Wednesday, 29 June 2011

11th June 2011 - Oklahoma Panhandle

So the last day of the Season is upon us and usually amazing things happen on the last day, we started out in Dodge City knowing that we could not commit to the Colorado risk but hopeful things could happen further South towards Dallas Fort Worth. We had lunch in Liberal and my target area of Guymon was not too far on from there, At this time a line of storms were to our east near Woodward and I got suckered into them when a decent MD was issued, one such storm rapidly turned Supercellular and the chase was on, unfortunately for us it took off back into Kansas so we had to give up on it. At around 530pm all was looking lost and by this time a raging Supercell was hitting Guymon so my mood was not too great......But things always happen for a reason and I noticed a blip on radar NE Of Amarillo, upon looking South West I saw a pretty decent rock hard updraught about 70 miles to our South West. I got the cars loaded and off we went, around 30 minutes later we were sitting about 15 miles NE Of a pretty LP Supercell which had ground to a halt, in fact it did not move in 30 minutes. Then it did move and this time to the right (Eastwards) could this be it, at this time the winds were screaming out of the South East as the LLJ Had cranked up. The Storm was rapidly growing grabbing all the sultry air to it's South East and it had nothing to impede it. I re-positioned the guys back east and then south by about 7 miles, we were now looking at a beautiful Classic Supercell crawling towards us at 5mph, then the Storm got Tornado warning and we witnessed a brief Tornado North West of Shattuck before it got rain wrapped. Then the day got even better, the Structure on this Supercell went absolutely nuts and people had open mouths with what they saw, this is probably the 2nd best structure behind Wynewood last year for me and looked a lot like the Campo storm from the 31st May last year. We pictured this beauty for a while longer and then headed further south and east flanking it to the south. By now darkness was falling, we did witness another halfway down Funnel cloud and insane rotation but no more Tornadoes. Further east we had another Supercell moving along the same line, incredibly this looked identical to the one we just left with Night-Time Cg's lightning up the swirls. At 11pm we had to call it a night although we would have stayed longer if we could, we made our way back to Yukon for the night and very nearly ran out of Petrol due to most places losing power due to the storms. But what an end to the Season!

9th June 2011 - Wyoming (Slight Risk)

A repeat performance for the 9th but we are much closer to the action having stayed in Scottsbluff overnight, there is a Moderate Risk further to the East over NE Kansas but Smoke from the Arizona Fires is reducing visiblity over their and even might be hampering convection as Sunlight is very limited, no such worries along the front range of the Rockies for today. Chase target and lunch was Wheatland and we waited quite a while for anything to form on this day but at around 6pm I noticed the convection getting deeper a little further North so off we went up I-25. Along the way a few storms exploded into life so we got into position to see what sort of hail we could get, unfortunately the main hail that covered the road missed us by about 1 mile to our north but we still got some nice nickel sized hail for a time. After this drove eastwards towards Scottsbluff and then went North to be surrounded by about 4 Storms for some Lightning. Dave got some great Daytime Lightning Pictures and here are a few for you to see. Only 2 days of the Season left for us so we will use the 10th as a travel day and gamble on the Oklahoma Panhandle for Saturday 11th June and hope we get some magic!

8th June 2011 - Wyoming (Slight Risk)

Started the day in Bismark (N Dakota) with a general target of the Eastern side of Wyoming for some storms to roll off the Rockies and head towards the Wy/Ne border. Our attention was drawn to a nice storm that had a persistant hook echo down near Wheatland and we intercepted this NE Of Scottsbluff looking into Wyoming as the storm was still 10-15 miles away to our west. Some very nice Low Precip Supercell structure with this storm for a time but it soon lost momentum when the diurnal heating lost it's power. The 9th Looks like a repeat performance in the same areas so we will be looking for some large hail to intercept as the Tornado chances are still very slim!

