Started today in Lamar with high hopes of something decent rolling out of SE Colorado and into the better moisture in Kansas, but this day really underperformed in a big way. Left Lamar around 11am and grabbed a quick lunch, went South to a rest area and watched an area of convergence build into a storm. It was clear to see this storm was having big issues with low level moisture and the steering flow was taking it almost due North which was not helping as well. We stopped just south of Lamar for a structure shot.
Off to our SE big towers along a boundary were keeping our interest though and it was this area of storms we went for when our storm died shortly after the above image was taken. It was always going to be a long shot and we finally connected with the storm just south of Hugoton (Ks) but by this time the storms were pulsing down. A very frustrating chase day in the end.
Started today in Garden City with a chase target of Clayton down to Clovis in New Mexico. Storms would fire on the Santa Christo Mountains and travel ESE today and we were hopeful for at least some Supercells to eventually chase us towards the Lubbock and Plainview areas as is usual in these Set-Ups. After a quick lunch stop and some pictures at the New Mexico sign we got to Clayton and noticed 1 particular storm was starting to evolve into the Storm of the day just west of Tucumcari.
We headed towards one of my favourite viewing points in New Mexico (The Ampitheatre) which is SE of Tucumcari and watched the storm approach. The Structure was getting really nice and the storm had a pronounced wall cloud and it really tightened up at this point and looked like it could produce at any time.
We repositioned South and East to follow the storm but storms were starting to pop up and contaminate our Supercell just how the Models had showed, was it too late ? We stuck with it and noticing the dewpoints were still well into the low to mid 60’s over West Texas knew this storm still had a chance as it trundled on South and Eastwards. We decided to punch through the mainly quarter sized hail and emerged in front of the now Supercell near Dimmitt (Tx).
What greeted us the other side was a stunning Supercell with some incredible lightning and ground hugging wall clouds. The sky looked like the end of the world with the brown dirt fields being lifted up into the Storm and the sun setting made for an amazing landscape.
The Storm was now going really outflow dominant so we retreated to Plainview and watched as it rolled into town, winds topping 90mph smashed into Plainview and after a Chillis dinner we retreated to our hotel noticing damage all along the way. A really good Chase Day in the end though
Picture below of damage to a Petrol Station
Awoke today in Limon and HRRR was showing a strong Supercell moving ESE down Interstate 70 on most of its morning runs. Decent dewpoints further east towards the Kansas border would sustain this storm well into evening and it looked like early initiation as well close to the I-25 Corridoor. What we did not expect was one of the longest track Supercells we have ever chased coming in at just over 300 miles in its lifespan. We picked the storm up just NE of Castle Rock and moved back east towards Limon, the Storm looked great early on with a nice wall cloud near Kiowa.
We then stopped NW of Limon where the Supercell was taking on HP Structure with a shelf cloud hiding the Hail which was getting bigger with every scan of the radar sometimes topping out at Baseball sized.
We carried on east stopping at Arriba and Flagler and sampled our first hail, mainly quarters but some golfballs thrown in. After this we went south to Vona and stopped again to treat the guests to some hail, this time the hail was mainly baseballs and the wrap around precip caught us out for a few miles with Cars 2 and 3 sustaining major damage to windscreens, panels and bodywork.
We continued on batterer and bruised down towards Sharon Springs crossing into Kansas with the Supercell still going strong, some amazing structure was now starting to show as well.
We finally let the storm go to our east when tummies started to rumble more than the thunder and stopped west of it before heading to Syracuse for dinner at the Black Bison Pub. An amazing opportunity to see this Supercell from the west.
A day later I found this stunning image of our storm taken a full 24 hours after it had reeked havoc across Colorado and Kansas and the hail swathe was still evident to see from the air. A truly incredible Supercell Storm
Started and ended the day in Limon Colorado with another weak Denver Cyclone day ahead. HRRR showed a nice lone Supercell erupting and moving east of DIA. We had a very leisurely lunch and waited it out until around 4pm before a Storm got its act together near Last Chance, we headed up Highway 71 past the wind farm and took Highway 34 west to stop just NE of the now Classic Supercell. A beautiful sight before us and the group had got to see this storm develop from a puffy cumulus to full blown Supercell before their eyes.
The storm was now running into Capped air and a stationery front to its north and once it crossed north of the front it promptly died. But not before we got a few panorama shots. Rotation was never great with this storm and even though we had a 2% Tornado risk it never looked like producing a Tornado.
We then went back south to Limon and booked the same rooms again at the Econolodge, as we were thinking about dinner in Oscars another pair of Supercells got their act together so back North on Highway 71 we went to observe and hopefully get some lightning but the storms were strangely quiet on the Cg front.
Below Updraught of the late evening Supercell near Last Chance.
Started today in Ogallalla and the SPC had a very small Slight Risk and very small 2% Tornado risk over the Laramie Divide east of Cheyenne. Storms would form over the Rockies and move onto the lower elevations but persistant stratus over adjacent Nebraska would mean any storms that do form would have a very narrow window to produce either Supercellular characteristics or indeed a shot at a Tornado. Storms struggled initially but one tried to go severe west of La Grange and we were in good position to briefly see a weak LP Supercell before it evaporated before our eyes. A very low key day but Sunday and Monday were looking much better in Colorado with a Denver Cyclone setting up shop.
