Chase: Elizabeth Tornado June 15, 2009

What a great day.  Here is a chase log for the tornadic supercell that started in Larkspur!  Saw two tornadoes and followed the storm into Western Kansas.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday Daphne!

There was a moderate risk issued by the SPC for much of Kansas today, and that was my initial target, but I got a late start as I was awaiting UPS to deliver my new HD Canon VIXIA HF-20 camcorder, I’ve been anxious to check this baby out!  What a day to do it!  Eastern Colorado was in a Slight Risk area.  Note that at the end of this document I have a YouTube URL of some of the video footage I took, make sure and check that out too!

I left home about 12:30 and looking north I saw some awesome convection, so I immediately chose to go to my favorite spot about 10 miles east with a 360 view.  The storm was definitely looking great and it was severe thunderstorm warned, here is what I saw from my house…

Larkspur supercell

Storm exploding as I was leaving my driveway

Here is what I saw when I got to my favorite spot…this is looking over west Parker.

North of Larkspur

Looking north from Larkspur area, starting to hail.

Again, the radar showed that this storm was Severe warned, my guess is for hail (as seen in the above picture) but I haven’t looked at the warning yet.  Notice on the Baron unit that it shows some rotation on the southern section of the storm, about 5 miles to my east (I’m the little white car in the center of the radar, the “yellow rings” denote 10 miles radius from my GPS location!!

Elbert County Radar

Radar showing the cell as it entered Elbert County

Then, out of the northern section of the storm this formation formed.  It was not really rotating, at least not enough to get excited about, but it was really cool looking!  I got the tripod setup and the camcorder recording.  I have some great footage of this formation (time lapsed it is awesome) of the storm.

non-funnel

Great formation; no rotation even though it looks like a funnel

Meanwhile, looking back at the radar, the southern end of this storm was really starting to churn.  Could this be a lucky day to see a tornado?  I was hopeful at this time!  Still no tornado warning or watch box, both that would be issued in the next 30 minutes.

Radar when rotation was visible

Storm starting to curl up and rotate on the southern flank. I called the NWS and reported quick rotation.

Then, I noticed the rotation in the southern flank of the storm.  It started just below cloud level and creeped down towards the ground.  It was about 6-7 miles away at this time.  I called the NWS at this time to report a funnel cloud and the intense rotation.  This was taken at 1:28pm.  So far, I’m about 7 miles from home on this chase! 😉

Funnel forming

Funnel forming.

Slowly but surely the funnel took a typical funnel shape.  This reminds me of the funnel I saw in the Badlands of South Dakota in 2005 and the one in extreme SW Nebraska on June 1 this year.  I couldn’t confirm that it was on the ground yet, though, as the hill was in the way, so I was still calling this a funnel.

Funnel slowly forming

Structure is awesome, funnel was slowly forming

The funnel slowly started to get bigger so by this time it was nice and fat.  I can’t confirm if it was on the ground yet or not.  I was hearing eye-witnesses at the time on the radio saying it was a HUGE tornado.  All I can say it was taking its time and it was something amazing to watch!

Nice funnel cloud

Nice funnel cloud

Guessing, I would say it is on the ground now.  This shot was taken at 1:40pm.

Debris on the ground

I could finally see debris on the ground

It is definitely on the ground now, I can see the debris cloud.  This was taken at

Tornado roping out

Tornado roping out

Yet another look at the tornado as it was bouncing up and down from within the cloud, but the whole time I observed debris swirling on the ground even though at times I couldn’t even see a funnel!

Second tornado

Second tornado

The tornado went out of view because of the rain and thus forced me to actually chase this storm! 😉  I jetted down to HWY 83 and then east on my favorite back roads towards Elbert.  At one point when there wasn’t buttes in the way I could see a rotating funnel.

Third and forth tornado

Third and forth tornado

Then this funnel occluded and another tornado formed just to the NE of it.  I had one better view of the tornado just before this, it was a bit fatter but driving and taking a picture I haven’t mastered yet, so I only got the clouds above it.

