Sunday, March 5, 2017

2-28-17 Washburn, IL Tornadoes

Nice start to the season with 3 tornadoes from Washburn, IL and points east. Obviously rusty, getting stuck blasting north to the river crossing at Lacon and ending up about 10-15 miles behind the first tornado when it touched down. Recovered in time to get within a mile or so of the final tornado of the day.

Washburn EF-3 from way too far away

Final tornado video...crazy getting through the tree line just in time to see the barn roof get lifted. 

All in all, best start to a season I've ever had, getting on the board on the first chase and some solid daytime IL tornadoes. RFD was luckily very dry, lending the tornadoes to surprisingly good visibility from the northwest...rarely see that. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dodge City, KS Tornadoes - 5/24/2016

After the Spearman tornadoes on the 22nd, we had a bust day on the 23rd. Bit south into the eastern Texas panhandle instead of sticking with our initial target of Woodward, OK, and missed a couple nice tornadoes up there. Did hit a nice supercell dying off right at sunset, and Mike got a nice
lightning shot with his new camera


Ended up in Garden City, KS for the night, wanting to be north far enough to play Colorado the next day if the setup warranted. Two target day, with an outflow boundary/dryline intersection in SW Kansas and the DCVZ looking to blow up with 3k cape nosing into Denver. Decided on the OFB, and moved south just across the border into Oklahoma. As the target became better defined, Mike and I drifted north, and got on a nice supercell from the towering cumulus stage. 

We got under the updraft base as it consolidated into one dominant updraft. Was very high-based at this point, and didn't expect much to happen for awhile. We were very surprised when it went tornado warned. 

Within about 20 minutes, though, the base lowered dramatically, inflow started picking up, and it was pretty obvious it would be tornado time in a few minutes. 

Absolutely stunning, in the best chase terrain in the country. A few minutes later, a large cone funnel developed on the left side, and the first tornado touched down. 

This tornado would've made most chase days by itself, but it wasn't even close to being the most impressive this storm would produce. It lifted briefly as it ingested another area of circulation, then planted again as an incredible stout stovepipe. 

At this point, total insanity began. Multiple times with 2 tornadoes on the ground at the same time. 

Mike got this shot of me...intermittent vortices to the right, beautiful cone to the left. Absolute dream storm. 

At some point, I may try to salvage some of the video we shot after this, but it was all shot while driving and navigating around both Dodge City and the storm chaser traffic on highway 283, so it's pretty shaky. Several more tornadoes touched down, though, including one very large one to the northwest of Dodge City. It's still unbelievable looking back over the footage and realizing it actually happened...just a spectacular, slow moving cyclical tornadic supercell rooting on an outflow boundary and taking advantage of the added vorticity. Here's the footage!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spearman, TX Tornadoes - May 22, 2016

Finally getting around to chase logs for the last week of May...pretty incredible. Finally seeing the record El Nino reverse, and great tornado events on the Plains have returned.

Met Mike Brady in STL around 7:15 the night before, drove to Norman, arriving at about 3 AM, and stayed at Brandon Sullivan's place to catch a few hours of sleep. Left Norman about 8 AM, grabbed Braum's (important) for lunch, and continued to the big Love's truck stop 27 miles east of Amarillo. 

As we had driven out, the target area had become more clearly defined. A dryline was sharpening up in far west Texas, with deep 70's dews and high instability ahead of it. Forcing mechanisms were poorly defined, as would be the case all week, with subtle shortwaves embedded in broad SWerly flow. As we sat at the Love's, we watched the dryline sharpen to the west, and convective initiation occurring to our north and south. The north storm looked better, and would keep us in play for the later show on the dryline, so we went up to take a look. 

The north storm looked like ass. High-based, struggling, etc. We thought about blasting south to what now looked like much better storms in a better environment, and even left the north storm for about 10 minutes, but ultimately decided to stick with it after noticing a small wall cloud and RFD clear slot wrapping around. The storm cycled 2 or 3 times, with decent rotation, but nothing really impressive. 

About this time, we noticed 5-6 updrafts blowing up to the south, and realized that we'd have to wait through some inflow-region cell mergers. We got east, out ahead of the storm, and waited for about an hour or two for these to complete, noting penny sized hail in one of the updrafts as it was ingested into the main storm. After the cell mergers were complete, we headed back west, and saw a nice base with a developing wall cloud. We got west towards it, found a gravel road south that wasn't too washed out, and parked to watch it. Inflow quickly picked up to the 40+ mph range, and I tweeted a pic to the Amarillo NWS office. 

A couple minutes later, Mike yelled something, and I looked up. A poorly-defined stovepipe tornado had emerged from the rain behind this wall cloud. I tweeted another report to Amarillo as Mike filmed, all while the first wall cloud we had noticed ramped up. 

Within a couple minutes, there were two tornadoes on the ground, the new wall cloud continuing to organize and drop intermittent tornadoes as the ongoing main tornado started to rope out spectacularly. 

