July 3rd brought us back to Colorado for the final day of the Photo Tour. Nature decided to give us some pre4th fireworks! A boundary set up north/south of a line from Ft Morgan to east of Limon. Intense storms formed along it and with a wind shift in place, two landspout tornadoes formed that we were able to witness. They lasted several minutes each before dissipating. Storms were quite sever with hail tennisball sized and lots of lightning as well. We intercepted the first cells on highway 71 south of Brush and followed the southward building line from there. Good shear, moderate CAPE, but limited low level moisture fueled the severe storms till eventually they gusted out and weakened. Fun final day of chasing for the tour before returning to Denver later in the evening. Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
May 7th brought our first chase of the season. Tours began and we hit the road for the triple point near Childress, Texas. By late afternoon, a storm formed on the boundary and moved southeast while intensifying. As it moved east of Childress, it produced very large hail over baseball sized and had incredible structure. It was never a threat to become tornadic, as the base was a tad too high. We stayed with this supercell to the northwest side of the DFW metroplex when we let it go as to not take a chance chasing in a huge city. Please click on an image below to see a larger photo. Enjoy!
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!
This day had a lot going for it. Great shear, good moisture and instability, and a dryline would help set the stage for intense supercells. Our first storm of the day formed near Ft Morgan and tracked northeast along I-76. It became a rather large and occasionally disorganized supercell. However as it approached Sterling, it wrapped up hard and produced a brief, small tornado. Further to the east, a second, well organized and photogenic supercell formed. It produced a few brief tornadoes, however the structure of this storm would be one of the prettiest for 2019! As it came towards Imperial, a beautiful sculpted storm was present. At one point west of town, not only did the storm have a stunning appearance, but a partially rain wrapped tornado became visible. The cone shaped twister was on the ground for a few minutes before wrapping in rain again as we lost visibility of it. An amazing day with gorgeous storms and a few tornadoes! Enjoy the photos below!
May 26th ended up being an exciting Colorado storm day! We captured a tornadic supercell just north of Lamar that had a brief pretty white elephant trunk shaped tornado. The day started out really messy as numerous elevated thunderstorms formed over eastern Colorado. An existing boundary that was visible underneath the elevated storms would set the stage for late day supercells, one of which was long lived and quite nice. By mid afternoon we were watching storms west of Lamar. They were in drier air with high cloud bases and could never really get intense.
Further east towards Lamar one storm rapidly developed along the boundary and tracked northeast. Moisture, instability and wind shear was much better in this location! It quickly dropped a funnel that persisted for nearly 10 minutes, touching down a couple times but causing no damage in the rural areas. It moved northeast and weakened as a second storm approached from the southwest and became tornado warned. It tried hard several times to produce but in the end it never did. We followed it northeast to the Kansas border before dropping further south and east into Kansas for late evening lightning. An exciting day in Colorado and western Kansas! Enjoy the pics below. (First bright pic of white tornado is a cell phone shot)
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.
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!
July 10th lived up to the potential forecast models showed! A strong shortwave trough would traverse across southern Canada and Montana, as a dryline/cold front and associated warm front would slide slowly east. Strong shear, deep moisture, high CAPE and several boundaries would be the focus on severe storms. The question would be whether or not they would be isolated or clusters/linear. Fortunately a cluster of supercells formed over southern Saskatchewan and the tail end cell anchored along the warm front west of Killdeer. This storm would become a tornado machine as it produced at least 9 tornadoes we counted. More may have occurred as multiple occlusions occurred and some were quite messy with low visibility. This was one of the best tornadic events we’ve witnessed in Canada in 20 years of tours! Fortunately the tornadoes stayed over rural countryside and did little damage. A couple of these were quite strong. This storm slowly moved east riding the warm front all the time and eventually was choked off by outflow from a linear complex over Montana. Amazing event and a great way to end our tour season! Enjoy the photos and video stills!
An incredible day! The most significant tornado outbreak of 2018 to date occurred from one supercell this day! Southeast Montana and northwest South Dakota was the scene for this cyclic tornadic supercell that produced at least 8 and possibly more tornadoes in that area. The highest CAPE values I’ve seen in this area in 33 years of chasing occurred with 8000 joules of CAPE! Strong shear as well as mid 70s dewpoints, and throw in an awesome Black Hills Convergence Zone boundary and it would be only a matter of time before this supercell formed and morphed into the best storm of 2018! By mid afternoon several cells fired along the boundary and drifted north. All but one cell continued on this trek, with the one lone cell quickly becoming a supercell, which right turned along the boundary and turned into a beast! The structure was top notch and the tornado event that unfolded was incredible. Tornadoes of every shape, size and strength would form from late afternoon through sunset as the cell continued its slow march into northwest South Dakota. At one point we even had an anticyclonic tornado that developed on the south side of the updraft and raced directly towards us. Caryn would see it and take evasive action quickly as it passed in front of us. Then a large half mile wide wedge formed directly in front of us and roared across the countryside getting an EF3 rating! An amazing sight to behold!!! The storm continued into northwest South Dakota south of Camp Crook and continued producing tornadoes in the dark. Lightning would illuminate them making for some of the most spectacular storm photography this season! Please enjoy the pics!
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!