2006 Chase Summaries

May 3, 2006  -  May 31, 2006

Brian A. Morganti

MAY 3, 2006:    Wed - Day 1 - Petersburg, TX:

After reaching our initial target in CDS we decided to continue further south.  The cold was pushing south and the area near Abilene and Sweetwater had better instability and stronger winds at the 500 mb level.  A few weak showers developed as we approached Guthrie, but these soon died out.  A few turkey towers had developed to our west so we decided to wait since we were just south of the CF and east of the dryline.  Around 5PM we headed west on highway 82 towards a developing storm that soon became severe warned in Lubbock County.  Another storm just to our WNW also prompted a severe warning but quickly died out.  Two additional storms formed to our south and began to merge with the Lubbock County storm.  The line began to segment, but every road south seemed to go directly thru the heaviest core of each storm.  While jogging north, west, and then south we were able to observe several wall cloud occlusions with the LBB storm.  We were able to get in front of the western most storm just as its southern flank began surging eastward just south of Petersburg.  The gust front had a nice tilted shelf cloud which produced a few suspicious funnel shaped lowerings.  I grabbed a few pictures and blasted south just before we were slammed by 70mph winds with debris blowing across the road...including a rolling 10' diameter watering trough!  We then made a brief attempt to intercept the Kent County supercell, but ran out of daylight as new storms developed directly overhead.  399m


MAY 4, 2006:    Thu - Day 2 - Garden City to San Angelo, TX:

After meeting up with the Tempest gang we hung out near Stanton watching Cu towers percolate and lean over during the mid-afternoon hours. An area of enhanced towers developed just to our ESE near Garden City and we soon had a target storm to chase.  We went south on highway 33 at Garden City to avoid the core and to get south of the updraft base.  We encountered some nickel size hail at that point which was reported to MID.  While stopped further east we saw more hail approaching our position as the distinctive sound of hailroar could be heard.  As we approached Sterling City (photo below) more hail (nickel - some larger) was encountered as the storm began to strengthen and turn hard SE.  The storm went from severe to tornado warned as we attempted to drop SE in front of the storm along highway 87 near SJT.   We blasted west out of SJT on highway 67 and were able to film a back-lighted wall cloud in the fading light.  No confirmed tornado but a fun chase for sure.  350m


MAY 5, 2006:    Fri - Day 3 - Dawson/Martin, TX - Supercell & Tornado:

The 12Z ETA painted a nice bulls eye somewhere near Andrews, TX with a very tight Theta-E axis oriented E/W running west thru Andrews, TX into NM.  As the afternoon progressed a storm formed near Hobbs and we began to pursue this storm while keeping an eye out for any new storm development to its south.  We were able to stay parallel to the storms southern flank via highway 62 east and watched the RFD dust and wall cloud lowerings just to our north in extreme western Gaines county TX.


We continued east on 62 and got pelted a few times with nickel to quarter size hail, fortunately no windows were broken but several new dents were to add to my collection.  The storm was starting to trek southeastward so we cut south via 349 towards Patricia. This afforded us a spectacular view of the barrel shaped updraft structure and backlit wall cloud formations to our west.


Further south near Patricia we watched the storm approach as the main rain/hail core slid off to our NNE.  At the same time an RFD cut was wrapping some precipitation around us just to our south as we observed a large "gustnado" filled with tumbleweeds moving rapidly west to east cross highway 349 just as we began driving south.  About a half mile further south I turned around and looked back north and saw a new and much tighter red dust whirl developing about 200 yards to my NNE.  I jumped out the truck and filmed this ever tightening dust whirl as it barely drifted eastward.  The rotation was definitely anti-cyclonic and a barely visible dust tube extended a few hundred feet about the whirl and probably was occurring just north of the RFD.  I could not see any funnel or tight circulation at the cloud base overhead, but boy...this sure looked like a developing tornado. Another chaser later confirmed that this was a tornado. He could see a "nub" at the cloud base above the red dust whirl from his view from the NW looking SSE.  (Below are two video captures (sorry, no time to grab the DSLR).  Time was 8:02 PM CDT.


We continued south another mile or two and looked to our ENE to view the backside of the beautiful updraft structure!

