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!!!
A great set up on May 12th took us to an arching boundary across central and eastern Nebraska. Early day storms produced weak tornadoes over north central Nebraska, but since our target was further east, we decided to wait it out for what we hoped were more violent storms. The wait paid off and numerous storms formed, almost all tornado warned, from northwest of York to north of Lincoln. One particular storm became violently tornado near Scribner, NE as we watched it produced a large partially rain wrapped wedge, then another elephant trunk shaped tornado in front of it. The wedge was rated EF-2 and the elephant trunk EF-1 as they hit a few structures, but fortunately nobody was killed. It was a murky day with a lot of low level moisture in place so apologies for the murky looking photos! Enjoy!
July 16th featured very high dew points in the mid 70s and CAPE values over 3000 j/kg. Shear was modest, so we weren’t certain we would get supercells. An early day supercell over eastern Nebraska laid out an outflow boundary over central Nebraska from Valentine southeast towards Grand Island. Storms formed along this boundary and moved east into the cool stable air and died. Later in the afternoon a cluster of storms formed on the boundary and the tail end storm anchored. It immediately started spinning and became a formidable supercell! As the storm right turned on the boundary and moved towards Burwell, it was rotating strongly and was extremely electrified! I thought it had a decent chance to produce a tornado, but it did not. A couple of weak funnels did form. As the storm continued southeast, it became tornado warned with strong rotation continuing. Another supercell formed west of this and rotated down towards I-80 near Gibbon and also became tornado warned. The structure was incredible with one of the best shelf clouds I’ve seen in years! As the storms pushed south of I-80, they gusted out and became a wind machine. A great day with far better results than we were expecting! Enjoy the pics!
We weren’t expecting much on June 14th. Things were mistimed, moisture was iffy and instability lacking. Storms eventually fired early evening towards Grand Island along a front and moved eastward. They started out high based and lowered as the temp/dew point spreads lessened. West of Lincoln by mid evening, a supercell emerged and started really rotating strongly. A tornado warning was issued as the storm moved east and developed a strong couplet. (An EF3 tornado was confirmed later!) As the storm approached the north side of Lincoln, it wrapped in rain and was a very dangerous supercell. You couldn’t see what was going on in the notch and we didn’t dare go north without an escape route to look down the notch. We had to let it go due to timing and lack of roads. It moved east and recycled again becoming tornado warned. Some damage was recorded east of Lincoln, but at the time of this writing it was not confirmed whether it was tornadic or RFD winds. Certainly a surprise event and thankfully no fatalities occurred!
June 9th had one target for us, southwest Nebraska. An existing boundary would be the focal point for storm development that afternoon. Numerous storms formed, several becoming severe, however only one would survive and be the storm of the day. This supercell formed south of North Platte, NE and turned hard right, spinning like a top all the way to Oberlin, KS. The structure was top notch. When it first got its act together, it did have a slowly rotating wall cloud. We thought for a minute it might try to become tornadic, but the wall cloud eventually disappeared. As the storm moved south, it had the appearance of a mothership, and as it moved into Kansas as a low precipitation supercell, the structure at sunset was just stunning! A great day for the tours and an amazing way to end the evening! Enjoy the pics!
June 7th took us to the north side of the Cheyenne Ridge, playing the upslope there with moderate shear, decent moisture and instability. Several storms formed, with a couple becoming supercells and even tornado warned. It is amazing what some chasers call a tornado (landspout) when it occurred in a part of a thunderstorm that landspouts wouldn’t even form in! Stay tuned to a narrative we will publish explaining how and where a landspout would form.
These storms moved southeast into northeast Colorado and became quite intense, producing very high winds and baseball sized hail. The continued moving southeast eventually into northwest Kansas and were continuously tornado warned or severe warned. Structure was very nice as they marched into central Kansas overnight. A fun day for the tours with plenty of excitement with the storms as we moved in very close to where rotation was, but no tornadoes were confirmed. Check out the images below!
Sometimes you get a set up where shear is really strong, but moisture is a bit lacking. June 6th was one of those days where if only the moisture and resulting instability were a bit stronger that a significant severe weather event would occur. It looked like storms would form off the Black Hills and ride a frontal boundary to the southeast. By mid afternoon, a supercell formed northwest of Thedford, Nebraska and became severe. As it moved east it weakened while others formed further northwest. A storm did form off the hills and trek southeast into northwest Nebraska and became a formidable supercell. The structure was nice and the colors of the storm were superb! Having it in the sand hills is always a challenge to chase due to lack of roads. We were able to stay with it all the way past Stapleton before it eventually weakened to the southeast. A fun chase, pretty structure and beautiful landscapes! Enjoy the pics!
May 29th was the classic “day before the big day” type set up. Moisture and instability were rapidly increasing along a lifting warm front in Nebraska, and shear was quite strong. Models showed late afternoon and early evening supercells forming north of Broken Bow and that is exactly what occurred. It took awhile from the main supercell to root along the boundary and get organized, but once it did, it became a formidable storm! Eventually it became tornado warned as it moved to the northeast and stayed warned for a few hours. Due to storm motion and poor roads, it became virtually impossible to stay with it. Near O’Neill we had to let it go and head to Sioux Falls, SD for the night. The storm had good structure, and it had a well defined rotating wall cloud. It just couldn’t tighten enough to get a tornado to form. Enjoy the pics!
August 19th looked too good not to chase. Good moisture, high CAPE values, strong lift with an approaching wave and good low level shear along a boundary would set the stage for a good day! Mid afternoon storms exploded over northeast Colorado and slowly intensified. One particular storm, south of Holyoke, CO became a supercell. As it drifted east/northeast along the boundary it took off and became tornado warned. Very very strong low level rotation was occurring and the low level mesocyclone eventually became rain wrapped where you couldn’t see it anymore. Extremely heavy rains (4-9 inches!) prevented me from taking dirt, now mud, roads to get into the notch for a better look. However, the storm did produce a tornado, possibly two, one of which was a fast funnel in the hook area before it wrapped up in rain. A fun chase day, and good results, just wished for a better view in the notch! Enjoy the pics!
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!