Today was the final day of the Tornado Season for us and it was a travel / chase day back towards Colorado from Montana. The bigger risk area was over in Eastern North Dakota so we would be reliant on storms forming off the Rockies in the General Thunderstorm Risk area and we were not dissapointed picking up some nice storms around the Cheyenne area and Northern Colorado before sunset. We headed south through 2 storms and sat just south of there watching quite prolific Cg Lightning and the Gust Front of the back storm sat in front of the Rockies north of Greeley.
Re-Positioning further south I took a Pano of sweeping rain which came out really nice
And as the sun was setting through the storm the colours got even more intense
And finally everything went into a blaze of oranges and reds just before we finally called it a day on this last storm of the Season. A fitting end to a really active season
Started and ended the day in Billings for this chase, it looked like a repeat of yesterday and SPC upgraded from Slight to Enhanced on the 16z Update and also increased the Tornado potential from 2% to 5% with some quite bullish wordings as well about Tornadic Supercells. We headed to Lewistown for some lunch and then found an amazing spot to view storms from west of Christina, this spot had 100 mile views to all directions and is one I will keep bookmarked. Storms started firing and a Tornado Watch was issued but storms seemed to be struggling initially and it really did not feel humid at all, the low 60’s dewpoints certainly were not anywhere near yet but some readings further east near Glasgow and Miles City were showing low 60’s readings. Our first look at a storm rolling by to the west showed an elevated looking storm which was rapidly decaying.
Numerous other strorms were forming and also looked benign clearly moisture issues were evident, the other problem we had today was storm speed with them moving at 50mph to the North East.
The best looking storm of the day was near Christina and we followed this until we could keep up
But it was ultimately a lost cause and this became a very underwhelming day stormwise as the northern part congealed into a bowing complex moving into Canada and the southern segment died out as sunset came. Managed to grab a last picture of the storms moving away before we headed back to Billings.
We started today with High Hopes of grabbing a Montana Tornado with the SPC agreeing with a 5% Tornado Risk and an Enhanced Risk posted for Central and North East Montana. Low 60’s dewpoints and 50kts of Bulk Shear would easily see Supercells forming around 3pm onwards. We grabbed a quick lunch at Uberbrew in Billings and headed North West towards Harlowton and put ourselves just east of a line of Supercells the best of which was located just west of Lewistown. We headed North after a quick top up with fuel and passed through Judith Gap and our Storm went Tornado Warned. Our first look at it was good with a decent Wall Cloud and inflow winds screaming into it. Was Montana going to break her duck with my lack of Tornadoes in the state.
The Storm approached Eddies Corner and almost in an Instant started to gust out – Aaaaargh not again surely and to make matters worse the storm we had just left went tornado warned to our South West and quickly produced a cone tornado that was hidden by a hill that sits just west of Judith Gap and our position was blocked from the Tornado that was just 10 miles to our South West. We headed back south getting around the mountain to take a look at the Supercell which had just produced a quick Tornado and the structure was very nice indeed. Rotation was pretty non existant by now though
The Storms were now rolling east through areas of Montana that contained no road options so it was time to reposition much further east to get back in front of the storm, our guests were starting to see just how hard it is too chase in Montana with lack of road options and mountains everywhere. When we finally got back in front of the Supercell a few hours later just before Sunset it looked even better structure wise and regained its Tornado Warning.
Nice Structure was heading towards us
The storm tightened up but ultimately could not produce a Tornado for us, we let the wall cloud go overhead and positioned ourselves to the west of the storm watching it move away to the east with lightning flickering as dusk set in and a nice waterpump in the foreground.
Ended the day in Billings ready for another Montana chase on the 28th coming up.
Today was a travel / chase day from Nebraska all the way to SE Montana to be in a good position for the next few days and some decent 60knt South Westerly 500mb flow impacting the Northern Plains from a stationery Trough parked out west and with moisture streaming north it was looking good for the last 3 days of the trip. Models today had a few Supercells initiating along the Big Horns of Wyoming and Southern Montana and had these tracking east into SE Montana and NW South Dakota into the early evening so our plan was to connect with these storms in the early evening mainly for Lightning opps. After a lunch in Alliance we continued on and booked rooms in Belle Fourche knowing that the storms should be impacting this area but still had time to venture into SE Montana to have a look at the storms before they chased us back to the hotel, the Mammatus in the forward flank was stunning.
