Brian A. Morganti

2022 Chase Summaries

 May 27 - June 11, 2022

May 27, 2022:  Fri - Travel Day:  Left Home at 10am.  Drove through numerous heavy rain showers along the way to first night's stay at S8 in Elkhart, IN.  Targeted south central NE for Day 3 (Sun), thus the northern route via I-80.  Lots of tolls and traffic, may be better to use I70 west to cutoff going north through Peoria. Elkhart, IN 598 miles


May 28. 2022:  Sat-Travel Day:  Elkhart, IN to York, NE.  An uneventful and boring 660 miles.


May 29, 2022:  Sun Day 1 - Tornado Warned - Central Nebraska:  Morning thoughts were to target either west along I-80 from Kearney to North Platte for initial storms, or more to the north/northeast for initial storms/supercells that would be moving to the northeast and congealing.  CAMS had not been consistent with initiation!  Headed north to Albion along the stalled frontal boundary and hung out there for a couple of hours hoping for the CAP to break.  Overcast skies held, but HRRR continued to show a big storm or two forming just to my north. Ultimately decided I had to get west to near Broken Bow where full sun was shining. Hung out in Westerville along highway 70 watching a persistent area of updraft towers forming to my northwest.  By late afternoon an MD was issued for a good part of central/eastern NE. Echo tops looked promising near Brewster, headed north on 183 to 91, then northeast thru Taylor where I photographed the building storm towers and crepuscular rays in the photograph below. I then headed towards Almeria and an isolated severe warned storm cell.  Unfortunately by this time the sun was setting and low light conditions prevented me from seeing much storm structure.  About half way between Almeria and Brewster I was able to see the base structure and wall cloud off to my north, conditions were murky and there could have been a brief tornado before my arrival.  Chaser traffic was rather awful at this point.  I took a few photos and then decided to head back to York for the night, as I would likely be blowing off the northern moderate risk to the north and instead head south into KS along the DL for Day 2.  Days Inn, York NE - 360 miles logged.

   

 


May 30, 2022:  Mon Day2 - Outflow Dominate Storms - Eastern Kansas:  A moderate risk was in play for far northeast NE/IA/MN for possible long track tornadoes, but for early fast moving storms - no thanks!  I opted for the slight risk area and more isolated supercells that were forecast to form late in the day along the DL/CF draped north to south in east central KS with an initial target of Emporia.  I got out from under the murky skies near Hebron NE and could see a long line of bubbling Cu that marked the leading edge of the boundary to my east.  I cut east on 24 to Clay Center where I emerged on the other side of the bubbling line of Cu where winds once again turned southerly.  Dropped south to Junction City, had lunch at Freddies, then continued south on 77 as I watched towering Cu form off to my west.  My plan was to continue south on 77 to 50 which would put me at an excellent point to intercept the initial storms riding northeast along the boundary.  Unfortunately 77 was closed at Alta Vista.  I watched storms form here for awhile, but the linear forcing had the storms merging into one another.  I decided to target a somewhat stronger cell forming on the tail end of the line, but had to go east, then south, then west again for an intercept, thereby wasting a huge amount of time.  I did manage to intercept some decent structure from this cell a few miles east of Emporia.  I backed off from this cell to intercept the next one coming up from the south via 99 south out of EMP.  The base was mostly obscured by heavy rain curtains, but fortunately no hail. Although the cell looked great on radar and was now isolated, it just was not that impressive from my view point.  Overall not a bad chase day, with plenty of storm action, some nice lightning and a pretty sunset, but once again only a few photos were taken.  Emporia, KS - S8 - 377 miles logged.

