My 20th looked downright scary on all models. SPC issued a HIGH RISK for long tracked violent tornadoes and had a greater than 95% probably of numerous/violent tornadoes on their tornado watch box they issued. Schools closed, Air Force bases evacuated aircraft, lots of safety precautions were made. It ended up being a major, major bust. Very few tornadoes occurred and there were no violent tornadoes. Fortunately we played the dryline in northwest Texas where strong heating and good convergence would result in a couple of supercells forming by mid afternoon. We blasted down to Paducah, Texas from Childress and watched one storm produced two tornadoes. One was on the ground for about 5 minutes and the other about 10 minutes. They were fun to watch skipping across the countryside! Chaser convergence was horrendous this day, as expected being close to Oklahoma. We opted for another target later in the evening instead of fighting with the mobs in Oklahoma, but neither target panned out. Fortunately we got tornadoes this day as many, many chasers did not! Fun day, frustrating day and a disappointing day in the end. No lives were lost, very little injuries occurred. Good news for the plains!
May 17th was an amazing day. Storms formed along a dryline in northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado and pushed into southwest Nebraska. One supercell approached McCook, NE and dropped a few tornadoes along the way. Strong wind shear, great instability and good surface moisture set the stage for this and other storms to form. The first tornado was quite pretty as it tracked just west of town. A couple more formed in the hills where roads were bad and thus not greatly visible from where we had to intercept them. None the less the storm was a very pretty supercell and long lived. It persisted for several hours before weakening north of Kearney, Nebraska.
May 16th was the day before the big day. Limited moisture would cause storms to be higher based, thus increasing the wind threat as well as hail. However little tornado threat would occur. We intercepted a cluster of storms which would move northeast towards North Platte and become severe. Hail to golfball size, pretty structure and intense lightning would occur from these. The tail end cell broke off from the line and became a pretty supercell right at sunset. The colors, structure and lightning were very pretty! Enjoy the photos below!
May 7th was advertised to be a strong tornado threat. In the end of the day, there really weren’t many tornadoes and none that were strong/violent. Too many storms would form and create a competition where none were able to be long lived tornado producing machines. We were able to chase 3 significant supercells, one near Stinnett, Texas, one near Amarillo and another near Tulia, Texas. The Tulia storm was the only one that produced, and even that was not significant. We arrived near Tulia a few minutes too late to see a weak bowl with a couple condensation fingers and also another small tornado. As we arrived, video caught a tornado in the distance about 10 miles away. The storm was high precipitation and very messy. We stayed with it as long as we could, however the caprock escarpment has few roads off of it and it made it impossible to stay with the storm. Later in the evening we chased 2 other tornado warned supercells in southwest Oklahoma near Hobart and Vinson. Fun day, a bit frustrating, but we still had several tornado warned storms to chase!
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!
A fantastic day and great way to end the Caprock Magic tour this day! High based LP supercells formed west of Channing and Adrian, Texas this day amidst modest moisture and instability. Great wind shear allowed these cells to spin, enhancing hail production and longevity. We watched one supercell west of Channing try hard to stay alive, but it just didn’t have the needed instability to survive long. We dropped down to I-40 west of Amarillo and headed towards a cluster of storms near Adrian. When we arrive it was apparent that one cell was anchored, enhancing its ability to rotate. As another cell approached from the west, the downdraft from that cell hit the anchored storm causing the low levels to rotate strongly. A white funnel formed and touched down for about 3 minutes before dissipating. The storm eventually became a very pretty high precipitation storm as it moved south of Amarillo. What a great day and an amazing event that caused our supercell to produce a tornado. Enjoy the photos!
May 1st was a great setup. An outflow boundary lay in northern Texas with 70 degree dewpoints to its south. High CAPE, strong shear and lift along the boundary would cause several tornado warned supercells to form. However, only one would produce any tornadoes. We sat in Seymour for a couple hours waiting for initiation to occur at the triple point just southwest of town. Soon, a storm developed and shot to 55,000 feet in height. We blasted south through intense rain and lightning only to be greeted by the first tornado about 7 miles to our west. Poor road networks prevented us from getting close to this beauty! It lasted about 10 minutes and dissipated. Not long afterwards, a new meso formed to the east and started rotating intensely. A multivortex tornado touched down and lifted several times before a slender cone tornado formed. It bounced around the ground for a few minutes before lifting. We were about 1 mile from it when it occurred! You could hear the waterfall sound of the rear flank downdraft winds as it crossed to highway just north of us. Eventually the storm weakened as we blasted west to another tornado warned supercell. This storm became high precipitation quickly, but it tried hard to drop another tornado to our north. I cannot confirm if it did or not based on our position, but it spun wildly. Enjoy the photos!
May 29th took us to northern Oklahoma. An outflow boundary and advancing cold front across Kansas would provide the focus for supercell thunderstorms this day. Good moisture and extreme instability, as well as good wind shear would provide the ingredients needed for storms to sustain themselves and be intense. The first supercell formed over northern Oklahoma west of Alva and become severe. Later it would be tornado warned and produce a weak tornado. The structure was quite pretty and the storm exhibited decent rotation from time to time. However it could not focus in one spot and usually had broad rotation. Nonetheless, it was a good long lived supercell and provided us many photographic opportunities along the way for Tour 5 and the Photo Tour #2! Enjoy the pics!
May 28th had good potential. An outflow boundary laid across eastern Colorado from north of Seibert, Colorado to Colby, Kansas and points east. Great shear, instability, moisture and lift along the boundary, as well as the dryline extending south from Oakley, would allow numerous storms to form. A couple became tornado warned in far eastern Colorado. One particular supercell anchored itself north of Seibert along the boundary and became a tornado machine. We were on the scene early and watched as numerous tornado formed, with up to 3 on the ground at the same time. Several of the tornadoes were actually landspouts (nonsupercell tornadoes), however a couple certainly had mesocyclones and were therefore supercell tornadoes. It was an amazing sight for our guests to witness as we were able to get within a mile of a few tornadoes, and within a half mile of one stronger tornado! Please enjoy the photos from this amazing event!!!!!
A complex, but decent set up occurred on May 18th. A dry line, warm front and cold front would be big players this day, but the question was which would produce the best storms. The dryline fired up early and often producing numerous storms with huge hail. The cold front fired up in Colorado with clusters of storms moving into western Kansas. But it would be the warm front in northern Kansas that would produce the longest lived supercells, nearly anchored along it. Unfortunately, none would produce significant tornadoes, but a couple would produce hail baseball sized and as well as one landspout tornado. We chased a cell south of Oakley that would have pretty structure, tons of lightning and even a cone funnel that would could not determine if it touched down or not due to the angle it was from us. I fun and exciting day ended with a fantastic lightning show in Garden City, Kansas.