Happy update time —- click on the link below for the chase account for June 16, 2014.
Happy update time —- click on the link below for the chase account for June 16, 2014.
Howdy — I am back home from my two months of storm chasing with Tempest Tours! It is time to get back into the routine of working on my chase accounts and images for you, the Stormbruiser web site viewer. So, please check back here from time to time, and I’ll let you know if there are any new posts.
I am providing here a very quick summary of my whereabouts and storm chase intercepts while out on the road from April 30 to June 28. In some instances, you might even get to find out where our group had lunch!
By the way, did you know that June 13th was one of the most awesome days ever —– when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup in the past three season?!!
Quick 2014 Chase Summary
Tour 2 with Jim Reed out of OKC
April 30/OKC/no weather/end DDC
May 1/DDC/no weather, sight-seeing from Monument Rocks to abandoned house near KS/NE border/end OGA
May 2/OGA/high-based t-storm/hail storm/virga bomb Broadwater to Dalton, NE/end Sidney, NE
May 3/SNY/high-based virga junkola Harrisburg, NE to La Grange, WY/end Bridgeport, NE
May 4/Bridgeport, NE/lunch Gramma’s Alliance NE/only high clouds and virga/chased trains at Ardmore, SD/end Hot Springs, SD
May 5/Hot Springs, SD/lunch Rapid City Fuddruckers/mushy storms near Upton, WY (30 miles south of supercell NW of Sundance/end RAP
May 6/RAP/supercell Pine Bluffs WY to Bushnell NE/evening lightning show with follow cell W of SNY/end SNY
May 7/SNY/lunch Sidney Della’s/tornadic supercell near Akron, CO/end Cozad NE
May 8/Cozad/long drive via OMA to extreme sw MN/undercut supercell near Laverne, MN, junky “storms” later along MN/IA border/end Worthington MN
May 9/Worthington MN/reposition/down day/south along I-29/w IA to Topeka/lunch Sloan’s Cafe in Sloan IA/end TOP
May 10/TOP/lunch Emporia Bobby D’s BBQ/supercells Howard, Atlanta and Latham, KS/end Haysville KS
May 11/Haysville to OKC/end Tour 2/total miles 3940
Tour 3 with Bob Smith and Rook/out of OKC
May 12/linear, early-day junk t-storms Joplin to Springfield MO/end Springfield MO
May 13/Springfield MO/down day/reposition to central KS/lunch Joplin Sawmill BBQ/end Hoisington KS
May 14/Hoisington KS/virga bombs nw KS/Monument Rocks/weak cel near Saint Francis/abandoned house/end IML
May 15/IML/lunch Holyoke CO/down day, cold/Keota CO ghost town/end CYS
May 16/CYS/cold down day/Ames Monument with snowcover/lunch Laramie WY Lovejoy Restaurant/dinner at Walden CO/end Walden CO
May 17/Walden CO/pretty drive east through Cache la Poudre Canyon/weak-ish supercells Briggsdale CO and Cheyenne WY/strong and cold inflow into CYS cell/end CYS
May 18/CYS/supercells west of Edgewater SD and near Alliance NE —- killed both upon arrival/end Bridgeport NE
May 19/Bridgeport NE/lunch Bridgeport Burger Worx/early junk near Bridgeport and later to Sutherland dying cu, back west to nice Sunol NE supercell/end OGA
May 20/OGA/lunch Sidney NE Gramma Jo’s/supercell Last Chance to Arriba to Stratton CO/end GLD
May 21/GLD/lunch in Limon CO/supercell Aurora/DIA/Byers/end Stratton CO
May 22/Stratton CO/lunch in Lamar CO/mostly junky and messy convection nw TX PH, brief meso w/funnel Etter TX/end Shamrock TX
May 23/Shamrock TX to OKC/end of Tour 3/total miles 4062
Tour 4 with Steve Pekich and Chris Gullikson out of OKC
May 24/OKC/long drive (635 miles total) OKC to se NM via Anson TX and Hobbs NM/supercell near sunset NW to N of Carlsbad NM/end Hobbs NM
May 25/Hobbs NM/south to Monahans and Pecos — no storms/strong cap — north to supercell northeast of Carlsbad NM to Hobbs/end Hobbs NM
May 26/Hobbs NM/lunch Seminole TX La Sierra Pizza/early strong convection Andrews TX, long day with supercells Andrews to Big Spring, Stamford to Sterling City TX/end SJT
