Tag Archives | twister

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 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 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!

May 8th Springfield, Tennessee Tornadic Supercell

May 8th had a lot going for it. Strong instability, good shear, high CAPE and several boundaries played into the end result. We caught several tornado warned supercell, including one near Springfield, TN that produced a cone tornado. Between slow, curving, winding roads, low speed limits and slow traffic, it made it difficult to get in front of storms. The Springfield supercell spun like crazy and produced a cone, causing damage. It took us what seemed like forever to get in front of it. As we broke through the core, we could see the cone tornado behind us in the distance. It had been on the ground over 10 minutes. As we got into a better position to see it (due to hills and trees!), it dissipated. We then blasted south to catch a supercell near Columbia, TN that showed signs of strong rotation and was tornado warned. As we approached Nashville, insane traffic slowed us down by 30 minutes. And of course the supercell produced a violent wedge tornado that became rain wrapped by the time we could get to it due to traffic. Frustrating day, but we DID see a tornado! Tennessee and Kentucky are extremely difficult to chase in!!!! Enjoy what pics we could get!

May 6th High Risk Oklahoma Chase

May 6th looked amazing on paper. All ingredients were well balanced and it appeared that a major tornado outbreak would occur. As the chase set up, models kept hinting at a rapid evolution to a line of severe storms instead of individual supercells. In the end the afternoon models are absolutely correct. The Storm Prediction Center issued a HIGH RISK for Oklahoma and the highest tornado probabilities that I’ve ever seen! As the old saying goes, sometimes too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. Strong forcing would cause rapid line of storms to form. Most storms were tornado warned, but did not produce. We chased a half dozen tornado warned storms, but only one came close to producing near Canton, OK. We kept dropping to the tail end storm with no luck. Each cell would mature, with a fast developing storm on its flank causing the forward storm to become a cell embedded within a line. Storms need space to rotate and nature didn’t provide that this day. In the end, it was a total bust for almost all chasers, the SPC and local NWS offices. It just goes to show you that no matter what you think you know about the environment, nature knows more!


May 4th Davis Mountains Tornadic Supercell

Even though May 4th was the last day of the tour, we could not pass up the chance to chase the set up this day. Upslope flow, good moisture and instability, along with good shear provided the needed ingredients for supercells and potential tornadoes this day. We knew storms would start out high based, but their bases would lower as they moved east off the mountains into the lower lands where better moisture resided. That is exactly what happened. A cluster of storms formed, of which the tail end cell took over and became dominant. A quick spinup occurred as low level rotation cranked up under the updraft We had to vacate our position due to huge hail falling and drove east of Ft Stockton to a south bound road that would be give a view. The only issue is there just aren’t many roads in this part of Texas.  As we drove south, rotation increased as the supercell dropped a rather large cone. It became rain wrapped after a few minutes so we continued southward to where the road put us directly in front of the supercell. Soon cgs started raining down from the updraft and rotation became focused. Several tornadoes formed and rotated around the wall cloud. It was quite the sight!!! After becoming strongly HP, we blew it off since we had a 600 mile drive back to Oklahoma City that night. 3 am arrival, but everyone was stoked due to the excellent day we had! Enjoy the pics!


May 3rd Southwest Texas Tornadic Supercells

May 3rd kept us in southwest Texas near San Angelo and vicinity. Strong instability, good moisture, high CAPE ad decent shear would set the stage for several supercells. A tornado occurred near Silver, Texas early on as we tried to get over to the supercell. Due to one lane roads and closed roads, we could not make it in time, so we dropped south towards San Angelo and played another supercell that had formed and anchored on a boundary east of Town. It had a very pronounced clears slot with rapid rotation in the mesocyclone, and dropped a quick brief dusty tornado.  As we pushed east near Eola and watched couple brief landspout tornadoes. RFD was wrapping hard to our north and we decided to explore it. A big bowl formed with tons of blowing dirt, and eventually a brief tornado occurred. Soon numerous storms exploded and things became messy and outflow dominant. At this time, we decided to get away from the mess and call it a day. Fun day, a bit frustrating due to closed roads, etc, but another day with supercells and tornadoes is always a good day! Enjoy the pics!


May 2nd Hawley, Texas Violent Tornado

May 2nd featured a weak boundary in central Texas that would be the focus for storm development late in the day. Numerous storms formed along the boundary. Due to shear profiles, storm splits and mergers were evident. By mid to late afternoon a few storms formed along highway 277 north of Abilene, Texas. One split happened that passed in front of a right moving supercell near Anson and caused it to increase rotation rapidly. West of Anson a tornado touched down and was on the ground for a few minutes. As the old occluded mesocyclone weakened and dissipated, another one formed to the east/southeast of the first one. Soon rapid rotation occurred and eventually led to a small funnel. The funnel ascended and descended several times before it finally touched down northwest of Hawley. As the tornado firmly planted, a debris cloud formed. The tapered tornado widened into a text book drill press type tornado, with its strongest winds at ground level. The waterfall sound of the roar of the tornado was quite audible as it churned towards highway 277. Unfortunately it hit a couple houses, levelling them in its wake. The tornado then moved southeast and dissipated. All in all it was on the ground for over 20 minutes. The damage it causes was sporadic, but was rated high end EF3.

A great chase day, but with sad results due to the destruction the tornado caused. You NEVER want to see that happen anywhere. Fortunately the NWS in Abilene was able to give advanced warning to local residents, which resulted in no fatalities, but a few injuries did occur. Our thoughts and prayers to go to those families who were affected by this violent tornado.

May 1st North Central Kansas Tornadic Supercell

May 1st showed plenty of opportunity for severe storms, however the best tornado threat was in 2 different area, the Texas panhandle, and north central Kansas. Since we couldn’t make it to Texas in time, we chose the northern target. Moisture was limited and it was going to be close to get moisture this far north before storm initiation occurred. Storms formed rapidly later afternoon and intensified during the evening. 2 supercells emerged with the tail end storm eventually becoming the dominant cell. As it moved across north central Kansas in the evening it continued to intensify. It stayed along and just on the cool side of an old outflow boundary south of Interstate 70. Inflow was quite strong, and lighting frequent. At sunset, it ramped up in intensity and produced a couple of brief tornadoes under the front edge of the updraft as RFD surged around from the south side. Both tornadoes were weak and lasted only 2-4 minutes each. We eventually let is go as it continued to move north of the boundary since we had to be in Texas the next day. A fun day, with decent results, but had the supercell attached to the boundary it could have been quite a bit more tornadic. Enjoy the photos!

April 30th Red Oak, Iowa Tornado Warned Supercell

April 30th provided a fast moving, but strong upper level system across the central states. Moisture was sparse, but racing north of southerly low let jet winds. We knew it would be close to get enough good moisture to allow cloud bases to be low enough to produce tornadoes in Iowa. By mid afternoon clusters of storms for in southeast Nebraska. One such storm intensified as it moved into southwest Iowa. It became severe as it moved further east and eventually became tornado warned. On radar it looked like a classic tornadic supercell, but in real life, it’s base was just a tad too high to produce tornadoes. It was a prolific hailer and had nice structure. At one point it had a very large wall cloud that had the look. However, it could never maintain tightened rotation, only broad slow motion. A pretty storm, but just couldn’t produce any tornadoes. A fun day nonetheless!