7th June 2011 - North Dakota

Started the day in Belle Fourche with a 350 Mile drive to get towards the East Central part of North Dakota along I-90. My target was Jamestown with 1 eye on the bigger Tornado Risk in NW Minnesota as well. By early afternoon some Supercells had fired to our SW Near to Bischmark and the choice had to be made to risk the heavily Capped risk in Minnesota or go with the risk to our South West. Made the decision to go with the North Dakota storms and was pleasantly surprised when 2 of them became Tornado warned with some great rotation. The 2nd Storm we got had a condensed Funnel halfway to the ground but just could not get the job done. Ended the day with some nice Mammatus and Rainbow shots before eating at Applebees and a longish drive back West in readiness for a few days chasing in Wyoming and Nebraska.

6th June 2011 - Wyoming and South Dakota

Started the day with a Slight Risk to go for over Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. Left Rapid City and had lunch in Spearfish, conditions were very favourable with 3,000jkg of Cape and temps and dewpoints very respectable. The Cap was very strong though and it took until 6pm for any notable storm to go Severe, we watched this for about an hour getting attacked by huge Mosquitos at the same time, end the day at Belle Fourche (South Dakota) and was treated to a couple of Elevated Storms which initiated over the Black Hills region. The Mammatus on the Storms were very pronounced and some of the best I have seen at dusk! The next day we have a solid risk in North Dakota to go for.

3rd June 2011 - Kansas and Colorado

Another marginal chase day under See Text conditions but things went a little bit nuts late in the day from Eastern Colorado into Western Kansas around the Ulysses area and that is where we stayed the night, some nice Lightning and very small hail with a few Gustnadoes were the only things we could muster up, but things are starting to look up for the rest of the tour and we now have to drive all the way virtually to Canada for the 6th June in Montana and North Dakota with some sightseeing along the way in the rockies and Mount Rushmore in SW South Dakota on the 5th June!

June 1st 2011 - See Text Risk (Tx Panhandle)

After picking up the Tour 4 guests a night in the Big Texan broke them in but not before some weak Pulse type Storms rolling out of New Mexico towards the Amarillo area. A nice start for the guys on what was essentially a Travel day up Highway 287 from DFW To Amarillo! Picture is of a Cg Bolt just west of Amarillo

30th May 2011 - Nebraska (Moderate Risk)

Started this day in Columbus (Nebraska) knowing that this would be a day of Supercells firing along a Cold Front (Not my favourite type of Storm due to the HP Nature and Line Segments)

SPC Said storms would fire at 21z and at 302pm the first duly fired to our North West, this rocketed into South Dakota so we stayed put and the line started to fire further to our SW. So we played the waiting game as road options down there were pretty shocking, in fact most of the other chasers who were in a much better position had to let the best storm near O'Neill go for this very reason. As the first storm neared it looked beautiful if very HP'ish. We ran east alongside it and let the Outflow hit us with nearly 70mph winds and numerous Gustnadoes, in fact this day will be remembered as Gustnadofest! The storms then lined up in a 200 mile long squall line so we kept just East of this and watched numerous Supercells pass to our West, each one High Precip and gusting out. Ended the day in Yankton (South Dakota) with a stupendous drive back to Dallas Fort Worth for changeover the next day!

May 25th 2011 - AR/MO High Risk!

Ended the day on the 24th with 3 Tornadoes but another day another High Risk! This time further east so a start at 9am and a quick run into Arkansas towards Little Rock was needed, I knew the terrain very well from previous chases so wanted to await storms to mature and head across the rice fields and onwards towards Tennessee and the Mississippi River Flood Plains where we had a good chance at some views without hills and trees. Most of the Tornadoes on this day would be in Missouri with very few in Arkansas but chances were increasing as the LLJ Cranked up just before Sunset. Storm motions to the ENE Meant we had to keep dropping south and east to sample the next Supercell down the line. All in all we saw 4 Supercells and the very last one dropped another Wedge Tornado just SE Of Tunica in Mississippi, this was special as it was my first ever Mississippi Nado! We only managed a screen grab of this as darkness was upon us being so far South and East. Ended the day in Memphis eating on the next table to Tim Samaras and the Twistex Team!

