spinning. It became a very intense supercell, even with low dewpoints in the 50s! Soon the cell developed a wall cloud, then a multivortex tornado, and finally a 400 foot wide EF2 wedge tornado! It was nearly stationary! A second wedge occurred about 30 minutes later east of Morton and finally a 2 minute elephant trunk west of Levelland. Inflow was so strong ti was knocking down power lines and toppling trees! The storm was sucking so much dirt due to the drought in west Texas at times the updraft was barely visible. Structure was nice when you could see it and the storm as it approached Lubbock eventually died. It put on a nice lightning show at dusk as well. An incredible day and evening! Certainly by far more than we expected. Even the Storm Prediction Center didn’t have much of a tornado threat in its’ outlooks! Enjyo the pics!
A big day was in store for Kansas. Supercells with tornadoes were possible as a combination of wind shear, moisture and instability were present with an approaching trough. By mid afternoon the dryline sharpened and soon cumulus towers formed. A cluster of storms had formed northeast of McPherson and the tail end storm started spinning. One small tornado formed as the cell moved north towards the warm front. As it approached it, other storms started forming on an advancing cold front and also became severe. We decided to leave the first storm as storm mergers made things too messy. As we blasted south towards Wichita, a landspout tornado formed underneath an updraft in the line and stayed on the ground for 12 minutes. When is dissipated, when then turned our attention to a supercell near Wichita. It had just spawned the Andover tornado and continued to cycle and become tornadic again near El Dorado. We blasted down to town, now in the dark and headed east towards the supercell’s updraft base. Quickly a tapered cone tornado formed and became visible through power flashes and lighting. It crossed the road in front of us and dissipated. Another one formed within a couple minutes and stabbed down to the ground and lifted. We continued to drift east with the storm and turned north at Rosalia. As we did a massive bowl formed and dropped to the ground! A wedge type tornado formed with multiple vortices. We got blasted with RFD winds wrapping around the tornado and had to vacate the area. As we continued east the tornado lifted as a line of storms merged with it ending the tornado threat. A crazy day with 5 tornadoes! Enjoy the pics!