After travelling from Burlington to Cheyenne on Wednesday we took a gamble on a few storms occuring over the Laramie Divide today. HRRR was quite bullish on a Supercell or two occuring as winds swung back easterly just in time before diurnal heating waned around the 00z point. We had lunch in Laramie and watched cumulus trying to develop, around 430pm the first signs of something more substantial started to occur and we had a decent storm initiating around 15 miles to our west. Some great Cg bolts were noted, we headed back east over the Pass along towards a point just east of Cheyenne and noted some lovely LP Structure.
The Hail also increased to levels that made this Storm go Severe Warned at this time.
We noted a Left/Right Split around the time the picture was take above and followed briefly into the Hail core of the Northern Storm to pick up some stones which were mostly Quarter Sized.
We then headed back South towards Carpenter to watch some stunning cloudscapes from the west of the storms. Finally Stopping near Stoneham as the setting sun cast a shadow on the dying storms.
We awoke today with an Enhanced Risk and a 5% Tornado Risk in Colorado and Kansas. Morning models showed Colorado as the place to be so it was up and out at 8am from Columbus (NE) and a 350 miles slog west along Interstate 80 to my target area of Fort Morgan. Storms would erupt early today around 1pm so we needed to get west fast. And sure enough once we got to the business end of the drive 3 Supercells were lined up in front of us. The middle one was Tornado warned and we could see why when it came into view.
An amazing Structures Classic Supercell was sat near I76 South West of Fort Morgan. We took a south dirt road and watched this amazing storm rotate in front of us. The radar at this time took on an almost classic hook and winds were screaming into the storm at 40mph sustained.
The Storm was wrapping up quickly and it would not be long before a Tornado was going to happen.
Photo Below by Jeremy Silver
Rotation increased further and finally at the 2nd attempt we had a beautiful cone Tornado drilling the ground to our West. An incredible sight and one captured beautifully by Mark Pritchard (Guest on Tour 4)
The Tornado was on the ground between Pleasant Valley and Keenesburg for about 7 minutes before roping out. I then moved us into the Hook and watched funnels dancing above our heads but it was not to be with another Tornado on this storm and it started to fall apart quite a bit. Our attention was now drawn to the Tail End Charlie Supercell NW of Limon which had also gained a Tornado Warning, this one would be harder to intercept as we had to cut through the NE Side of the Storm and with it already having reports of Baseball Hail this was going to be fun on I70 south of Deer Trail.
We busted through the Hail to be greeted by a strongly rotating wallcloud near Agate. No touchdown what we could see from our vantage point and the Supercell was getting really HP at this stage, we pushed further South East ahead of the Storm and the structure started to get Insane at this point.
The Greens were off the scale with the Large Hail this Storm had in it. We headed east from Limon to Genoa and stopped again for a look at the jaw dropping structure. Tornado Sirens started blaring at this point at 458pm MDT as a Confirmed Embedded Tornado was 4 Miles NW of Genoa.
Picture above and below from Jodie Wooltorton
We continued east and stopped a few more times for structure as it looked like everything was growing upscale and congealing into a mess soon.
And one more look at that Structure.
We finally let the end of the Storms overrun us in Burlington where we stopped for the night. An absolutely incredible chase day which had pretty much everything. Colorado you were Immense today!
Started the day in North Platte with a split target today of either Colorado or Nebraska. SPC upgraded the Tornado Risk for Nebraska to 5% and with a stationery boundary and dewpoints in the mid 70’s we selected a target town of Albion as our choice today. We left and grabbed a quick lunch and watched Agitated Cumulus starting to explode all around us. And after filling up the petrol tanks the best storm of the day exploded just 7 miles from us.
We headed east to watch the storm grow and noted a left split and right mover so headed for the latter, we pushed through Madison and watched as the Storm really organised. And around 7 miles SE of Pilger the storm gained a Tornado warning, we watched a white cone funnel extend halfway to the ground but no touchdown was noted from our position, we continued on towards WestPoint where the structure really started to take shape.
