August 19th looked too good not to chase. Good moisture, high CAPE values, strong lift with an approaching wave and good low level shear along a boundary would set the stage for a good day! Mid afternoon storms exploded over northeast Colorado and slowly intensified. One particular storm, south of Holyoke, CO became a supercell. As it drifted east/northeast along the boundary it took off and became tornado warned. Very very strong low level rotation was occurring and the low level mesocyclone eventually became rain wrapped where you couldn’t see it anymore. Extremely heavy rains (4-9 inches!) prevented me from taking dirt, now mud, roads to get into the notch for a better look. However, the storm did produce a tornado, possibly two, one of which was a fast funnel in the hook area before it wrapped up in rain. A fun chase day, and good results, just wished for a better view in the notch! Enjoy the pics!
Our 2021 Desert Thunder tour scored big this year, chasing nearly every day. A very favorable monsoon pattern was in place with a 4 corners high stationary the entire time, pumping easterly winds in the mid levels and surface moisture out of Mexico. Daily rounds of storms gave us some amazing scenes, and throw in the cactus varieties and mountains, and you have a winner! All guests got some incredible photos! It is nice being able to base yourself at ONE hotel to come back to each night and the Tucson airport Residence Inn is a great one! Please enjoy the pics and if you are interested in this “lightning and landscape” tour, check out the website! It is shown at the bottom of the list of tours.
Conditions finally became conducive to severe weather again late on July 13th. Upslope flow into north central Wyoming off the Big Horn mountains would generate severe thunderstorms. Adequate wind shear, instability and moisture would be present for a couple of supercells. One such storm formed just east of Sheridan and tracked southeast to Gillette. It produced tennisball sized hail, high winds and had decent structure. As evening arrived, a complex of storms formed and extended all the way out to near Pierre, SD where we arrived at our hotel at 2am! The next day would take us to Iowa for a potent event! Enjoy the pics!
Our Photo Tour #3 had one of the worst weather patterns of 2021! This period usually produces great severe weather, supercells, lightning and tornadoes. Not the case for 2021. Since the pattern was dominated by a massive record breaking ridge of high pressure resulting in sunny hot days, we decided to take the group to Arizona to photograph monsoon storms. Much better than doing the park scene! We DO go the extra mile to at least find a storm, any storm, that is worthy to photograph! We spent most of the tour around the Tucson area as an active monsoon had set in. This is the first time we have ever taken a storm chasing tour to Arizona to chase in June! Some of the lightning we captured was super, and there was also a marginal supercell near Stafford. Upon our return to the Denver area on the last day of the tour, we did intercept a supercell just east of town. Enjoy the pics! We hope the weather pattern will be back to normal for 2022 Photo Tour #3!
June 22nd didn’t have a ton going for it. It was one of those surprise days when the atmosphere over performed. We started the day in York, Nebraska and just drifted north to Norfolk. Shear was pretty decent, but low level moisture had been scoured out by the Pella, IA event two days earlier. However enough moisture was present, as well as instability, to fuel a few supercell thunderstorms along a boundary over northern Nebraska. The first supercell we witnessed was a high based, hail and wind producer. Structure was decent. The second more intense storm occurred north of York (funny how this storm drove us right back to our hotel again that night in York!) and produced baseball sized hail and 70 mph plus winds. Structure on this storm steadily improved as it encountered greater moisture the farther south it traveled. Just before sunset it was an absolute beauty just southeast of town! We had the fun of driving through the front edge of the core and encountered tennisball sized hail as we headed back to our hotel for the night. Enjoy the pics! It was a beauty!
June 20th featured extreme instability, moderate wind shear and good lift along an advancing boundary over Iowa. We started the day from Denver, CO as it was the first day of the tour. After an early departure, we made it just east/southeast of Des Moines, Iowa (650 miles later!) just in time for storms to explode. The first supercell we intercepted was just east of Des Moines and never had the “look” like it wanted to become tornadic. Nice structure and a rotating wall cloud occurred, but it could never tighten up enough to produce a tornado. We dropped south and headed back west a little bit as a second storm quickly became organized. It developed a strong hook echo on radar to the west of Pella. As we arrived in town near the factory, we stopped to watch. Intense lightning was also occurring, a tell tale sign of storm intensification. Within a few minutes, a large bowl shaped funnel formed. Soon it developed into a full fledged cone shaped tornado that was on the ground for several minutes. In my haste to shoot video, time lapse and digital images, I failed to get a proper focus on my camera and thus most images were slightly blurry. The tornado dissipated and the storm eventually weakened as it moved east, ending our chase. A great first day for Tour 8!! Enjoy the pics, blurriness and all !!!!!
June 13th was the last chase day for the next week as a massive ridge of high pressure dominated the western 2/3 of the US. Fortunately we were able to catch a few severe storms/marginal supercells in western Nebraska north of Alliance. Good CAPE, but marginal shear would let these storms become a cluster of outflow dominant storms late in the day. However they were quite electrified, before gusting out near Hemingford, Nebraska. Fun day, with 80mph winds, golfball sized hail and some pretty scenery to watch these storm do their thing! Enjoy the pics!
May 23rd had great potential in Colorado and western Nebraska. A strong upper low over the Rocky Mountains would draw in large amounts of moisture, while the lift and diurnal heating would generate large amounts of instability. The upper flow was weaker than we would like, which would likely result in high precipitation type supercells, very dangerous storms. A tornado watch was issued before noon and the initial storms formed east of Pueblo, CO. Fast motion carried them towards Limon and points north where one supercell emerged. This storm had a nice wall cloud and tail cloud and had a couple of funnels/weak tornadoes under them. The storm became strongly HP in nature so we eventually left it for points south where shear would allow more isolated updrafts with better visibility under them. All in all, this day under produced, which we were afraid of due to the weak winds aloft. However, any day where you catch a tornado, no matter how brief it was, is always a good day! Enjoy the pics!
May 13th took us to the triborder area between CO/NE/KS. Strong shear, but marginal moisture would be the story this day. A supercell formed mid afternoon and tracked south along the dryline. Structure, lightning and big hail would be the results from this pretty supercell. A couple of shear funnels occurred as well. The storm rolled south until about 9pm when it dissipated. A fun chase day and we got more than we thought we would. Sometimes good shear can overcome a limited moisture set up and still produce a beautiful storm! Enjoy the pics!
May 4th took us deep into the southeastern US. Very strong shear, 70 dewpoints, 2500 CAPE and an advancing cold front would set the stage for intense storm development. We chased a cluster of supercells over west central Mississippi and merged into a raging bow echo as it ripped through the Jackson, MS area. Extreme lightning, high winds and a couple of tornadoes occurred as storm approached Jackson. Sometimes it is hard to see in the southeast due to trees, hills and hazy conditions due to close proximity to the gulf. We managed to find farmland and breaks in the tree cover to watch these intense storms roll through. Enjoy the pics!