The chase

Trying to catch up to the storm as it continues to put down tornadoes

I met up with a couple of first time chasers about this time and we drove out to HWY 24.  This was taken before Calhan, there was definitely rotation still going on, visually and also on the radar.

Still active rotation near Calhan

Still active rotation near Calhan

Here’s another wall cloud that was forming right off the road to the SE of me!  Strong rotation but no funnel.

Heading towards Kansas

Heading towards Kansas

So I followed this storm all the way to Kansas as it was really the only storm within range and proven itself, why leave it.  At Burlington I had to punch through the storm and I figured now was my chance or the storm would get south of me (bad viewing from the North side) in VERY rural Western Kansas where there was limited road access.  Plus the storm had passed the dryline and was getting into much more instable air.  The supercell took on a whole different shape and life at this point.  As I came out of the storm this is what I saw looking south.  Notice the green “veins”, I’ve never seen this before, it was beautiful structure.  I stopped at the rest area to get some better shots, but the storm was picking up speed and the hail I went through was likely getting bigger, so there was no time to take pictures at this time.  Note that this storm had been tornado warned pretty much solid since Elbert County, although I didn’t see any tornadoes with it.  The shot was taken at 6:27 pm MDT.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

I got to Goodland and headed south.  As soon as I was far enough out of town I had to stop and take some pictures of this amazing supercell structure!  This shot was south of me, you can see the other chasers (smartly) trying to beat the hail coming.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

This is right in front of me (notice the STOP sign, really appropriate this day!), and after getting a quick shot with my camcorder I headed south again.  Unfortunately the storm was completely changing and reforming at the time and I ended up getting into the hail core.  It was like a hurricane, the winds, totally horizontal, and the hail coming down looked like waves on the road…no joke.  Am I in a hurricane in Western Kansas?

Amazing structure!

Amazing structure!

Shortly I was out of the precipitation and I had to decide if I was going to try and go north again and catch the wrong side or the storm, or head south  and parallel it.  Since the storm motion was ESE I decided to get a little south of it and then take the diagonal HWY 40 out of Sharon Springs.  I decided to do the south route in hopes of getting some good view of storm structure, which I did.  Nice beaver tail action on this baby!

South of supercell

South of supercell

The southern end of the storm that was so intense just 30 minutes before was quickly fizzling out as it intercected my HWY 40 route.  I took State Road 25 north to Colby in one last effort to catch the intense part of the storm.  Then decided it was time to head home as I didn’t feel like staying out too late (had to work in the morning) for lightening shots, plus these storms were moving quick.

20_PotOGold_IMG_0684

I guess “gold” in western Kansas is grain, which these rural towns are built upon, as I discovered in this shot.

21_goodbye_supercell_IMG_07

Goodbye Storm!

I have some pretty neat footage that I’ve made available on YouTube in High Definition as I got some footage that was completely different than all the footage I’ve seen thus far from this storm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybLaHLf2wVA

Overall, 13 hours on the road, about 660 miles.  My 4th day this season chasing.

 

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 9 – Mothership

Day #9.  June 15, 2005.  West Central Kansas.

Video (2nd part of the storm video):

This was a down day for most chasers, but our guides strutted their stuff
today by forecasting west central Kansas as a target.  The mid level had a
lot of moisture coming up from Amarillo into West Central Kansas and there was a
lot of dry desert air coming up over Colorado forming a dry line with nice
instability once you got into Kansas.  We drove from Kearney Nebraska and
arrived at Colby Kansas at noon.  We hung out there until 5:00 when we saw
the first storm of the day blow up, and boy did it in a hurry.

We had to drive east to catch up with the storm and experienced some minor
hail on I-70 along the way.  After going south right where the Trego Center
tornado was on Day 3 (June 9th) we knew that area was in for another intense
storm.  We actually drove by where the tornado was and saw much destruction
to trees and even flipped over flatbed trucks.  We parked along a small
country road and watched this beautiful mothership supercell evolve.  I
have always wanted to see a mothership and was blessed with a super high quality
storm structure today.  We hung out with two farmers who were really cool
and calm as this beast passed over their homes.

