Wednesday 23rd May 2018 – CO/NE – Slight Risk

Started today in Limon and trundled up Highway 71 to Fort Morgan for a lazy lunch at Cables. Was very confident initiation would occur in NE Colorado today so was not suckered up onto the first storm near Torrington moving into the Nebraska Panhandle and stuck with our target moving up towards Sterling. A few failed attempts at storms occured but finally one shot up and went severe warned in 4 radar scans, the chase was on finally. Our storm started to head North East so we went down some dirt roads and found some hail. Picture Below John Finney

The storm was now starting to turn right to the east and near Chappell it really got its act together and was finally starting to look like a Supercell.

Picture above Credit John Finney

We followed the storm towards Lake McConaughty and just south of there jaw dropping structure was starting to form in front of us.

Picture Below Credit John Finney

We then went east and North towards the Lake and Dam area and it was here that we really should have got in front of it again and not hung back for Lightning and Mammatus as the structure got even better further east. But where else can you finish the day with sand between your toes watching lightning overhead. And all of this in Nebraska.

Picture Below Credit John Finney

Tuesday 22nd May 2018 – Colorado – Gen TStorm Risk

Awoke in Roswell and today was the day we needed to head north due to quite a few risks starting to show in the Northern High Plains. My plan was to try to make it to Lamar or Limon and hopefully pick up some lightning on the way. This day turned out much better than we had planned with 2 Supercells keeping us company for the ride up and also what the NAM had showed for 2 straight days. After a lunch in Tucumcari we blasted North and could see severe storms west of Lamar, it was still quite early and if they could hold together we could have a little bonus here. As we approached Lamar the first Supercell which was by now west of Kit Carson started to weaken. We continued west towards La Junta and to our surprise another Supercell took hold and the chase was on. We stopped to look at the structure

We tracked this storm north for a while and seeing as we had booked the hotel in Limon it was seemingly taking us that way anyway. When we next stopped it was clear the storm was on its dying breathes due to the sun setting behind it and loss of diurnal heat. We snapped the last few Cg bolts before the storm died. Shot below over field of Cg’s by John Finney

Bigger day tomorrow hopefully in Colorado and Nebraska.

Monday 21st May 2018 – New Mexico – Slight Risk

After a travel day on Sunday we started in Amarillo with a solid chase target of Roswell. Storms today would initiate over the higher terrain and move off into the Plains into the better moisture. HRRR had a few supercells on its runs and we got to Roswell after a great lunch at the Coffee Bean Cafe in Clovis. Time ticked by and convection did not look like it was going to fire further south so we got suckered north to Vaughn and took a look at a Supercell moving into town. Visually it was unimpressive with a big shelf and cold outflow winds.

We noted another Supercell moving NE down near Corona and we took the Mountain road SW from Vaughn and at elevations of 6,680ft finding a spot to view the LP Supercell was hard. By now the Roswell storm which had been showing on the models had fired up and there was still time for us to drop south and watch the beautiful sculptured structure getting lit up by constant lightning. Shot below by John Finney

We headed back to end the night in Roswell and let the Storm slam the hotel, some really close Cg bolts rocked the hotel and sent the power off briefly. Some great anvil crawlers were going long into the night and once again John nailed these.

Anvil Crawlers in Roswell – By John Finney

Saturday 19th May 2018 – Texas – Enhanced Risk

Today was changeover day between Tours 1 and 2 and we awoke in Childress which was bang smack in the centre of todays Enhanced Risk. We had to drive back to Dallas pick up and drop off guests and drive straight back up Highway 287 again. The better risk for Supercells and Tornadoes would be further north today and out of our reach but we did have the fall back on east moving storms moving towards us as we went North West up Highway 287.

We got away from Dallas at 3pm and by 6pm Severe Storms were just west of us near Vernon. We headed south from Vernon and watched a line of 3 storms move towards us. The structure was still just good enough before it was starting to line out like the models showed.

Picture above shot by John Finney

We then moved south and east towards Wichita Falls to get in position for some lightning shots before eating at Applebys. The storms took an age to get to us at the hotel but when they did the storms went on into the early hours.

Picture below shot by John Finney

Friday 18th May 2018 – OK/TX – Enhanced Risk

We awoke in Liberal for the final chase day for Tour 1 knowing that we could not get suckered too far north due to the changeover day tomorrow in DFW. Around 3pm a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued and after a nice lunch in the Cattlemans Steak House in Canadian we set off for the Pampa area where the dryline was converging and that was where it looked like initiation would occur. We got onto the first storm of the day which quickly became a Supercell and viewed some nice lightning from Miami. Other storms had now popped off along the dryline and the top one went Tornado Warned so we gave it a chase upto Perryton but it quickly became clear the storm was very High Based so left it and headed back to the Tail end Charlie Supercell which itself was still really high based no surprise with 95/59 spreads in the Panhandle. Around 8pm and with activity waning we started our long journey back south, booked rooms in Childress and Tour 1 ended their chase with some amazing Mammatus.

A great Tour 1 with some challenging synoptics and no real classic looking chase days. We chased in 7 States and did 4,065 miles, we saw 1 Tornado and the biggest Hail we saw was Baseball.

Thursday 17th May 2018 – CO/KS/OK – Slight Risk

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.

Tuesday 15th May 2018 – NM/TX – Slight Risk

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

Monday 14th May 2018 – CO/KS – Slight Risk

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

Sunday 13th May 2018 – Colorado – (Marginal Risk)

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.

Friday 11th May 2018 – Wyoming (Slight Risk)

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)