May 24th 2011 - Oklahoma HIGH Risk

This day had been showing on the Models for about 5 days and we duly got our High Risk issued by the SPC. Cape of 3,000jkg and T/td Spreads of 82/72f with a stalled boundary near the Oklahoma and Kansas border would set the stage for Violent Long Tracked Tornadic Supercells, storm motions initially looked to the NNE At around 35mph but any storm would rapidly turn to the right ( East) and become a Cyclic Supercell with the chance to drop numerous Tornadoes (Some Strong) We started the day in Norman again and my target was once again along the I-40 Corridoor between Clinton and Elk City. We had Lunch in Subway at El Reno and this place just 3 hours later would get hit by 1 of the 2 EF5 Tornadoes on this day. At around 2pm a beautiful Supercell erupted just North of Elk City and started moving towards the NE, We had a great road to intercept and pulled up to a fantastic double wall cloud with insane rotation at around 245pm. I Noticed on the radar the storm starting to turn hard to the right so re-located us further North and east and it is here we witnessed our first Tornado near Oakwood at 315pm. This Tornado started to become rain wrapped so more re-positioning was needed to the east and North by about 10 miles. I then caught sight of an amazing 3/4 Mile wide wedge Tornado to our North West, we were about 5 miles to the SE Of this so we gunned it straight North towards Canton and got to within 2 miles of the now photogenic EF4 Wedge Tornado that was literally sitting just North of the Town. Unbeknown to us at this time it was over Lake Canton and created a small Tsunami as it crossed that Lake. On getting to Canton I wanted to get even closer so took a road that looked like it was made for us going ENE - But the Storm was getting seriously affected by another Tornadic Supercell about 35 Miles to our South (This was the EF5 Tornado that was affecting Piedmont and El Reno) The Mesocyclone on our Storm occluded and the Tornado Dissipated at this time, we then arrived just South of Fairview another 10 miles North East flanking the Supercell with a rotating Wall Cloud about 1/2 Mile to our North West, the Storm was in its last lifespan by this time and put down an absolutely beautiful Photogenic Elephant Trunk Tornado just across a field to our North West. After this the storm rapidly broke apart just SW Of Enid and effectively our chase day was over at this point as the Piedmont Storm was affecting our route south on I-35 Back towards Oklahoma City. We ended the day once again in Norman with an eye on the next High Risk on the 25th May in Arkansas and Missouri. One amazing thing about this day is just how lucky the people of Oklahoma got, at one point there was 2 x EF4's and 2 x EF5's lined up West of the highly populated part of Oklahoma within 120 miles of each other but they all thankfully dissipated west of the Populus! Later that night the same storm system put down a Night-Time 1 Mile wide wedge tornado on the Oklahoma and Arkansas border!

23rd May 2011 - Western Oklahoma

Started this day in Norman with a decent Slight Risk in Western Oklahoma and it turned out a lot better than planned with Cows getting rolled over, numerous strong gustnadoes, very dangerous Lightning and Golf Ball sized Hail, we also saw the full spectrum of LP, Classic and HP Supercells. Initial target for lunch was Clinton along the I-40 And a nice storm erupted near Elk City just west of there. Went south through Cordell and sat just east of a very nice LP Supercell, allowed this to pound us with some pretty impressive hail (Biggest size was Golfball) Then the chase was on as the storm started to turn to the right and move east at 10mph. As we flanked the storm to the south it started to take on more of a Classic Supercell appearance as it had left the dryline. We were literally under the Rain free base and wall clouds all day so any Tornado reports with this storm were probably wrong, we did see some impressive gustnadoes, one of which knocked over some cows in a field about 300 yards away from us. After that we had a Cg Lightning bolt land between both chase cars and temporarily turn off the cars instrument panels. The storm was now turning into a HP Supercell and tracking towards the SE So we then went to be the chased as is usual with these storms. Finally gave up on the storm just North of Lawton and headed back to Norman for the High Risk day in much the same area on the 24th May!

