We started today in Salina and the Models were all over the place once again with a very broad area for storms from North Dakota through South Dakota down through Nebraska and Kansas. We headed North and then West along Interstate 80 before settling on some better looking storms forming a line from Eastern Colorado to the Nebraska Panhandle. Lightning was the main aim of today so I booked the Hotel at McCook (NE) and headed along the Road into that town from Oberlin to set up for some lightning. What I didnt expect was a long base with multiple Landspouts occuring along the line the best of which was over or near to Benkelman (NE). A real bonus couple of Tornadoes for today and we sent the photo evidence to NWS Goodland who verified our pics.
Landspout Below – Jock has a Picture showing the Funnel Above
We started today in Pratt and had a very strong target of Hays to Stockton a little further north in Central Kansas. After a nice leisurely drive to Hays for Lunch at Gellers Brewery the atmosphere looked explosive. Temperatures today would be in the Low to Mid 80’s and strong easterly winds would transport low to mid 70’s dewpoints into the area well in time and with a Surface Low moving in from the west from Colorado this looked like a very good set-up today and the SPC agreed with a 5% Tornado Upgrade on the 1630z Update. A Warm Front would also be draped somewhere near to Interstate 70 setting up a Triple Point play. Storms would initiate and become High Based elevated storms before the possibility of becoming surface based as time went by aided by an arriving low level jet around 22z. After we came out from Lunch explosive towers were all around us and the first radar blips were showing up on radar. We positioned to the North East around Wilson Lake Reservoir and I noticed 1 storm anchoring itself onto the Warm Front whilst shedding left split elevated storms away to the North. Also noted at this time was an increase in Smooth Channel Lightning and a massive rotating Wall Cloud setting up. The Motion of the Storm was ENE so I re-positioned us to just north of Wilson along the Interstate with the Supercell now to our North-West and west and displaying stunning Classic Supercell structure at this time.
The Storm was also now Tornado Warned and Positive Cgs were landing around us making for some interesting Photography. The Rotation was now very strong and a Tornado Touch down occurred to our west near the Town of Bunker Hill.
Tornado Just to our West Below
The Tornado Sirens were wailing in the nearby town and the Tornado changed shape to a tall Stovepipe at this time
The Tornado was moving ESE and the Storms Meso was moving ENE so it wasnt long before the rope our stage came from this brief Tornado that was on the ground for about 5 minutes. I re-positioned us further east for the next occlusion and the Structure was still stunning all along the route from Russell to Salina.
This Cyclic Supercell rode along the warm front from about 5-9pm dropping 6 Tornadoes along the way, we definately saw at least 2 and maybe more once all footage has been looked at. Finally a Storm that produced some stunning structure along with Tornadoes with the ingredients we had in place. Ended the day in Salina with a Steak Meal to celebrate.
After picking up the guests for Tour 5 we had driven to Ellis for our overnight position knowing a couple of Kansas chase days were in the offing, the first would be a very weak risk in South Central Kansas, the temps and dewpoints were superb with 88/74 registered at Pratt where we ate Lunch, the problem was only 10 knots of shear meaning storms would rain on themselves and only really the Multi Cell Storms would sustain until dusk, so it was a mainly Lightning show we were after today. The first Storms were very Elevated so to bring the hail out I did a B&W Shot, some of the later storms had quite pokey winds and an 18 Wheeler got turned over near Haviland. We then finished the day with some Lightning shots and Sunset shots at Greensburg before heading back to the hotel at Pratt for the night.
Started the last day of Tour 4 from Rapid City and knowing we had to be back in Denver for tomorrow morning our hand was forced to chase the bottom end of the risk which in the end worked out really well as the Tail End Supercell was pretty much the strongest cell of the day and had a decent Tornado Warning when it was near Alliance. Once again the chase terrain was very challenging with the Storm tracking across the Nebraska Sandhills and with its forward speed at 50mph made it almost impossible to get in front of.
We tracked the storm as far east as was possible until around 6pm and finally let it go on its way through North Central Nebraska into South Dakota and got some pics from the back of the Storm before ending the day at Julesburg (CO)
After a few tourist days visiting Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore we were back into Storm action today with a really nice risk in SE Montana and NW South Dakota. The models were showing a couple of long tracked Supercells heading from SW To NE initiating over the Big Horns of Wyoming. We awaited the dominant Supercell near Broadus and watched as it came into view at the same time as being Tornado Warned. Montana sure does not let you down with its incredible Structured Supercells and today was no different.
The Storms motion was making it hard to keep up at times but we tried along dusty dirt tracks through Capitol and then Camp Crook as the Storm headed towards Buffalo (SD)
The storm briefly looked tornadic whilst it was south of the boundary but ultimately once it crossed the boundary it became an Elevated Supercell, still lovely structure but more of a hail machine now and we encountered Tennis Ball Sized Hail east of Buffalo.
Knowing tomorrow was our last chase day before the journey back to Denver I opted to leave the storm and headed for Rapid City for the night. The Sunset on the backside of the Storm over some South Dakota Volcanoes was stunning still.
After swapping out the broken down car we knew that the High Plains would reignite over the weekend so made our way back from our overnight stay in Madison (Wisconsin) And along the way Storms were expected to erupt at Sunset in SE Nebraska so we set course for an overnight stay at Lincoln which wasnt a bad shout as that seemed to be the epicentre of where the storms were impacting from 8pm until 3am so a busy evening was had. 2 Lines of storms erupted with 3 Supercells lined up south of Interstate 80 and a line of elevated Supercells north of the Interstate and all these were drifting slowly south east. I got us into a nice position between the 2 lines in the dry slot and at one point we had 360 degree lightning.
