JUNE 13, 2017 SOUTH DAKOTA: SUPERCELLS & GUSTNADOES

  This was the third day of chasing as a guide for Silver Lining Tours (http://www.silverliningtours.com/).  The day before, we caught 3 brief tornadoes and a beast of a storm in Wyoming and Nebraska.  We got ahead of this same system near the South Dakota/Nebraska border area on this day.  The thought was storms would form off the cold front/dryline and be rotating supercells with a decent chance to produce a tornado, although temperature/dewpoints spreads were fairly large.  A second target existed on the warm front across northeast South Dakota into west-central Minnesota but we thought the storms here would be too messy and congeal too quickly to stray from our closer target.  There did end up being a nice tornado in that second target area across west-central Minnesota.  We managed to catch a few severe and tornado warned supercells, as well as several gustnadoes on our storms.  There were a few tornado reports from the storms we were on, but we could not confirm that these were tornadoes over gustnadoes. 

First arriving on the supercell with a wall cloud near Bonesteel, South Dakota.  Storm had some decent structure at this point.

  Looking at the northern side of the base and updraft with the core of the storm on the right and wall cloud on the left.

  Cool shot of the approaching storm and a grain silo in the foreground.  

Looking west towards the approaching supercell near Pickstown, South Dakota.  This is the spot where I shot the time-lapse video above.

Gustnado occurring down the road from our location on the bottom right of the image.  Storm core coming in from right to left along with the shelf cloud.

Another shot of the storm and gustnado that is was producing near Wagner, South Dakota.  This was called in as a tornado by multiple sources but appeared to be a gustnado to me due to outflow of the storm and no condensation funnel above.

Looking at a tornado warned storm to the west, while the tour group enjoys the spectacle.

Rainbow on the backside of a different storm as we were getting close to sunset.  A few of the guests caught lightning and this rainbow in their shots.

At sunset on the back of the storm, looking southwest.  Cool looking sky with good color, mammatus clouds and the shot of an anvil from another storm in the distance.  

Terrific looking sky at sunset looking west in northeast Nebraska.

STORM PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOKS

Mesoscale Discussion issued by SPC at 2:32 PM CDT, highlighting the threat for storms to develop by 21Z with primary threats being wind damage and hail, along with some tornado threat.

Tornado Watch issued at 3:15 PM CDT for the area, valid until 10:00 PM CDT.

Another Mesoscale Discussion issued at 3:46 PM CDT from eastern Nebraska into southeast South Dakota and northwest Iowa.  Additional storms expected to form ahead of the initial storms that we were chasing along the South Dakota/Nebraska border.

A Mesoscale Discussion issued at 5:43 PM CDT as intense storms were maturing and new storms started to fire on the warm front and ahead of the low on the triple point.

Mesoscale Discussion issued at 8:34 PM CDT for the storms that were congealing and becoming less discrete across the eastern Dakotas into eastern Nebraska and western Minnesota.

STORM REPORTS

JUNE 12, 2017 WYOMING & NEBRASKA CHASE: 3 TORNADOES & BEASTLY SUPERCELL AT DUSK

  I was chasing as a guide for Silver Lining Tours (http://www.silverliningtours.com/) for this one.  We had high hopes that this would be the best chase of the tour as conditions were ripe for rotating supercells and tornadoes.  A trough was ejecting out of the Rockies and into the northern High Plains, with more than sufficient low and deep layer wind shear.  Bulk shear as in the area of 65 knots.  A nose of 3,000-4,000 J/KG of MLCAPE developed into western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, allowing for a very unstable airmass.  Shear, lift, instability and moisture appeared sufficient for a tornado outbreak to occur.  We ended up seeing 3 brief tornadoes on the day, only one shown below and in the video from a distance.  I was driving during the other 2 tornadoes.  The first supercell that we chased was from near Chugwater, Wyoming to Torrington, Wyoming.  The second supercell became large, photogenic and very intense.  We chased this storm from near Bayard to Alliance, Nebraska.  

First storm of the day exploding on the mountains to the west of Chugwater, Wyoming.  Wall cloud already developing on the left side of the core.

