May 7, 2010: Fri- Day 1 - Departure/Chase Day - Tornado Warned Storm - Cygnet, Ohio :
I left home around 9:30 am with thoughts of intercepting a severe storm somewhere in SPC's moderate risk (10% tornado) area across northern Ohio. A tornado watch box for parts of eastern IN and NW OH was in effect by the time I reached the Ohio border. I headed north from Columbus and targeted Findley in NW OH. This seemed like a good place to be ahead of an approaching line of developing storms. with the strongest winds aloft. One storm to my NW had a break to its south and was severe warned. It was starting to look pretty good on radar and I figured this would be my best chance of seeing a decent storm in the remaining hour or so of daylight. One problem, the storm was moving east at 75mph...which was hard pretty hard to believe. I raced north on I-75 and had a good look at the updraft base from north of Findley---for all of 10 minutes! No updraft tower was visible, but there were a few funnel clouds and ragged scud trying to attach itself to the updraft base. I broke off the chase in the little town of Cygnet and waved goodbye to the storm before heading back south on I-75. I encountered more storms moving in from the west, but no hail was observed, only heavy wind driven rain and a few CG's. It was good to shake off the rust and break the boredom of the long drive west. Finished up in Troy, OH (north of Dayton). 637 miles.
May 8, 2010: Sat Day 2 - Travel Day - Troy, OH to Joplin, MO:
No storms to chase today...leisurely 644 mile drive from Dayton Ohio to Joplin, MO.
May 9, 2010: Sun Day 3 - Travel Day - Joplin, MO to OKC...setup day.
May 10, 2010: Mon Day 4 - TT3 Orientation Day - Raging Red Rock Supercell, Oklahoma:
Today was a high risk day with a significant risk of long track tornadoes moving east at 50mph. A couple of storms went up along the dryline and we waited for them to mature along 412 between Enid and I-35. Bill Reid and I considered a cell to the north that was headed towards the Kansas border but instead elected to intercept a storm that was coming towards us from the southwest. The storm strengthened and sent an impressive anvil overhead and we scurried eastward a bit and waited for it to become tornadic. We continued east of I-35 to US-177 and then stopped near US-177 and 15 east of Red Rock in Noble County. The storms massive tower was to our west and the storm was moving east northeast. As the updraft moved to the northwest of us it exhibited a sculpted updraft tower and was trying hard to tornado. We observed a couple of brief spin-ups beneath the lowered base as the southeasterly inflow became quite strong and quickly flung my tripod to the ground. Unfortunately the storm was unable to produce the strong tornado we were anticipating and quickly moved ENE into the Arkansas river area, an area lacking in a decent road network. The Red Rock storm went on to produce significant tornadoes but was moving way too fast for us to intercept. With about 3 hours of daylight remaining we elected to intercept the next tornadic supercell to our SSW in the OKC area. This cell was moving east along I-40 at about 50 miles per hour as we took 412 east to Tulsa and then 75 south to Okmulgee but the storm's core soon blocked our path south as it continued to produce tornadoes. We finished up the day at Henryetta, OK and were treated to a very nice mammatus display as the storms moved off to our east. Approximately 300miles for the day.
May 11, 2010: Tue Day 5 - TT3-1 - Western Pretty Storms - Western, OK:
Bill Reid, Martin Lisius and I found two pretty storms for our group today in Western Oklahoma. Like everyone else out there today we were hoping our storms could produce a photogenic tornado, but that was not to be. Never the less, it was nice to slow the pace down a bit after the previous day's hectic chase. Our first intercept was south of Sentinel, OK. We were directly east of the updraft and watched the anvil spread out quickly overhead (first image below). We then repositioned a bit farther west and watched the storm split and promptly die a horrible death. Soon after some decent towers could be seen well to our north. We figured these might be our best (and last chance) at seeing anything significant with the remaining daylight so we headed east on I-40 then north on 183 for an eventual intercept west of Vici...and somewhere south of Woodward, OK. This tornado-warned storm had a very nice LP look (last two images) and corkscrewed updraft directly to our west. We took a quick photo op and then stayed with this storm until well after sunset...but we had already seen the best it had to offer. 350 miles.