May 27/SJT/lunch San Angelo Bodacious BBQ/supercells San Saba City and southeastward to Burnet and Marble Falls, TX/dinner River City Marble Falls TX
May 28/Marble Falls/reposition/down day to LBB/end LBB
May 29/LBB/lunch AMA Big Texan/junky no-shear convection Des Moines/Capulin NM area/sunset lightning south of Gladstone, NM/end Clayton NM
May 30/Clayton NM/lunch Clayton Rabbit Ears Cafe/poor shear cells Campo to Springfield to Boise City/brief gustnado north of Boise City/end AMA
May 31/AMA to OKC/end of Tour 4/total miles 3065
Tour 5 with Chuck Doswell, Justin and Woody out of OKC
June 1/OKC/tail-end supercells Sublette KS to Meade and Clark counties KS/end DDC
June 2/DDC/lunch Garden City Wards/reposition north to western NE with junky stuff Yuma County/end OGA
June 3/OGA/lunch North Platte/Stapleton to Oconto NE undercut supercells then killed Ogallala storm/end Lexington NE
June 4/Lexington NE/lunch Valentinos Ogallala/outflow fest Crawford to Chadron to Rushville to Alliance/end Alliance NE
June 5/Alliance NE/lunch Sterling CO J & L Cafe/supercell Limon to Haswell to Wiley CO/end Lamar
June 6/Lamar CO/lunch Lamar Mexican Restaurant/killed Trinidad and Lamar storms/junky thereafter/end GUY
June 7/Guymon OK/lunch Dalhart Hodies BBQ/Plainview to Matador supercell/end Clarendon TX
June 8/Clarendon TX to OKC/end of Tour 5/total miles 3250/begin drive to DEN, shelf cloud storm NM/TX border west of Adrian/end Vega TX
June 9/Vega TX to DEN
Tour 6 with Rob and minitour 6A with Chris G. and minitour 6B with Bob C.
June 10/DEN/lunch CYS/junky stuff ne WY to Belle Fourche SD/end Kadoka SD
June 11/Kadoka/lunch Mitchell SD Culvers/dive south from there to big splitting supercell near Hastings, NE/lightning and structure west of Belleville KS/end Belleville KS
June 12/Belleville KS/lunch Hastings/reposition/down day/end OGA
June 13/OGA/lunch Alliance Subway/supercell Chadron NE/end Thedford NE
June 14/Thedford/lunch Cozad Green Apple Cafe/supercell with landspout tornado Athol to Smith Center, KS/night time severe storm Norton KS/end Wakeeney KS
June 15/Wakeeney/reposition/down day/lunch Philipsburg KS cafe/end Loup City NE
June 16/Loup City NE/lunch Ord Calamity Janes/prolific tornadic supercell Stanton/Pilger/Wakefield NE/ end Vermillion SD
June 17/Vermillion SD/lunch Chamberlain McDonalds/stationary supercell northwest of Belle Fourche SD/end Lemmon SD
June 18/Lemmon SD/lunch Gettysburg SD BBQ/prolific tornadic supercell Gann Valley to Woonsocket SD/end Plankington SD
June 19/Plankington SD/south to Grand Island, west to OGA/no storms/end OGA
June 20/OGA to DEN/end of Tour 6/total miles 4769
Tour 7 with Kelly Delay out of DEN
June 21/DEN/lunch Taco Johns Sterling CO/storms Peetz CO to OGA, big lightning display at sunset N and W of Lake McCaunaghy/dinner Chinese OGA/end OGA
June 22/OGA/lunch J & L Cafe Sterling CO/splitting cell west of Bird City KS/other cells south of GLD and south of Yuma CO at sunset/end Yuma CO
June 23/Yuma CO/lunch Fort Morgan Home Plate/left-mover supercell Last Chance-Anton-Akron/end Brush CO
June 24/Brush CO/left-mover supercells Falcon to Simla and Prospect Valley to Byers, several severe storms around sunset north of Strasburg CO/end Strasburg
June 25/Strasburg CO/brunch Strasburg Rookies Cafe/left-mover west of Hawk Springs WY, Torrington to Crawford; small hail Ardmore SD/end Hot Springs SD
June 26/Hot Springs SD/lunch Hot Springs Taco Johns/weak cell Torrington/outflowy severe cell Sioux County NE/lightning near Chimney Rock/mega-lightning display at dark west of OGA/end OGA
June 27/OGA/lunch McCook Runza/brief supercell McDonald KS/outflow shelf cloud Atwood KS/dinner Idalia Grainery Restaurant/end Stratton CO
June 28/Stratton to DEN/end of Tour 7/total miles 2840
My total miles from April 30 to June 28, about 22,000, or about 375 miles per day.