Wall cloud trying to organize to the east of Slater, Wyoming.  Moderately fast inflow occurring from right to left into this base.

Another wall cloud in the foreground trying to organize.  Large, low-hanging rising scud bomb in the distance being pulled into the base and around the wall cloud.  This was near Rockeagle, Wyoming.

Wall cloud tightening up and spinning near Rockeagle, Wyoming, shortly after the previous image.

Had a bad road network here, so only could capture this tornado from a distance as we looked west from near Lingle, Wyoming.

Multiple low inflow bands pulling in rich moisture with the second supercell we chased near Bayard, Nebraska.  A short time before, this the storm developed two brief tornadoes.  I was driving the van at that point and not able to capture a photo.

Awesome mothership structure, stacked plates, and shelf cloud on the storm as it became high precipitation (HP) near Angora, Nebraska.

Storm looking even more amazing as it approached our location.  Love those stack of plates!

Mothership about to engulf a train between Angora and Alliance, Nebraska.

Storm spitting out lightning left and right as it was about to overtake us.  Had to get out of the way shortly after this as the storm had huge hail within the core.

Another shot of the lightning and mothership supercell south of Alliance, Nebraska towards sunset.

Plenty of cloud-to-ground lightning to go around!  Was popping lightning all over the place and the storm was very intense at this point.  Tornado warned with a considerable couplet on radar embedded in the high precipitation monster.

Another shot of the lightning at dark.  Had to get out of the way shortly after this photo as it was a very dangerous, intense supercell.

STORM PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOKS

Mesoscale Discussion issued at 11:29 AM MDT, already talking about issuing a tornado watch as thunderstorms develop over the next few hours.

Tornado Watch issued at 1:10 PM MDT, valid until 8:00 PM MDT.

New mesoscale discussion issued at 5:05 PM MDT for the area with greatest risk for strong tornadoes and all severe weather hazards.

Mesoscale discussion issued at 8:02 PM MDT as dangerous supercell thunderstorms continued to move northeast through Nebraska, western South Dakota and northeast Wyoming.

STORM REPORTS

MAY 16, 2017 TEXAS & OKLAHOMA STORM CHASE: TORNADOES & INCREDIBLE LIGHTNING

  This was the day we had been waiting for and the reason for the whole trip.  An upper trough was ejecting out into the Plains with strong 55-65 knot winds at 500 mb, amble moisture, instability and strong wind shear to allow for rotating supercells and tornadoes.  Wes Hyduke and I left Garden City, Kansas late morning and made our way down to west of McLean, Texas off I-40 to get in position.  We encountered 3 separate supercell storms, starting near McLean, Texas and ending near Sentinel, Oklahoma.  The McLean storm produced a photogenic tornado, while the storm near Sayre, Oklahoma had a tornado debris spin-up underneath the bowl lowering and mesocyclone.  This second storm is the one that brought the big rain-wrapped tornado that led to extensive damage in Elk City, Oklahoma.  This was followed by a spectacular cloud-to-ground lightning show near Gotebo, Oklahoma.  A great chase day!

Wall cloud on the first tornado warned storm of the day near the Gray County Rest Area, to the west of Alanreed, Texas.

Wall cloud on a second tornado warned storm east of Howardwick and south of Alanreed.  Taking on terrific structure at this point with inflow tail on the right into the base and condensating wall cloud.  This was the storm that produced the tornado near McLean a short while later.

WE'VE GOT COWS!  Had to evade a herd of cattle on dirt road 20 south of Alanreed and northeast of Clarendon, Texas.  Was a funny moment when we were trying to get in position to intercept a tornado warned storm heading towards McLean.

Approaching the tornado warned storm southwest of McLean, Texas on highway 273.  Wall cloud with large inflow tail right to left into the storm.  

Radar grab showing our location close to the time the previous photo was taken.

TORNADO!  Beautiful elephant trunk to rope tornado south of McLean, Texas as we were driving north on highway 273.

