Friday 31st May 2019 – SW Texas (Slight Risk)

We awoke today with another Slight Risk over the same area as the previous day and another 5% Tornado Risk as well. Today we went west into the Davis Mountains and to Fort Davis for lunch. Soon after big towers were going up all around us and it wasnt long before the first thunder was being heard from initiation just 5 miles south of us. The storm took a while to get organised but soon became supercellular with reports of large hail. It is very tricky chasing in the mountains so we headed off South East to Alpine and then North East again towards Fort Stockton. As the storm approached the road there was an impressive wall cloud almost scraping the ground but no touch downs were seen from our location.

Once the storm had passed the road we headed back into Alpine to watch a big Supercell coming straight north from Mexico but this storm was very tame once it got to us with just a few Cg bolts. We once again hit the road east towards Marathon and easily caught back up with our Storm and just east of Marathon quite strong rotation was noted in front of us. And soon after a dust column appeared and went straight up into the cloud and into a funnel above. Tornado number 1 for Tour 3 had occured and really early into the trip, and soon enough the red dot appeared on the SPC page confirming what we had seen.

We then turned our attention to another storm erupting to our west which was throwing out some amazing Cg Bolts onto the Mountains north of Marathon, we sat to the east and watched for a good 30 minutes clear air Cg’s marching towards us, the closest was in the field opposite at a range of about 300 yards.

We let the storm go as the precip started to fall at our location and headed to Midland for the night in readiness for another risk tomorrow in the Northern Texas Panhandle.

Thursday 30th May 2019 – Texas (Slight Risk)

We started the day north of Amarillo with a massive drive south towards the Big Bend area of Texas where there was an outside chase of a Tornado or two if Supercells could remain discrete. Storms were ongoing when we got to Fort Stockton but already at 5pm were losing intensity and petering out, all we were left with was some nice sunset pictures as the storms anvils drifted away to the east. We ended the day in Fort Stockton with another identical risk tomorrow where we will head into the Davis Mountains to get on the storms at initiation.

 

Tuesday 28th May 2019 – Kansas (Moderate Risk)

After getting away from Denver the night before and staying in Colby we headed east today to Salina for lunch. SPC had issued a Moderate Risk for today with 10% Hatched for Tornadoes. The Set Up featured a Stalled Boundary in NE Kansas and an open warm sector with dewpoints in the low 70’s and a surface low dryline triple point further to the west, there was also an Outflow Boundary along I70 in North East Kansas near to Topeka and Kansas City. My early target was Emporia hoping a Supercell would travel North East to position itself east of the Surface Low and near the OFB Intersection.

The one thing I did not do today was keep a check on how far east the Low Pressure was advancing and this would end up biting me badly today. All models had shown this well east of Salina by 00z but in reality the Low stalled out near Hays and the Triple Point ended up being 150 miles out which would ultimately cost us some beautiful clear Tornadoes from a Cyclic Supercell near that town. What we got was probably one of the strongest Tornadoes of the Season and a storm that gained a Tornado Emergency near the town of Lawrence and Kansas City. The storm would be very similar to the El Reno Tornado from 2013 in that it was so wrapped in rain that you simply could not see it and unfortunately this storm would impact another tour group rolling 2 of their 3 vans when conditions got too volatile, there is always a time and place to bug out on a storm and this was one of those times, I made the decision not too chase in built up populated areas with a storm that had a large damaging rain wrapped wedge tornado in it and Tornado Emergency signatures on GRLevel3. The town of Linwood nearly got leveled by this Tornado so my choice was a good one in the end. The Tornado would later gain an EF4 Rating making it one of the most costly of the year in terms of damage.

After bugging out west another line of LP Supercells erupted from Wichita to Salina and so we went after those from 7-9pm.  And there was still time for our chosen storm to become Tornado Warned near the town of Herington

The Supercell intially looked good going from LP to Classic in under 30 minutes but soon started to take on more of a HP appearance as the rotation neared our location, there was some stunning colours with the setting sun though.

The storm after that merged with the storm to the south and it was pretty much game over, a real missed opportunity today and we somehow ended up with no Tornadoes to show for it. Thats the way the dice roll sometimes. We ended the day in Salina and made plans to head down towards  the Big Bend area of Texas for a few days risks coming up much further south.