           

 


May 31, 2022:  Tue Day 3 - Supercells - Western Oklahoma:  Another slight risk of severe storms!  This time along a stalled out frontal boundary draped from southwest to northeast from near Childress, Texas to southeast Kansas.  There seemed to be a little better convergence in west central OK and the skies were clearing there by mid-morning.  The CAMS were also focusing on this area, so I picked an initial target area near Watonga, OK.  I originally planned to come in from the north via Enid and then drop southwest, but models were showing initiation may be farther south along and just north of I-40.  I decided to head west on I-40 to about Clinton and then head north.  Convective initiation started a little earlier than expected however, just a little northeast of Watonga.  I exited I-40 via highway 281 and headed towards the lead storm, but it soon weakened and new and more energetic storm formed off to my west.  I re-routed west of Watonga on highway 33 and headed south through Fay, Thomas and Custer City and then south on 183 and west again on 33.  The storm was exhibiting some nice structure and wall cloud area as I looked west along 33. 

I watched for awhile and took a few pictures until getting pelted with some rain.  I then headed back east on 33 and then south on 183 a couple of miles before stopping at a good view point to my west.  Watched the storm approach from the west with warm inflow, occasional nice structure, lowerings, and a few very nice cloud to ground lightning bolts. 

       

Again rain began wrapping in from the north, so dropped south again and headed west on I-40 towards other storms that were following this one.  I stopped just west of Clinton for some amazing green/blue structure and lightning off to my north, then continued west towards Elk City. 

I then dropped south on 34 to Mangum and approached the north side of the severe warned storm just south of the city.  Visibility was bad and it was raining pretty hard. With only about 30 minutes left to sunset I decided to head back north for possible sunset/Mammatus photos along the way.  That happened a few miles south of I-40 right at and after sunset.  All in all a decent chase day with plenty of action, decent structure and some lightning.  Elk City, OK - HIE - 478 miles approximately for the day.   

   

 


June 1, 2022:  Wed Day 4 - Dusty Storms - Hobbs New Mexico:  Another Slight Risk for severe storms day!  Targeted the southwest Texas PH for initial supercells that would be coming out of southeast New Mexico.  Tornado threat was minimal, but large hail and wind would be very likely within the slight risk area.  Routed from Elk City to AMA via I-40 then southwest through Canyon and Hereford and then south on 214 to Seminole.  Murky skies prevailed along the way with very strong winds out of the northeast.  Visibility was terrible due to wind blown red dust.  Along the way a truck coming from the opposite direction blasted me with a strong gust of wind causing the visor above my windshield to be torn off.  I wasted about a half hour driving up and down the road looking for the dang thing, but finally found it in one piece!  My plan was to continue south to Andrews, but the blowing dust was really obscuring both the sky and the ground visibility.  I decided I might not be able to get to the southern cell in time, and opted to head west towards Hobbs for the northern storm which was also severe warned.  I was also hoping for improved visibility in this direction, but if anything it actually got worse!  There was now no way I would be able to get in front of the severe cells to my southwest, especially since they were moving away from me.  Also I would likely have to cut through through hail cores in order to get into a good position to view any storm structure. I really could have used that extra half hour I wasted looking for my visor, so a very disappointing day with a lot of wasted miles driven and no photos taken!  Hobbs, NM 448 miles.

 


June 2, 2022:  Thu Day 5 - Strong Storms Eastern New Mexico:  East Central New Mexico had a marginal risk for severe storms, and CAMS pointed to initiation in the higher terrain of central NM and then spreading east late in the day.  My first stop would be in Roswell to update data and make a plan from there. Somewhere around Hondo to Ruidoso to Capitan appeared to be the best target, but there was no rush in getting there.  Models continued to focus on storms forming over the high terrain to the west of this area, with storms moving east an hour or two before sunset.  These would then continue moving east after sunset towards Roswell.  And that is pretty much what happened.  There were a few severe warnings, but the isolated cells rapidly merged and offered nothing really special to photograph, which is often typical with mountain storms.  I took a few photos from a high point west of Ruidoso along 70, then headed back to Roswell the same way I came in. 

One of the big issues is that once you get 26 miles west of Roswell you quickly find yourself in hill and canyon terrain making it very difficult to see much of the storm.  I did stop and look back a few times, but the best overall view did not happen until about 15 miles west of Roswell.  By this time the sun had set, but at least there were once again wide open views across the plains.  I stopped to take a few lightning photos, but the lightning bolts were few and far between. 

