We weren’t expecting much this day. Modest moisture, CAPE and shear were present, thus we were hoping for a few pulse storms. Thunderstorms formed over the higher terrain of northeast New Mexico and collapsed. Their outflow pushed east and helped developed additional storms on the south side of the Raton Mesa. These storms congealed into a cluster of high wind producing severe storms in far eastern parts of the state and eventually moved into northwest Texas panhandle. Lightning was decent as well.
What do you do when storms are not forecast across the plains? We head to scenic areas for some sight seeing and photography. June 2nd took us to White Sands National Park, New Mexico. Storms were forecast over the central New Mexico mountain chains and we hoped they would move towards us over White Sands. The did exactly that, but weren’t producing much lightning. Still a very scenic spot with developing storms around. Made for some stunning photography!
The first day of June took us towards far southeast New Mexico. A couple supercells developed along the dryline west of Jal and drifted eastward, becoming quite prolific hailstorms. The storm’s structure was very nice and it had a wall cloud throughout it’s life cycle. However, low level rotation was lacking. The cell was an amazing lightning machine producing numerous cgs every minute. As it moved southeast, other storms for and soon a cluster of high based severe storms rolled into southwest Texas. We went to our hotel in Midland and watched as the storm approached from the northwest, with tons of blowing dirt, lightning and hail.
We weren’t expecting a great show this date as the ingredients just weren’t there. Marginal moisture and weak wind shear would limit the longevity and structure to storms this day, but we did manage to capture a couple of pretty supercells. We started the day in Lubbock, Texas so it wasn’t far to get into position. An old outflow boundary would provide to focus for storms. Due to the steep lapse rates and rapid cooling of the hot boundary layer as air rose aloft, storms became hailers and also were nicely electrified! The cells shown below produced hail the size of golfballs and 80 mph outflow winds, which generated a lot of blowing dirt across west Texas. It was getting late in the season to chase this far south, but you go where you need to. Many days of excessive heat dried up the landscapes which fueled the fire so to speak with intense blowing dirt. Fun day regardless! Enjoy the pics below!
May 30th was the first day of Tour 5 leaving from Denver. It was a long drive to our target of Roswell, NM, but we made it just in time. A tornadic supercell formed west of town and tracked east/southeast. A couple of tornado reports were made and I can’t argue with them. A few spin ups under the updraft occurred as rotation was strong above them. Good CAPE, moisture, and a boundary set the stage for this supercell to form. Nice structure and huge hail also fell from this cell. As it moved east later in the day, it weakened and another supercell formed on it’s outflow. This storm was jaw dropping gorgeous and rolled eastward towards the Texas border in the evening hours. A fantastic day after an extremely long drive, but well worth it! Enjoy the pics!
June 19th was the last day of Tour 7. The weather pattern kept us fairly close to home, with the set up over the Raton Mesa between Colorado and New Mexico. Upslope flow would push decent moisture into the region and thunderstorms would form by mid afternoon. Moderate CAPE and shear were also present as the storm intensified and moved eastward. The region is known for it’s lack of good roads, so we ended up on a few poorer gravel/dirt roads. We arrived as the storm was very intense, producing golfball to tennisball sized hail. Love the “hail core green” color to the clouds when they are suspending millions of hailstones in them. The region is very colorful with many red rock buttes and ridges in the area adding to the already pretty scene. The terrain has been very dry in 2020, so little vegetation was growing. Eventually the storm moved out over the Black Mesa area of the Oklahoma panhandle and weakened as it moved further east. A fun last day was a pretty storm and countryside! Click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
The set up for June 13th wasn’t great. Very limited moisture would result in fairly low CAPE values, however deep layer shear was strong. In the end, a cluster of storms would form over eastern New Mexico and slowly track east and south. The tail end cell became tornado warned for nearly 2 hours and was very strong, also producing hail golfball sized. We started the day near Clayton, and eventually dropped south to get on the tail end supercell. The structure was decent, but the main story of this storm was the lightning and amazing colors! Just before sunset, the storm spun hard and became incredibly electrified. As sun set, the storm weakened and gusted out as it moved southeast of Nara Vista. A fun day and on the photography side of things, it was quite spectacular! Enjoy the photos!
What a surprise day this was! Upslope flow and terrain circulations can do magical things in the high plains and this day would be one of the best! Poor wind shear, marginal moisture, but decent CAPE would provide at least some threat for severe storms. We were in Roswell, New Mexico the night before and decided to stay around for the action on June 4th. We dropped to west of Artesia as one LP supercell formed and produced copious amounts of hail. As it moved off the higher terrain it weakened and died. However, a group of storms formed and slowly intensified as they remained anchored on the foothills west of town.
As we positional ourselves on the eastern most storm, something strange happened. The storm started to get well organized and show signs of rotation. Soon a small wall cloud formed. From this wall cloud, a funnel dropped down and planted firmly on the ground for a few minutes. However due to the higher cloud bases and lack of appreciable moisture the funnel never fully condensed to the ground, but a debris cloud rose up from the ground to show it was connected. It persisted for several minutes before weakening and dissipating. We then came back into town and dropped south to Carlsbad to watch the cell drift towards town. It maintained it’s supercell characteristics for a bit before gusting out and dying. A great day and a nice surprise tornado kept our streak of consecutive tours alive with all seeing at least one tornado!
June 3rd was a strange day. Never, in 33 years of chasing storms have we chased a set up in the New Mexico mountains and Rio Grande valley like this day looked like. Decent moisture, good instability and shear, as well as lift along the central mountain chains would set the stage for supercells. As one intense storm rolled off the mountains it started spinning wildly. It had good structure and a strong gustnado on the leading edge of the RFD wrapping around the back of the storm. It also produced hail nearly baseball sized as it moved east. As it weakened, it’s outflow produced another storm that became tornado warned. It had classic supercell features and a very low hanging wall cloud that was rotating rapidly. Soon, precip and hail wrapped around the lowering and due to poor road networks we couldn’t get into the notch to see if it was producing anything. An hour later it lined out producing a nice shelf cloud. Quite a surprising day with 2 intense supercells in an area that is considered high desert and doesn’t get much rainfall each year.
It’s not often you wake up in Roswell, New Mexico with screaming southeast winds and 67 dewpoints. Low stratus clouds were racing west towards the Sacramento mountains! Even though mid and upper level winds were not particularly strong this day, there was sufficient speed and directional shear to get a supercell to form. We weren’t expecting tornadoes, but with high dewpoints and strong instability we knew the potential existed. Funny thing was most chasers were racing north to play a system in the central plains, but we couldn’t pull ourselves away from Roswell. In the end, we’re certainly glad we did! There wasn’t another chaser that witnessed what we did this day, with a quarter mile wide strong tornado under an amazing sculpted updraft! This cell produced huge hail as well and rolled across the countryside for hours all the way to Roswell. One of the most rewarding surprise days of 2018 for the tours!!! Enjoy the pics!! Please don’t forget to check us out on Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram!