Tag Archives | supercell

July 7th Lubbock, Texas Supercells

A major change in the weather pattern started around July 5th. An expanding ridge was developing in the west, with one lone weak short wave dropping down the eastern side of it into the southern plains. This is very late in the season to be chasing that far south, but you chase what nature gives you! We headed south on the first day of the tour and were greeted with several high based storms, some rotating, northwest of Lubbock. A couple mid level funnels occurred, as did hail baseball sized, however, due to high bases, there was virtually no tornado threat. Tons of blowing dust happened as thunderstorm outflows became quite strong, and many gustnados formed. Pretty cool sight, but this would be the last day of this tour that would chase the plains states. Summer heat and ridging came early this year.

June 27th Amidon, North Dakota Tornado Warned Supercell

June 27th had a lot going for it. An approaching shortwave trough, an outflow boundary along with a dryline, as well as decent moisture with dewpoints in the 60s and moderate CAPE around 2500 j/kg would set the stage for severe weather in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. We originally targeted the area around Buffalo, South Dakota, but as moisture mixed out, we knew we’d have to venture a bit further north into southwest North Dakota. A supercell formed near Beach and became tornado warned. An hour later another supercell formed northwest of Amidon and also became tornado warned. We pushed north to get in position to watch it and as we did a couple of weak funnels formed under it and were reported to the NWS. The storm was anchored along a boundary and slowly back built. Numerous times there were rotating lowerings under the southwest portion of the updraft, as golfball sized hail fell from the vault region. Eventually the cell turned southeast and moved off the boundary. However, it moved into more stable air and slowly weakened but not before becoming tornado warned one last time! We stayed with it over beautiful canola fields and stopped for some photography. A fun day, and some amazing scenery!!!

June 25th Whitman, Nebraska Incredible Supercell and Strong Tornado

June 25th had a lot going for it. Dewpoints in the 70s, an old outflow boundary, high CAPE and convergence would get storms exploding in the afternoon hours. We targeted a pair of severe storms west of O’Neill, NE and watched them intensify and move south. However the western most storm quickly died when it moved over the boundary and the second one also met the same fate. Meanwhile towards Norfolk a supercell became tornado warned and produced a brief tornado. I always watch trends in surface observations and satellite and noticed the boundary sharpening up and angling towards the northwest to the west of us. Moisture was rapidly increasing with dewpoints in Thedford, NE rising from the low 60s into the low 70s with strong easterly winds. Soon, a storm formed along the boundary northwest of Mullin and anchored for awhile. It steadily intensified as we blasted west. By the time we got to Thedford, the storm was strongly severe and we could see an impressive mammatus field under the anvil. As we continued westward to get a better view, the storm formed a strong couplet and a hook. Structure was starting to become visible as we approached Mullin. We continued west and soon were greeted with a magnificent sculpted supercell and a rapidly growing tornado! The tornado grew to an impressive cone, then wedge as it moved south towards the small town of Whitman. We stopped about 3 miles from it as it was getting ready to cross the road and continue southward where we had no south roads! Frustrating! The sight of both the supercell with large tornado under was the best I’d seen in 2024!! Just an amazing scene! We had to back track to Mullen and drop south so we could catch up to the supercell again. We would not see the updraft again in the daylight. As it approached North Platte, it weakened and eventually died. An absolute phenomenal day! Unfortunately the tornado hit a couple of houses near Whitman and caused significant damage and 1 injury. I shudder to think what could have happened if it hit the town directly!

Check out our Youtube video from the even here:

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 20th Hawk Springs, Wyoming Tornado

June 20th took us to the high plains to play the Chugwater Convergence Zone. Moisture was less than optimal, but shear and lift along the boundary would be sufficient to generate severe thunderstorms, including a couple of supercells. We arrived west of Scottsbluff, NE to find a storm already mature and severe. As it moved east towards Hawk Spring, a slender tornado formed and was on the ground for several minutes. We turned east of town on a dirt road only to get blasted by 80mph plus winds from the rear flank of the supercell. By the time we could work southeast and then north to get back in front of it, the storm was now a line of severe thunderstorms.  Soon, as they became outflow dominant, we left them and called it a night. Fun day and a surprise tornado is always welcomed! 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 16th McCook, Nebraska Gorgeous Supercell

June 16th brought us to southwest Nebraska near McCook. A triple point focused potential storm development in the area with extreme heat (temps over 100) along the dryline with dewpoints near 70 along the warm front. Many updrafts tried to form in the area near the triple point, with one updraft succeeding in sustaining itself at the triple point. The storm sat and spun for several hours. The structure was quite pretty and periodically the storm produced copious amounts of lightning. Although never a real threat to produce tornadoes due to higher cloud bases, a couple of wall clouds formed and one bowl spun for several minutes. The storm persisted towards sunset then slowly weakened as it drifted slowly northward. An exceptional day based on how model portrayed the set up. Enjoy the pics!

June 12th Central Minnesota Tornado Warned Supercell

June 12th featured awesome shear, but a dearth of low level moisture. Dewpoints in the 50s to low 60s wouldn’t be enough to get intense tornadic storms to form. Most storms were higher based and quickly became outflow dominant. We positioned ourselves near Wadena, MN and chased a storm that formed southwest of there straight down I-94 towards the Twin Cities. The storm spun hard, but had a tendency to be linear and quite gusty. Another cell formed along a boundary just to the east and acquired supercell characteristics. It developed a lowering that someone report a tornado from. From our vantage point, I had a hard time believing that report. Another over zealous chaser in action! We stayed with our storm and near St Cloud, it became tornado warned. At one point it had a lowering that looked like a broad funnel forming, however, that’s as far as it went. Soon the gust front hit us and we called it a day. A bit of a frustrating day in which there was some decent potential for nice supercells and even a couple of tornadoes, but to no avail.

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.