May 12, 2010: Wed Day 6 - TT3-2 - Supercell - Carter - Clinton, OK:
After a day filled with mechanical problems, we picked up a rental vehicle and managed to get the guests on a great storm for the last two hours of daylight. We intercepted a "tail-end" storm near Carter, OK and were amazed by very large ground hugging wall cloud off to our NW. After lingering perhaps a tad too long we had to blast east as a new wrapping meso was fast approaching from our WSW. Fast moving rain curtains with imbedded hail quickly overtook overtook us for the first mile or two east, but it seemed like 10 miles. We enjoyed several more structure and wall cloud views heading back north towards I-40. Near Clinton we observed a suspicious cone extending about 1/2 way to the ground to our NE. This lasted for about a minute or so before dissipating, and in fact was a tornado as made evident by video shot along I-40 showing swirling debris crossing the highway. Not many photos or trippoded video since most of my equipment was either out of reach or still back in the broken down van. Clinton, OK - 200 chase miles.
May 13, 2010: Thu Day 7 - TT3-3 - Position Day - Clinton, OK to Midland, TX:
After returning the rental car and getting the repaired van back in service we headed south in hopes of finding some late day storms and lightning somewhere in SW TX. We passed thru a weak elevated storm with some lightning in Haskell County, TX but that was about it for the day. SPC had updated SW TX to a slight risk in one of their later outlooks, but only some weak convection formed to our SW over Fort Stockton near Sunset, but produced very little lightning. Finished the day in Midland with 420 miles on the odometer.
May 14, 2010: Fri Day 8 - TT3-4 - Severe Storms - Penwell - Iraan, TX:
Storms went up rather early and we found ourselves chasing storms right after having lunch in Monahans. A cluster of storms was to our northeast and one had already produced a tornado. We caught up with the southern end of convection near Penwell and watched a wall cloud struggle just to our south. Storms kept initiating along a boundary to our south and the only strategy was to try to stay close to the southern end of this new convection. Other than a few semi-interesting structure and wall cloud views the best show of the day came near sunset when we were treated to a CG barrage east of Iraan, TX. We stayed just ahead of the "bolt-zone" and took several photo ops looking back to our west. The setting sun illuminating the cloud structure in late day colors greatly added to the enjoyment. We ended up in Ozona for the night with about 375 miles driven.
May 15, 2010: Sat Day 9 - TT3-5 - Weak Convection - SW TX:
There was a slight risk outlook in place today for a large part of SW TX, but only weak convection managed to initiate a bit east of Marathon. After having lunch in Fort Stockton we headed south towards Alpine, east to Marathon where some heavy showers with thunder occurred, and then finished up the day in Fort Stockton. With good upper flow overhead and decent CAPE values to our east we were certainly expecting more. The only time my camera left the bag was to shoot some old cars and junk in Marathon. 350 miles.
May 16, 2010: Sun Day 10 - TT3-6 - Storms - SW TX:
We more or less chased convection in the same areas today as we did yesterday, from Fort Stockton to Alpine to Marathon and then back to Fort Stockton. The storms were somewhat better that yesterday in that the updrafts were more buoyant and lasted a bit longer. We also had more CG's and some very small hail to entertain us along the way. We found our first storm heading south on highway 67 as we approached the highway 90 intersection. We followed the north flank of this storm over to Marathon and then set up shop a few miles in front of it south of town. The storm was mostly uninteresting but new updrafts soon beckoned to our north. We approached a stronger cell north of Marathon that exhibited a nice base for awhile (first two images below). We then continued north and became interested in a stout updraft tower to our northeast (third image). Like the other storms, this one pulsed and was soon history. We broke off the chase as we entered Fort Stockton. We decided to blow off the rest of the chase day and head north to the Midland/Odessa area to get into position for Day 2. After having a large buffet dinner in Odessa at the "Texan Buffet" I noticed a large updraft well to our north. It looked pretty good on radar and was about 75 miles to our NNE and moving SSE at about 10-20mph. It was about 8pm and Bill asked "should we go after it"...sure, why not was my reply. We got to within 20 miles or so of what was now a storm exhibiting LP structure with an occasional CG. We enjoyed the show for about 30 minutes before the storm weakened. Finished up the day back in Odessa with about 400 miles on the Odometer.