Eventually this put down a very weak tornado right before it was overwhelmed
with a squall line that had developed over eastern Colorado–very similar to the
supercell from Day 1 in South Dakota.  Then all hell broke loose and we had
to run for our lives (well, not really, but there was large hail and intense
winds that would have wrecked havoc on our van).  The storm quickly
swallowed us up and we narrowly escaped it after almost 2 hours of being very
closely chased.  I’m positive this storm complex had to produce large
tornadoes and devastating hail storms; we’ll wait to see what the NWS report
says.

This storm was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and produced the most wicked
lightening storm I’ve ever seen too.  For over 2 hours it was black as
night (but it was daylight still) with zero visibility due to blowing rain
(gusts were around 50-60 mph).  The lightening was intense in every
direction, probably 4-5 times per second.  I tried to video it but I don’t
think it came out.  You could see scary lowerings in the clouds through the
lightening at times.  What a treat from our mother nature!

There are a lot of pictures here because I am in awe of the beauty of this
storm…I couldn’t decide on which to show so I chose many.

This is the Rear Flank Downdraft blowing dust in the distance.  This is
an intense wind!

Lots and lots of rotation!

and finally a tornado.  This is called a truncated cone because the
condensation funnel didn’t ever go from the cloud to the ground, but as you can
see there is a definite tornado as seen by the debris on the ground.

You can see the tip of the funnel in the center, it actually isn’t the funnel
looking thing on the left, but that was rotating too!

Because of the intensity of this storm complex, there actually could be a
chase day tomorrow as well do to the outflow boundary generated by this MCS.

We thought we’d be sitting around on day 10 but that may not be true anymore.
Gotta love how dynamic the weather is!

Here was our escape route.  After leaving the tornado, we were right in
front of the golden box in the yellow.  The tornado is the where the letter
F is in pink near the center of the radar.  We had to navigate down the to
the right and down the green notch.

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 6

Day 6 – 06/12/2005.  Texas Panhandle

NWS Survery

Video (first half is a few days later in Kansas; second half is the Texas Twisters from 6/12):

 

Today was suggested to be a big day due to the instability and jet digging
in.  We headed east and south from Plainview.  There blew up two large
storms and we were positioned well between the two.  The northern storm was
by far the largers storm and so we targeted it.  It ended up dying and the
southern storm was exploding so we went south.  This storm ended up being
on a squall line so we focused on the southern storm.  Bill’s friends at
the Lubbock office called and told us the sheriff had reported a tornado with
the second to last storm and so we headed fast and furious to that storm.
We had to punch the tip of the core to get there and when the base of the storm
came into view we knew we’d be in for a treat.  We watched as a large wedge
was formed and touch the ground.  This beast became rain wrapped and we
moved to beat the hail wrapped core.  We proceeded to see multiple vortex
and another cone and ended up with a roping out elephant trunk.  In total,
we counted 5 tornados from this supercell.

There is a 1/2 mile wide tornado that is rain and dirt wrapped in there, don’t
be fooled…it was rotating VERY fast!

My still shots of this multiple vortex tornado (yes, one tornado with two-three
littler tornados in it…these tornados were rotating around each other).
This came out of a new mesocyclone base after the wedge dissapated (at least we
think, the wedge could still be rain wrapped behind and to the left…we got the
hell out of there so we’re not sure).  I concentrated on video at this
point and don’t have captured images from that yet.

At this time we saw that the last storm in the squall line (one storm south)
was growing enormous and was swallowing this already huge storm.  We drove
fast and furious and upon diving out from the forward flank downdraft we saw a
huge horseshoe shaped wall base with a wall cloud.  This never really
shaped up to much so we ended up driving away and viewing this storm from a
distance.  This was a HUGE storm that took up several counties.  We
saw amazing anvil crawling lightening and beautiful striated mammatus.

