An interesting on June 30th. There was a fair potential for supercells but not a lot of potential for tornadoes due to lack of low level shear. By early afternoon storms formed east of Trinadad, CO. As they moved east, one storm became a supercell. We arrived at the time it pushed east towards Kim. It became tornado warned within 30 minutes. At one point it had a rotating wall cloud, but never looked like it would produce. Structure was decent and the hail very large, tennisball sized. Numerous storms formed later and merged into a squall line, producing a haboob over western Kansas. It’s always fun encountering a haboob as a wall of blowing dirt pushes away from the storms in the shape of a wedge. Fun day and great way to end the evening! Enjoy the pics!
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 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!!!
The first day of Photo Tour #3 took us to northeast Wyoming to chase the upslope play into the Big Horn mountains. Storms formed early afternoon and struggled to come off the higher terrain for a couple hours. A very low hanging, rotating wall cloud occurred west of Buffalo, WY and produced a 3 minute weak tornado on the top of a mountain! Quite the sight to see! As the storm came off, it became a pretty LP supercell and spun to the southeast, south of Gillette, WY. It eventually dissipated as another supercell formed north of Casper, WY. This cell was rotating nicely and produced a couple of funnels as it moved towards the flat lands east of town. Structure was nice as it persisted well after sunset. A fun day for the tour!
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!
June 22nd took us close to home. We approached Denver after chasing north the previous day. We arrived as a supercell was coming off the foothills and intensifying as it right turned towards the Highlands Ranch area. Soon, a low level mesocyclone formed as a clear slot wrapped around it. Within a few minutes a low hanging wall cloud started spinning. Then a rather large barrel shaped tornado formed in the rich moisture and strong wind shear, and descended on Highlands Ranch. EF1 damage occurred as the tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes traveling several miles. As the storm moved east, it back built on the southern flank towards the Palmer Divide. As we dropped south, another funnel cloud formed, but did not touch down. As we headed east from Peyton, CO the new southern storm became quite strong and was also tornado warned. However, it did not produce, but certainly was intense. Crazy day, and thankfully nobody was killed in the Denver metro area from this tornado.
June 21st took SLT co-owner Caryn Hill out to the northeast plains of Colorado. A remnant outflow boundary from overnight storms set the stage for multiple supercells to form during the afternoon. Caryn targeted an anchored storm near Sterling. West of town it wrapped up and likely had a large tornado behind wrapping rain curtains. As the mesocyclone occluded and a new one formed just south of her position, it dropped a long, snaky tornado with a debris cloud. Due to her driving on muddy roads, all the pics of the tornado were cell phone shots, so apologies for the quality. A great day for Caryn and a super result!!!
June 19th took us to the upslope area of the Big Horn mountains in southeast Montana. These mountains are notorious for producing beautiful supercells when upslope conditions occur with decent westerly flow aloft. This day would be no different. Mid afternoon, a cluster of high based storms formed near Sheridan, WY and slowly tracked northeast. One storm on the southeastern side of the cluster tapped into better moisture and instability and eventually became the storm of the day. There wasn’t a tornado threat due to limited moisture, but between wind shear and instability, it developed into a jaw dropping gorgeous storm! As the storm passed into the southeast corner of the state near Baker, it had beautiful structure and also hail the size of golfballs. In the evening, it slowly weakened as it moved into southwest North Dakota. Just a stunning storm on a day when all the ingredients weren’t there! Montana is one of our favorite states to chase in during late spring. Enjoy the pics!!
June 15th featured very high dewpoints and instability, as well as good shear and several boundaries for storms to form on. A cluster of storms formed in southwest Oklahoma later in the afternoon and became severe. We followed them towards Lawton as another storm developed on it eastern flank. As we approached Commanche it became tornado warned. Just north of town, it developed a rather large wedge tornado that persisted for over a half hour although it became rain wrapped. If was briefly visible near Loco, OK and caused EF2 damage along the way. After the storm weakened we dropped south on a tail end supercell that was just gorgeous and also tornado warned. Our thoughts and prayers for the town of Perryton, TX that was also hit by an EF3 tornado that day causing much damage and a few fatalities. The down side of storm chasing.
June 13th took us to the northern Texas Panhandle for supercells. By mid afternoon, storms for along the TX/OK panhandle border area near Boise City, OK. These storms moved slowly southeast and became supercells. Hail and high winds were the common theme with these storms, then southwest of Guymon, OK one became tornado warned. It didn’t produce but certainly tried as a funnel descended halfway to the ground. Never could confirm if it touched down or not. As the storm moved further southeast towards Stratford it did produce a small cone for a couple minutes. We were blocked by the police from getting close, so we had to drop south and east to get ahead of it. It was constantly tornado warned but had that outflow dominant look to it. We eventually stayed ahead of it to McLean, Texas and let it pass overhead. It produced giant hail 5 inches in diameter, and you’ll see in the pics just how huge it was! Fun day, but wow there were some fake tornado reports!