Radar Grab below
We eventually made our way to our hotel and shot lightning for hours. A really severe storm rattled through around 130am with Quarter sized hail and 80mph winds which made for some great video. A very loud night with close thunder banging away into the dawn hours. Great Fun!
Started the day in Iowa and SPC Upgraded the Enhanced Risk to Moderate on their 1630z Update and bumped the Tornado Risk upto 15% Hatched. But once again we would have to chase in less than favourable Terrain in Wisconsin. Knowing the area pretty well now from previous visits I positioned us east of Lacrosse and far enough back from the Mississippi River Valley.
The Day started off with Elevated Overnight Storms moving away into Minnesota that had some cool wave features associated with Undulatus Asperatus
Models were showing a very messy storm mode with a quick transition to Linear so the trick today would be to get on a storm early with a half decent view and then bug out. I somehow managed to pick out of the mush a decent looking storm which was just over the river near Decorah and kept a close eye on it as it travelled North East. Once it turned east and started throwing out Smooth Channel Bolts I knew the storm had become surface based and was riding the warm front. Now was the time for intercept near Tomah so we headed north to get NE of the Storm. Once again the Storm was heavily HP and the Tornado rain wrapped the theme of 2022. We did see the very end of the Tornado as it was too our North but contrast was abysmal.
Around this time the whole complex lined out into a Tornado Warned Squall line and we had 4 Tornado warned areas of this line segment to our south, great eh ?? Well not if your Car loses power and blows a water pump. We limped to a BP Service Station on I-39 and waited a tow truck to get us to Madison Airport where a replacement car would be. A few interesting hours with tornadic line segments ensued. A very strange day indeed!
Another day and another High Plains risk around the Wyoming and South Dakota border. SPC actually had a 5% risk in North Dakota but my attention was drawn to a Surface Low approaching the WY/SD Border area near Belle Fourche so it was that little town that was my target for a 2nd day running. Today would be a late cap breaker so we spent the day at a local State Park and some of the guys did some swimming. We headed back into Belle Fourche and waited with numerous other chasers as the Cumulus started to get more agitated around 7pm.
We headed North around 715pm as Precip started to show on radar and was surprised to see a baby needle funnel cloud associated with no storm just hanging out north of Belle Fourche for a good 10 minutes so watched this little guy for a time.
Storms today seemed to be very low topped around 25k feet and quite slow moving so we had plenty of time on deserted roads to get some nice shots of the building late evening storms.
Some very Interesting features SW of Hoover (SD) but no ground contact was seen at our location just a low hanging wall cloud not surprising given the 73/65 spreads
We headed further North and East to track these storms but light was starting to fade, just enough time before we headed back to Rapid City for a structure shot, but a very underwhelming day in the end.
Started the day in SE Nebraska and a mammoth drive ahead of us to get onto some Supercell Storms rolling into South Dakota from Wyoming. My Target was Belle Fourche and SPC went with a 5% Tornado Risk for today. Our Journey through the Sandhills was stopped by Lunch in Valentine (NE) and then onto the Badlands and Rapid City for another break. We arrived at Belle Fourche at the perfect time with a Stunning Supercell 30 miles west of Town and also as soon as we got there a Tornado Warning. A first look at the Storm showed a HP Supercell with Giant Hail heading towards us. This whole Season has been the year of the Ice Machines unfortunately but very pretty storms to look at.
Around this time Belle Fourche was taking an absolute pounding from wind driven Baseball Hail. We tried to keep in front of the storm and dropped down towards Sturgis and the Bear Butte Volcano, the Supercell duly obliged and sat pretty much behind the Volcano.
Bear Butte Volcano Below
We then repositioned further east down I-90 towards the Badlands and watched the now bowing line move away, a nice LP Supercell right at the back of the line drifted in front of us to end the day.
The first day of Tour 4 we started from our overnight stay in Ogallalla with 2 possible targets the first in the high plains and the second what I felt was a better Tornado risk in SE Nebraska and SPC went with a 5% in this area. After a quick lunch in Beatrice I was confident we were in a good position with strong convection noted to our west along a boundary. A Tornado Watch was issued and the first blips on radar went up 15 miles to our west.
We dropped south from Beatrice avoiding the 4″ Hail this time and stopped at a great elevated location where we could see 3 Supercells all lined up and all were Tornado Warned, our location within 2 miles of a Town had Tornado Sirens blaring continuously and the structure on our storm was stunning.
Radar of the 3 Supercells lined up below
I noticed around this time the middle Supercell took a sharp south turn and was about to boss proceedings so relocated us further west.
It was becoming apparent that the main supercell was going to contain a rain wrapped Tornado around this time and a Tornado was ongoing from looking at Base Velocity near Maysville. We continued south stopping for structure shots hoping the Tornado would clear some rain away for a sneak peak but it was not giving away any easy shots.
I decided the only way to see these Tornadoes today was to get in there and get involved so went back east towards Blue Rapids (Ks) to try and get a position north of the Tornado but before we could get there the Tornado had blocked our path with power lines over the road and trees down everywhere. We had to abort back west and into a barrage of Smooth Channel bolts striking all around us. Knowing tomorrow contains a very good risk in South Dakota we cut the chase off and headed to York Nebraska for the night ready for the long drive North West Tomorrow.