The storm was now moving well off to our east so we stopped and filmed the final show from highway 176 looking east towards Big Springs.  Another great chase day in Texas, making it three for three!  400m


MAY 6, 2006:    Sat - Day 4 - South Central TX Bust:

The outflow boundary from DRT to SJT failed to produce the severe storms that we had hoped for today...possibly due to weak convergence at the surface and relatively weak wind flow aloft. Only a few briefly severe storms were observed from a distance, none of which prompted me to unpack my camera.  400m. 

May 7, 2006:     Sun - Day 5 - SW TX - Permian Basin:

By mid-afternoon an isolated storm began to struggle in our target area a little west of Lamesa.  By the time we got on its south side it had become LP in appearance and began to weaken.  The following two photos were taken just north of Spartenberg at 7:36 & 7:48 PM CDT.


Severe warned storms were in progress about 75 miles to our SSW between FST and MAF.  We were able to intercept the northwestern most cell in the the Midland/Odessa area looking south from highway 1788 just as the sun was setting.


The storm appeared to be a left split off an earlier storm and was moving off to our ENE.  We took our  final photos looking east about a half hour after sunset.  Not exactly what we were hoping for, but a nice ending to the day never-the-less.  425m


May 8, 2006:    Mon - Day 6 - SW KS - "Tail End" Storms:

We got a late start leaving Midland and had a long drive to reach the southern edge of what I hoped would be the best storms of the day somewhere in SW KS.  By the time we reached Canadian, TX around 4:30 PM an MD was issued for west central KS which was soon followed by a tornado watch box...which was immediately followed by a flat tire---yikes!  Fortunately I was able to change the tire quickly and replace the damaged one in Canadian in short order (thanks to the guys at the Pit Stop tire repair shop).  By the time we reached the KS border a messy line of storms was occurring in NE KS with some weak convection breaking out to the southwest of these storms.  As we entered DDC we had a couple of developing storms to choose from just west of town.  The southern storm soon croaked and the one to our north rapidly became the dominate storm.  We followed this storm along E/W oriented Barnett road north of DDC at sunset and had a good view of the structure to our north.  We observed at least one attempt at a clear slot and a brief but strong plume of RFD dust below (video only).  A large wall cloud loomed briefly to the east of the dust plume.  We then followed the updraft base eastward in the fading light, but the show was over.


After a late dinner we noticed a new storm just west of town and decided to film some lightning before going to the motel.  While watching a so-so light show the storm went from severe to tornado warned.  We looped around the backside of the storm as it progressed to the south of Dodge City.  We encountered a bit of nickel size hail and then watched lightning illuminating the main updraft tower to our east.  No lowerings were observed.  650m

May 9, 2006:    Tue - Day 7 - TX Panhandle Severe:

I opted to chase the Panhandle region today in hopes of finding a late day sculpted supercell rather than drive to the jungles of eastern Oklahoma for what could have been an explosive event.  We hung out with the Tin Man in Laverne until early afternoon and then went west to Guymon to await a weak and broken line of storms approaching from the west.  We drove south on highway 136 into Hansford County Texas in order to keep in front of the strongest cell to our WSW.  The storms were linear and made a brief attempt to produce a weak shelf cloud.  The following photo was perhaps our best view looking west. 

    We then drove east as several other cells began to form ahead of this line and to our south.  We eventually became interested in a cell to our SSW and intercepted this severe warned cell just north of Shamrock from Highway 83.  At one point Threat-Net was showing 6 shear markers on the storms southern flank.  We could see a large flat RFB to our SW and CC/CG activity dramatically increased.

    The cell had become a hard right mover and was beginning to cut off our path south of Shamrock.  We blasted east a few miles on I-40 and stopped to watch an incredible light show back to our WSW.  We could see a tight cone-shaped scud bomb preceding the core of the storm (no rotation was visible).  Meanwhile another storm further south near CDS had gone severe and later became tornado warned after dark.  This was the storm that produced the damaging tornado that was reported by Sam Barricklow.  If only the storms wouldn't have waited until after dark to intensify. All the storms north of I-40 were plagued by NE surface winds rather than the ESE winds progged by RUC even as late as the 18Z run.  402m

May 10, 2006:    Wed - Day 8 - No Chase:    AMA - had the vehicle serviced and ate at the Big Texan.

May 11, 2006:    Thu - Day 9 - No Chase:    OKC - Washed the truck and happy laundry time!

