Tag Archives | storm chasing

June 23rd Neptune, Saskatchewan Tornado Warned Supercell

June 23rd was the first day of Photo Tour #2. Models showed a triple point low over southern Saskatchewan, with a cold front/dry line extending south into northern Montana. We had a LONG was to go starting from Denver, with close to a 10-12 hour drive! So, we departed at sunrise and blasted north. We arrived in Wolf Point, Montana late afternoon as cumulus towers formed west toward Glasgow. Storms were already severe and tornado warned in Canada, with Environment Canada issuing a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch for parts of Saskatchewan. Knowing we still would have another 2-3 hour drive to make it up there, we decided to see what the Montana developing storms would do. SPC issued an MD for Montana talking about a couple supercells forming. We hedged our bets for Montana. Soon it became clear that was the wrong choice as storms formed as left moving supercells, so we crossed the border into Saskatchewan north of Plentywood, MT and blasted north towards the tornado warned supercell. We got within about 10 miles of it as the sun was setting so we stopped for photography. Structure was gorgeous and so were the pale blue and orange colors of the storms! We stayed with it the best we could and at one point a very dark, large “v” shaped lowering occurred although we could not tell whether it was a wall cloud or broad cone shaped funnel due to the distance we were from the storm. Having to get back to our border crossing, which closed at midnight, we waved goodbye and back tracked to get back into the US. A 1060 mile day that resulted in a stunning supercell near Neptune, Saskatchewan was well worth the drive! Enjoy the pics!

June 18th Kalvesta, Kansas Tornadoes

June 18th featured a stationary boundary draped across southwest Kansas. Dewpoints in the 60s and temps in the 90s, as well as the wind shift along the boundary would set the stage for not only landspout tornadoes, but also supercells forming and anchoring along the boundary. We intercepted one such storm that produced a landspout in its formation stage, followed by a legitimate supercell with a strong velocity couplet that lead to a 10 minute long tornado. The structure became quite nice and the storm was incredibly electrified! At one point a lightning strike produced a fire on wheat fields that were ready to be harvested. A very unfortunate incident for the local farmers. We then dropped south to just north of Cimarron where we encountered another strongly developing mesocyclone that produced a tapered cone funnel with a brief circulation. Many thanks to our guest, Leann Yamanaka for the pics of that funnel/circulation from beside the van! Finally, south of Liberal, Kansas a very photogenic supercell emerged from a cluster of cells at sunset and produced absolutely gorgeous mammatus clouds. Enjoy the pics!

Check out this cool video from that day!

June 7th Ansley, Nebraska Tornado Warned Supercell

June 7th featured good moisture and instability, as well as moderate shear. A boundary lay across central Nebraska and would be the focus for several supercells The storm we chose to chase formed early afternoon near Thedford, and intensified as it moved southeast. By the time it got close to Broken Bow, it was well structured, producing baseball sized hail and a possible tornado. We followed it through town and southeast as the structure truly became insane! As it approached Ansley, it became tornado warned, but did not produce I feel low level shear from cloud base down was insufficient to produce tornadoes. Nonetheless, the structure was quite nice as it moved all the way to I-80 by mid evening. Enjoy the pics!!!

 

May 31st Eastern Colorado Supercell

May 31st featured a short wave trough moving across Colorado, with limited moisture, but strong shear. Most models developed storms off the Palmer Divide, intensifying as they moved east/southeast. That is exactly what happened. A storm started spinning and became tornado warned west of Cedar Point, but never showed strong enough rotation to produce a tornado. Another storm formed to the south of it and ended up being the storm of the day. As it steadily intensified, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for it. As it approached Limon a DESTRUCTIVE STORM warning was issued for hail baseball sized. We encountered hail about golfball size as we had to punch the core and get ahead of it south of Hugo. About 10 miles south of town, structure became quite nice and a lowering formed with slow rotation. I thought for a bit that it might produce a tornado, but to no avail. It never could balance its updraft and downdraft well. With the sun getting low in the sky and having to be back in Denver soon, we waived goodbye one last time and headed home. A fun day and close to Denver made it an even better treat! Enjoy the pics!

May 30th West Texas Supercells

May 30th brought an interesting chase. A sharp dryline and an outflow boundary would intersect over west Texas and provide the focal point for severe weather. Storms formed at the triple point but could not sustain themselves for very long as they moved out into more stable air. We ended up dropping south from Morton, Texas to Denver City, Texas as one storm formed, hooked hard and tried to produce. In the end the only storm that produced was near Midland, Texas as it dropped two substantial tornadoes. Our storms looked good, but due to a bit higher cloud bases, they could not get a circulation down to the ground. Overall a fun day but a bit frustrating as we were so close but not close enough with our storms.