After this tornado dissipated, we headed north and east to stay ahead of the RFD surge now cutting around the second, now primary mesocyclone. It continued to drop small, intermittent tornadoes, but as we headed east the largest tornado formed. 

Grainy shot as we were still driving, but seconds later we pulled off into a gravel lot on the north side of Texas highway 281, pulling in next to Tony Laubach. Here, we watched the entire meso plant as a large, dusty wedge between 1-2 miles north of the highway. 

At times when the wedge wasn't fully condensated, smaller subvortices would form inside the parent circulation.

As the RFD precip swung around towards us, we kept heading east. The tornado recondensated nicely several times during this period, once fairly close to us as a classic cone. 

All told, including a couple of satellites, probably 4-5 tornadoes in about a 45 minute span from this supercell. Incredible start to the trip, scoring my first really photogenic Texas tornadoes and we headed to Amarillo for the night to stage for the next day. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 14th, 2014 chase and 2014 season wrap

Flew from Atlanta into Kansas City early Saturday morning to chase with Brady. Ended up on the Stockton, KS cell...first time I've been in that area since I broke down there in 2011. Beautiful supercell that ramped up hard after dark and produced a couple nocturnal tornadoes. Nothing like what would happen later in the week, but there was no way to make it work to be up there for that, unfortunately.

Here's a collection of the best shots I got this year....tough year. What a grind. All told, somewhere between 12 and 13,000 miles, chased Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Colorado, and ended up in a few more states than that.

Incredible stacked plates supercell near Brooksdale, MS. This storm had earlier produced the EF-4 tornado that impacted Louisville, MS.

Stovepipe tornado near Yazoo City, MS on April 28th.

Mammatus over Oklahoma City on May 8th.

Loaded up and headed north towards storms on May 10th.

Radar grab as I get into position on a big hailer in NE KS on May 10th.

My Jetta parked in front of a developing supercell in NE KS on May 10th.

Crazy inflow tail/wall cloud structure on the beast storm in SE Nebraska on Mother's Day, May 11th.

Monster EF-3 1.5 mile wide wedge tornado near Beaver Crossing, NE on May 11th.

Gorgeous LP supercell near Martin, NE on May 19th.

Nice LP storm SW of Torrington, WY on May 20th.

Rapidly rotating wall cloud near Denver International Airport on May 21st.

Insane HP beast near Denver International Airport on May 21st.

Sculpted meso near Stockton, KS on June 14th.

Crazy mothership structure just across the NE border near Red Cloud, June 14th.

Large wall cloud after dark east of Hastings, NE, right before dropping a couple of brief tornadoes.

Hopefully fall season throws us some bones...everyone who couldn't play Nebraska/South Dakota this week sure needs it. It's a wrap for Spring 2014. 4 tornadoes, and a feeling of unfinished business. Redemption will come.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monster Nebraska Wedge Tornado - 5-11-2014

Tough day yesterday with the HP monster in SE NE, but pulled out a couple tornadoes, most notably this big wedge! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chase Recap - April 26-28th, 2014.

Rough notes to look back on for when I can actually do a day-by-day summary...First big trip of the year, and pulled down at least two, and possibly 3 tornadoes. Left Meridian at 6 PM the night of the 25th, and drove to Norman, Oklahoma. Stayed with Brandon Sullivan. Sat in Norman most of the day, noted strong mixing out of the dewpoints in SW OK from the low 60's to the low 50's. Realized early on this wasn't a chase setup, and left for Arkansas around 4 PM. Stayed in Alma, AR for the night.

The 26th was insane. High risk upgrade at 3 PM, volatile environment. Watched storm from Pine Bluff for a good chunk of the day. Moved south and west for a bit, then back north to Little Rock. Sat on an overpass on the west side of Little Rock and watched the storm that would produce the Maumelle/Mayflower/Vilonia monster wedge tornado evolve. Moved east and then north, encountering insane inflow winds and an LCL at ground level pulling into the tornado, and got a rough view of the tornado as it entered Vilonia. Chased on up to around Searcy, then gave it up for the night. Drove back home to Meridian that night, arrived about 3:30 AM.

Up at 7, went to work at 8, got the day off, then blasted west to Canton, MS. Waited for storms to mature, and moved in on the Yazoo City storm. Caught the stovepipe phase of the tornado, then blasted east, trying to get ahead of the Louisville storm. Couldn't do it til I got to Starksville and dropped down 45, encountering debris falling from the sky for about 10 minutes. Amazing stacked plates supercell with a large ground-scraping wall cloud...difficult to tell if it was on the ground with the trees, so waiting to see the damage survey. Ended back home in Meridian after dark.

All told, 2,156 miles, 6 states, 2 confirmed tornadoes, and a great start to the season. I'll be on vacation for the entire month of May...plains season should ramp up soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yazoo City, MS Stovepipe Tornado - April 28, 2014

Chased the 2nd day of a huge Dixie Alley tornado outbreak, and pulled down a nice stovepipe tornado around Yazoo City, MS!