May 12, 2006:    Fri - Day 10 - No Chase:    OKC/CDS - Visited OKC Memorial and drove to CDS for long shot on Saturday.

May 13, 2006:    Sat - Day 11 - CDS Tornado Damage & Haskell County TX TCu: 

Alicia and I drove around Childress and photographed the damage resulting from a tornado that impacted the NE side of town late Tuesday evening.  The damage path measured about 200 yards wide x 1/2 mile long.  Most severely impacted was the high school gymnasium and surrounding buildings.


We then drifted south of town in hopes of finding one last storm for Alicia.  A few weak storms formed south of I-20 near Abilene, and a new area of towering cumulus formed just to our SE in Haskell County, TX.  We pursued this area of convection until sunset but the bases remained very high due to shallow moisture and a large dew point depression.  At one point the temperature reached 101F with a dew point of 61F.  CDS-SPS 350m


May 14, 2006:     Sun - Day 12 - No Chase - Travel Day to OKC:

May 15, 2006:    Mon - Day 13 - No Chase - Orientation Day T2:

May 16, 2006:    Tue - Day 14 - No Chase - TT2 Day 1:  OKC to TAD - Today we observed 1 dust devil, 17 pheasants, 4 turkeys, 1 jackrabbit, and one very dead armadillo...the pathetic weather pattern continues.  560m

May 17, 2006:    Wed - Day 15 - No Chase - TT2 Day 2:       TAD to Alamosa, CO.  Witnessed weak mountain convection and visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park north of Alamosa.  Day 8 with no storms!  175m. 

May 18, 2006:    Thu - Day 16 - No Chase - TT2 Day 3:   Alamosa to Lakewood, CO.  Visited Royal Gorge and then headed north to Lakewood for the evening.  A weak mountain storm near Colorado Springs spit out a few distant lightning bolts.  Day 9 with no real storms.  268m

May 19, 2006:    Fri - Day 17 - No Chase - TT2 Day 4:   Lakewood, CO to Imperial, NE.  A few weak storms moved eastward off the mountains and produced gusty winds and blowing dust as they died out.  Day 10 with no significant storm.  272m

May 20, 2006:    Sat - Day 18 - NE PH/WY - TT2 Day 5:    Although no severe weather was encountered, we at least witnessed a real thunderstorm or two as we traveled north thru Kimball, NE to north of Lusk, WY.  A few storms put on a semi-decent lightning display at times and it was nice to hear our first real thunder in 11 days!  We finished our chase about 40 miles north of Lusk in an attempt to reach a "tail-end" severe-warned storm to our north in Westin County.  The convective cloud towers from that storm were soon obscured by lower clouds, but a new storm formed to our west just as the sun was setting.  495m


May 21, 2006:    Sun - Day 19 - Lusk, WY - TT2 Day 6:    Today was almost a repeat of Saturday's activity.  We started the day in Scotts Bluff, NE and ended up on an isolated storm about 15 miles north of Lusk along highway 85.  We seemed to be in the right place according to model progs and surface observations, but once again meager moisture prevented this storm from reaching severe limits.  208m


May 22, 2006:    Mon - Day 20 - Northeast CO - TT2 Day 7:    A frustrating day given the hopes we had for a severe weather outbreak somewhere in the tri-state region of NE CO, SW NE, and NW KS.  Shallow moisture and timing of upper level support were the likely culprits today.  A line of messy severe-warned storms formed along the I-25 corridor in Colorado and moved north with the strong southerly flow in the mid and upper levels.  We stayed further to the east and north near the best surface convergence and instability axis and wound up with a few isolated storms that tried to get going in extreme NE CO near Holyoke.  

         A line of storms developed just to our west near Julesburg after sunset and displayed a little structure and some lightning, but overall the day was a big disappointment.  505m