The storm I was photographing gained strength as it roared into Roswell.  I just managed to get under the S8 canopy when the downpour began along with a few intense nearby lightning bolts.  All in all a slightly better day than I had anticipated the day before, but certainly nothing to write home about.  Roswell, NM 294 miles. 

 


June 3, 2022:  Fri Day 6 - Big Supercell - Eastern New Mexico:  I once again hung out in Roswell until about 1pm watching storms form on radar to my west with occasional severe warnings.  My intention was to eventually head north in hopes of intercepting a supercell on its southern flank.  CAMS kept showing the best storms were likely to form up closer to I-40, and also south towards west Texas.  Since I would likely need to be well north for Day 2 the decision was easy to head north.  But first there was one severe storm near Hondo, so I decided to go about 15 miles west of town and have a look.  I stopped where I had tried for lightning the night before since this spot had a vast and unimpeded view to the north and west.  Unfortunately the storm lost energy and was no longer very photogenic. 

The remnants of this storm would cross 285 to the north of Roswell, so it was time to head in that direction. By the time I got to the split of highways 285/20 I had to decide which way to go as there was a rather persistent severe warned storm well to my north.  It rapidly became apparent that I would have to head northeast on 20 if I had any hope of catching a view from the south side of this isolated severe warned storm.  I was pretty sure it would offer some nice structure since it had no competition to its south.  I fueled up at Fort Sumner and then headed west on 60.  I had excellent views on my approach of a flared updraft area with a classical collar cloud above the updraft region.  Lots of green separated these areas and it was quite  beauty! 

   

I then headed east on 60 to stay ahead of the storm and almost passed by the ghost town of Yeso, New Mexico!  Yeso is nothing more than an old dilapidated ghost town that has definitely seen its better days.  But it did offer a few interesting photographic opportunities with the storm as a backdrop.  A played around here for about 15 minutes before heading back east on 60.  The last photo in this series is a three shot panoramic image that showcases the full width of this supercell.

                       

I then stopped a few more times for photo ops since the storm was moving so slowly, maybe just 15-20mph and was exhibiting some amazing blue/green color banding!  By the time I approached highway 20 the hail core was crossing highway 60 behind me. 

   

I then dropped south a couple of miles on highway 20 to take a few more photos.  Although the awesome color banding was gone, the structure was now the main show! 

   

I ended the chase at Fort Sumner and then headed to Clovis for the night, passing by a few anemic storms along the way.  I later took a few classic sunset/Mammatus shots east of town before calling it a night.  A great chase day overall since the road network cooperated.  I also had flat and unimpeded views of the storms southern flank with awesome structure, not to mention very few other storm chasers were on this storm!  Clovis, NM  with just 244 miles driven for the day.

 


June 4, 2022:   Sat Day 7 -  Pulse Storms Far Southeast Kansas:  I left Clovis mid-morning with a target of Boise City in the OK PH as a first guess.  SPC had a slight risk from the KS/NE border down through the I-27 corridor in the Texas Panhandle.  The CAP looked to be a problem in Texas, but perhaps there would be some isolated storms down there near sunset.  However, I was not willing to take that gamble.  I headed up through Hereford, Vega, and continued up 385 towards Boise City.  There was a persistent area of bubbling Cu in the far western Oklahoma Panhandle that I could see for almost my entire ride north.  This activity was nice to watch as it formed and slowly drifted east directly towards Boise City. 

I decided to stick with this activity rather than drive another 3 hours to northern KS, and then regret missing what might have happened right where I had been.  I followed this activity via 56 thru Keyes and then north to Elkhart, KS.  Several attempts were made to form a significant storm, but each attempt failed just as things really started to look good.  I managed to get a few decent photos of these attempts, but finally gave up with the last valiant updraft attempt near Hugoton.  Most structures were of the LP (Low Precipitation) variety before collapsing. The HRRR model did accurately showe these storms forming in this area, and then dying as well.  SPC had higher hopes, but the severe storms this far south never happened.  All in all a decent chase day as there was activity to see and I was also better positioned for the activity in western/central KS on the following day.  Liberal, KS with 246 miles logged for the day.

