Saturday 30th June 2018 – CO/KS – Enhanced Risk

Started the day in Chadron (NE) and had a target of NE Colorado. Models once again were handling today pretty badly and once again we had stratus inhibiting surface heating. One area that did get some surface heating and an Outflow Boundary was about 200 miles to the East near Hastings (NE) and here a localised Tornado threat occured, and like a lot of the 2018 season if you were lucky enough to be within an hours drive then you would have been on the Jackpot today. We stuck to our guns and watched an area of clearing down near Yuma so headed off south along Highway 385 through Holyoke and Wray towards 3 developing Supercells, the southern most of these was trying to move SE towards a NW Moving Ouflow Boundary near Burlington. Finally our chase was on.

Radar Picture above shows our Supercell really close to intersecting the Boundary shown in Light Blue. For a time we noticed rotation and a few attempts at funnels, but it was already clear the storm had ingested the boundary and was now on the move increasing its forward speed to 55mph and gusting out quite quickly.

We headed down to Burlington and then east towards Colby, even doing 80mph we still could not outrun the Storm which was now picking up most of the field around us and creating a huge Haboob. It made for some interesting driving with all manor of objects being thrown over the road around us. We decided with little chance of Lighnting to head to Hays and let the storm roll over us. A really tough chase day once again!

Friday 29th June 2018 – WY/SD/NE – Enhanced Risk

Started the day in Dickinson (ND) with a Chase Target of the Gillette to Sundance area of Wyoming. A pair of Supercells initiated and tracked quite fast to the East and started to haul rapidly towards us at 40mph. The Northern Storm was on a track to go very close to Devils Tower so we headed North from Moorcroft and took up position. The Storm was quite grungy but we still managed some amazing pictures. Pic Below from John Finney.

That storm was dropping Golfball Hail just North of us so we scooted south to the Southern Storm down winding Mountain roads towards Sundance. The Structure was very nice and the hail was the main concern.

The Storm took a turn to the south so it was now a race to get out of the way of 80mph wind driven Baseball Hail, we took a few to the side windows but escaped, other were not so lucky further north losing windows in the process.

Pic Below from John Finney of us escaping South

We let the 2 Northern Supercells go and made our way South towards the Nebraska/South Dakota Border where the Models showed a tail end charlie storm around 7pm. Some Storms along the way kept us entertained and we stopped at points to shoot Lightning over the Black Hills near Hot Springs.

We kept an eye on the Storm to our South West and when it did a hard right turn it almost immediately gained a Tornado Warning, we noticed on our journey south a Cone Funnel half way to the ground. Again we stopped at the border to shoot some structure. Pic again by John Finney

Again a Cone Funnel formed but it was yet again sooo close to dropping a nice Tornado in front of us. Mother Nature really has had it in for me this year.

A little after the above picture was taken the Storm gusted out and produced an amazing Hail Dump just to our north. We finished the day in Chadron (NE)

Thursday 28th June 2018 – ND/SD/MT – Moderate Risk

Today would be the last big day of the Season and I was feeling confident. HRRR Had numerous Tornadic Supercells on its early runs and we left Rapid City early with a Lunch Stop in Bowman (ND). I was still undecided on what play to go for even at 2pm. The Set Up showed Low to Mid 70’s Dewpoints wrapping North around an area of Low Pressure moving North East from NE Wyoming into NW South Dakota for around 6pm. It also showed a lifting Warm Front which disected a South Eastwards moving Cold Front over Montana. The way I have been taught is to go for the wrapping Moisture around the Low as this nearly always produces Tornadoes. Easy Huh ??

The First Storm of the Day went up in the Perfect position and sat stationery for about an hour, this was definately riding the warm front, the give away was when it did a Left/Right Split and the Right moving Supercell moved due east along the front. Our approach showed a strong Updraught indeed.

I still had a nagging feeling though, we were near Killdeer by now which was about 150 miles North of the Approaching Surface Low. But surely if our storm and another further south west went up both would produce. We ploughed on and sat just South of the now Stationery Supercell. The only thing lacking early in the storms life cycle was the low level rotation which was pretty non existant, the inflow was however really impressive at around 30mph sustained. Finally after an hour of watching the Storm the rotation increased and we had our first attempt at a Tornado. A snaky funnel reached down half way to the ground but no touchdown. Pic Below From John Finney

We moved a little further south and the Structure really started to take shape now as well.

Still no touchdown and no Tornado Warning yet either. Another few stops further south showed a rapidly rotating White Mesocyclone just 500 feet off the ground, and now our storm was tornado warned finally.