May 23, 2006:    Tue - Day 21 - Northeast Nebraska - TT2 Day 8:     After reviewing the 18Z RUC we finally settled on heading north from Grand Island to the "northern" target somewhere in Northeast NE or possibly further north into SD.  Along the way storms began initiating to our northwest and we made several stops to watch new storms forming to our immediate west. Bill Reid, Scott W., Brad C., Kinney A., and myself all agreed to continue moving further north into an area shown to have the best instability and backed winds on the SPC meso-analysis page.  A line of storms soon formed to our west and we could only hope that it would break into more discrete cells as the day wore on.  When this didn't happen we began to target the stronger cells within the line to our SSW to the west of Columbus.  We just started on trek south when a cell to our immediate WSW started to look much better on Threat Net and displayed a shear marker.  We decided to check this one out and stopped to have a better look along Highway 275 about 3 miles west of Meadow Grove.  Jack Corso was already capturing photos to his south of a large orange/brown dust cloud being blown out ahead of the gust front to the east.  At approximately 6:50 PM CDT the following three photos were taken looking south.  A rather tight dust whirl can be seen on the ground to the east of a small cone-shaped funnel located to the west of the dust whirl and pointing eastward.  It appears that the gust front's outflow winds were pushing the circulation at ground level off to the east.  I'm surmising this could be called a forward flank tornado in the gust front region.  At this point I switched to video as the blowing dust took on a "haboob" look and the dust column tightened to cloud base. This feature was imbedded to the west of the leading edge of the blowing dust. 


The dust whirl continued moving to the NE and crossed the road in front of us as the tornado sirens wailed in Meadow Grove.  Threat Net kept good track of this circulation with the shear marker moving off to our northeast.  We continued to stay ahead of the line and found another cone-shaped lowering with a dust whirl below about 3.5 miles west of Pilger.  We pulled off highway 275 onto a dirt road looking south and captured the following two photos at 8:09 south.  This circulation raced off to our NE and produced a couple of intense black dust whirls as it crossed highway 275 about a mile to my east.  Quite a bit of tree-debris was encountered at the point where the dust-whirl crossed the road.  We didn't find the discrete supercell we had hoped for, but not a bad day either.!  495m.   


May 24, 2006:    Wed - Day 22 - South Central WI - TT2 Day 9:    Today was the last possible chase day for the tour 3 folks so we wanted to do our best to try and find them a good storm.  We targeted far eastern Iowa to start and watched a line of towers develop to our west near Dubuque.  We opted to cross the river into Illinois in order to stay ahead of any developing storms and soon found ourselves heading east on Highway 11 across southern Wisconsin.  We managed to stay with or just barely ahead of the southern storms of a long line of storms that stretched off to our NNE.  The most excitement occurred as we were headed south along highway 51 (near Janesville) to the east of a notch in a storm to our west that showed a shear marker on Threat Net.  We could see rapidly moving rain curtains racing eastward to our south when Bill R. announced a possible tornado forming to our west...although none of us could confirm any circulation for sure.  585m


May 25, 2006:    Thu - Day 23 - Springfield, MO - TT2 Day 10:    Bill Reid, Scott W., and Brad C. took most of the guests to southern IL/IN to catch a piece of the moderate risk area while I took the remaining 5 guests back to OKC.  I needed to be back to pick up another group on Friday and figured we may get lucky and find an isolated storm along the boundary somewhere in western MO or eastern OK.  By 6PM a long line of somewhat isolated Cb's stretched back from the Ohio Valley into eastern MO and we had fun watching the towering Cu bubble to our south.  At the same time an isolated storm prompted a severe and subsequently a tornado warning about 100 miles to our WSW just south of I-44 near Springfield, MO.  The storm kept initiating new updrafts over the same region until we arrived on the scene about an hour and a half later.  The sun was just beginning to set and we were treated to a fabulous display of the exploding towers just to our south.  785m


May 26, 2006:    Fri - Day 24 - OKC - Arrival Day NG Tour:    Preparation day for start of the NG chase, traveled to Elk City, OK for the night for possible DL chase on the way north to target region for Saturday.

May 27, 2006:    Sat - Day 25 - Elk City - Oakley, KS NG Tour Day 1:     Only a few weak storms initiated on the DL to our south in the eastern TX PH while we were in route to our nights stay in Oakley, KS.  500m appx.

May 28, 2006:    Sun - Day 26 - Hemingford, NE - NG Tour Day 2:    Although the prospects for daytime supercells diminished with each model run we continued to target NW Nebraska for the best chance to at least witness a severe storm.  We were not disappointed!  Several runs of the ETA and RUC were consistent in showing a moist east/west axis pointing westward along the western SD/NE border with a surface low moving northeastward from NE CO to SW SD.  Surface analysis showed meager moisture values in SW NE but were a bit better in the NW.  We hung out in VTN until late afternoon and finally decided to head west via highway 20.  Storms had already initiated in eastern WY and one lone cell tried to go up among an agitated cu field in north central Sheridan County...but it soon croaked.   We then committed ourselves to storms moving northeastward into southern and central Sioux County.  We got in front of the lead cell near Hemingford and watched a shelf cloud form to our west from highway 385 & 2.