       

 

 


June 5, 2022:  Sun Day 8 - Long Lived Supercell - Eastern Colorado:  A long day and all with one long-lived supercell that traversed north to south from Lincoln County CO to its demise near the Colorado/Oklahoma border.  I decided to mosey east and north from Liberal, Kansas towards Lincoln County Colorado when the storm initiated and had no competition to its south. The sky looked awfully capped overhead and to my south, so heading east and north seemed to be the best bet anyway.  I headed north to Syracuse on 27 then west to Holly CO via 50/400 then continued north to Sheridan Lake.  By now it was clear this would be my target storm.  I made my first photo stop several miles north of town just as the storm become severe-warned. 

   

It was not long before the rain core approached and it was now back south to stay ahead of the rain/hail core while keeping a close watch on the updraft base.  This worked fine down 385 to Granada, but the storm was picking up speed and a decision had to be made to head west or east on 50/400.  I made an attempt to beat the fast approaching core to the west, but it did not work and hail began to bounce off the truck. The storm was also tornado warned at this point and I had no desire to drive into the hail core and then right into a possible tornadic circulation!  I decided to head back west through Holly and nickel size hail, but I had a bunch of slow moving trucks in front of me, GAD!  I cut south on 89 hoping to re-intercept this storm 50 miles to my south near Bartlett, but the storm was still picking up speed so I needed to head west on 116 towards two buttes. Some of the best structure the storm had to offer occurred as the storm crossed over 116.  A distinct flying saucer updraft base beneath the towers made for a very dramatic view of this storm.

           

There was no way to catch the storm again due to road networks, but I did have a plan for an attempt to photograph the back side of the storm in the setting sun along highway 160 southwest of Johnson City KS.  Again the plan worked and I was able to witness the final and complete demise of this cell looking south from 116 when I was about 20 miles SE of Johnson City.  A great chase day overall with what appeared to be the storm of the day in eastern CO.  This was not near the amount of storms that the models had predicted, which was fine by me to have only one storm with no competition!  Ulysses KS 360 miles driven.

       

 


June 6, 2022:  Mon Day 9 - Severe Storms Eastern Colorado:  Today the setup was similar to yesterdays with models showing severe storms moving southeast across the eastern plains of CO and then spreading into western KS during the early evening hours.  My plan was almost identical to yesterday, drive west from Kansas to eastern Colorado to access data and then likely move farther north or west.  An early severe storm formed near Colorado Springs and I had a hunch this would become my target storm.  I moved west to Lamar to get closer (the storm was still about 70 miles to my NW at that point).  I decided to target this storm and continue west from Lamar towards Las Animas.  During my approach to this SE moving cell, I could see a pronounced shallow wall cloud below a RFB (rain free base).  Unfortunately competing showers and storms soon intervened and I lost sight of the storm base.  I had to continue west to avoid the hail just to my north which was now awfully close to highway 50.  This hail core would soon cut off my route back east.  I took the west road that goes north of Las Animas about 15 miles to where it curves south.  Here I was safe from the hail, and could clearly see the updraft base to my north, but it was rather high. 

As the storm moved east the sun lit up an intense hail core with iridescence located in the hail foot. 

I then headed back east on the same road I came in on, taking a few photos along the way of the hail core and a pronounced hailbow. 

   

There were lots of shredded leaves and piles of hail in downtown Lamar as I headed east to try and stay with this storm.  However, I was not able to get ahead of the storm and gave up a little east of Lamar.  Blue Spruce Inn - Lamar, CO with 268 miles logged for the day.