The Storm after this became congealed into the cluster further east towards Iowa so we decided the call it a day with storms that far east and headed back west towards Madison. Just before eating at Whisky Creek we watched a lovely LP Supercell at Sunset.
We ended the day in Columbus, once again another risk that never really verified or got going today, another chance tomorrow back west in Colorado.
We awoke today and started heading South West towards the Nebraska Panhandle, Storms would fire around 3-4pm and hopefully interact with a Stationery Boundary and the SPC put in a nice 5% Tornado Risk Box. But……This is 2018 and if it can be out of our reach by a few hours it will be and so it was once again, A solitary Supercell fired in the optimum position to ride the boundary but at 1pm (3 hours early) and we watched in pain as the Storm stalled and sat on the boundary gaining Tornado warning for a full 3 hours and producing a few Tornadoes in our target area, as we got towards North Platte the usual happened with lots of clustering of storms. We did get a nice Structured Tornado Warned Storm at Sunset East of North Platte though to salvage the day. The tough season continues………..
We awoke today with another 10% Hatched Tornado Risk in the far NE of South Dakota and Western Minnesota. An Outflow Boundary would be the focus for storms today and with 84/76 T/Td spreads and ample shear it looked like a decent day. We got to the target area of Summit and waited until 7pm with tonnes of chasers in the Car Park of a Petrol Station.
An elevated storm South West of Watertown soon became surface based and so we headed east to Ortonville in Minnesota to plot and intercept course.
The Storm came towards us and we noted weak rotation and a small couplet to our South West, dangerous lightning was pounding our position. Small needle funnels were dancing around but we also noted lots of new convection going and up interfering with our storm.
And that was pretty much it, the whole area of storms filled in and became a rainy mess, another day of amazing synoptics down the pan. We then headed west to more areas of storms and shot lightning from a hilltop. We ended the day in Watertown.
After travelling all day from Burlington to Dickinson on the 13th we awoke to a stunning looking Set-Up along the International Border, with a lifting Warm Front, High 60’s Dewpoints and an Outflow Boundary. Most CAM Models were showing a few discrete Supercells in Canada and 1 along the Border, my main worry was moisture would not advect far enough North or that the Warm Front would not get far enough North as well. Our first Storm of the Day was at 9am (Yes you read that correct 9am) and a stunning Elevated Hailstorm as well near Williston.
We headed North into the Hail shortly after the picture above towards the Border at Fortuna. A Tornado Watch was issued in Canada and also parts of North Dakota, and the SPC upgraded the risk to 10% Hatched for Tornadoes with a couple of intense Tornadoes probable. We decided to cross into Canada
We met up with Craig, Dallas and Jock at the Mcdonalds in Esteven and watched what would be an amazing Supercell develop just west of Fortuna which was tracking ENE. This Storm really structured up with some incredible Green Skies.
The pictures could not do this storm justice as it was just too big, the storm around this time started to turn right indicitive of riding the Warm Front so we now had a big problem with a Supercell riding the warm front to our South and an International Border in the way which we needed to cross to get back south of the storm. We decided to cross back south of Estevan but just could not outrun the storm which had accelerated to 55mph with Giant Hail being reported. Our East road south of Estevan was dirt so we made a break for the border, one main problem with this was the Couplet tightened up at just the wrong time and intensified right over us as we were punching through the North East side of the Storm, we started to take 70mph wind driven golfballs to the car and visibility was cut to zero, it got pretty hairy especially when leaves and debris got swept across in front of the car, this could have been a small developing Tornado buried in the rain but until Environment Canada do an investigation we will not know. Grahams Youtube Footage below is fantastic to watch esp from 3 mins onwards
Couplet at the Time of Intercept
After crossing back into North Dakota we tracked this Supercell for about 100 miles and also watched a few other Supercells but once again apart from Cold Outflow Dominant Storms nothing ever looked close to being a Tornadic Storm, 2018 continues to make us scratch our heads and all risks underperform. Another chance for Storms on Saturday though.