On Monday, June 16, our two-van group (with drivers Rob Petitt and Bob Conzemius) awoke in Loup City, NE. We had driven here from northwest Kansas on the day prior in order to be well-positioned for Monday’s chase. The prospects for tornadoes appeared to be quite good as we perused the weather maps on the ceiling of the Frederick Hotel in Loup City. Forecast instability and shear values were very high for much of eastern NE, and SPC had a moderate risk and a 10-percent “hatched” tornado graphic. However, it was not entirely clear when and where storms might initiate this day. Should we head farther west to the dry line, around Custer County? Or should we play along I-80, where instability was even higher and convergence was tremendous? Or should we hang out around Loup City and see how things evolved into the early afternoon? I had a very tenuous grasp on how the day might play out and on where I should be. One thing that I DID know is that I had no strong inclination and no solid reason to drive off in any particular direction late this morning. The skies over Loup City and much of central and eastern NE were cloudy to mostly cloudy, and winds were very juicy and from the southeast. There was an outflow boundary from nighttime convection in the area, but it wasn’t easy to detect on the surface charts and satellite images.
I felt safe heading north a little to Ord for lunch, and on the way we spent some time at an abandoned house along Highway 70, just south of the “Blizzard of 1888” historical marker…
On potentially big days like this I usually do a quick fast-food lunch, but it was only 12:15 p.m., so the entire group sat down at Calamity Janes restaurant in Ord. The service was fairly fast, fortunately, and we were there for only an hour. From Ord I decided to head east. The skies were clearing and it was getting warm and really humid. Dew points were close to 74F. And handful of cumulus clouds were getting that perky look…did storms want to form already in central Nebraska? It was WAY too early, not even 2 p.m. If storms went up nearby, they might start moving to the northeast quickly given the strong southwesterly winds aloft. It seemed like a good idea to hedge eastward to lessen the chances of getting behind any early, strong activity.
As we headed east from Ord to Scotia and Greeley, we observed impressive storm tower development to our east, about 20-25 miles distant. At the time I wasn’t sure if these towers would ultimately be the storms that we wanted to be on. They were booking along to the northeast at about 35-40 mph, and I doubted that we would even be able to catch them. Darn —- we were a little out of position and playing catch-up, exactly what I did NOT want to have happen! If these were able to become big supercells, though, I knew that they would likely be tornadic. The environment just ahead of them in the Norfolk area was sickeningly ripe for tornado development. So, we pressed on, and hoped that the cells would slow down and that we could get into position.
I had Rob and Bob take our group east on 56 from Greeley to Cedar Rapids and St. Edward. A big, new updraft went up to our east as we headed east from St. Edward, and this one was catch-able. Still, it was moving northeast at about 30 mph, and our road network was not particularly cooperative.
After a brief and aborted attempt to continue east on a wet dirt road to Platte Center, we headed north to Lindsay and east to Highway 81. By now the storm was severe-warned and was above Madison, some ten miles to our north. The RFD cut was massive, and the low base was getting that “pregnant, I want to produce a big tornado RIGHT NOW” look to it. From the intersection of 81 and 91 I could have headed north towards Madison and the updraft base, and I probably should have, but the action area was really close to Madison and I didn’t want to get involved with that just yet near a town. So, we continued east on 91 some 12 miles to Route 57 north. On our way east, we could see what looked like a tornado developing back to our north-northwest, about ten miles away. The base was very low and the developing tornado was significant.