 


June 7, 2022:  Tue Day 10 - Tornado Warned Supercell - Eastern Colorado:  A rinse and repeat day as the pattern was almost the same as the day before.  I hung out at a park in Lamar until about noon, then had lunch while continuing to study data.  HRRR was still showing an isolated storm cell once again forming near Colorado Springs and then heading southeast towards Lamar. I drove to a high spot just north of town and could clearly see a big cell over 100 miles to my northwest that was already severe warned.  This isolated cell was moving ESE just a little east of COS with an anvil top spreading at least 100 miles to the east.  I watched this for awhile while texting my friend Bill Reid, who had decided to blow off the big wind/hail producing storms up in northern KS for more slowly moving cells farther south for his photo group.  He was sitting in Cheyenne Wells thinking about a - Campo Play - when I told him I would be committing to this storm.  I once again headed west on 50 and then north on highway 49 to Haswell.  I had an excellent view of the storm and wall cloud area driving north towards Haswell, which appeared to be a good intercept point.  Bill had the same idea and came in from the east and we met up at a dirt road just north of the highway 49/96 intersection.  We watched the storm evolve for maybe an hour or so from this point. 

   

We then headed back south on 49 since retreating on 96 would put us into the southeast moving hail core.  I took a couple photo stops heading south, and one of them revealed a possible brief tornado. 

           

Once we arrived at highway 50 we headed east with the storm just off to our north.  At some point, maybe at Hasty we cut north for a better view and Bill continued north on a dirt road as I headed east on a hard top road paralleling 50.  I had good views of the storm to my north and was able to get ahead of a bit. 

Near McClave I cut back south to 50 and then raced east towards Lamar to stay ahead of the hail core.  I stopped once to look back at the storm and could see a clear slot with a large cone shaped funnel cloud/tornadic circulation descending towards the ground.  I took a few photos and then blasted into Lamar. 

Hail was falling in Lamar, mostly dimes and a few quarters as folks scrambled for shelters.  I continued south on 385 to clear the hail and to look for a high spot so I could look back at the action area.  About 10-12 miles south of town I climbed high on a dirt road heading west and could see rapidly rotating scud clouds extending to the ground.  A brief brown dust whirl was on the ground just as I stopped the truck.  I took a few photos but the best of the tornado had just occurred to my north. 

   

I then continued south on 385 and stopped at another high point when I had a cell signal to call and get a room for the night.  Lamar was booked solid, as was Ulysses and Springfield.  I was not able to go back north because of a second supercell with a confirmed tornado was right on the heels of the first storm. And both storms would be cutting off my access roads heading east into KS.  My only option was to continue south out of the path of these storms and try to call for rooms once I reached Springfield.  I was fortunate to find a room at the Townsman Inn in the next closest town to my south, Boise City which was about another 60 miles south.  Another great chase day overall, despite the headache of getting a room for the night.   Townsman Inn ( great hotel BTW) - 211 miles (only about half for the chase) - Boise City, OK.

 


June 8, 2022:  Wed - Day 11 - No Chase:  A day to relax and take a leisurely drive through some very scenic roads in northeast New Mexico.  I first had lunch in Boise City, then headed west towards the Black Mesa SP.  I had not been there since 1997 during our first year storm chasing.  I took my time driving through the park and stopping to take in the views along with a few photos.  Of course lighting was bad at mid-day, but it was nice to see some different scenery.

       

I decided to stop at the trail head to the highest point in OK, but decided against the 4 mile hike to the top of mesa.

I then headed west on 456 which is partly paved and partly improved dirt road and stopped by the Wedding Cake Ranch to take the following photo.  You can guess where the ranch got its name!

I continued down south to Folsom, Capulin, and on west to Raton for the night.  Hoped for some some sunset/lightning west of Raton, but the storms quickly died as they moved east towards I-25 leaving nothing but a nasty cloud cover and cold wind.  Certainly was not expecting much, just a nice drive and the outside chance of seeing something at the end of the day.  My thoughts were that tomorrow would  likely be the last storm chase day of my trip.  Possibly as far north as northwest Kansas which would be a good starting point for the trek home.  162 non-chase miles driven today.  Stayed in the S8 Raton, but the newer Wyndam Microtel right next store would likely have been a better choice!

