No chases occurred in the month of April due to the covid 19 pandemic.
April 3rd took us to southwest Oklahoma to film a commercial for Chevy Silverado trucks. After 2 days of intense filming in Colorado, we took the film crew to southwest Oklahoma in search of a supercell storm. It did not disappoint! Late afternoon a storm formed southwest of Wellington, Texas and moved into southwest Oklahoma near Hollis as it intensified into a formidable supercell! Fantastic structure, hail the size of tennisballs and nice lightning greeted us and the film crew. We stayed with the storm till sunset south of Snyder and then let it go. The tv crew was astonished at the sight of the supercell and came away with fantastic footage to use in the commercial. It will air late spring first on CNN and then later on other channels.
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!
May 29th took us to northern Oklahoma. An outflow boundary and advancing cold front across Kansas would provide the focus for supercell thunderstorms this day. Good moisture and extreme instability, as well as good wind shear would provide the ingredients needed for storms to sustain themselves and be intense. The first supercell formed over northern Oklahoma west of Alva and become severe. Later it would be tornado warned and produce a weak tornado. The structure was quite pretty and the storm exhibited decent rotation from time to time. However it could not focus in one spot and usually had broad rotation. Nonetheless, it was a good long lived supercell and provided us many photographic opportunities along the way for Tour 5 and the Photo Tour #2! Enjoy the pics!
May 28th had good potential. An outflow boundary laid across eastern Colorado from north of Seibert, Colorado to Colby, Kansas and points east. Great shear, instability, moisture and lift along the boundary, as well as the dryline extending south from Oakley, would allow numerous storms to form. A couple became tornado warned in far eastern Colorado. One particular supercell anchored itself north of Seibert along the boundary and became a tornado machine. We were on the scene early and watched as numerous tornado formed, with up to 3 on the ground at the same time. Several of the tornadoes were actually landspouts (nonsupercell tornadoes), however a couple certainly had mesocyclones and were therefore supercell tornadoes. It was an amazing sight for our guests to witness as we were able to get within a mile of a few tornadoes, and within a half mile of one stronger tornado! Please enjoy the photos from this amazing event!!!!!
May 13th brought a good set up with strong convergence, good instability and moisture, but weak shear. This would result in high precipitation storms nearly anchoring across the Texas panhandle into south central Kansas. These storms would produce copious amounts of huge hail, high winds and especially flash flooding. Due to weak low level shear, they would not produce tornadoes. One particular supercell grew to a very large storm. A second storm was south of it and the inflow was so strong from the main supercell it pulled to southern storm into it and completely destroyed it! Crazy to see this happen! The large storm became a formidable high precipitation supercell as it slowly moved east towards the Oklahoma border. Lightning was also intense in many of the storms and we were treated to quite a light show as we drove back to Oklahoma City.
May 7th really didn’t have much going for it. It was the first day of Tour 3 and we wanted something to chase. We left Oklahoma City early bound for Valentine, Nebraska, some 650 miles away. Decent shear, but very limited moisture and instability would result in high based storms to form. What we didn’t expect was the amount of lightning that was occurring with these storms. Right around sunset they became quite electrified producing numerous cloud to ground lightning strikes. We pulled east of town as they became severe warned and watched the show. Very pretty and long lasting lightning display rolled on for hours.
Enjoy the photos!
June 20th took us to southern Nebraska. Excessive heat, steep lapse rates, moderate CAPE and moisture, as well as a local boundary across the I-80 corridor would set the stage for severe storms this afternoon and evening. Clusters of storms formed west of Kearney, NE and drifted south. Their outflows kicked up new storms ahead of them by early evening. Due to steep lapse rates and optimum freezing levels, the storms were incredibly electrified! Some of the best lightning of 2017 occurred that evening, well into the night time hours. We stayed in front of the cluster of severe storms into Kansas well into the night time hours. A great day for the lightning lovers! And who isn’t one????
April 29th was the inbetween day from Tour 1 and 2. However, we also ran an on call tour this day. Many guests from Tour 2, and the On Call tour, went to northeast Texas to chase. As things started to become clear, we blasted south towards the Canton, Texas area. Strong southeast surface winds, extreme instability, high dewpoints in the mid 70s and strong shear set the stage for supercell storms to form and intensify as they moved northeast. Several tornadoes formed as storms matured, with one tornado in particular staying on the ground for 50 miles and over 2.5 hours, getting a rating of EF4! Unfortunately this storm caused significant damage and fatalities in Canton, Texas as well as Fruitvale, Texas. Our hearts go out to those who suffered this day and we hope for a speedy recovery.
The latter part of May and early June was a period of little severe threat in the US. Record low numbers of tornadoes in this period would attest to the poor set up. We searched high and wide for those little needles in the haystack, sort of speaking, for any tidbit of severe weather we could find. May 31st was one of those days. A cluster of storms formed over west Texas, and one storm near Lamesa latched onto an old boundary and rode it, twisting, turning and spinning for a couple hours. It’s structure was pretty, and coupled with the red dirt of west Texas, made for an interesting sight!