Pics Below by John Finney

The above picture shows if something had put down we would have been staring at a very large Tornado from such a strong Meso. But a little after the picture above the cause was over with the Storm seemingly leaving the Boundary after about 5 hours sat on it and we got blasted with cold Outflow winds.  This storm had more rotation than I had seen in most other storms but did not produce a Tornado when the conditions were perfect, it just goes to show we now little about why some storms produce and why the majority dont.

A great chase none the less.

Wednesday 27th June 2018 – S Dakota – Slight Risk

After travelling most of the previous day we knew a potent line of Storms currently in NW South Dakota would make it to Mitchell at Daybreak so it was an early 515am wake up and head out to the approaching Storms. The Sunrise in the east with the storm approaching from the west did not dissapoint. Some lovely colours of the Corn Field were on offer and John Finney captured some stunning pictures once again.

Sunday 24th June 2018 – NM/CO – Slight Risk

Today was being billed as the big day of June for quite some time, A Day 2 Moderate Risk but by the time we had woken up this had been downgraded to an Enhanced Risk already. Upon looking at Surface Obs and Vis Sat this Risk was rapidly going downhill with an overnight MCS pushing the effective outflow much further south, in fact it was approaching Lubbock by 18z. All that was left was Upslope flow into the Foothills of Extreme Southern Colorado and the Raton Mesa area to give us some chasing. The 20z Outlook put a further nail in the coffin with the 5% Tornado risk being downgraded to a 2%. We left Lamar and had lunch in Springfield before heading west to a growing storm near Kim. This Storm soon died but our attention was then focused to a very nice Supercell heading SE from Trinidad into New Mexico. We headed south from Kim and stopped just North of Brandon to see some pretty stunning structure.

Around this time the Volocities tightened up quite a bit and reports were coming in of a Wedge Tornado on the ground to our West, but from our vantage point it was just a very low hanging wall cloud hanging on the Mesa. We continued South and watched some really nice Cg Lightning with Quarter Sized Hail falling around us North of Folsom.

Nice Structure now – Pic From James Menzies

We continued South to Des Moines (NM) and watched as clouds cloaked the Capulin Volcano – Pic James Menzies

After this the Storms fell apart and we headed east towards our Overnight stay of Guymon but did stop 1 more time for some Lightning and Art Opps.

Saturday 23rd June 2018 – Colorado – Slight Risk

Changeover day and another Risk day this time South and East from Denver with a small 2% Tornado Risk. Supercells were ongoing when we got away from the Airport around 3pm and it wasnt long before we connected with a Storm South West of Limon. There was another Supercell that had gone through the area earlier which had dumped lot of Hail about 3″ Deep on the roadway which made it look like a winters scene.

Picture Above From John Finney

The Storm started to structure up and we started to take Quarter Sized Hail near Karval. When we got in front of the Storm and looked back some Impressive Hail Fog was rolling out the back of the Storm to our north.

We continued East with the Storms towards Lamar and watched a few new storms going up at the back of the main SE Moving Complex on the Outflow which gave us some nice Lightning Ops. Picture below by James Menzies

Friday 22nd June 2018 – CO/KS – Enhanced Risk

Started today in Fort Morgan with a very broad 5% Tornado area and a massive Enhanced Risk that covered Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Overnight Models were keen on very early initiation in 2 South-Eastward Moving Bands. The trick today would be to get onto something that was Supercellular before everything grew upscale from congealing coldpools. My Inital target was Lamar for around 3pm so we set off south for a quick lunch in Limon. Along the way and at 1030am a High Based Supercell had already gone Severe just to our West, we could not resist the opportunity to take a few snaps before continuing our journey South.

Shot below from Mark Pritchard

Even the Iphone Pano came out really well.

Our first Storm we intercepted was NE Of Pueblo, it briefly looked very nice but then took some time organising, we ploughed on and core punched a messy line of storms near Sheridan Lake. From there we turned South along Highway 385 to a Storm that was acting very strangely and had stalled near Bristol. The only way through was through the Hail Core and here we took some large Ping Pong and Tennis Ball sized Hail, we lost 1 windshield in the process. When we stopped South East of the Storm it really started to wrap up and insane fast rotation and rapid rising motion was noted to our North, this moved over us and the Storm started to form a hook, it wasnt long before it became Tornado Warned. How this storm did not produce a Tornado is beyond me.

We continued East along dirt roads into Kansas and watched the Storm Cycle up and Down, West of Syracuse it once again gained strong rotation and the Wall Cloud was almost dragging the floor but once again it did not produce, I can only think weak inflow surface winds were stopping a bonafide Tornado producer today.