Storms had already congealed at this point so we headed back to the hotel and watched lightning for about 2 hours impacting our hotel, I even managed to get some Cg’s on my Canon which I will upload at a later date.
After our travel day on Monday we awoke in good position in South Central Nebraska and to the News that we had an Enhanced Risk and 5% Tornado Risk in South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas. Storms would form along a stationery boundary today with near 70f dewpoints residing to the south of this zone.
We grabbed lunch in Grand Island and headed down to developing towers near Hastings (NE) At around 3pm the first storms of the day were initiating and we got into position to watch the developing Supercell. Not long after another more potent storm was forming so we core punched the first to be in position between the 2 Supercells. The one to the east had some nice structure but the one to the west looked really good with some decent rotation and inflow winds.
There was a point as this storm was sat stationery on the front that it could produce a nice tornado and things were looking good with incredible low level rotation but not long after the above picture as taken the storm took a big jolt to the South East and started moving at 40mph clearly having left the boundary and blasting us with outflow winds and the storm becoming a HP Outflow Dominant beast. More storms at this point were forming rapidly clearly from gusting outflow from this storm and already even at 530pm a generated cold pool was making these storms grow upscale into a complex of bowing storms. We kept on stair stepping down towards the Kansas and Nebraska border to keep in front of the storms.
At Mankato we decided to head back north towards Superior (NE) and sit just north of the complex watching lightning as it raced away towards the South East, we knew that the last 4 days were going to be in the Dakotas and Montana so this was a good idea, some of the Lightning when we stopped was incredible and with a Hailbow as well made for some lovely pictures.
There was still time for a stunning sunset with decaying LP to our west before we ended the day – A really great Photography day for Tour 5 today
Now the long slog North!
Started today in Guymon and SPC had a large Enhanced Risk area along the Red River with attendant 5% Tornado Risk but we saw enough in leftover moisture in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Texas Panhandle to leave us in the area we finished the day before albeit in a Marginal Risk for storms and Zero Tornado Risk. We headed west to Boise City for lunch and watched towers trying to form into storms but everything seemed to struggle and it looked for a long time like it would just be single cell showers over great viewpoints of old houses that would be the order of the day.
Suddenly the Storm of the Day was taking shape further south just into the Texas Panhandle and finally we had our Supercell for the day and although we could never get in front of it due to limited road option the view from the back was simply amazing and for the next 2 hours it was photography heaven even with the numerous Mosquito bites we endured. Here are just some below of the hundreds of pics we took of this stunning LP Supercell South East of Perryton (Tx)
Once the Sun started to set the colours went into overdrive
An amazing end to the day
We started today in Goodland and some were woken early with a 4.5 Magnitude Earthquake rattling the beds at 352am in the morning. The Target today was a little bit further south into SE Colorado with the hopes that some of that low 60’s dewpoints can get advected into the region late in the day from South Easterly winds riding up over the Palmer Divide and Raton Mesa. We stopped off in La Junta at Lucys Tacos which is an amazing Streetfood Taco Stall we found earlier in the trip. And it was not long before a Supercell was forming about 70 miles south along the Colorado/New Mexico border so we set off towards Kim and got into a nice position North East of the Storm.
We continued East towards Springfield stopping sporadicly along the way to admire the Structure at various stopping points.
It was clear this Storm like the day before was heading into heavily capped air further east and had that dying look about it so we stopped off at Springfield for a while awaiting the next line of 4 Supercells that had initiated along the Rockies and were hopefully going to be the main show with moisture having arrived in time.
After a break for about an hour we got into position about 14 miles North West of Springfield and it wasnt long before the storms came into view and these looked the real deal if slightly HP in nature they were still discrete so had a chance at a Tornado, Inflow winds were screaming behind us at about 40mph sustained and it wasnt long before the storm in front of us became Tornado Warned.
At about 838pm MDT one of our group got a Picture of the Cone Tornado this Storm Produced which has since been verified by NWS Pueblo and Nick Nolte got an even better picture of it from County Road RR which was 1 mile south of us (His Picture Below Credit to Nick Nolte)
The Cone is to the left of the Picture above. Soon after the above the winds switched to outflow and we made a hasty retreat back to Paved roads and headed South to Boise City to grab some food before heading east through numerous storms to Guymon to finish the day. Tour 5 off the Mark with a Tornado.
