Tuesday 16th May 2017 – TX/OK (Moderate Risk)

Woke today in Dumas with a Moderate Risk in front of us, the Tornado probs had been raised to 15% Hatched with 45% on the wind and large hail. The HRRR was promoting 2 areas of Storms, an early area roughly around the Dumas area heading North East into SW Kansas and a secondary area initiating around 4pm CDT from off the Caprock escarpment heading eastbound into Western Oklahoma. After some fine tuning I chose the 2nd option due to better synoptics further East and we picked Shamrock as a chase target.

Whilst waiting in the Mcdonalds car park with so many other chasers that day things were coming together very nicely and a pair of Supercells initiated near Clarendon so we headed to Mcclean to watch. A stunning Classic supercell about 15 miles to our south west was rolling towards us and it looked perfect with those low LCL figures we had today, it quickly gained a tornado warning and it just had that look to it that we have seen so many times before. We took a dirt road south at McClean and watched a strong rotating wall cloud approach, I believe the first touch down occured just south of us before the main cone tornado touched down to our east. From the west it looked stunning though as a ghostly white cone Tornado. Success and the first tornado of the day.

After this tornado occured it took us quite some time to catch back up with the storm due to flooded dirt roads and it took some amazing driving from my team to keep us from ditching the cars. We got to Shamrock again and then headed North towards Wheeler where we briefly caught up with the large wedge tornado to our north.

After chasing this for another hour it was clear it was becoming very outflow dominant and any tornado would be buried and rain wrapped so I took the decision to blast back south towards Elk City to another great looking Supercell that had already produced a Tornado near Sayre. We came into the west side of the Supercell with the Hook to our south near Carter and punched through or attempted to punch through the hook, we caught a glimpse of this large wedge tornado crossing Highway 152 in front of us before it became completely rain wrapped and had to bug out after 114mph outer circulation winds hit us well west of the tornado. Our position below when the tornado was crossing Highway 152

The storms after this grew upscale into a damaging bow moving east so we headed south to Lawton for the evening in readiness for more storms that had initiated along the dryline further south west and let them impact the hotel. All in all happy with the outcome today scoring 3 Tornadoes but sad with the impact of the Elk City Tornado that claimed 1 life today.

Monday 15th May 2017 – Texas (Slight Risk)

Started today in Amarillo with another Slight Risk in the Texas Panhandle and also the day 2 showing a Moderate Risk in much the same area so a busy few days coming up. After heading north towards Dumas convective Initiation followed at 3pm CDT. There was a problem today with the lack of Cap and we positioned ourselves on the moisture gradient near Stinnett and watched the first 3 or 4 Supercells all race north towards the Oklahoma Panhandle and did not get tempted by them. Around 5pm another Supercell initiated NW of Amarillo and started to right turn towards the Stinnett area. This was our storm and we waited and watched some really nice structure starting to take shape to our SW, around this time 3″ hail was being reported so we hastily wnt south towards Oil City and sat just SE of the now Classic Supercell. Rotation picked up briefly but was never strong so was not expecting much in the way of tornado possibilities with this storm.

After hearing of the large hail reports we went back north to be on the west side of the Supercell at sunset and crossed the path of the large hail where we picked up some decent sized stones. Picture below is of Arron holding some of them. We retreated to Dumas for the night after this so we could be all refreshed and ready for the expected big day ahead on the 16th!

Sunday 14th May 2017 – Texas (Marginal Risk)

Today turned out a lot better than we expected from a weak marginal risk. After having lunch in Amarillo we drifted North towards Dumas and watched a few non severe storms really struggle due to weak Cape and almost zero 500mb winds in the area creating only 10-15knts of flow. One storm did become quite interesting though and snapped a few power poles with 70mph gusts. These storms moved to the south so we followed towards Groom and then sat just west to catch the setting sun on the backside of the storms and any Cg lightning that presented itself from any anvil crawlers on the back of the storm. The Mammatus display was stunning as dusk fell.

 

 

 

Thursday 11th May 2017 – Oklahoma (Enhanced Risk)

Started the day in Lawton with a firm chase target of NE Oklahoma in our sights. Some pretty impressive ingredients for Supercells in place but once again HP Modes would be favoured. After grabbing a lunch near Oklahoma City it did not take us long to get onto a strong storm near Guthrie, we even got a bonus funnel cloud west of Guthrie on a newly developing storm. The storm intensified over Guthrie and the only way through was to punch through the core and for the third day running this meant Golfball hail. After coming out of the core and stopping east south of Perkins we were greeted with a very wet looking structure looking back west.

Around this time the northern part of the now messy complex of storms dropped a brief tornado SW of Perkins but you had to be there right at the time to see it and only a handful of chasers sitting in the core did. We headed further east to see what the storms could do but ultimately everything congealed into a mess and we cut off the chase early. A pretty dissapointing day given what was on offer but the models were looking very nice for a few days ahead and this tour had only just started anyway.