May 17, 2010: Mon Day 11 - TT3-7 - Severe Storms- SE NM:
A mid to late morning storm complex moving southeastward across the Texas Panhandle pushed out an outflow boundary that extended back to the northwest into SE NM. We figured our best bet would be to stick with this boundary and head west into NM to where the skies had cleared out. There was a persistent storm hanging over the mountains to the west of Roswell and we were contemplating targeting this storm as we entered Artesia. However, a storm about 25 miles to our south showed promise and a brand new updraft to our immediate south was beginning to look good as well (first photo). We got ahead of this storm south of Artesia but it began to weaken just as we got under the base. We headed back after the "northern" storm which was now diving SSE off the mountains. We intercepted this storm a little east of Artesia where it began to show some decent structure (photo two below). We then cut east to get ahead of some northward moving storms that had updraft bases on their north sides. These storms had a history of producing up to baseball size hail, but we managed to skirt by the worst of the hail cores along highway 82 between Artesia and Lovington. Our final show came along highway 206 between Tatum and Dora as a nicely structure storm showed itself on the north side of a bunch of messy convection to its south. As we cleared the light to moderate anvil rain a very nice full arch rainbow appeared to our east. We finished up the day in Portales, NM - 375miles.
May 18, 2010: Tue Day 12 - TT3-8 - Tornadic Supercell - Dumas to Stinnett - TX Panhandle:
We hung out near Boise City in the OK PH until mid-afternoon waiting for a reason to leave. The areas to our north in CO and to our east and south across the OK and TX Panhandle looked equally promising and both soon had tornado watch boxes in place. An isolated NE moving storm went up to the southwest of Dumas by late afternoon and this quickly became our target storm. We were able to get in front of this now eastward moving storm as we entered the town of Dumas. We took our first photo-op just east of town and followed the storm eastward along highway 152 to Stinnett where the road void more or less ended the show a bit after sunset. The storm had great structure and produced numerous funnels and reports of brief tornadoes...but for me the structure was the main event. Finished up in Borger, TX. 365 miles total.
May 19, 2010: Wed Day 13 - TT3-9 - Tornadic Supercell - North Central Oklahoma:
A hectic day chasing a tornadic supercell from near Oakwood, OK eastward through Guthrie. The storm produced a few brief tornadoes and we were able to observe a cone shaped tornado about four miles to our west from a point north of Kingfisher. The contrast was a bit poor and we were in a bit of a hole at the time, so not very dramatic. I got some video, but not enough time for any still images. The day was probably my most frustrating day ever in the past fourteen years...the chaser hordes were horrendous, in fact downright dangerous in their driving maneuvers and this included those of the Vortex 2 armada. Finished the day in Chandler, OK. 410 miles in all.
May 20, 2010: Thu Day 14 - TT3-10 Final - Strong Storms - North Texas:
This would be the final chance for the T3 folks to see storms so we headed south to the old frontal boundary draped east/west across the DFW area. A good part of north Texas had a slight risk of severe in place with a 10% tornado probability. We had horrid traffic heading south via 35W while watching the towers from severe and tornado warned storms bubbling not too far to our south. We were able to intercept the base of the first storm southeast of Hillsboro and played with other newly developing storms in the Mertens - Mt Calm - Malone area. The storms would briefly show some nice base structure before lining out...then it was on to the next developing storm propagating westward along the boundary. A storm near Hubbard had reports of strong rotation around the time of the first photo below featuring a wet RFD with an interesting tilted lowering. In the second photo we were just about to get slammed by an approaching rain core near Mt Calm. After having dinner in Malone, we were treated to a very nice LP structured storm that had formed on the northern edge of the boundary. We then headed back towards OKC. Ardmore, OK - 425 miles.
May 21, 2010: Fri Day 15 - Ardmore, OK - OKC:
Departure day for T3 and preparation day for T4. No possibility of chasing today, but few Supercells formed to our west in the TX PH as well as to our north in the western NE/ eastern WY area.
May 22, 2010: Sat Day 16 - T4 Arrival Day - OKC - DDC:
It figures the "tornado of the season" would form while we were changing tours and 12 hours away from the action. We watched the radar returns of a large isolated supercell develop west of Aberdeen, SD in an excellent road network over flat terrain---an easy intercept for the fortunate chasers in position. It wasn't long before multiple tornado reports starting coming in such as "large and damaging, wedge-shaped", etc. Hard to swallow after having to deal with fast moving storms in less than ideal terrain over the past two weeks. Finished up in Dodge City, KS - 320 miles.
May 23, 2010: Sun Day 17- T4 Day 1 - Severe & Tornado-warned storms - NW KS:
We played around with a "lead" storm that moved up from the south hoping it would interact with the boundary and give us a nice show. It didn't do more than produce a few close lightning bolts near Colby, one striking the highway median a 100 yards or so in front of us! We then moved north to stay with other newly developed convection near Hoxie, KS before heading back south after even more enticing looking cells. One of them produced a tornado about 15 miles to our south, but we were too late for the show. More cells beckoned to our west and became tornado warned as we approached Goodland, KS. To our southwest we could see several attempts of funnels extending briefly to the ground, while to our north a large and much closer wall cloud produced a compact funnel that extended nearly half-way to the ground. As we exited north off I-70 thru Goodland the tornado sirens were sounding and there was an area of rotation visible to our WNW. We stopped to view a few brief funnel clouds and then noticed a tornado to our north being illuminating by lightning. Another day with no time to take quality images, or video for that matter. Imperial, NE 325 miles.