The above two pictures are of a wall cloud under this monster.  You can
see from the two pictures the downward motion of the wall cloud, we really
thought it was going to tornado.  Behind it is the rear flank downdraft
(RFD) hole…you would not want to be right under this hole as you’d probably
experience 100 mph winds and softball hail.  And yes, there was rapid
rotation in these clouds at this time.

Rapidly rotating funnel with tail cloud that was very active, but didn’t put
down any tornado.  This beast was so huge and so efficient it didn’t have a
chance to make a tornado…there was just too much rain cooled air falling down
through the RFD and cooling the inflow too much.

This is a typical shot from the trip.  The above radar shows this super
cell.  It probably took up at least one whole county and a 1/3 of all the
counties surrounding it.  Maybe 50 miles at the base?

These are called Puscular Rays.  You are looking at blue sky with a
little bit of the anvil at the top of the photo.  I haven’t quite learned
exactly what causes this, but it is like a rainbow effect, there is refraction
of light around the supercell forming a “inverted shadow” of sorts on the
horizon.  That is the while triangle.

Picture from our ride away from this storm after sunset.  Incredible
storm structure, but it would require a fish-eye lens to do the storm justice.

Notice the shelf cloud sucking in moisture from the lower level of the
atmosphere (950 mb).  Then the inflow right above it sucking in mid-level
moisture (700 mb), then the anvil way above that.  This middle inflow band
demonstrates the amount of rotation in this storm as it is bent around from
behind the storm.  This was a very healthy storm that died about a couple
hours after sunset due to the loss of heating.

The first tornado was the largest of the trip, we figure 1/2 mile wide at the
base.  We saw several trees fly up and also several power transformer
explosions.  A couple of towns were in the wake of some serious hail
problems associated with this storm.

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 5

Day #5.  6/11/2005.  Texas Panhandle Supercells and Tornado

We targeted the Texas panhandle today as there were several boundaries
forming with lots of moisture (even though it was somewhat cool for Texas in
June).  We drove from Dodge City to just south of Amarillo and sat around
and watched the clouds waiting for one to blossom.  It took storms a little
while to get going, but once they did we had a choice of one by Hereford and
another outside of Amarillo.  We took the Amarillo storm because it was the
first and most impressive.  As we drove close we found another classic
supercell, but this was fairly small in nature.  We watched a big wall
cloud approach NW Amarillo and it kept trying persistently forming wall clouds,
but there was just not enough juice for it to take off.  We heard that the
southern storm was taking off and so we left the Amarillo storm as it was
putting on a nice lowering, but the rotation had pretty much ended.  Again,
like every day, we heard the sirens go off and everyone came rushing out of
restaurants, stores and their cars to see the large dark cloud coming their way.
The city was a zoo, so that finalized our decision to get the hell out of town
as it would be hard to chase in a city.

We picked off a southern storm that had a history of a tornado and it was a
monster.  Absolutely huge storm.  This storm was trying to get with it
and kept forming new wall clouds that were impressive.  Finally, once we
thought the storm was going to give up, once wall cloud formed with a funnel.
The funnel eventually dropped for a small cone tornado.  We think it may
have put down two tornadoes, but until we review the video we can’t be sure.
We moved to get a closer view but we ended up in a mess with lots of rain.

We immediately went south as the rain was not linear (meaning it was curving
around) and we watched a huge funnel from less than 1/4 mile away while in the
bear’s cage.  After having enough and knowing that the funnel was going to
come down, we moved another mile to the south and watched the rain wrapped
circulation head off in the distance.  The national weather service issued
a tornado for this rain wrapped whatever, but we only saw the huge funnel and
didn’t ever see a tornado.  At this time baseball sized hail was falling
just north of where we were.  I unfortunately didn’t get any stills but I
should have some video.

The national weather service got a report on this storm that there was a
tornado on the ground, but it only looked like rain-filled downdraft (with no
rotation) so we are not counting this as a tornado.  The tornado I only
have on video and don’t have a way to capture it for viewing just yet.

