Thursday 7th June 2018 – SD/WY/MT – Slight Risk

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.

Tuesday 5th June 2018 – N Dakota – Slight Risk

After finishing in Montana the day before and going to bed with an Enhanced Risk and 5% Tornado Risk everything seemed on track but when waking up we saw the risk had been downgraded to 2% and Slight this mainly due to 14c Temps at 700mb making the Cap almost unbreakable, most Models were flitting between 8-10pm for a Cap Break so this would be a massive gamble.

After sitting around most of the day after a great lunch at the Cowboy Cafe in Medora the skies started to take on a more interesting shape, this Undulatus cloud near Sterling looked cool about 30 minutes before the Cap broke around 9pm CDT.

Storms erupted soon after but it was too little too late and everything congealed into a mess (The Theme of 2018) and we consoled ourselves with a 100 mile core punch and some really close lightning along the way, but certainly not the way we had hoped the day would pan out.

Monday 4th June 2018 – Montana (Marginal Risk)

After a couple of down days 500mb flow was once again approaching the Northern Plains and cresting the ridge that had been present all Tornado Season. We left our overnight stay of Billings and targeted an area just North and East of There for marginal Supercell structures and a mainly wind and hail threat. After stopping North of Roundup we saw our first threat materialise and it wasnt a storm but a Bull Snake basking in the sun.

Storms today were pulse in nature and it was only when it started to line out that a Supercell emerged near Jordan that started to take on any type of Structure.

After this we had a fun 30 minutes on dirt roads before ending the day in Glendive, not a bad chase day for a marginal risk in the end.

Friday 1st June 2018 – Nebraska – Moderate Risk

Well its taken a month but finally we have a Moderate Risk in Tornado Season 2018 – Granted its only for Hail but its a start. We started in Kearney our overnight position and HRRR did a decent job on Initiation somewhere around Cherry County, knowing the awful terrain up there we went north to Ainsworth and just watched from about 15 miles east knowing the line would backbuild further south and east in better chase terrain.

Storms were very linear and elevated in nature with some Ping Pong ball sized hail at times. The best part of the day so far had been our Lunch find in Taylor, an amazing little Micro Brewery off the beaten track, Taylor itself had some lovely old buildings as well, a really well kept Nebraska Plains Town.

After dropping south and east with continuous re-development on the Southern end of the squall line with did see this cool Mid Level Funnel spinning away east of Burwell.

We dropped south towards Grand Island as the day was winding down to get ready for some Cg lightning as that was becoming really good at this point, when we were parralel to the Town of Ord the storm to our west became Tornado warned so we stopped to take a look, we could see some lowering but from our vantage point no clear touchdowns. Heading further south another part of the line became Tornado warned again west of Cairo, but once again only Wallclouds were noted with no clear strong rotation. We ended the day at Grand Island with booming thunder and zero hail.

Wednesday 30th May 2018 – OK – Enhanced Risk

Today was changeover day in Dallas and as has been the case this season another Enhanced Risk was Issued, this one mainly for wind and hail but this time we could reach something at the end of the day. Our last guest arrived at 6pm and we were away by 7pm with a target of somewhere North of Oklahoma City to connect with the line of storms and embedded Supercells heading east and expected to reach the I-35 Corridor around 1am.

We got to the Hotel at Perry with about 45 minutes to spare so watched over some corn fields the approach of some Embedded LP Supercells, and managed to shoot some structure before the wind and lightning show was upon us.

We retreated back to the cover of the hotel and it was the Anvil Crawler Cg’s that would steal the show until around 3am. I managed to snag a couple before hitting the sack. Northbound tomorrow ready for Friday in Nebraska

Tuesday 29th May 2018 – OK/KS – Enhanced Risk

We awoke today in Colby fresh from yesterdays amazing Tornadoes with high hopes again today, the Outflow Boundary was easily visible on Vis Sat straddling the Kansas and Oklahoma border area so off we set for a Lunch in Dodge City before heading towards the Buffalo area of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The Outflow Boundary was clearly visible below

Around 3pm our Storm erupted on the Boundary and we got into a good position to the South to watch some decent rotation and a few skinny funnels, the storm was still way too high based and with T/Td spreads of 96/65 it was not hard to see why this storm needed a lot longer to get its act together.  Radar grab below started to show a classic Flying Eagle look

I noted about this time a pair of Supercells that had gone up to the West and North West of Dodge City, both looked superb on radar, when we had lunch in Dodge earlier the Temp and dewpoint spreads were very good at 78/66 and lovely strong easterly winds were blowing, the unthinkable was about to happen with a beautiful white cone tornado being reported near Ensign just to the South West of Dodge City. Another missed oportunity but one I could bare as I never had that area on my mind.

Anyway we still had a Supercell now moving east along the Outflow Boundary so we still had a chance whilst the Storm was still Classic looking, the only problem with these ESE Moving storms is they have a tendancy to go HP very quickly and so it was the same with this one.

Picture above shot by John Finney showing large Tennis Ball Sized Hail approaching

We continued on, the Storm with 40mph sustained South East winds screaming into the Storm, Structure was morphing between HP and Classic at this time as it approached Waynoka.

The Storm gained a Tornado Warning near Waynoka but like most of this season a few twigs blowing around gets eager chasers calling Tornadoes at any given opportunity. Knowing we needed to be in Dallas the next lunchtime we headed east to eat at Chillis in Enid and then hot footed it down to Norman for the end of Tour 2.