We started today in Burlington and had a chase target of Between Limon and Colorado Springs, SPC had issued a 2% Tornado Risk and chances for Supercell Storms were good with 35knts of West North Westerly flow aloft. The first Storm of the day fired near the Black Forest area in front of the Rockies so we set off towards Kiowa and stopped about 35 miles East of the storm. It quickly gained a Tornado warning early in its life
The storm then went on warp speed mode moving east at 50mph so we repositioned further east and travelling through the town of Simla Tornado Sirens were blaring away. The Storm as it neared Hugo then started to struggle for some reason and it was clear from the look it did not have long left but managed to snag 1 more shot looking up into the Mesocyclone while travelling along the road.
As the storm died we hung back along Highway 287 for more developments and patience paid off with a nicely structured Supercell that would go on to be the storm of the day and rampage across Kansas and Nebraska in the following hours. Our first look at it was near West of Kit Carson.
We kept in front of the storm as it pretty much followed Highway 96 through Kit Carson, Cheyenne Wells and Sharon Springs. You could tell it was fixing for some serious hail from the first look at it getting stronger.
After the above picture was taken we headed east but also started taking sporadic Golfball Hail and it looked like giant snowballs were falling in a very atmospheric sky with walls of dust crossing the road in front of us as well, the structure at this time was getting incredible behind us so we kept about 10 miles in front of it and stopped various times for shots, the first just as the sun was setting casting an orange glow under the base.
Heading further east and just into Kansas near the Border we stopped again and it looked like even better with cars fleeing the looming mothership above
As we fled east we rode the storm out near Wallace and got hit with 85mph wind driven quarter sized hail, luckily for us the storm had not picked up stones and pebbles like earlier with at least 5 chasers vehicles windows being blown out near Sharon Springs. An incredible Supercell on a great chase day we ended the day eating at Lucys Diner before ending the day in Goodland.
Tour 5 started their first day with a risk in Colorado nice and local to Denver where we started. A very weak DCVZ was setting up today and SPC had a small 2% Tornado Risk for today, one thing lacking was the quality of moisture. A storm formed in the usual place around the Bennett area and we headed south to intercept. Some really nice Cg Lightning was noted with the storm and we headed east down dirt roads to stay in front of the storm that had already turned east towards Last Chance.
The Storm was massively High Based but intermittent Supercell structure was coming through from time to time.
The was also some strange rain shafts at times and its easy to see why these are falsely claimed as Tornadoes by law enforcement as some people could be easily fooled by these.
We continued on fantastic dirt roads heading through Cope and near Anton and found a great stopping point to shoot some structure to our north near an old abandoned Schoolhouse.
We continued on east to Idalia with the storm and got some lovely sunset shots before finishing in Burlington for the evening. A great first day.
We awoke today to the last day of Tour 4 with a surprising 10% Tornado Risk in Central Kansas. The set-up today was a boundary that was sagging south and eastwards and this boundary was trailing an MCV that was pushing NE through the Salina area. We left in good time and had a very quick lunch in Dodge City, the first storm fired early around 145pm so we headed off NE up Highway 50 towards Kinsey. An Outflow boundary was denoted as a long line of cumulus clouds that looked like a gust front in appearance, the developing Supercell was tucked in just behind moving South East.
We parked up about 4 miles North East of Kinsey in a great position to watch the base roll towards us. Getting a first look at the base I knew instantly this supercell was going to produce a tornado and soon enough a barrel shaped funnel cloud came into view behind a grove of trees.
And not long after this a Tornado was on the ground with intermittent touch downs and dirt being kicked up in the distance through a gap in the trees.
The time was still only 225pm and we had a lone supercell almost to ourselves.
I did some arty black and white pictures trying to get the structure in as well
The storm weakened after leaving the boundary so we headed east towards Pratt for another Supercell that had fired but it soon became clear the dreaded line out was occuring already and storms were growing upscale so with one eye on having to get to Denver for the changeover day we bugged out west.
A great Tour 4 with them seeing 6 Tornadoes and countless Supercells.