The main storm to our west began to weaken and move northeast as a new cell rapidly strengthened to our SW.  This storm created a large dusty gust front and started heading our way!


We soon had to blast north and east to keep from being eaten by this beast, but had to stop a mile or so north of the highway 87 and 2 intersection to look back to our SW and SE  to have a better look at the incredible dust cloud (haboob?) that was headed northeast in our direction.


We once again blasted NE along highway 87 just as the storm became tornado warned, likely induced by a false report as there was nothing rotating in this beast that we could see.  We had to take one last stop to look back at this incredible sight...definitely the best "cow catcher" dust plume clouds I've ever witnessed!  What a fun chase for what would have appeared to be nothing more than a bunch of junky storms on a radar screen.  550m


May 29, 2006:    Mon - Day 27 - Blackwell, OK - NG Tour Day 3:    We needed to get as far south as possible so that the NG tour folks could be in OKC Tuesday morning for their flight home.  Fortunately, south central KS appeared to be as good a place as any to find a severe storm ahead of a slow moving frontal boundary.  As usual the best upper support was well separated from the best instability which resulted in weak updrafts struggling until the late afternoon hours.  A small cluster of cells maintained a severe warning near Woodward, OK and ever so slowly drifted ESE.  We targeted these storms for intercept and were treated to a decent CG display for about an hour after sunset as the main storm cluster drifted off to our south.  600+m.

May 30, 2006:    Tue - Day 28 - Roger Mills-Beckman County, OK:     After dropping the NG tour folks off at the OKC airport, returning the rental van, and re-hooking everything up in my SUV Kinney A., Nancy and I headed up the NW passage towards Woodward as fast as we could.  We wanted to get at least as far as the western OK PH by early evening in hopes of finding a pretty supercell moving eastward out of NE NM or SE CO.  Along the way we kept our eye on a persistent "tail-end Charlie" storm that appeared to stay in place over Roger Mills County, OK.  I kept thinking that maybe we should investigate this storm but I didn't want to get suckered too far away from our target region.  Kinney and I decided to make the final call when we reached the intersection of highway 270/283...aka "The Tin Man".  We studied the data and Threat Net but still couldn't decide.  There was only one thing left to do...consult the "Tin Man"!

   We noticed that the "Tin Man" was looking directly south right at the Roger Mills storm...well, that was as good a sign as any to head south immediately! We decided to head down highway 283 in order to stay on the eastern flank of this storm.  Nearly four and a half hours after we originally spotted this storm we were finally right next to it as it slowly drifted south.  ThreatNet continued to show off and on shear markers with values to 102mph.  Just north of Sayre we stopped to film the base structure and various wall cloud occlusions off to our west. 


We continued south below Sayre and I-40 and were treated to a nearly constant CG barrage for over an hour.  The final bolt was about as close as I ever want to be to a direct hit!  We heard a weird sonic boom crack and sensed the heat from the flash...a sort of "what the hell was that" effect before realizing a CG had zapped a tall TV antennae next to a farm house 100 yards to our north.  By the time I looked in that direction all I could see was a shower of sparks falling from the top of the antennae.  Kinney captured the flash and sound on his camcorder (I had just turned mine off...dang).  We were out there rather quickly after that!I'm glad we stayed with this storm as it gave us a nice show for a couple of hours...almost like chasing in slow motion.  400+m


May 31, 2006:    Wed - Day 29 - Genoa - Seibert, CO:    Like most everyone else today we decided to target an area east of Limon along the Palmer Divide for the best chance of seeing a supercell based on the best juxtaposition of surface and upper wind flow, instability, and moisture values.  Soon after we left Lamar we had a target storm to chase that would be approaching the Limon area.  Actually the main storm was aligned with other cells and was undercut by the time we got into a good viewing position.  That being said the storm did not disappoint us as it did offer rather dramatic base structure views from time to time.  We followed the storm to Seibert and left it go a few miles south of town along highway 59.  540m