Wednesday 10th May 2017 – Oklahoma (Enhanced Risk)

Started day 1  official of Tour 1 in Childress at our usual Days Inn Hotel. There was a broad 5% Tornado risk today and an Enhanced risk of storms mainly due to wind and hail at 30% Hatched. HRRR had cells firing around 2pm CDT and not far from Childress. We met up with the Twirl Team at the Walmart in Childress and watched an agitated cumulus field get better defined just SW of Town. The guests had a great time meeting up with Tim Marshall and Dr Josh Wurman looking at the Dow trucks and the twirl probes in the scout vehicles.

We headed south on Highway 6 and got our first look at another HP Supercell approaching from the SW, the storm soon went tornado warned but visibility was hard due to outflow dominant gusty winds, a tornado was reported to our north around this time and we did see a brief funnel but no visible on the tornado.

Undeterred we continued our chase east to Vernon and caught back up with the storm just north of there but now crucially north of the Red River. This area is very tough to chase due to river crossings being sparse. We continued on towards Elmer taking very large baseball hail in the process but after busting through the hail got a nice position on the Supercell tucked in on the South Eastern side. We saw the first of 3 Tornadoes albeit all of them brief weak EF0 near Davidson, then the next near Loveland and finally the last near Chatanooga.

After the storm went completely outflow dominant we headed back south to more developments on the dryline SW of Quanah and watched a small Supercell along Highway 287 before that weakened and we retreated to our hotel for the evening. A very pleasing chase and the first 3 tornadoes of the season bagged!

Tuesday 9th May 2017 – New Mexico and Texas (Enhanced Risk)

Started this day in Dallas Fort Worth and it was a lucky bonus chase day as all our guests had come in a day early. We set off to the initial Slight Risk with a target of Hobbs on the NM/TX Border and the risk was updated on the 20z update to Enhanced mainly for Large Hail, the tornado risk remained the same at 2%. After lunching in Abilene we got onto an already developed Supercell rolling into West Texas. This was some of the guests first ever Supercell and a grungy looking HP awaited us. After chasing it for a few hours we went in pursuit of Hail and took some golfball hail and first trophy dents of the trip. The storm was briefly tornado warned but never looked that tornadic with weak rotation. We did stumble across some impressive hail fog north of Morton. All in all a great first chase of the season over great Texas Panhandle chase terrain.

Thursday 16th June 2016 – N Dakota – Slight Risk

Today’s risk would take us back east to North Dakota. A slight Risk of Supercells with a small risk of a Tornado but only if the cap could once again break. My target was Bismarck which was on the triple point and we went there for an early lunch and watched the boundary bubbling away.

Below : Chase Target

At about 730pm finally the cap broke but it was slow going and the cap beat down the first couple of storms but the storm below would go on to become 1 of a pair of Supercells that would sit stationery South West of Bismarck for most of the evening. We stayed east of the Missouri River thinking they would move North East but had to watch from the other side for the rest of the evening.

Below : Start of the LP Supercell South West of Bismarck

We did find an amazing viewpoint South East of Bismarck and watched for a few hours lightning dancing over the Missouri which in itself was amazing, Tim Marshall and the TWIRL crew also joined us in this tranquil setting.

Below : Dying Supercells at Dusk in North Dakota

After that we went back to the Hotel and were awoken at 430am to an intense Bow Echo rattling across North Dakota which brought 70mph winds and Golfball sized hail. A very early wake up call!

Saturday 18th June 2016 – Montana – Enhanced Risk

Started the day once again in Glendive and most of Northern and North Eastern Montana was under an Enhanced risk for today mainly for hail but a decent 5% Tornado Risk as well. Storms would be very fast moving and some models had the storms crossing into Canada today as well which would be fun to chase if it were to happen. Got to Malta at 3pm and waited on Initiation and as the day went on both the HRRR & Nam4Km agreed on just a few Supercells heading North East from the Great Falls area and following Highway 2. We positioned south to get a good look at the first Supercell of the day which promptly went tornado warned when it was 25 miles to our west, a big problem with this storm was both its motion and speed. Firstly it was moving at 60-70mph and secondly moving through an area of lakes with no roads for 70 miles. This was going to be fun!

Below : Montana Supercell near Hays

Below : Group Shot in front of the Tornado Warned Supercell

Below : GRLevel3 Showing Tornado Warned Supercell

After letting the rotation go right over us we were slammed with 70mph RFD winds which took Craigs door completely off his vehicle. This delayed us somewhat as we tried to fix his door and untilmately stopped us from getting back in front of the storm which was now racing away at 80mph (An Impossible Task) After getting to Glasgow we dropped south to another Supercell and watched as Lightning flickered away as the day ended.

Below : Supercell to the South near Jordan (MT)

After that we went back to Glendive (AGAIN!) and shot some lightning over the town