Knowing this was the last day before Changeover in Denver tomorrow we had to sadly leave the Storms and head back towards Burlington for the night, the drive back was stunning though with the setting sun to our west and a sky full of Mammatus to our East. A great end to a great Tour 4.

Thursday 21st June 2018 – WY/CO – Marginal Risk

After travelling from Burlington to Cheyenne on Wednesday we took a gamble on a few storms occuring over the Laramie Divide today. HRRR was quite bullish on a Supercell or two occuring as winds swung back easterly just in time before diurnal heating waned around the 00z point. We had lunch in Laramie and watched cumulus trying to develop, around 430pm the first signs of something more substantial started to occur and we had a decent storm initiating around 15 miles to our west. Some great Cg bolts were noted, we headed back east over the Pass along towards a point just east of Cheyenne and noted some lovely LP Structure.

The Hail also increased to levels that made this Storm go Severe Warned at this time.

We noted a Left/Right Split around the time the picture was take above and followed briefly into the Hail core of the Northern Storm to pick up some stones which were mostly Quarter Sized.

We then headed back South towards Carpenter to watch some stunning cloudscapes from the west of the storms. Finally Stopping near Stoneham as the setting sun cast a shadow on the dying storms.

Tuesday 19th June 2018 – KS/CO – Enhanced Risk

We awoke today with an Enhanced Risk and a 5% Tornado Risk in Colorado and Kansas. Morning models showed Colorado as the place to be so it was up and out at 8am from Columbus (NE) and a 350 miles slog west along Interstate 80 to my target area of Fort Morgan. Storms would erupt early today around 1pm so we needed to get west fast. And sure enough once we got to the business end of the drive 3 Supercells were lined up in front of us. The middle one was Tornado warned and we could see why when it came into view.

An amazing Structures Classic Supercell was sat near I76 South West of Fort Morgan. We took a south dirt road and watched this amazing storm rotate in front of us. The radar at this time took on an almost classic hook and winds were screaming into the storm at 40mph sustained.

The Storm was wrapping up quickly and it would not be long before a Tornado was going to happen.

Photo Below by Jeremy Silver

Rotation increased further and finally at the 2nd attempt we had a beautiful cone Tornado drilling the ground to our West. An incredible sight and one captured beautifully by Mark Pritchard (Guest on Tour 4)

The Tornado was on the ground between Pleasant Valley and Keenesburg for about 7 minutes before roping out. I then moved us into the Hook and watched funnels dancing above our heads but it was not to be with another Tornado on this storm and it started to fall apart quite a bit. Our attention was now drawn to the Tail End Charlie Supercell NW of Limon which had also gained a Tornado Warning, this one would be harder to intercept as we had to cut through the NE Side of the Storm and with it already having reports of Baseball Hail this was going to be fun on I70 south of Deer Trail.

We busted through the Hail to be greeted by a strongly rotating wallcloud near Agate. No touchdown what we could see from our vantage point and the Supercell was getting really HP at this stage, we pushed further South East ahead of the Storm and the structure started to get Insane at this point.

The Greens were off the scale with the Large Hail this Storm had in it. We headed east from Limon to Genoa and stopped again for a look at the jaw dropping structure. Tornado Sirens started blaring at this point at 458pm MDT as a Confirmed Embedded Tornado was 4 Miles NW of Genoa.

Picture above and below from Jodie Wooltorton

We continued east and stopped a few more times for structure as it looked like everything was growing upscale and congealing into a mess soon.

And one more look at that Structure.

We finally let the end of the Storms overrun us in Burlington where we stopped for the night. An absolutely incredible chase day which had pretty much everything. Colorado you were Immense today!

Monday 18th June 2018 – Nebraska – Enhanced Risk

Started the day in North Platte with a split target today of either Colorado or Nebraska. SPC upgraded the Tornado Risk for Nebraska to 5% and with a stationery boundary and dewpoints in the mid 70’s we selected a target town of Albion as our choice today. We left and grabbed a quick lunch and watched Agitated Cumulus starting to explode all around us. And after filling up the petrol tanks the best storm of the day exploded just 7 miles from us.

We headed east to watch the storm grow and noted a left split and right mover so headed for the latter, we pushed through Madison and watched as the Storm really organised. And around 7 miles SE of Pilger the storm gained a Tornado warning, we watched a white cone funnel extend halfway to the ground but no touchdown was noted from our position, we continued on towards WestPoint where the structure really started to take shape.

The Storm after this became congealed into the cluster further east towards Iowa so we decided the call it a day with storms that far east and headed back west towards Madison. Just before eating at Whisky Creek we watched a lovely LP Supercell at Sunset.

We ended the day in Columbus, once again another risk that never really verified or got going today, another chance tomorrow back west in Colorado.