Tuesday 21st May 2019 – Kansas (Slight Risk)

We started today in Wichita Falls with a general area of Salina in Kansas as our target today. The Set Up today would be a Cold Core chasing set-up, these can produce lots of Tornadoes east and North East of the surface Low Pressure where moisture has been left behind. On the travel north I kept a check on Mesoscale features and noted the Dewpoint was 63f at Wichita (Kansas) We stopped for some lunch and pushed onto Salina. Storms were starting to look interesting so we watched a few with some great wall cloud and funnel features. I took my eye off the ball in relation to how fast the LP was moving North East and how the moisture tongue had also moved North and East into North-East Kansas. Storm were now starting to form North of Topeka and rocketing off to the North at 50mph, the chase was on but it was all in vain and with NE Kansas having a regional Tornado Outbreak it was hard to watch the pictures come in from the event.  A massive chance missed today and one I will learn from.

Monday 20th May 2019 – Oklahoma (HIGH RISK)

After a down day visiting the Twister Museum on the Sunday we knew the next 10 days were going to be non stop and upon awaking the SPC upgraded today to a Rare HIGH RISK for Tornadoes. An incredible 45% Hatched area was introduced over parts of the Texas Panhandle and Western to Central Oklahoma.

First High Risk since May 18th 2017

We left Enid with a target of Childress and watched the dryline explode south west of Childress on the Caprock. We knew the Tornadic Supercells would mature into Oklahoma so we let them come to us making sure we had the crossing point into Oklahoma over the Red River which is always a tricky chase, in hindsight we should have driven south to Paducah where the first few tornadoes dropped, once again the atmosphere was hazy due to massive moisture content and the smoke from the Mexican Wildfires. You really could only see the action areas once you were within a few miles. We positioned east of Childress and watched the storm roll just to our west, a solid wall cloud was noted but the storm was clearly cycling at this time.

Like I said we really had to go close in to see anything, not the best idea on a day when the SPC are forecasting long tracked violent tornadoes.

After crossing the Red River this was my worst mistake of the day, we were way ahead of the chaser hordes at this point and should have made a beeline for Mangum but instead went west then north to Gould where we watched a rotating wall cloud. After this it became probably the worst chaser convergence I have ever seen out here. Traffic crawling at 10mph and side roads packed with vehicles, crashes littered the highway and people impersonating police cars on the wrong side of the road which were chasers, even the Dows and Texas Tech pulled some dreadful stunts on this day. End result was a view of the Mangum Tornado from 5 miles south when the best video was shot from North East of the Tornado.

Literally 15 minutes after that picture was taken the cold front which was crashing south undercut the storm and it went outflow dominant almost instantly, after that it was pretty much game over for the day, we drove back south towards Wichita Falls and the temperature shot back up from 58f to 83f in a matter of miles. The dryline storm we then targeted further south also was struggling and after side swiping a deer north of Vernon we kind of knew it wasnt going to be our day.

Saturday 18th May 2019 – Enhanced Risk (KS/OK)

Started the day in Colby after the amazing chase on Friday in Nebraska with a target of the Kansas and Oklahoma border near and east of a Stationery boundary. We ate lunch at Dodge City and headed south to be between the Dryline out west and the boundary bubbling away to our east. In hindsight we probably gave too much time to the Dryline with some lovely timelapses being shot by the guests and this put us too far behind the Supercell to the east near Alva. We blasted east through the storm not even finding any hail, pictures were coming in from SE of the storm of some lovely arcus cloud structure and we briefly stopped to get some nice pictures of the shelf and whales mouth features. It was apparant this storm was outflow dominant and had a very small chance of producing a Tornado today so we headed further south towards Enid for some Lightning shots and watched the approach of another line of storms which was moving towards us. We finished the day at Applebys in Enid knowing we had 1 more down day before all hell is going to break loose on the Plains for the remaining 7 days of the tour. Some Pictures below from this day.

Friday 17th May 2019 – Nebraska (Enhanced Risk)

After a long drive from Dallas to Colby for the start of Tour 2 we were in a nice position for a Triple Point play with a Dryline and Warm front set up somewhere near the I-80 Corridoor today. We departed Colby around 11am with a lunch time target of Mccook (NE) After grabbing a subway lunch we watched on radar the first storms starting to form down near Goodland which quickly went severe. These were rolling along at 45mph to the North East so we went west to Cullberson to watch them approach. As soon as the storms action area came into view i noted to the group that this looked like a Classic Cyclic Supercell which had 2 mesocyclones on it.

The storm started to form a hook on radar and brief touchdowns were occuring in the field opposite us, the rotating wall cloud went right over the top of the car flinging everything it could pick up at us giving us our first Tornado of the day.