Above : LP Supercell west of La Grange (Wyoming)
Started the day in Burlington with a chase target of between La Grange and Kimball. Got into position early and watched early developments of storms that struggled initially before moving into the better moisture further east over the Nebraska Panhandle. Tracked a Supercell just south of Scottsbluff and punched through the core from the west, this was a strange storm as all the structure was to the west side of the storm. As we approached Broadwater the storm went tornado warned and we watched strong rotation in front of us, we took quite a few golfball sized hailstones and as we turned north towards Bridgeport a Tornado touched down just 500 metres to our east in a field. This Tornado went on to destroy a barn, damage power lines and smash a water irrigation system. We headed South East to Oshkosh and then Ogallalla. After booking a hotel we headed south of town and watched some amazing Cg lightning for about an hour before heading back to the hotel and get some food. We then let a Severe storm roll over the hotel in the early hours. The first Tornado of the 2018 season was under our belts.
Above is our position relative to the Tornado touching down next to us.
Cg lightning South of Ogallalla
Stormchase 2018 started like all chases should in the homeland of chasing Kansas. After picking up the guests the day before we set off for NW Kansas from Edmond (OK). Marginal non severe storms were expected which was a nice gentle break into chasing for our storm chase newbies. We also had to get to Nebraska and Wyoming for a much better risk on Day 2 of Tour 1 anyway so sampled some of the storms along the way. As expected a few storms erupted NW of Colby and we sat in the core of a few of these taking dime sized hail and strong 60mph winds. We headed off at Sunset to our overnight position of Burlington in readiness for a bigger day further north but not after getting some Mammatus shots on the west side of the storms.
After a pretty warm day in South East Essex Cumulus Towers had bubbled up throughout the day but only for a few showers in Far East Kent and the Coastal Parts of Norfolk nothing much had happened during the day in SE Essex. As the sun set I did notice a line of bubbling cumulus about 20 miles to my west but thought nothing really of it and went down the pub! Temperatures were now also down to around 12c and the Moon had risen in the Southern Sky.
At about 945pm I started to notice some really bright white/blue flashes off to my west and duly looked at radar and was surprised to see a really electrically active storm about 25 miles to my west which was moving from North to South along that boundary I noted earlier in the evening. Thinking nothing of it really I continued to watch the lightning getting further away now to my South West. But what did catch my eye was quite a few flashes now starting to my NNW, this developing storm would pretty much come very close to my area and it was off home to watch the radar. As the storm was near Chelmsford the lightning was starting to die off quite a bit so was initially just expecting a few IC flashes and some heavy rain but luckily for me the storm really developed on its eastern edge around 1130pm. I started noticing some really nice Cg bolts to my North and deep booming thunder. As the storm was pretty much on top of me I did not have any time to make it to one of my favoured locations so it was sit it out at home time and get to the covered part of the garden and shoot away to the south. This Storm had some superb motion and agitated clouds on the leading gust front edge which was getting lit up by bright lightning at times. The best lightning was from the anvil canopy though as the storm was overhead with some lovely crawlers and Cg bolts. Most of them landed out of shot this evening but got some lovely lightning all the same.
Below : Spider Lightning (Anvil Crawlers)
We set off after breakfast knowing this was our last chance of storms for this trip and also knowing the models were not being too kind with regards to storms. Moisture had still not returned to the area sufficiently with only Mid 50’s dewpoints at Douglas after some mixing of the air that morning. Storms would roll into extreme SE Arizona from SW New Mexico and would come up against more unfavourable conditions the further west they went. In fact most models had Arizona devoid of convection by 6pm.
We got onto our first Storm near the town of San Simon which was throwing out a huge dust storm in all directions. Lightning was hard to see and buried by the sand and dust. The picture below is looking north from I-10 of the Haboob marching West towards the Catalinas.
We blasted east after this to get into the precipitation area of the storm and started to see much more Cg Lightning but just could not find a suitable dry stopping point to try to shoot lightning on our cameras. The storm then promptly died and pretty much everything dried up and it was only 4pm! It was a pretty lame end to our Monsoon Season Journey tbh.
On the way back to Tucson we were treated to the best Sunset of the trip though so maybe Arizona was saying goodbye in Style before we set off in the morning for Denver and the Eclipse!
Amazing Sunset Colours on the Mountains Above!
A fitting end to the Monsoon Season above with Arizona simply saying STOP!
See you next year hopefully Arizona and here is too many more Monsoon Storms and Fantastic Scenery!
We left Flagstaff early for our 2 hour trip North to Page making sure we got to our organised trip to the Secret Canyon by 9am, this would have been impossible from Phoenix and was why we stayed North last night. The tour was of the many Slot Canyons they have in this part of Arizona, carved by wind and rain over centuries and you are left with amazing sandstone canyons. The 30 minute Sand Dune buggy ride with our guide Nick was also worth the money alone cutting through dry riverbeds on the way. The Slot Canyons were stunning, will only put 1 picture up here but if you are ever in Arizona these are a must see!
After lunch we headed about a mile down the road to visit the famous Horseshoe Bend part of the Grand Canyon on its Eastern Rim. And again this viewpoint was breath taking looking into the canyon from 1000 feet above. This attraction is free of charge but is quite a hike in temperatures of 95f!
Storms are forecast for Saturday (Last Day of the Monsoon part of the trip) so it will be a welcome sight to get back into storm chasing again, the one down side is the area most affected is where we have been for the last 10 days and SE Arizona once again!