We then watched a new storm form right behind it and it got quite organized
putting quite a show.  We were directly under the clouds with all sorts of
eddys and rotation and scud building everywhere from the strong inflow.
I’ve never seen cloud motion like this, hopefully the video comes out.  We
watched this storm go off into the distance while getting eaten alive by
mosquitoesas it got dark.  We were going to sleep in Amarillo but two
monster hail storms got between us and flooded the interstate with tons of water
and very large hail and we were stuck going south to Plainview for the night.

The target area is the eastern Texas Panhandle or western Oklahoma or Kansas.
We’ll see what the outflow boundaries look like from today’s monstrous hail
storms.

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 4

Day 4.  June 10, 2005.  Panhandles.

Today was foretasted by everyone to be a great tornado day in the Texas
Panhandle.  There was a very strong upper level trough coming through that
would for sure initiate convection, and there was a dryline and frontal boundary
to make a second day of a classic triple-point.  The triple-point was
looking to be down outside of Clovis New Mexico and into the west central Texas
Panhandle.  We started off the day in Dodge City Kansas and headed south.

After analyzing data we were really confused because the trough was out of
phase, meaning it was too early in the day and there wasn’t enough heating for
the really deep convection.  Therefore everything started going bananas
around 1:00 and since there was little cap everything was free to explode.
This is not what you want because every storm will fight for the deep energy and
instability in the lower atmosphere.  We decided to stay north and targeted
the first supercell in the rich atmosphere in SW Kansas.

We watched the storm as it kept producing wall clouds but they were really
not that impressive.  This storm could not get organized enough before the
early morning big sloppy storms from the central panhandle started to seed the
northern storms.  We know we would only have a small window (maybe 2 hours)
of time before this would happen and ruin any chance of the northern target area
taking off, and it just didn’t get organized in time.  We then targeted
another good looking storm in the extreme western Oklahoma panhandle and by the
time we got there the storm was just a squall line with a nice looking shelf
cloud (another whale’s mouth type of formation) but nothing severe.  At
least we weren’t the only people that busted today, everyone did as there were
no tornadoes that any chaser saw anywhere…shows how the Storm Prediction
Center’s models can be way off based on a single, early morning storm complex
ruining the environment, and the upper level disturbance coming in way too
early.

After dark we can see a nice supercell on radar and great lightening show
around Amarillo, but none of us were in the mood to drive 1.5 hours to chase a
storm in the damaged atmosphere after dark.

 

These pictures are examples of the wall clouds we saw today.  There was
definite rotation and they kept trying to re-organize with strong inflow, but
the southern storm complex kept feeding outflow aloft into this storm ruining
its chances for tonadogenesis.  You can see in this picture two wall
clouds, one is dying and the other is accepting all the inflow.

 

Tomorrow is looking like a good day on the Raton ridge in either southern
Colorado or northern New Mexico, and Sunday could be the last good day of the
tour.  I think we’ve maxed out on our outbreaks

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 3 – NW Kansas Outbreak

Day #3.  Thursday.  6/9/2005.  Northwest Kansas Tornado Outbreak.

NWS Summary

We woke up today with some good news.  The outflow boundary from the Wichita storms was pushing into central Oklahoma but there was a 4 county wide corridor of unobstructed area in central to western Kansas that was pushing warm moisture up into north western Kansas.  In Russell where we stayed the night we woke up to northerly winds that were 25-35 mph and were very muggy.

There was a dry line in western Kansas, a low pressure in north eastern Colorado, a synoptic warm front in north western Kansas all coming together for a classic triple-point in North western Kansas.  We headed west and as we knew one or more storms would go up and dominate.  We found our storm on radar that exploded (went from a column to huge anvil in 20 minutes) just west of Hayes.

This storm took a while to get organized but if finally did around Hill City. Boy did it.  As I was talking to the local Sheriff the very active wall cloud popped down a large stovepipe tornado.  We followed this storm into Hill City and by that time it was about 2 miles south of town heading north east.

