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!
Day 1 of Tour 2 took us north from Oklahoma City to western Kansas. Shear was good this day, however moisture was lacking. This resulted in higher based severe thunderstorms with hail and high winds. Some of the areas of northwest Kansas near the Smoky Hill River bottoms are full of badlands type formations and make for a great photo! Lots of lightning also occurred with these storms as the built southward along an advancing cold front. Fun first day for Tour 2!! Enjoy the pics!
April 27th looked like a day with potential. Decent moisture, instability and shear would exist across northern Texas, with a mixing dryline situated from east of Lubbock to west of Oklahoma City. We headed to Childress to evaluate. We weren’t there long when a cluster of storms formed east of Lubbock. We blasted southwest towards Paducah, Texas to intercept these storms. The lead storm became supercellular and right turned towards Guthrie. We dropped south to position ourselves looking down the notch of this beast. As we set up to watch it, cgs starting raining down on us and the storm became tornado warned. We blasted east to just past Benjamin where we turned north to get in front of this supercell. We arrived to strong inflow and a big block shaped wall cloud with a rain wrapped tornado under it.
We stayed in position until the storm was almost on us then we headed back south and east. As the storm approached Electra it weakened so we let it pass. More storms were firing up along the boundary to our southwest and we waited for them to approach. One supercell dropped a brief tornado about 2 miles from our location. We dropped south after it passed to play more supercells along the boundary and were treated to a great lightning show after dark. Fun day, no major damage despite a couple tornadoes and huge hail! Enjoy the pics!
April 23rd kicked off our storm chasing tour season and what a way to start! After leaving Oklahoma City at noon, my target was the triple point somewhere near Childress, Texas. Mid afternoon, updrafts formed and quickly became severe and tornado warned. It tried on the first tornado warning to produce one, but shear just wasn’t quite right yet. Decent moisture for late April with mid 60s dewpoints, as well as 3000 CAPE was sufficient to get intense supercells to fire. I had a hunch this storm would be special
and we stuck with it the rest of the day.
Between the bluebonnets in full bloom and the developing supercell, it made for an amazing scene. Soon, though, we we treated to an even more spectacular view, as our supercell latched onto the boundary and the low level jet cranked up causing it to produce 6 tornadoes in a little over an hour, while drifting very slowly eastward! A few of these, in the photos below were incredibly photogenic!! An amazing way to start Tour #1 and our season off! Please enjoy the images!!!!
Here are two cool videos form this day too!
The final tour day of our 2020 season brought us into southeast Wyoming to play in the upslope flow into the Laramie Range. Several storms formed in this region and tracked southeast towards Cheyenne and points east. Decent moisture and instability, coupled with moderate shear, would help storms become organized and develop into some pretty structured supercells. Our first storm, north of Chugwater, had nice structure and produced a lot of hail. It spun hard a couple times and at one time we thought it had some tornado potential. It get really messy so we decided to target a new cell southeast of Cheyenne near Carpenter. This storm was a treat to watch! We found an old abandoned car that became the centerpiece of our photos/video as the cell slowly dropped towards us. The storm’s structure was that of the classic “stack of plates” and was fun just to watch as it drifted towards us. Both of the storms we chased this day had great structure and were very photogenic. Enjoy the pics!
July 19th was a spectacular day! Good moisture, high instability, good wind shear and a boundary along the Wyoming/Montana border would set the stage for intense supercell development. One such storm formed northwest of Devil’s Tower and drifted southeast. As it crossed Devil’s Tower we had quite the lightning show! I managed to capture a bolt hitting the top of the tower! As the storm moved southeast near Sundance it became extremely electrified producing a CG every 3-4 seconds! At one point, it had an appearance like it was ready to produce a tornado. We lost visibility in the hills and could not confirm one way or another if it did. Later, a second supercell tracked southeast from near Buffalo, WY down to Lusk, WY. This storm constantly spun hard, had pretty structure and was also tornado warned numerous times! It’s structure was top notch and had various rotating wall clouds throughout it’s life. But, as continued to be the theme for 2020, storms had great structure but just couldn’t produce significant tornadoes. Overall it was my favorite day in July for chasing, and one we captured some incredible photos! Enjoy!
July 14th kept us in Colorado to chase off the Palmer Divide into southeast Colorado. A sagging cold front we push moisture westward into the Palmer Divide, causing storms to develop by mid afternoon. Those storms produced copious amounts of hail, but became undercut by outlfow and died. The boundary pushed south as more storms formed along it east of Pueblo. Near the town of Sugar City, one storm formed and spun hard. It quickly became tornado warned and stayed that way for a few hours. A couple of times, it had the look like it wanted to drop a tornado, but it never did. As it merged with numerous storms west of Lamar, the storm interaction with others caused it to produce a quick 1 minute spin up. The structure with this supercell was quite nice. It was also quite electrified! Eventually this cluster of storms pushed into western Kansas and weakened as we followed it east to Garden City. Great day! Beautiful storm and it certainly tried to get very interesting! Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
July 13th was the second day of our Tour 9, Great North Tornado Hunt tour, and it took us east of Denver towards the Kansas border. Decent shear, limited moisture and CAPE, and an approaching dryline, would set the stage for high based storms to form. As the storms moved into Kansas, they intensified and the bases came down. We had a couple very pretty rotating storms in far western Kansas that were quite electrified. The final storm of the day was a very nicely structured LP supercell near Leoti, that spewed out numerous lightning strikes and intercloud discharges. I thought for a minute that it had some tornado potential, however the base lifted, the wall cloud dissipated and it eventually died as well. A fun day, great storms and super lightning. Please click on a pic for a larger photo. Enjoy!
July 3rd brought us back to Colorado for the final day of the Photo Tour. Nature decided to give us some pre4th fireworks! A boundary set up north/south of a line from Ft Morgan to east of Limon. Intense storms formed along it and with a wind shift in place, two landspout tornadoes formed that we were able to witness. They lasted several minutes each before dissipating. Storms were quite sever with hail tennisball sized and lots of lightning as well. We intercepted the first cells on highway 71 south of Brush and followed the southward building line from there. Good shear, moderate CAPE, but limited low level moisture fueled the severe storms till eventually they gusted out and weakened. Fun final day of chasing for the tour before returning to Denver later in the evening. Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!