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.
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.
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.
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.
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