We headed south into its path and after we passed the river we had to quickly turn around as this monster wedge was less than 1/4 mile away and
coming straight at us.  This was a very violent tornado and we hoped that it didn’t cross the river as there was a group of about 6 houses that would have been quickly demolished.  This storm formed a 1/4 mile wide wedge and became rain wrapped so we couldn’t see it.  We knew it was in there by the flashing of power transformers within the rain wrapped core.  The storm started building a new wall cloud in front of the rain wrapped mess and quickly put down another tornado.



Note there are two big tornadoes in the above picture taken while we were in the van…

We quickly moved to stay in front of it and saw may wall clouds, funnels and tornados form and reform.  Luckily this storm spared 4 towns that were
almost in its path (missing by less than 2 miles per town).  We heard lots of sirens today.  We then parked and saw the inflow scud form right on the
road around us as another tornado formed 1/2 mile to our south.  Here the storm again reformed and close to Damar a nice elephant trunk formed, with another large cone just behind it (both at the same time).  This is probably what you saw on the weather channel as the contrast was amazing and it was running parallel to us about 1/8 mile north of our road.  The north tornado dissipated and the beautiful elephant trunk eventually roped out.

This storm was now being seeded by another monster supercell to its southwest and so we headed back to Hayes to start the chase over.

Heading east on I-70 out of Hayes we quickly saw a huge cone tornado.
There was also reformation of another agressively rotating wall cloud directly over I-70.  I can’t believe the truckers were barrelling right under this
wall cloud while another tornado was just south of the interstate.  We learned later that 44 trucks were overturned on the interstate.  This thing
was quickly on top of us and we had no choice but to turn around and head east on I-70 back towards Hayes.  We followed this storm towards Stockton and saw yet another short lived cigar tornado.  This storm appeared to be turning into a HP and so we decided to go get some dinner, and reports have it just a few minutes after we left its beautiful wall cloud it put down a large rain wrapped tornado.  These are hard to see and thus quite dangerous so it was good we left this storm when we did.

We’re thinking this RFD winds (probably close to 100 mph) is what blew over the 44 trucks on I-70.  You can see the dust being picked up and also the structure of this supercell!

Another picture of the Zurich double tornado as it roped out.  The second tornado is dissipating directly behind.

We all lost count of how many tornadoes, funnels and wall clouds that we saw today.  We are counting 7 tornadoes based on our recollection of the mesos, although many of these mesos put down multiple tornados, pulled back up, and put back down again.  We counted these as just one tornado.  Otherwise I suspect the count would be near 15.

Tomorrow will be another intense day as similar conditions are going to be present in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle.  Once again we saw quite a
lightening display on our way to the hotel in Dodge City.

Silver Lining Tours Master Class 2005 10-day Tornado Chase Tour – Day 1

Master Class Tour – Day 1 (June 7, 2005)

We started the day in Kansas City, Missouri. After
reviewing the weather maps the night before, we knew we had a long day’s drive
to meet up with what could be the storm complex of the summer. A *VERY*
strong upper level trough was in place to meet with potential warm, moist air
and the natural upslope of the Black Hills in western South Dakota. We
left at 6:00 am and drove virtually non-stop until we were at the Badlands at
around 5:30 pm. GOES-12 Satellite showed an amazing supercell forming (I
will have pictures up shortly) on the southernly edge of the cold front boundary
and on the NE tip of arriving the “Death Jet” trough that we were excited
about. There was a monster Supercell that we estimate was putting down a
huge tornado about 50 miles north, but these storms were tracking at 35 mph to
the north and we didn’t feel we could catch that storm. So we crested a
hill to see not only the Badlands for the first time but also our target
supercell. Not more than 2 minutes later a funnel appeared in the western
flank of the storm putting down a nice Elephant Trunk tornado. We were
about 18 miles from the storm and I hope to have gotten some video footage of the
tornado, but it was far away and we were struggling to get our gear all set up
after the abrupt stop to our long haul, so I didn’t get any still photos. It was a beautiful tornado that lived about 5
minutes.