May 24, 2010: Mon Day 18- T4 Day 2 - Tornadoes - Howes to Faith, SD:
After nearly two weeks of chasing fast moving storms and only getting fleeting glimpses of tornadoes, we finally got to see and photograph multiple long-tracked tornadoes in NW SD from about Howes to Faith. I'm going to cheat here and paste Bill Reid's well written summary below followed by a series of tornado photographs taken between 1:20MDT and 2:05MDT. The last two images of the nicely structured supercell were taken a couple hours later just west of Gettysburg, SD. 625 miles - Murdo, SD.
My luck these past few weeks has been pretty poor. I had made
fairly decent forecasts, but the tornadoes I had seen were brief, distant,
rain-wrapped, etc. Then came May 22. It was a tour change day, and we were
unable to get out of OKC until 1 p.m., far too late to make it for the show in E
SD. That hurt.
May 25, 2010: Tue Day 19- T4 Day 3 - Western Kansas Tornadic Storms:
Bill Reid, Chris Gullikson, and I dove south out of Murdo, SD mid-morning and were looking at eastern Colorado as our target area. After lunch in North Platte we continued south into northwest KS and several storms went up along the KS/CO border. The closer storm took on a supercell shape on radar and was slowly approaching Sharon Springs as we approached from Oakley. However, what appeared to be a left-moving supercell crashed into our target cell from the south. The end result was a new storm which produced a handful of landspouts and perhaps a large tornado near Towner, CO just west of the KS border. Unfortunately this was some 25 miles farther to our southwest and we missed the show. We then headed south to Leoti and learned from Matt C. that the slow moving tornadic cell, that was now to our west, was undercut by cold outflow. A new strong updraft was becoming more discrete back to the NNW so we headed back into southern Logan County. A RFD appeared to cut into the base to our west but the overall look remained rather strung out and undercut. Soon we were shivering in cold outflow winds as new storm towers blew up just to our east. A newly tornado warned cell was now visible to our WSW and sported a large lowering. We observed an elephant trunk tornado from this storm base which lasted for two minutes but it was at least 20 miles distant near the town of Tribune. We then moved south a few miles to near the Logan-Wichita County line and found ourselves between two good storms. The new one to our ENE had a good look at low levels and was likely moving into good unspoiled air, but the only way to quickly get into position was to use an unpaved road into northern Scott County. The recently tornadic cell to our WSW was now approaching our position and had good structure and a persistent wall cloud. It was decision time---which storm should we target!? We were ready to blast east towards the cell moving towards the Monument Rocks but we took one more look at radar and saw a nice hook on the one approaching from our WSW. We stuck with this approaching cell as it was the easy intercept as it was coming towards us. We had a good view into the notch area and took some nice structure shots (photos below) but it seemed that the storm was becoming undercut again and tornado chances were slim. As we dropped south to get out of the way of the core we encountered some small hail. We then started to learn of significant tornadoes with the eastern cell in southern Gove County. We wish we had gone east when we had the chance. Ended up in GLD - appx 550.
May 26, 2010: Wed Day 20- T4 Day 4 - Colorado Supercell:
We decided to eat on the run after spotting a promising looking supercell to our west near Denver...it was already severe warned. By the time we grabbed our lunch and returned to the vans it was tornado warned! We got in front of the base south of Prospect Valley, CO and had no trouble sticking with this slow moving storm for the rest of the day. It gave us nice structure, hail, and early on a few teasing wall clouds with nice funnel-shaped lowerings but never did produce another tornado. We left the storm go just north of Fort Morgan where we found some silver-dollar size hail. Torrington, WY 500m.
May 27, 2010: Thu Day 21- T4 Day 5 - No Storms:
The risk for severe storms in northeastern Montana was simply out of reach for us on our second to last day for this tour. We got as far as Newcastle, WY and hung out for awhile hoping that something might form a little farther south, but the clouds hung tough and we gave up hope by mid-afternoon. We then drifted south hoping convection might fire in the SE WY, NE CO, or the western NE PH region...but the atmosphere was too capped and no storms formed. We had a nice dinner in Torrington and then headed to a motel in Gehring, NE (near Scotts Bluff) for the night. Appx 330 miles.