The storm was quickly ramping up at this point heading for Mccook so our option now was to blast north through the hail core and then east to slice through the hook again, we took sporadic golf ball hail to the vehicles. Once we rolled east through a thick layer of Hail Fog we got a glimpse of a stunning Tornado to our North, this was kicking up dust like the Wray Tornado from 2016. We stopped and with sirens blaring took some pictures. Tornado number 2 in the bag for the day.

This was also my 200th Tornado so to mark it in this way was something special. We ploughed on with this cyclic machine east of Mccook towards Cambridge and then north towards Stockville on winding gravel roads. Just east of Stockville Tornado number 3 dropped which was a quick dust swirl with rope above.

Once again we took some fantastic dirt roads north to keep up with the storm and now it was about to get really special. Tornado number 4 dropped literally in front of us and this one was probably the best of the lot today and we were sat right next to it watching it churn away in an open field.

The Tornado moved quickly north and roped out but a new circulation was forming just south of the town of Farnam and this was going to be the strongest of the lot, we stopped short and watched a rain wrapped wedge tornado cross in front of us which was smashing trees down and snapping power poles at the base, this Tornado also severely damaged a house. We picked our way through downed trees driving over what would have been the top of the tree which was across the road.

When we turned east at Farnam it soon became apparant that our chase was over with the Police and Emergency services closing our only road which had damage across it with live power lines, we then went back west through a nasty hail core and got some nice large hail to end the day.

We headed south to celebrate with a Steak dinner in Mccook before heading back to Colby to end the day. A top 10 chase today and 5 Tornadoes to kick off Tour 2.

 

Monday 13th May 2019 – Texas (Slight Risk)

Todays risk would be the last for Tour 1 and SPC had a broad 2% Tornado Risk in the Texas Big Bend Region curving around towards the Del Rio area. We left Fort Stockton and headed east grabbing lunch in Langtry which was about 2 miles from the Mexican Border. We stopped on a bridge over the Rio Grande for a photo opportunity.

 

We continued to head east towards Del Rio keeping our eyes peeled on a nice Supercell which was on the Mexican Mountains which was drifting South East to cross between Del Rio and Eagle Pass.

Light was now starting to fade but the structure started to come into view as we stopped literally yards from the Mexican border. A few Cg’s started to appear and a non rotating wall cloud was noted. But ultimately this storm fell apart after solar heating started to wane.

The last day of the Tour was spent travelling to Dallas for the changeover with no severe weather on tap Tour 1 had come to the end  and finished it off with a Classic Supercell to go with their Lp and Hp Storms.

Sunday 12th May 2019 – Texas (Slight Risk)

Started the day in Amarillo and headed south towards our lunch stop at Monahans. Storms started to fire over the Davis Mountains so we went south to Fort Stockton and then took the road towards Alpine and stopped at a scenic overlook watching the Lightning approaching. The were 3 Multi Cell storms but ultimately none of them could get organised. We headed back for an early dinner at Fort Stockton for the night, overall a massive underperfoming day today.

Thursday 9th May 2019 – S Texas (Slight Risk)

Started the day in Childress and with a mammoth 7 hours drive ahead of us through and south of the front this would be our last chase day for a few days whilst the Plains resets after the cold front intrusion all the way to the GOM Coast. We headed for Uvalde in the hopes that either the front could fire off a South moving Supercell moving into Juicy 83/73 air or something could come in from the Mexican Mountains to our west. When we got into our target area it soon became clear that the conditions were soupy with no chance of even spotting the storms with the air so thick. The models had also had a nightmare on this day with storms looking like an MCS in the Mountains and then sorting themselves out once darkness came around 8pm. We were just about giving up hope and heading to San Antonio for the night when I spotted a really interesting looking storm to our east on Radar near the town of Pleasonton and heading over to take a look, this storm seemed to be stationery on the front and when we got within a few miles actually went tornado warned.

We headed through the core and watching a wall cloud in driving rain but literally darkness cut short the chase (It gets dark really quick down here) So we headed to Chillis for a meal and watched the lightning.

Overall a waste of a day down here and we will now start to make our way back to the High Plains of New Mexico and West Texas for Sunday and Mondays marginal risks.

Wednesday 8th May 2019 – Oklahoma (Marginal Risk)

Started the day in Elk City and it looked like a Convergence zone would be the focal point of todays storms with SE Winds moving against NW Winds and the Initiation zone looked to be somewhere near Shamrock, storms today would move SE into Western and South Western Oklahoma with a brief chance at Supercell structures. Overall the threat was expected to be minimal due to no upper support meaning storms would quickly rain in on themselves.

The early signs were good when we arrived at a favoured viewing position looking west at the line of developing storms with numerous needle funnel clouds being spotted over towards the Mcclean area.

