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!
We had high hopes for some great supercells in southern Kansas on June 24th. The atmosphere didn’t disappoint! High CAPE, strong shear, moderate moisture and decent lift along existing boundaries would set the stage for afternoon severe thunderstorms. An explosive supercell formed in central Kansas mid afternoon and became severe. This storm produced hail to baseball size and high winds. It weakened as it remained nearly stationary and other storms formed south and west of it. A well structured supercell emerged and became very electrified. A grassland fire occurred and fortunately was put out before consuming any farmsteads. As it continued to move south/southwest, it became undercut by outflow and slowly weakened. It continued to produce very large hail and high winds during the remainder of it’s life as it slowly drifted south into far southern Kansas. A fun day of chasing with well structured storms and very large hail. We stopped and examined the hail stones we found up to tennisball sized. Click on a pic for a larger photo. Enjoy!
June 21st looked like a big messy day. Forecast was for thunderstorms, including supercells to form along multiple boundaries in western Kansas. It was thought that storms would congeal into a large MCS and track into northern Oklahoma later. That is in fact exactly what happened. Storms formed first along a weak front in northwest Kansas and tracked south. Other storms formed along old outflow boundaries in southwest Kansas. Eventually they all merged in a large high wind producing MCS. Moisture was marginal, but shear and CAPE were fairly high. As they became outflow dominant, a fast moving convective system produced 80 mph winds and golfball sized hail as it tracked in the Oklahoma panhandle. It was a fun day for lightning, and a well defined shelf cloud formed with the complex. Please click on an image for a larger photo. Enjoy!
May 24th appeared to be a more marginal day. But sometimes, those days pleasantly surprise! This would be the case this day as good upslope flow would allow for a couple isolated supercells to develop in southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas. The best moisture was in southwest Kansas along an outflow boundary, but sufficient moisture was pushed into Colorado to support moderate CAPE and long lived supercells. We intercepted our storm east of Springfield, Colorado and stayed with it through the evening hours east of Hugoton, Kansas. This storm was well structured and produced baseball sized hail. The inflow into this storm was severe in strength and was amazing to see this storm process the amount of air it did! A great chase, fun day and everyone thoroughly enjoyed this supercell! Please click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!
May 21st had a lot of potential. A surface low and triple point was over southwest Kansas. Strong instability, good shear and lift along the various boundaries would set the stage for intense, potentially tornadic supercells this day. We targeted the first intense storm to go up near Lamar, Colorado. It produced tons of hail, great lightning and a couple of weak landspouts. As it pushed east, a second storm formed and quickly became tornado warned. It had great structure and was quite severe. The best storm of the day, however formed near Satanta, Kansas and was an absolute treat to watch. Incredibly electrified and well structured, it persisted for a long time. Just before dark, it produced a couple of funnels, but just couldn’t get the circulations to the ground. One of my favorite chases of 2020 thus far! Please click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!!!
June 8th continued our streak of tornadoes for each tour! Two twisters formed north of Goodland along a boundary. Decent instability and moisture, as well as a wind shift boundary, would provide all that was needed to get supercells to form. One tornado formed late afternoon, and soon a second would also form as the first was dissipating. They both were on the ground for over 5 minutes as they slowly drifted eastward along the boundary. They were quite photogenic as well!
Later in the evening, a supercell came off the higher terrain of eastern Colorado and was very photogenic. Near Flagler, CO the storm had beautiful structure and quite nice colors too! Even a funnel formed briefly under the inflow side of the updraft! After a couple hours the storm eventually weakened as it moved into more stable air, leaving behind an amazing mammatus display! A great way to start the tour!
A day of anticipation was what May 6th brought. Models showed an approaching wave to move into Kansas late, but would it be enough to spark thunderstorms before dark. Finally about 6pm storms initiated along a boundary in central Kansas. High shear, good moisture and instability would allow storms to quickly become severe. Initial daylight supercells spun nicely and became tornado warned. Due to many cell mergers nothing would produce a tornado……until after dark. A supercell west of Belpre, Kansas would become quite well structured at dusk and soon became tornado warned. We drifted north to look down the notch of this violent storm. Lightning constantly cut across the sky and the large mothership supercell spin crazily! As a strong hook formed, precip started wrapping around the storm’s updraft, constricting flow into it. A wall cloud soon appeared and a cone funnel formed. It touched down for at least a couple minutes that we could confirm before the rain and hail in the hook area of the storm wrapped around it. A great evening and day of chasing and to be treated by a nice night time tornado was icing on the cake! Enjoy the photos and video grabs!
April 28th had potential. A warm front was draped across northern Kansas, while a moisture gradient/boundary was draped across southern Kansas. Both areas appeared to be primed for severe weather. Strong shear, good moisture, moderate CAPE and lift along the boundaries would result in intense severe thunderstorms along the northern boundary. The southern boundary stayed capped through the day. We went with the northern boundary and intercepted a very pretty, INSANELY electrified, tornado warned supercell not far from Sanford, Kansas. The storm had latched onto the boundary and spun hard, becoming tornado warned for hours. It also had baseball sized hail and 80 mph winds. We stayed with the storm to Ness City, Kansas and left it as it bowed out and eventually weakened. A great day and a fun and exciting chase for all the guests! Enjoy the pics!
April 21st didn’t look great on paper. However, storms erupted along a lee trough in far western Kansas and intensified as they moved eastward. A couple of embedded supercells would produce 70 mph winds and golfball sized hail. With the pretty Smoky Hill River badlands in the foreground, it sure made for a pretty scene! Bases of the supercells were quite high, as much as 8000 feet off the ground. Structure was pretty and lightning became frequent. We stayed with the storms until they weakend mid evening and then headed south for the night. I nice surprise chase for us on a day when it didn’t look very good at all!
June 26th looked iffy. A mistimed short wave would fire numerous storms early in the day. However it also left an outflow boundary across southern Kansas. Extreme instability, mid 70 dewpoints and moderate shear would fuel and organize storms along the boundary. The first supercell produced a fast rope tornado that was on the ground for 1-2 minutes before dissipating. A second boundary intersected the outflow boundary just east of Wichita and that triple point would be the focal point for 4 distinct and strong supercells. They each produced very large hail to baseball size, copious amounts of lightning, a couple tornadoes and some of the best storm structure one would ever want to see!!! These supercells fired one after the other, and tracked east and southeast along the boundary. The last one of the day by early evening had insane structure and was firing off cgs every few seconds as it was tornado warned for hours! It would rage on for a few hours before dying off as a line of storms formed west. Incredible day for what could have been a total bust due to subsidence behind the early day wave! Enjoy the pics!