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!
July 14th had it all. Boundary, great moisture, instability and good low level shear. We blasted from Pierre, SD to central Iowa as storms formed and became severe and tornado warned. Several tornadoes did occur in central and eastern Iowa with one particular tornado we just missed by 15 minutes being the most intense near Lake City. Frustrating day to say the least, but we still managed some great supercells and a tornado late in the day. Moral of the story is to NEVER give up until storms are weakening and loss of heating reduce instability.
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 !!!!!
Arrival day for Tour 8 brought us out to chase! The Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ) was active, with steep lapse rates, moderate CAPE and the wind shift to set the stage for severe thunderstorms and nonsupercell tornadoes. Two such tornadoes occurred with early convection that formed along the boundary. Cells developed and back built on the boundary tapping into the vorticity that was present. One tornado was on the ground for about 10 minutes northwest of Last Chance and the second tornado for only a couple minutes to the south of Last Chance. A fun way for tour guests to spend arrival day! We’ll chase every day we can, even if it isn’t a scheduled day. Enjoy the pics!
June 10th was a great set up in northeast Montana and western North Dakota. A warm front lay from Glasgow, MT southeast towards Dickenson, ND. Strong instability, good moisture and fantastic shear set the stage this day for multiple supercells and tornadoes along the warm front/dry line intersection north of Wibaux, MT. Cells initially formed all along the boundary, but the northern cells moved into cooler air and weakened. The triple was a storm producing machine firing off one supercell after another as they each matured and some became tornadic. The first tornado was my favorite, coming over the hills near the Roosevelt National Park area and was quite visible. The second tornado was a bit further away and choked with rain and very large hail, making photos hard to see. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular day and great results for Tour 7! Enjoy the photos!
Wow, all I can say is WOW! What an amazing supercell this day produced! Great shear, good moisture and instability, and lift along a boundary and mountains would provide all that was needed to get the best structured supercell of 2021 to form. After hanging out in Havre, MT waiting for a storm to get going, we finally got our wish. Due to the late setting sun in Montana in June, we had several hours to watch this storm ramp up and become a jaw dropper! The one unfortunate thing that occurred were the poor road networks in Montana. We were able to stay with this mothership supercell for a few hours east of Lodgepole and enjoy the treat! Incredible structure and the beautiful countryside in Montana made this day one of my favorite for 2021! Please take time and enjoy the photos of this stunning storm!
May 31st took us to the Davis Mountains of southwest Texas. Good upslope flow, along with ample moisture and instability, would provide the needed ingredients to get tornadic storms to form. Good low level wind shear caused this supercell to spin like a top, and as it moved off the mountains into the nearby terrain, it produced 3 tornadoes that we could see. The road network is very poor in this part of Texas, so you had to position yourself where you could see what was happening. Most of the time we were at least 10 miles away from the tornadoes because of this. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular sight to watch this storm roll across southwest Texas. Enjoy the pics!
May 30th was the first day of Tour 5 leaving from Denver. It was a long drive to our target of Roswell, NM, but we made it just in time. A tornadic supercell formed west of town and tracked east/southeast. A couple of tornado reports were made and I can’t argue with them. A few spin ups under the updraft occurred as rotation was strong above them. Good CAPE, moisture, and a boundary set the stage for this supercell to form. Nice structure and huge hail also fell from this cell. As it moved east later in the day, it weakened and another supercell formed on it’s outflow. This storm was jaw dropping gorgeous and rolled eastward towards the Texas border in the evening hours. A fantastic day after an extremely long drive, but well worth it! Enjoy the pics!
May 24th had substantial potential in western Kansas. A very moist and unstable airmass would develop over the region with multiple boundaries around for storms to form and spin on. We chose to play the usual triple point north of Leoti, where the first severe storm of the day formed. The triple point is the location where 3 air masses meet and it typically spawns one of the best storms of the day! It would struggle to sustain itself due to some small capping issues, but it eventually became tornado warned. However off to the north, a supercell formed and drifted north and produced tornadoes near Selden, Kansas. Since it’s a chasing rule never to leave your storm if it has a tornado warning to chase a different one (because, you KNOW what the one you left would do!), we stayed with it. More storms developed west of Garden City and would also become tornado warned. Our storm weakened, as did the Selden, Kansas storm, so south we went to play the tail end storm. What a beauty! Big, wet classic supercell with beautiful structure that would go on through the evening hours! At times the rotation became pretty tight, but it just couldn’t get a substantial tornado to the ground. We stayed with it till dark and then went back to Garden City for the night. Another day, where a secondary target produced tornadoes and the primary target would not. Such is the life of storm chasing! Please enjoy the pics!
May 22nd had great potential in Colorado. Good upslope flow and moisture, as well as great instability and wind shear would set the stage for intense tornadic storms! One storm formed early in the afternoon and produced a fast tornado west of Akron. A second supercell formed south of Limon and produced several tornadoes. We were able to intercept the first supercell and tornado west of Akron, but tried to blast down towards Limon later and couldn’t get there in time for the second storm. Still we caught a pretty tornado and then the end of the second tornadic supercell. A fun day, very hectic and exciting!! Enjoy the pics!!!!