Monday 27th May 2019 – Colorado (Enhanced Risk)

Today we started the day in Limon and needed to be at our base hotel for around 5pm at DIA. Meaning we only had a short 6 hour window to chase storms and once they rattled off North East we would have to let them go at some point. We headed to Fort Morgan for lunch and noticed an early DCVZ storm go up at the usual point near Bennett, we finished up quick and headed south and west to watch the Supercell moving slowly to the North East, these types of set-ups tend to produce early Tornadoes before another storm takes over and this one was no exception.

Rotation started to pick up at this point and a funnel cloud started to lower and no longer than 3 minutes after this picture above a Tornado was being reported near Bennett.

Always good to get Tornado number one in the bag for the day before 2pm local time. Another Supercell just to the North of the one pictured above now became the dominant storm and would become the storm of the day with it travelling from near Prospect Valley all the way east of North Platte (NE) We followed it as far as we could to around the Sterling area but seeing as it was now 4pm we had to cut the chase off just as it was getting interesting with incredible structure and small spin up tornadoes being reported.

We plotted our course back to DIA down Interstate 76 and then along the E420 Road and along the way luck would be on our side, we noticed a storm going up right over the Airport drifting north and as we approached it the radar signature started to get very interesting with a hook showing and a decent velocity couplet. I then noticed a huge dust plume down the road and instinctively looked up and there was a beautiful white cone funnel not fully condensed but drilling the ground in front of us with the rockies behind it. A very lucky catch for Tornado Number 2 for the day seeing as we were not even actively chasing

And that pretty much ended the day with us heading to the Hotel Complex on Tower Road and picking up the guests for a bonus chase tomorrow in the Moderate Risk zone further east

Sunday 26th May 2019 – Colorado (Moderate Risk)

After waving goodbye to Tour 2 in Childress a few of us now had to drive towards Denver for the start of Tour 3 in a couple of days but along the way was another big day with a Moderate Risk and 15% Hatched for Tornadoes over Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado. Once again the main problem would be the early cap breaking and numerous storms erupting. My target was Lamar and we set off early aiming to reach that point by early afternoon. Along Highway 287 near Springfield we watched a quite healthy hailstorm dump its hail in the town before it shot off east into Kansas.

The trick today was to stay close to the surface low or just a touch east, after stopping for snacks in Lamar a Supercell literally erupted just north of the town and by the time we left and headed out of the town a Tornado was on the ground.

The storm quickly crossed into a colder airmass over the boundary so it was back south and west for the next Supercell that had recently become tornado warned, now this is where the fun begins once again with way too much chaser traffic for the third time this year after Tulia and Mangum. Most of the chasers had by now worked out that the main show was going to be in Colorado and not Kansas so the roads became clogged up again. Highway 385 near Cheyenne Wells was one of the worst choking points, we stopped off at a gas station to finally let the storm go when it started to look very cold and watched 100’s of chaser cars go past, once again this day featured car wrecks.

Cold Looking Supercell probably crossing the boundary

Chasers in the ditch or being read ended seems a common thing this season.

After the storms started to grow upscale we headed west to Limon and ate in Oscars with a few other chasers. I feel the day massively underperformed once again but glad to get our first Colorado Tornado of the Season

Saturday 25th May 2019 – Tx Panhandle (Enhanced Risk)

Awoke today in Plainview for the last chase day for Tour 2 and it would seem we would not have to go far, SPC had an Enhanced Risk with an attendant 10% Tornado Risk, one mitigating factor once again would be the lack of Cap and too many storms which could temper the risk today. Storms once again formed off the Dryline around 1pm and numerous storms erupted North of Amarillo as well realistically killing the Northern Part of the Target with an Upscale MCS by as early as 3pm. We hung around the Plainview to Lubbock area where an Outflow Boundary from yesterday was sitting and watched 3 Supercells heading towards us. We placed ourselves south of Silverton and watched all 3 of them gain a Tornado Warning. Our storm was looking a little Outflow Dominant at this time.

The southern most storm was the one to be on as it would not be long before it interacted with the Outflow Boundary so we set off punching through the south side of the Plainview storm to reach it, when we were 15 miles from it in Blinding rain reports of a cone tornado were coming through from Cotton Center and unfortunately this was only a brief spin up and by the time we were in position the tornado threat had gone with this storm also turning Outflow Dominant. We did let the base roll over our heads which gave some cool photography.

From there we followed the storms North East towards Childress sampling the hail at times and running up the western side of the storms. We had already booked the rooms so all that was left as the day died down was some Mammatus shots and the Group Picture. A great End to an amazing tour.

Some Stats for this Tour as Follows

10 Tornadoes chased over 4 States with 4,834 Mile driven.

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.