We then, with renewed enthusiasm after the LONG drive
headed south on US44. We pulled off at a good vantage point and watched
this supercell develope further. Where we stopped we actually met up with
the Twister Sisters who had National Geographic along and we were filmed for an
upcoming Tornado show. It was great to meet some of the chasers who I have
been following for years from home. This storm was something else, I’ve
never seen anything like it and I never have been directly in front of the
storm’s path less than a mile away. There was *INTENSE* rotation below the
huge wall cloud (that nearly took up the whole base of the supercell) and we
finally decided to move once it was overhead and quarter sized hail started to
drop.


We continued south for a couple of miles to let this
baby cross the road and we stopped at a nice “Badlands” scenic outcropping and
watched a great show. The rotation of this storm said there was going to
be a big tornado at any time, but nothing did come down. We decided that
since the storm was still building we would out flank it and went 6 miles south
(away from the storm) and 16 miles east, then back north to intercept it.
At this time there was a Squall line of storms *VERY* quickly approaching us
with obvious *BIG* hail and potential tornadic activity catching up with us, so
because of the dirt road we didn’t stop at all due to the obvious risks.
The public reported a tornado touching down briefly but we were within 15 miles
of this storm at all times (mainly less than 10 miles) and we didn’t see any
touchdown, although there still was intense rotation. We followed the
storm and hopped back on I-90 east towards the storm. It was being overcut
with the cells directly behind us so we knew that it only had a short life left,
so we drove under the rotating wall cloud to get in front of the storm for its
last chance to put anything down. Again, there was intense rotation as
this supercell got swallowed by the Squall line, but alas, no new tornados.

The Squall line turned into a Whale’s Mouth which is *VERY* rare. Note
that it was moving around 75 mph and that was intense watching it come straight
for us at that speed.

A couple of other observations. The inflow bands
to this storm were on the SE and NW flanks and were truely amazing. The SE
one had to be 100 miles long. The anvil was monsterous, it went as far as
the eye could see. There probably were over 100 chasers of this
storm…its been a dry year and everyone is desperate; but this was also a setup
that had amazing potential too. We saw so many “yahoos” (these are idiots
with all sorts of stupid crap on their “chase vehicle” trying to attract
attention to themselves–none had rims that spun which surprised me), 4 Texas Tech vehicles with
big weather stations their roofs
(looked really silly), the Tornado Intercept Vehicle that looks like a tank and
who never gets within 20 miles of a storm I am told, and
so many other folks with light-bars and crap plastered on their car saying

“Caution: Storm intercept vehicles” and the like. I am really
surprised how gung-ho some folks are and how distracted one can become! The
night ended in Mitchell SD with the storm catching up to us and giving us an
hour long lightening show (with I estimate 75-100 cloud-to-cloud bolts per
minute). It’s 12:30 now and the lightening is subsiding.

This storm was truly amazing; a classic supercell!
We got to see a pretty tornado from the distance with beautiful scenery and also
an amazing storm structure. My favorite part was looking at it as it
headed directly toward us and as it started passing over us. After we
moved 2 miles south (since we were directly in the path of the rapidly rotating
wall cloud) it has some beautiful form and rotation. Looking straight up
into the outer rotation of the wall cloud shows the beauty of nature that not
many have the opportunity to see. Stunning! I also have learned a
ton (in one day, no less) about severe weather forecasting and chase techniques.

Tomorrow will be Northern Iowa, Southern Minnesota
following this same “Death Jet” with very high dewpoints feeding it and Outflow
boundaries from tonight’s storms feeding the instability. Unless something
crazy happens, we’ll see some great storms tomorrow too, and probably for the
rest of the week. Today’s mileage. 900+ miles!

 

 

Above is the ultra-rare whales mouth. This is
horizon to horizon, about 1/4 mile away, approaching at over 75 mph. It overtook us within 2
minutes of these photos with at least 60 mph sustained winds. This is our supercell after being ran over by an intense Squall line.