Tag Archives | Montana

June 5th Denton, MT Tornadic Supercell

What a day June 5th turned out to be! We were anticipating intense supercells to form and they indeed did. A strongly worded tornado watch was issued for central and northern Montana by mid afternoon, with shear, instability and moisture giving the potential for strong tornadoes. Several storms formed off the higher terrain south Great Falls. As they moved north, cool and stable air banked against the mountains would cause these cells to weaken. Another cluster of storms formed in the Judith Basin area and congealed into one monster supercell. This storm had insane structure and produced about a 12 minute elephant trunk/cone tornado. It produced another tornado northeast of Ft Benson we couldn’t catch up to due to poor road options. We also got pelted with near baseball sized hail in the notch of this beast as it raced northward. Another gorgeous storm!

June 4th Montana Stunning Supercell

June 4th took us to central Montana. Great flow with a shortwave moving into the Pacific Northwest would help set the stage for storm formation. Ample shear, good instability and moisture, and convergence along the mountains southwest of Great Falls would allow storms for form by late afternoon. A tornado watch was issued for the area as storms formed and intensified near Helena. One supercell moved towards Great Falls and became quite photogenic as it moved northeast towards Ft Benson. This storm became tornado warned and also produced baseball sized hail. One of the prettiest supercells of the year!

March 29th Rockport, MO Tornado Warned Supercell

March 29th took us on a long drive to northwest Missouri. A warm front would be the focus for supercell storms and by mid afternoon SPC issued a tornado watch box for the area. Three storms developed along the boundary and we followed the southern one as it interacted with it and crossed the river into northwest Missouri. It soon became tornado warned. Structure on the storm was very nice, exhibiting classic supercell features. Another storm (followed by an explosion of storms mid evening) developed south of Tarkio, MO. It produced a couple quick spin ups, but none lasting more than a half minute. A bit later it became more organized and reminded me of the April 9, 2011 Mapleton, IA supercell after dark. It came extremely close to producing a tornado as a nice cone shaped funnel developed, but quickly dissipated as it was undercut by cold outflow from storms further north. All in all a fun chase, even without a tornado.

July 15th, 2011 Montana Gorgeous Lightning

Not much to say about this day. Not a lot happened, except for a near midnight CG barrage north of Miles City that made me smile. The one shot below (first photo) of the old homestead with the CG next to it, is definitely one of my favorite of the year.

July 13th, 2011 Montana Severe Storm

Although nothing spectacular happened July 13th, a late show developed with a pretty shelf cloud/undercut supercell, that was fun to photograph. This storm was severe, and produced hail to golf ball size northwest of Miles City, MT. Later, after dark numerous CGs occurred that were also fairly photogenic.

One other photo included in the writeup (first image!) occured the day before, July 12th, east of Lewistown, MT overlooking a valley below. One of the prettiest pure scenes for me to photograph in ages. A young 11 year old farm girl named Jordan came out on a Gator 4×4 and chatted with everyone. She enjoyed meeting us all and couldn’t believe storm chasers were up where she lived. Everyone loved it!

June 12th, 2011 Southeast Montana Tornadic Supercell

June 12th took us to southeast Montana for day 1 of Tour 6. Good moisture, instability and shear would combine with upslope flow into the higher terrain of southeast Montana to develop an HP supercell. This storm tracked southeast and produced a mostly rain wrapped tornado north of Alzada near Albion, MT. Look closely in the photos and you can make out the tornado. It officially received an EF1 rating by the NWS in Billings.

June 21, 2010 Broadus, Montana Tornadoes

June 21st had good promise with a strong short wave trough ejecting through the northern and central high plains. Plenty of moisture, shear, and good instability would provide the fuel needed for supercell storms. A surface boundary formed on the north side of the Black Hills and extended all the way to east of Billings, Montana. Storms formed and anchored themselves along the boundary, while spinning nicely. Two supercells we encountered produced tornadoes this day. Storm structure was fantastic and the tornadoes were very nice, churning across the hills of southeast Montana causing no damage.

June 28th/29th, 2007 Montana and Alberta Supercells

June 28 and 29 took us to the far northlands of Montana and southern Alberta. June 28th’s storms developed near Glacier National Park and moved north near Conrad, MT. These storms were quite electrified and produced nickel sized hail.

On June 29th, we decided to head across the border to Canada and play supercells developing off the higher terrain west of Milk River and move northeast. We intercepted the prettiest supercell I have ever witnessed in Canada! It pummeled the border crossing with golfball to tennis ball sized hail and damaged many vehicles.

June 14th, 2006 Crow Agency, MT Hailstorm

June 14 ended up being a disasterous day for us. The day started out with lots of promise as a strong wave was moving across the intermountain west with tons of shear. Moisture was fair and we expected some nice rotating supercells. We drove west of Broadus, MT in search of a new and intense supercell that formed west of Sheridan, WY and was tracking north. As we approached it near Crow Agency it bowed out and became a deviant moving storm. We tried to get back east to get ahead of it, but traffic soon stopped us as we took the brunt of this monster hailstorm. Wind of 95 MPH drove hail to golfball size into the vans and knocked out windows, injuring Caryn with flying glass and hailstones. After a quick trip to the emergency room, she was ok, but with tons of bruises.

June 8th, 2006 Southern Montana Supercells

Montana was the place to be on June 8. A strong short wave pushing across the state would spawn supercell thunderstorms off the northern Big Horn mountains. We intercepted 3 supercells. The first was a dying beast that dumped hail baseball sized over the area. The second developed a well defined wall cloud and I though for a few moments there could be tornadogenesis any moment. The third supercell was the storm of the day. It developed just east of the first two on the outflow boundary. It became a striated monster, with a well developed wall cloud (above). A clear slot formed and strong RFD winds cut into the back of the storm. We came very close to a tornado as the wall cloud, now rapidly rotating passed just north of Lame Deer. Finally it became an HP storm and eventually gusted out. Thanks to Caryn for her superb driving skills keeping us ahead of this beast on dirt and gravel roads!