Thursday 23 June 2016

Saturday June 18th 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

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!

Monday 20 June 2016

Wednesday 15th June 2016 - Montana (Slight Risk)

Left Wall and had lunch in Sturgis, after this we went to Devils Tower as we knew the Cap would break very late if at all during daylight hours. After picking Glendive as our target which would be near enough developing Supercells we grabbed something to eat and waited. The Cap was very strong unfortunately and it was bang on dusk at around 925pm (MDT) that the first cells fired. There were heading North East so we took a north road towards Richey and in the next 2 hours between 11pm and 2am witnessed 4 seperate Night Time Supercell up near Wolf Point. The first 3 were LP Supercells and the last what I can only describe as a stack of plates with green bands even visible at 1am in the morning!! It was such a shame that these storms initiated so late as if they were in the light the structure would have been something to behold! Pictures still need working on so will put on the Devils Tower ones for now with the rest to follow.

Below : Supercell Storm at Night South of Wolf Point (Montana)

Tuesday 14th June 2016 - Various States & Badlands Milky Way

We awoke in Colby after a very underwhelming day in Colorado the day before with a view to get up to the Northern Plains ready for some Severe Weather for the 2nd half of Tour 4. In hindsight we probably could have done another day in the Southern Plains with a decent risk in SW Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. The Minnesota Risk was just too far out of our reach and we needed to be in Montana so we headed North towards Valentine and SW South Dakota. On the way some Severe Hail Storms went up to our North which were very nice on the eye and further North west a stunning LP Supercell near Rapid City which we just could not make in time. But for a travel day we saw plenty of distant storms and got some nice pictures.

Below : Nebraska Storm

Below : Nebraska Storm

And the day was not over there, with a 3/4 full Moon our trip to the Badlands although clear skies was ruined with such a bright moon and also the KP5 Solar Storm had not impacted as much as first thought. So we waited until the Moon set at 230am and until first sunlight meaning we had a 90 minute window and once the moon went it was a spectacular Milky Way show over the Badlands of South Dakota!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Monday 13th June 2016 - Colorado - Enhanced Risk

Colorado Magic ? The Denver Cyclone ? It all looked too good as we went to bed in Scottsbluff the night before. Surface Cyclone expected to be sat over Denver with south easterly surface winds and low 60's dewpoints I was very excited...................That was until I got up and saw a south eastwards moving MCS Over South west Kansas and the Panhandles. This effectively stopped the flow of moisture north westwards and shunted everything south a few hundred miles. It was now a race against time and a race we would ultimately lose with the first photogenic Tornado of the day down near the Raton Mesa and 10 miles east of Trinidad. This was more a Peublo Cyclone!! We went south from Limon and storms were mush all day never reaching Supercell status and dying off as they left the front range. A secondary area of storms fired in the Panhandles later on and another significant Tornado occured at Dusk north of Amarillo and by that time we were almost at Colby for the night getting ready as the system moved east for the next day. A very dissapointing day given what it looked like the day before. I never even took a picture - Ouch bad Colorado!

Saturday 11th June 2016 - Montana (Enhanced Risk)

Started today in Miles City with a chase target of between there Glendive and Broadus. Storms started to fire in Northern Wyoming over the Bighorns and were tracking Northwards. The surface low was between Baker and Miles City so all looked great. A pair of huge Supercells started to tempt me further west and after driving to Baker (MT) To sit and watch I commited west to these supercells which ultimately would be a huge mistake and god knows why I did it seeing as we would now be west of the surface low with little chance of tornadoes out that way. Even when I left I glanced south at a developing storm south of Baker a few times which looked awful on radar and of course as soon as I was 70 miles away it roots into the boudary layer and tracks up the east side of the low where low level shear and moisture was ample and dropped an 8 minute Tornado right where we were sat an hour earlier. First real mistake of the season and a costly one in this June of drought tornado conditions ( 18 upto the 17th June so far at time of writing)

After this tornado struck a few more storms fired up and we were treated to some Supercell structure west of Miles City but overall a very frustrating chase due to a bad mistake in a bread and butter set-up which I should have known better and chased a hundred times before. Onto Colorado tomorrow for another enhanced risk.

Below : Supercell west of Miles City (Montana)

Friday 10 June 2016

Tuesday 7th June 2016 - New Mexico - Marginal Risk

Last day of Tour 3 started in Limon and our hand was forced today really as we had to be in Dallas for tomorrow morning. The area I liked around the Colorado Springs area was out of bounds due to distances so we headed down Highway 287 towards Lamar and just went with whatever popped up along the way. A few storms started looking interesting west of Boise City so we went west to Clayton and stuck with them for an hour or so. Structure became quite nice for a time but it was the Cg's that were the star of the show on this storm with some bolts coming out of a very tall anvil into clear air. A nice little send off for Tour 3 which at least had some great lightning on this trip but a big no to the Illusive Tornado!

Below : Great Cg strike Photo from John Finney on Tour 3