Certainly not expecting much this day as moisture was greatly lacking with dewpoints only near 50F. Shear was good and there was a boundary present as a weak cold front was drifting southeast through the area. Numerous high based storms formed and didn’t do a whole lot, but finally one formed southwest of Dodge City, Kansas and started getting organized. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued and soon the storm developed a nice circular rotating base and vault region with copious amounts of hail falling out of it to the size of tennisballs! The storm persisted for a few hours and was eventually overtaken by a line of storms that formed along the advancing front. The structure of this high based supercell was quite impressive and it was also a lightning machine! We hope you enjoy the pics!
Tour 1, Close Encounters started off the tour season with a bang! On arrival day, we blasted to southwest Kansas near Coldwater and caught a pretty LP supercell spinning like crazy! It became tornado warned early evening and tried to produce a funnel. It did not produce any tornadoes. The prettiest thing about this storm were the sunset colors lightning up the underside of the anvil and mammatus clouds. A great start to the official 2022 tour season! Enjoy the pics!
We couldn’t resist running an on call tour during the week of April 11th. We gathered the guests early in the morning and departed Denver, headed for southeastern Oklahoma. Tough countryside to chase in with the Ouachita and Kiamichi mountains providing plenty of obstacles. However the set up would too good on paper to resist making the 850 miles trek there! High dewpoints, high CAPE, strong shear and a lingering boundary would provide all the ingredients needed for supercells. As we blasted there, about 120 miles out a supercell formed, earlier than models showed, and moved slowly eastward through Ft Smith, Arkansas. Knowing there was no way to catch it, we set our sights on another storm southwest of there. As we approached , it became better organized and soon became severe. We dropped south at Sallisaw, OK toward Poteau and it was evident we needed to get even further southwest to cut in front of this now tornado warned supercell. Coming over the mountains near Talimena State Park, we got a glimpse of a huge block shaped wall cloud. As we approached Talihina, we stopped to watch it wrap up. Within a few minutes it dropped a tapered cone tornado.
Not wanting to let is go through the mountains, we followed it eastward as radar continued to show a massive hook echo, often indicative of a potential tornado. We ended up the Talimena Scenic Drive, which is a stunning high road with views of the mountains at many places. We were on top at 2000 ft with a view of a massive wall cloud to our north and several cg lightning strikes. We stayed with the storm for another hour as sunset came and darkness ensued. We let the storm go as it was steadily weakening and heading into Arkansas. A fantastic chase, caught our first tornado of the year, and was reminded just how difficult it is chasing in the mountains of eastern OK/western AR! Enjoy the pics!
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!