 


June 9, 2022:  Thu Day 12 - Final Chase Day on Plains:  Today looked like a day to target somewhere in far northwest KS, northeast CO or southwest Nebraska.  I had a long drive from Raton, but was not concerned since storms were likely not to form before late afternoon or early evening. I headed up 350 to Rocky Ford and then north on 71 to Limon. I then headed east on I-70 to Burlington where I would hold up for awhile and review the latest data.  Models continued to indicate I was at the right place and could probably hang around and simply watch data for the first storms to form to my northwest.  Bill and the Tempest Tour gang were also in Burlington and it was not long before the first cell went up north of Fort Morgan.  I recall saying to Bill that this could be the target storm and he agreed it was possible.  We soon headed north on 385 and then west on 36 thru Idalia and then north on 59 to Yuma.  The radar returns seemed impressive with this storm that was still to our north, but visually it appeared to be weak and struggling. In fact the closer we got the worse it looked.  After a brief stop in Yuma we headed back east on 34 to Wray and then south on 385 completing a big circle right back to Burlington as a new and much stronger looking storm had formed to the west of town.  We basically wasted a 174 mile round trip right back to where we started, but when chasing one never knows for sure and the northern storm could have strengthened, so there was no sense sitting around pondering when a potential storm of the day suddenly appears within your target area. 

This new storm looked promising for awhile visually and on radar, but by the time we got south of BUR it began to line-out east to west and had lost a lot of its original appeal.  I took a few photos as the sun was getting low to our west from a dirt road a few miles south of town. 

   

The storm was moving to the southeast so we continued south as a new storm formed to our northeast near GLD.   We headed east at Cheyenne Wells via 40 into KS hoping to intercept this storm, but the sun was setting and we were fast running out of daylight.  Somewhere near Sharon Springs we began to run into the back end of the rain shaft.  I stopped before I got into the rain and took quite a few images of some semi-interesting storm/scenic views as the sun was setting. 

   

I then headed east behind the rain and tried for some lightning photos, got a few but nothing really special.  There were a few really nice bolts, but they were few and far between. 

I continued northeast on 40 then north on 25 to Colby.  This was the most mileage I put on for any given chase day at 508 miles, but at least I was heading in the right direction towards home.  Colby, KS with 508 miles logged for the day.

   


June 10, 2022 Fri: Travel Day, with storms!  Usually the trips home are uneventful storm wise, and I was not planning for anything in particular on this one.  There was a marginal risk of a severe storm for parts of IL, but mostly just general thunder along the way.  Soon after I crossed the Illinois line from Missouri I began to notice a really nice updraft tower to my north.  I could also see the base of the storm with a large wall cloud hanging beneath.  The storm was moving to the SSE and would eventually be crossing I-70 in front of me, but a quick calculation proved I could beat the rain core as I continued northeast on the interstate.  As I progressed along I-70 I kept a close watch visually and via radar of this approaching storm and finally decided to get off the interstate to have a better look.  It would be a fairly easy intercept a few miles to my north near the town of Grandfork.  I stopped a few times for photos as the structure to my west was decent. 

I then decided it was time to get back on the I-70 and plotted a course east via some back roads to do so, but would now have to cut through the rain core.  Luckily it was only heavy rain with no hail.  About 6 miles east on I-70 another storm to my north came into view, and this one would also be an easy intercept.  I once again got off I-70 at the Greenville exit to have a better look and this storm had even better structure than the last one.  I nice circular updraft base that was being lit up orange by the setting sun. Again I took a few photos before headed back on the interstate.  I had to stop once more as the weakening storm was just to my north, took a few photos and then continued on my way east.  Since I wasn't actually in storm chase mode I kept no log of the mileage. 

   

 


June 11, 2022 Sat: Uneventful Travel Day Home.  No storms.

 


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