Some Stats

States Chased = 6

Mileage = 4,600

Tornadoes = 8


Monday 28th May 2018 – CO/KS – Enhanced Risk

We awoke today in Ogallalla with a firm target of a triangle from Burlinton to Limon to Sterling and on the journey to lunch the SPC introduced a 10% Tornado Risk box. Finally we had a decent risk area today, mid 60’s dewpoints into Eastern Colorado, 55knts of 500mb flow, deep layer shear and easterly surface winds, everything looked ripe for Tornadoes, we also had an Outflow Boundary laid out from yesterdays storms over the Burlington area. If a storm could initiate anywhere near that Boundary then it could be a big day. After grabbing lunch we sat halfway between Yuma and Joes and watched convective initiatioin occur just 12 miles to our South West. We took a dirt road west to sit right under the base of this storm and on the way a small landspout tornado occured off in the distance to our south-west, what a start to the day already. Radar representation showed this storm was firmly rooted on the boundary and I moved us further South watching 3 areas of rotation, bases were so low there could be Tornadoes and Landspouts anywhere in the Southern or Western sky.

After another quick stop down a dirt road South West of Cope 2 Landspouts touched down in the field to our south. An amazing sight as they churned the brown dirt. Picture Credit to John Finney below

Everybody on Tour 2 got out into the field next to these Tornadoes and filmed and took pictures

We continued on South down amazing gridded dirt roads with hundreds of other chasers and got into a position to see the best Tornado of the lot on this day under a strong mesocyclone, this Tornado was on the ground for over 20 minutes. Picture below by John Finney

This was turning into a Colorado Magic type of day with a Cyclic Supercell churning out Tornado after Tornado. We continued south towards Flagler and the I70 noting another few Landspouts on the way with the closest about 100 yards to our right in a field, all the while the bigger Tornado was still ongoing with satelites to its sides.

After about 2 hours of this the storm finally started to to transition to HP and seemed to leave the boundary, it was time for a coffee and fuel up before we headed east to Colby at our overnight stay. And when we got there we were treated to 6 hours of close Cg lightning all the way through to 5am the next morning.

A truly amazing day with 8 Tornadoes from 1 Supercell, when Colorado goes big it sure does like to show off.

Sunday 27th May 2018 – CO/NE – Slight Risk

After our travel day to get into position from Elk City to Ogallalla yesterday we awoke finally to a 5% Tornado Risk with better upper support and some impressive moisture in place today would finally see the Season kick up a notch. My target upon waking up was La Grange to Cheyenne and we set off west along I-80. Around lunchtime and after looking at some Surface Obs for some reason I completely changed my mind and favoured NE Colorado, the 50f dewpoints near Cheyenne and NE surface winds were putting me off my initial target and SE winds and Mid 60’s dewpoints looked nice just to my south, so I turned around………….Rule number 1 in storm chasing never change your target area or it will bite you on the arse.

We got onto some nice Supercells all moving North but lacking anything to make them special, and as Models showed very messy in nature so why was I here still when the Storm of the day just 150 miles to my west was now tornado warned. The rest is History as they say, will post a screen grab of Paul Knightleys picture of Wyoming’s Tornado of the year below.

We stuck with our storms and core punched a few to try and get some hail dents but even that was sub standard. John Finney got a lovely shot below though and we ended the day again in Ogallalla. Tomorrow looks much better so lets hope Colorado produces some magic tomorrow on Memorial day,

Friday 25th May 2018 – OK/TX – Slight Risk

Started the day in Burlington with a long drive ahead so it was up at 7am and on the road with a target of Woodward down to Elk City. SPC introduced a small 2% Tornado Risk on the 1630z update so some hope was given but with still no upper support and 25kts of flow once again Tornadoes were going to be hard to come by. What was an added bonus was some stunning LP Supercell structure today.

After visiting the Windmill Farm near Shattuck we headed south to Roll and found a lovely lake to watch developing Cumulus Towers. It was a very slow burner but the Cap broke around 6pm and a beautiful LP Supercell was forming just 20 miles to our west. Roads were very good and the storm was crawling along so we went in a bit closer. The lightning out of the anvil was pretty violent and a few grass fires were noted as we jogged alongside the storm. The real winner was the Mammatus under the huge anvil though.

Picture above Credit to John Finney

Another LP Supercell further South East started to take over so we headed off to get in front of this, we noted several shear funnels with this storm and also a Heat Burst near Sayre when the temperature shot up from 71f to 94f.

Photo Credit John Finney

After punching through the core we came out the other side to a stunning orange glow just before sunset with the Supercell to our west near Mangum. Cg’s still raining down around our ears.

Picture above from John Finney.

Thursday 24th May 2018 – CO/KS – Slight Risk

Started the day in Ogallalla and had a target area of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas. Storms today would have a brief window for Supercell characteristics and a small 2% Tornado window was put out from the SPC. We had lunch in Burlington and it wasnt long before we got onto our first storm near Cheyenne Wells, cored punched a few times and got some close Cg Lightning. We let the mushy line go east and went back North to a pair of LP Supercells near Burlington but it was clear these were struggling against a strong cap. Went east to Kanorado and snapped some shots on the back end of storms moving away to the east.