We headed back east towards Sayre and the dropped south once a storm started to get organised, there was very little lightning with these storms and tops only really reached upto 20,000ft at their maximum. We continued to drop south diving into the hail core a few times but only penny sized hail was noted.

We then headed west through Hobart and got west of the now dying out storms as solar input was waning for the obligatory Rainbow shot and hoping to get some Mammatus on the back edge anvil but even this was lacking. Overall we chased what we could but a very lacklustre day in general.

We ended the day in Childress contemplating wether we should make the mammoth drive down towards San Antonio for the next day as it was looking very quiet over the Plains for the weekend.

Tuesday 7th May 2019 – Tx Panhandle (Moderate Risk)

And so the day was here the big one so far for the season. SPC had a Moderate Risk with 15% Hatched for Tornadoes with a few strong to significant Tornadoes likely, also very large hail and damaging winds were likely when storms finally lined out. We started the day in Liberal and headed south with cold northerly winds and drizzle in temps of 10c clearly behind the front. The Main action today would be focused later in the afternoon along a dryline which was depicted SW Of Amarillo down to Midland. We grabbed lunch in Pampa and headed down towards the town of Panhandle. I did not want to get involved with the early convection North of AMA which looked like when it initiated it was clearly crossing over to the cold side of the front, meaning the front was only just North of Amarillo even at 2pm CDT.

One storm that went up with a little bit of room south of the front started to look nice tracking just west of Amarillo near Bishop Hills so we went to take a look, and nearly instantly this went Tornado Warned. Below is a look at the radar from that storm and the rotating wall cloud just to our west looking from Highway 287 about 15 miles North of Amarillo

Just after the above picture the wind switched from warm south easterly to cold north easterly and the storm fell apart clearly having been undercut. My mind was now set that the only storm that was going to be the Tornado producer was an isolated Supercell near Happy and Tulia (Tx) so we plotted a path down there through the canyons to emerge just east of there hoping we got there before it interacted with an Outflow Boundary. As we were driving it produced the first of its 5 Tornadoes South of Tulia. But having ingested the boundary this storm was still on a rampage moving east north east, our first view of it was of a stunning HP Supercell just west of Vigo Park.

The scalloped inflow going into the rotating wall cloud in front of us was the best I have ever seen and violent hail was getting wrapped into the storm, at the time above a large Tornado was being reported in front of us rain wrapped, the barrel was touching down with various multi vortex segments swirling around at times before the hail wrapped the tornado completely up. The radar in front of us at this time was telling of a violent tornado ongoing.

After the above we retreated back east then had to take the south option around to Silverton to catch back up with the storm as the North road would not be an option due to 80mph Tennis Ball sized hail being reported. When we caught up to the storm it looked very cold looking probably due to the front undercutting it as it travelled North East. We then went further east into Oklahoma and watched various tornado warned supercells in front of us viewed from the west near Hobart but gave up the chase around 9pm. On hindsight maybe we should have stuck with it a little longer due to storms firing in Southern Oklahoma in the warm sector with one of these producing a clear cone tornado near the town of Rocky (Hindsight and all that)

All in all a very disappointing Moderate Risk due to storms being HP in nature and most Tornadoes being rain wrapped.

Monday 6th May 2019 – Kansas (Enhanced Risk)

Started today in Childress with a firm target of the Western third of Kansas. Both Nam and HRRR showed mostly the same thing with a frontal boundary sagging southwards through Kansas through the day and a dryline drawn southwards from there through SW Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. Moisture was plentiful with low 70’s having been advected into Southern and Central Kansas. SPC had a broad 5% Tornado Risk for today. On the trip north I was growing increasingly worried with a Cirrus canopy overspreading the area of interest and also an anvil shield from a storm rolling east through Baca County (CO) The frontal boundary further east started to fire storms which were quickly undercut by the cold front moving south, this was not a good sign for when/if our storms further west would fire, the trick would be to get a storm to ride the boundary far enough south to have a chance at a Tornado before being undercut or go to the Storm that was moving in from the west into better conditions and higher moisture. We sat at Sublette with loads of other chasers watching the skies as a Tornado Watch was issued at 630pm.

Even had a chat with Hank Schyma about the days chances (Amazing Chaser)

The Storm in Colorado at this time had now started to move into SW Kansas and with nothing firing to our North and 1 eye on the biggest day of the week tomorrow coming up further south we headed west towards Rolla to intercept this Storm. When we arrived and set up just to the south east of the storm an amazing orange sunset was in full flow. Some really dangerous anvil bolts were getting thrown out of the storm of which one landed a few hundred yards away making everyone scatter back to the cars.

The storm was now looking very outflow dominant and gusty winds were going to be the main threat as the storm started to bow out.

We headed back to Liberal TO Applebys with numerous other chasers before ending the day at the Super 8 Motel and crucially be in great position for the Moderate Risk in the Texas Panhandle tomorrow.