Friday 24th May 2019 – Tx Panhandle (Enhanced Risk)

Started the day in Woodward after back to back Moderate Risk Tornadoes with another frontal boundary risk today. One major concern would be the lack of capping and thats what ruined the day in general. Even on the way down through to Childress the first storms had fired and a Tornado Watch had been issued around midday. Training HP Storms were messing the day up even before it had began. We looked at the storm coming in west of Paducah but knew it was just going to be a stop, take picture of green sky then move east again type of day, so I made the decision to head south to Guthrie and then west towards Lubbock in the hope something more isolated could fire off the dryline South and West of the Lubbock area.

The big story of the day though was the Historic Flooding going on east of the Lubbock area where nearly 8 Inches of rain had fallen and it was a struggle getting through the towns of Ralls and Crosbyton.

We cut off the chase to grab dinner in Applebys and kept 1 eye on a developing Supercell west of Lubbock which was moving towards our overnight stay in Plainview and after finishing dinner we made our way north on the interstate and shot some lightning. A very big underperforming day.

Thursday 23rd May 2019 – Tx Panhandle (Moderate Risk)

We started the day in Tulsa with a massive 5 hour slog across Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle just east of Amarillo. SPC had a 10% Risk for Tornadoes today with a 45% Hatched area for Hail. The set up today would be a stationery boundary that would/should lift north through the day as a warm front. Once again visibility was dreadful with storm around 25 miles away not being able to be seen again, so we had to head north towards Pampa to see them and then onto Perryman and the Spearman area.

Once North there seemed to be 3 Supercell lined up South to North and we ventured into the middle one to have a look at the main action area. 5 Miles out we could just see a grey mass but go to within 2 miles and there was a rotating wall cloud, the storm though looked very cold which maybe meant it had crossed the front or was being undercut. Our focus now would be the southern most storm down near Skellytown, this was clearly still in the Warm Sector. We headed east to keep ahead of the precip on FM281 across to Highway 83. Around this time the Tail End Storm split and the top split came towards us and then started to right turn gaining an almost instant Tornado Warning. Our view south and west was very good and we could even by now see the southern most storm which also gained a Tornado Warning. The middle storm which was closest to us looked very HP so we plotted a course south towards Canadian to intercept. This would be a costly mistake as the storm just 5 miles to our North West cleared out all the Precip and a massive Wedge Tornado was visible for all pretty much in the place we had stopped at 15 minutes earlier. You win some and you lose some in the chase world but it was not going to stop me from chasing and getting a Tornado today. We continued on towards the town of Lipscombe and watched the final cell of the day just to our west and our patience paid off when a beautiful dusk cone Tornado planted on the road in front of us. Pic Credit Sam Whyman below

The Tornado was visible to us for 5 minutes before wrapping in rain, our only roads to keep up with the storm were north and east and we came pretty close to the tornado North of Lipscombe before getting out in front and shooting lighnting before ending the day in Woodward. A really great storm chase today and number 10 on the board for Tour 2.

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – Oklahoma (Moderate Risk)

We awoke today in Topeka with a firm chase target of NE Oklahoma or SE Kansas. We would need to find the Stationery boundary and get south of it into the 80f temps and 72f dewpoints. Our journey down was not easy with massive flooding and closed roads from the previous weeks rains and after a few diversions we stopped in Claremont just east of Tulsa. The SPC had a broad 15% Hatched area for Tornadoes today and after eating a quick lunch we spotted the first echoes around 80 miles to our south around the I-40 Area and these were moving North East at around 45mph.

We headed south from the Tulsa Metro area and had a perfect intercept down the front of the Supercell heading at us which at this time was rapidly rotating with funnel cloud reports. Then a massive problem arose, the Highway south over the Arkansas River was closed and there was no way around, a large Cone Tornado was being reported around this time around 25 miles to our South West but once again with murky skies due to Wildfires there was no way we were going to see this. Our only option was to head south and east just on the North East side of the River and wait. We plotted a route to Redbird and after around 15 minutes the base came into view, we got pounded with small hail from the forward flank before a nicely sculpted Supercell came into view.

The Storm was still Tornado warned and the rotation was incredibly fast at this point, it was only a matter of time and near the town of Haskell we got visual of a Tornado touching down.

The storm quickly moved North East but for some reason became quickly elevated, another Supercell was forming over the Tulsa Metro area to our North West so we headed to Chouteau and watched this storm approach, its initial appearance was HP and a little bit Outflow Dominant but the Cg lightning was some of the best we had seen this season. The Structure was also really nice

We watched this storm roll just to our North with rapid rotation and the storm gaining another tornado warning, it was just starting to get dark by now and with 1 eye on tomorrows Moderate Risk in the Panhandle i half thought about heading west but I am glad we stuck with the storm. North of Chouteau near Pryor we watched to our East a white cone tornado touch down. We took an east road towards Salina and tracked a huge Wedge Tornado near the town watching Power Flashes just to our East.

This would be Tornado number 2 of the day for us, we continued on until the tornado lifted but not long after it produced Tornado number 3 near the town of Jay and by now the structure was starting to take on some breath taking shapes through the lightning.

Soon after this we cut off the chase and headed back to Tulsa for the night. A very good chase today and my first NE Oklahoma Tornadoes as well.

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.