Awesome elephant trunk tornado near McLean, Texas.  We stopped next to a Doppler on Wheels truck to view the tornado in the distance as it was churning away.

We drove up highway 273 towards McLean and looked off to the left to see the tornado still going strong!  I am still not sure if this was a second tornado or in the roping out stage of the first tornado.  Could have rotated around the mesocyclone and back west.  Appeared to me to be a 2nd tornado on a new updraft off the dryline well to the west of the first tornado, but cannot be sure.

A zoomed in view at the base of the tornado south of McLean, Texas.  There was decent rotation at the base of the tornado towards the end of its life cycle but it did not appear to be violent.

Tornado in roping out stage towards the end of its life-cycle.

Rainbow below and exploding supercell updraft as we approached a new storm northeast of Vinson, Oklahoma.

One of the best inflow tails that I have ever seen.  This thing was like a conveyor belt of warm, moist air into the storm base and shooting directly into the updraft.  Near Sayre, Oklahoma.

Another tornado spinning up dirt directly underneath a fast spinning mesocyclone near Sayre, Oklahoma.  A beautiful storm at this point!  Thought this was going to drop a big multiple vortex tornado right in front of us, but it never grew beyond this.

Awesome storm structure with beaver tail, wall cloud, quickly rotating mesocyclone and dusty tornado underneath near Sayre, Oklahoma.

Had to get a photo in front of this storm!  It had everything.

A short while later as the mesocyclone was approaching.  Still a fast rotating wall cloud, somewhat rain-wrapped, and producing funnel after funnel.

Meso really getting close at this point.  Strong rotation and funnel very close to the ground.  May have touched down again here but not for certain.  Still southeast of Sayre and west of Carter, Oklahoma.

Very close to producing a tornado here.  Strongly rotating wall cloud and funnel.  This is looking directly into the notch from the northeast side near the forward flank core.  Had to get out of here shortly after this photo was taken.  The storm later went on to produce a large tornado that hit Elk City, Oklahoma.

Ended the day with a terrific cloud to ground lightning show near Gotebo, Oklahoma.

UNREAL lightning strike that occurred directly in front of our car and right in the middle of my camera frame!  Probably will never get a lightning shot even comparable again in my lifetime.  Fortunately, I was in the car and had a remote trigger for my camera, which was outside on a tripod.  Camera settings were ISO 800, f/22, and 20 second exposure.

STORM PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOKS

Mesoscale discussion issued at 1:19 PM making note of the tornado watch that will be issued shortly.

Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado watch issues at 1:50 PM until 10:00 PM CDT.  Note the high likelihoods for tornadoes, wind and hail.  

New mesoscale discussion issued at 4:56 PM, highlighting the small area where tornado risk would be greatest as well as extremely large hail.  This area highlighted was where the 2 storms in which we saw tornadoes were located.

Another mesoscale discussion issued at 7:29 PM, highlighting a continued tornado risk east of where the current tornado watch was in place.

STORM REPORTS

MAY 15, 2017 KANSAS STORM CHASE

  Wes Hyduke and I left Minnesota on this morning and drove to northwest Kansas where we intercepted a couple of photogenic supercell thunderstorms.  This chase was primarily by chance as we were on our way to chase in the Texas Panhandle the next day.  We decided to take a detour to view the storms in northwest Kansas and glad that we did.

Terrific mammatus display on the storm as we approached near Hill City, Kansas.

Looking directly upwards at the mammatus clouds under the anvil on the storm west of Hill City, Kansas.

The storm started to get some decent structure near Hoxie, Kansas.  I love chasing in the wide open Plains!

Looking at the storm updraft and inflow bands feeding into it near Hoxie, Kansas.  Severe thunderstorm at this point.

Captured a cloud-to-ground lightning strike out of the storm as we watched from the southeast side.

Great structure on the storm at this point but storm starting to congeal and become more of a cluster.

A left-moving low precipitation supercell north of Garden City, Kansas at the end of the day.

STORM PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOKS

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION ISSUED FOR THE AREA AT 3 P.M. CT.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued at 3:40 PM

STORM REPORTS