May 29th Clovis New Mexico Tornadic Supercell

May 29th was a marginal day at best. Southeast Colorado looked like the place to be. However, with moisture pooling along a boundary in east central New Mexico, I had a hunch that would produce decent supercells late in the day and evening. The Colorado target got interesting and produced a couple tornado warned storms ( See the previous chase account for the Prime Time Minitour!!!), but I chose to wait and see what would happen in New Mexico. I was not disappointed!!!! By early evening as a short wave trough approached, storms developed northwest of Clovis. It didn’t take long to see they were anchored and would start spinning quickly. As we approached the northeast side of Clovis, a tornado warning was issued. Numerous images from various locals and also my defunked video camera showed what appeared to be a cone tornado northwest of town. The NWS in ABQ is currently validating the tornado based on images, video and local chasers in the area. We nearly had the storm to ourselves, which is quite rare in this day and age!!!! We dropped through Clovis and ended up north of Portales, NM and sat and watched the storm spin like crazy. It was constantly tornado warned. The structure was absolutely top notch, even in the dark and hook after hook formed on this anchored supercell! Finally, by late evening, things started winding down, so we drove to Amarillo to our hotel for the night. One of the BEST structured supercells of 2024, even in the dark! Please enjoy the pics and NO they are not photoshopped!!!!

May 23rd Eldorado, Oklahoma Large Violent Tornado

May 23rd was the final day of Tour #4, the Prime Time tour. As often occurs, the final day of the tour would be quite eventful!!! A triple point boundary was present north of Childress, Texas. Good moisture and instability were present as well as increasingly favorable wind shear. Mid afternoon storms formed at the triple point. They quickly  became severe for large hail. As they moved the boundary, they weakened and died. Soon other storms formed at the same spot and also became severe. One also became tornado warned, but did not produce. Another cell formed to its southwest and eventually merged with the lead cell and also became severe and tornado warned. We stayed with it as it tracked southeast along the boundary. Just northeast of Eldorado, Oklahoma, a lowering formed in the 70 dewpoint air and started spinning. Soon a tornado formed. This tornado morphed several times from nearly a wedge, to a cone, to a multivortex and another cone before dissipating.  Quickly a spectacular barrel tornado developed and tracked slowly east. Our position was perfect with the sun lightning up the barrel and collar cloud making for a spectacular sight! Just an amazing day and thankfully the tornadoes hit no towns! Enjoy the pics!

 

May 21st Southwest Iowa Tornado Outbreak

May 21st was a high potential set up in Iowa. A strong dry line, with fantastic shear, high CAPE and deep moisture would create a very dangerous environment in Iowa. By early afternoon storms exploded along the dry line and intensified as they moved east. Initial storms were not tornadic, but as the afternoon progressed, low level shear increased and tornadoes occurred with many storms! Our first tornado intercept was near Red Oak, Iowa as a supercell started spinning hard. The tornado went from a slender elephant trunk to a stovepipe and persisted for several minutes. The second tornado formed southwest of Carbon. It started as a big bowl, then vortices spun up and wrapping rain curtains were rotating violently around it. With motions of 60 mph we had to get out of its way as it approached us within a mile. The next tornado is now probably the most well-known. A strong multivortex tornado formed to our south near Corning and intensified as it moved northeast. It eventually turned into a raging F3 tornado that caused significant loss of property and life in the town of Greenfield. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those who suffered losses there. Always the downside of significant tornadoes.  Another tornado occurred to our southeast as a cell raced north towards Creston but we lost it due to storm motion and another core with huge hail causing us to have to slow down. Crazy, wild day that most will never forget.

May 20th Akron, Colorado Tornado Warned Supercell

May 20th took us to eastern Colorado for what appeared to be a decent set up on paper. High based storms formed before moisture could work its way west, however they did not last. By later in the afternoon a storm developed rapidly southwest of Akron as a cluster of cumulus deepened. The storm hit the better air and became severe. Structure improved, and soon a lowering developed with RFD dirt wrapping around it. A merry go round ensued. The developing rotation could not tighten enough to produce a tornado, but it was fun watching it try. Lightning became intense so we had to vacate our position and move east and south. Eventually the storm became quite messy and we chose to leave it since we had to be in Iowa the next day on a far better set up (see the next chase account!!!). Enjoy the pics!

 

May 19th Butler, Oklahoma Tornadic Supercell

May 19th had a lot going for it. Good shear, instability and moisture, as well as a dryline in the eastern Texas panhandle set the stage for intense storms to form. By mid afternoon numerous storms formed and it wasn’t long before one updraft became dominant. Structure became quite good, and quickly a very slim tornado formed and disappeared in less than a minute. This just attested to the shear that was present. As the storm moved into Oklahoma, structure became amazing! A big soda can updraft with striations and a wall cloud were visible. As the storm approached Butler, it became tornadic and produced a cone tornado, near Custer City followed by w wedge north of Hydro. We got in intense RFD and had trees coming down around us, so we had to get out and move them ourselves so we could continue the chase. As we later past ElReno, we stopped at an exit and filmed the storm coming at us, complete with rapid rising and twisting scud, which soon a debris cloud appeared. We were trying to get through OKC and head north for the night and didn’t want to chase in the city as a substantial tornado touch down south of ElReno. Chasing at night is a challenge, but around a larger city, it is dangerous. We drove north to spend the night in Salina and get ready for the next day which would be a chase day. Enjoy the pics!