22nd May 2011 - Oklahoma

Having ventured South towards the Texas Hill Country we knew an early start and trek North up the I-35 would be in order on this Sunday. The Risk zones were Moderate for parts of Kansas and Missouri with a Slight Risk surrounding this area taking in most of North Central Texas and Oklahoma. Got to Gainesville for Lunch and watched some cells initiate around the Stephensville and Decatur area which were moving North East towards us. These were quite photogenic LP Supercells and with the 4,000jkg of Cape Large Hail was starting to be reported sith these storms. Further North and out of our range a Lone right moving Supercell was beginning near Independance (SE Kansas) this would go on to produce a devastating EF5 Tornado to hit Joplin at around 530pm. We headed towards Ardmore flanking our Storm and it came a bit close dropping sporadic Baseball sized Hail at our location, had to flee East and North but storm speeds were crazy at 60-70mph so let this storm speed off towards Tulsa. Later on we got more Supercells moving NE From Ardmore and photographed some pretty Lightning near Ada before ending the night in Norman ready for another Slight risk on the 23rd May in Western Oklahoma.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

21st May 2011 - Texas Hill Country

Changeover day at DFW - The last guest arrived at around 530pm which meant the Oklahoma Risk was beyond us today which was a shame as an amazing cell went up between Ardmore and Oklahoma City which produced a photogenic Tornado. We still got some storms to the South of DFW Around the Killeen area and one went on to become Tornado warned. Overall though a bonus day as we were not even expecting to chase, on hindsight maybe we should have just trecked North and got into a much better position for the 22nd May which would become known for the devastating EF5 Which would hit Joplin (Missouri) just 1 day later from a right moving Supercell that started life near Independence (Kansas) and then tracked SE Towards Joplin at around 530pm. Unfortunately 151 people would lose their lives on this Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

20th May 2011 - Slight Risk - Kansas

Last chase day for Tour 2 and this was a day that went much better than planned. Had lunch in Pratt (Kansas) and told the group that stingy Cape would probably mean Uk Style Thunderstorms around the SW Kansas area but something might be able to go severe if it utilises the 500jkg of Cape. Went west and sat NE Of a Storm which was about 10 miles West of Greensburg. This Storm then started to right turn and move East straight over Greensburg itself and move towards the Pratt area. In next to no time it had turned into a beautiful Classic Supercell. Had a great chase down Kansas Farm Tracks, the Storm was still dragging in inflow with winds from the SE. Unfortunately the transition to Outflow Dominant was greeted with a blast of Cold Outflow winds about 45 minutes later and a Gustfront feature, as we had to get back to DFW For the next morning we left the storm and started our journey south but a great bonus end to Tour 2.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

19th May Oklahoma and Kansas - Moderate Risk

Today was another tough day, we got onto the early Elk City Supercell which had splitting issues and promptly died when it was moving into a better environment, after that headed north into South West Kansas and tried to follow a Supercell which literally took off at 60mph, was thinking about the next move when another Storm went up 50 miles west of us on the retreating dryline, this again promptly died, whilst moving towards Dodge City another Storm initiated, as we neared a great looking LP Supercell showed itself, played with the Hail on this and then core punched back through to the eastern side for some sunset shots, got more than we bargained for when a brief tornadic spin up occured literally over our heads just west of Great Bend (Kansas) ended the day shooting some lightning pictures and lovely colours on the gust front.

17th May 2011 - Colorado

Started the day in Amarillo with a Chase Target of East Central Colorado and some Colorado magic! At 6pm whilst heading towards Limon things were not looking great, a storm had formed further North so we went to take a look, unfortunately along the way we got a flat tyre, and around the same time 2 Supercells were forming right over us and just behind us, all of this in 12c temperatures. We decided to send 1 of the cars ahead to a cell to our north and the other 2 cars stayed behind to change the tyre, now the fun really began with Golfball sized hail hitting our location. After 20 minutes of changing the flatty we sped off after the growing storm, decided to punch back through the core along I-70 And got ahead of the storm to see an amazing Funnel cloud, pictured Lightning and took even more golfball hail in Burlingotn before meeting up with the other car which was limping home with yet another flat tyre.