Today was changeover day in Denver so after picking everyone up by 4pm we set off east towards Burlington where a few storms had initiated and knowing we had to be in North Dakota and Canada on Thursday we could not get drawn too far south today. We stopped near Limon where the Storms took on Brief Supercell Structures before dying off.
We headed to Burlington shortly after and waited for overnight Warm Air Advection storms and they also did not dissapoint with Gunshot Thunder waking us up at 4am. Long drive north tomorrow to position for a much bigger day on the 14th.
Its funny how the very low end risks sometimes become the most fun of the season. After dropping the guests off in Dallas we headed North West up towards Childress and booked our hotel early on route to Denver for the start of Tour 4. We were expecting some Lightning fun south of town from around 6pm until 11pm but the day turned out so much better with an LP Supercell that spat out a crazy amount of Cg Lightning.
We headed south from Childress through Paducah and stopped between there and Guthrie. The line of Storms were out to our west and with 100f heat the lightning even at this stage was well out in front of the storm and not hidden by the rain. We were joined by a large Tarantula who watched the storm with us for about 20 minutes then some sort of large Lizard and a pack of Coyotes, no other Storm chasers were on these storms just us and nature.
The Storms progressed further east north east so we headed further south to just North of Aspermont and plotted up for some evening and Night time lightning. The Storm to our west was starting to take on LP Supercell characteristics and was spitting out about 30 Cg’s per minute, it was hard to miss on 3 second exposures with sometimes getting 4 Cg’s in 1 frame. These Cg’s were also setting off grass fires and we noted at least 3 of these.
As darkness fell the lightning got even more intense and we had to hold our nerve with Cgs landing around our heads for a good 2 hours, below are of my shots which were 5 second exposures
But the best Cg’s were shot by Graham Moore below.
Started the day in Spearfish and we were bang in the target area for the last day of Tour 3. Amazing model consistancy placed a single Supercell over the Black Hills region NW of Rapid City initiating at 1-2pm. We grabbed a quick lunch and sat in Deadwood and sure enough an explosion of convection gave us our first storm. We took some pictures and timelapse of this before moving to the SE side of Rapid City with much better views of this SE Moving Classic Supercell. We were in a 5% Tornado Risk box but this Storm never even came close to producing a Tornado, but it did look very pretty and textbook which was nice for the newbies who had only seen storms like this in books.
We pictured and watched this storm for a while always conscious of another area of storms going on to our east over the Badlands, these would have a much better chance of producing the goods so we set off for Interior. The Storms were ulrtimately messy so it was Plan B and hail intercepting which we did really well near Wanblee. We then set off for Valentine (NE) for overnight storms and the start of our trek south to Dallas. We did have 1 more bit of fun though before the end of the day when a Cg landed a few hundred yards down the road and sent sparks flying and waking the whole town up around 11pm.
After the North Dakota day on the 5th we used the 6th as a travel day down to Sundance (Wy) and we were in a good position for Storms today. There were 3 areas of interest today, The Thunder Basin of Wyoming, SE Montana and the Black Hills area of South Dakota. We watched 2 Cumulus Fields bubbling away on Vis Sat, I chose further east as better moisture and T/Td spreads were apparant over the Wyoming risk. Around 3pm a single Supercell erupted over the Black Hills south of Deadwood and literally sat stationery, we watched this for a while getting East for some structure but we always knew the better risk was coming into SE Montana for later in the day. We did get a few nice shots of the LP Supercell near Blackhawk.
The storm tried to leave the mountains and promptly died so we headed North and West just to the North of Belle Fourche and watched the line of Severe Storms move in from Wyoming and Montana, the structure was really nice with a double banded Shelf cloud, lightning was a bit sparse but managed to ping a shot off in the end.