May 28, 2010: Fri Day 22- T4 Day 6 (Final) - No Storms:
We needed the entire day (roughly 14 hours) to drive back to OKC for the final day of the tour. The risk for storms was once again way up north in Montana and North Dakota. We arrived back in OKC just after midnight, weary from the long drive but elated with the success of our six-day chase experience. 3450 miles for this tour with about 750 driven today.
May 29, 2010: Sat Day 23 - Tour Changeover Day- OKC:
Van Prep and "catch-up" day.
May 30, 2010: Sun Day 24 - T5 Arrival/Orientation Day - North Central Oklahoma Severe Storms:
Right after orientation I decided to take the gang north to near the OK/KS border in hopes of finding at least one severe storm for their first day on the plains. There was a slight risk of severe in place across parts of NC-OK and SC KS, but winds aloft and at the surface were rather weak. However, CAPE was quite adequate to get a nice severe storm going. A tail-end severe storm was ongoing near Anthony, KS as we approached the border and new storms were forming along the CF boundary to it's SSW. We decided to hang with the newly formed storms which were starting to look decent and soon had a severe warning as well. For the next couple of hours we hung close to the dominant tail-end storm which looked quite impressive at times both on radar and visually. We continued to jog east and south of this more or less easterly moving cell which afforded us plenty of photo-ops thru the towns of Hillsdale, Kremlin, Hunter, and Billings, OK. We then cut south and eventually east thru the broken line of storms and were treated to a nice mammatus display just east of Enid. Appx 336 miles - Woodward, OK.
May 31, 2010: Mon Day 25 - T5 Day 1 - Isolated Tornadic Supercell - Baca County, CO:
When I woke up this morning I felt rather confident that we might find a nice supercell by days end somewhere in southeast CO, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a series of long-lasting and sometimes spectacular tornadoes! We headed for our target area in southeast CO just east of a surface low and an area of southerly to southeasterly winds. Dewpoints were in the high 50's and the full sun added to the instability. Storms developed by early afternoon in western BACA County and far eastern Las Animas County and began to push off very long anvil plumes to the east---incredibly long for a day with relatively weak shear aloft. After a brief lunch in Guymon we moved closer to a dominant storm which was now severe warned and about 20 miles west of Springfield, CO. We cut west on a dirt road out of Campo and enjoyed the nice structure to our WNW. It wasn't long before a large cylindrical tornado began to develop and reach towards the ground. A short time later a second small elephant-trunk tornado began to snake its way to the ground about a mile south of the larger tornado. A wide-angle shot shows them both, prior to the smaller tornado reaching about two-thirds of the way to the ground.
We then moved a few miles west and north on another dirt road where we were able to observe the structure of this storm just off to our NW. The storm was barely moving to the ESE and we were able to enjoy several rotating wall clouds and funnel clouds for at least the next 45 minutes.
The storm began to pick up speed and move more to the southeast, so we went back south and took the same road back east towards Campo. Several wildly rotating wall clouds were observed at this time as the storm began to get ahead of us a bit.
The plan now was to get to the main road at Campo and head back south a few miles and find a decent road east. About 4 miles south of Campo we took CR-C east a couple of miles and found a good high-point looking NW. We no sooner got set up when a long elephant trunk tornado began dropping from the cloud base. It was no doubt the highest tornado I had ever observed and we had perfect contrast off to our west. The tornado was moving to the southeast and on a collision course for our location. We filmed for about 10 minutes or so before blasting east after being slammed with a powerful inflow jet. The show was incredible just prior to our departure as the tornado loomed large and began to wrap up in a rope-like fashion.
The tornado was directly behind us as we blasted east, but on four or five occasions we were able to get far enough ahead of it to get out and film for a minute or two. The tornado eventually crossed the road behind us, but then we began to get a bashing from marble to golf-ball size hail from the wrapping core just to our north. Fortunately the road soon cut southeast and then south and we were able to escape the hail onslaught and once again get well east of any newly developing tornado. A few miles north of Keyes, OK we stopped to film the very nice structure off to our west when another tornado formed (number 4) about 5 miles off to our west. We then continued south for more photo-ops of the structure which had now moved off to our NNE and then bid our final farewells to the storm a few miles east on highway 64. At this point we observed one more tornado (number 5) as a large white cone that was low contrast and wrapped in rain (video only). What an incredible day! 415 miles - Lamar, CO.