The storm continued tornadic and was moving northeast at about 35 mph as we came up on its SSE and S side, in the Stanton area. We had occasional glimpses of the tornado as we crested hills, and then we would go for a minute or two in the low spots without a view. This was quite aggravating! Fortunately, the tornado was going to miss Stanton on its north side by several miles. We made it through Stanton (at 3:56 p.m. CDT), crested a hill north of town, and had a massive and wildly rotating barrel updraft filling our windshields. These are looking north from south of Stanton and while in Stanton:
This thing was maybe 2-3 miles wide and was, for all practical purposes, on the ground! We stopped a mile or two north of Stanton for several minutes, shot stills and video, and watched it drift off to our north along Highway 57. The motion in this tornado cyclone was absolutely insane, and on occasion there were smaller, slender, slinky tornado funnels sticking out of it horizontally. Apparently at least one farm house was destroyed by this tornado north of Stanton. Visually, the lighting and contrast beneath the low storm base was very poor, and it was difficult to really see what was going on near ground level a couple of miles to our north. Was there a massive and violent wedge tornado in there? Apparently there was, and I kind of assumed that there was, but it was not obvious. The contrast is enhanced a little in some of the images below to bring out the Stanton tornado. These are views to the north along Highway 57:
The images above are wide-angle views with the “full-frame” camera and 21mm lens. My camera time stamp shows 3:58 to 4:03 p.m. CDT for these, and that should be good to within a minute or two.
So, the obvious move next would be to continue north to stay with the “Stanton” tornado, right?! Well, maybe, but as this tornado moved off to our north, beyond U.S. 275, another funnel and area of rotation quickly materialized to our east a few miles. A new meso was quickly developing, and I knew that another tornado was imminent. We backtracked southward to Stanton, and then headed east-northeast on a gravel road. This road was wet, but drive-able, and it headed directly to Pilger. A large, black tornado was now in progress to our east as we moved east-northeast. It was perhaps about five miles away, and I wanted to get a lot closer, but we could only safely go about 45-50 mph on this wet, mushy gravel road. This thing was big and bad and VERY visible, with no rain wrapping around it! We made a brief stop to allow the guests to get out for some photos, and continued another mile or so. During this time, a second tornado was developing behind the first one, and it soon became just as large and dangerous as the “lead” tornado! I managed to get a little video and a still or two of both tornadoes in progress at the same time. We stopped again, and watched the tornadoes continue to move away from us to our east-northeast. The small town of Pilger, about 5 miles away, was hit while we were along this gravel road, but we did not know that at the time.
The images above were from about 4:07 to 4:23 p.m. CDT.
We had to keep moving in order to stay relatively close, but we were stopped a few miles short of Pilger due to water flowing off of a field and across our gravel road. (The final two images in the series above were from this location.) We backtracked a little, scooted up to 275 eastbound, and neared Pilger. Someone on the ham radio said that there was a propane leak in Pilger, and we realized that the town had just been struck by one of the two large tornadoes. Pilger is a half mile south of 275, and as we passed northeast of the town, we looked back to the southwest to see the swath of destruction right through the middle of it. Debris was in the fields and sheet metal was wrapped around the utility poles that were still standing along 275. A cattle yard just to the north of 275 was heavily damaged and the cattle were scattered about. I didn’t think that we would be able to catch up to the tornado again, but we managed to. East of Wisner we could see one large tornado to our north, about 8 to 10 miles away.
Highway 9 northbound led us to Pender and Emerson. Along this stretch, the tornado became heavily rain-wrapped and disappeared from our view.
After a quick pit-stop at a park in Emerson (the convenience store was closed due to the nearby tornado!), we continued northeast on 35 to Hubbard. The storm was much smaller now, and surface winds were more from the south instead of the southeast. Nevertheless, a small and brief tornado developed just a mile or so to our north as we cleared Hubbard. The spin-up dissipated as we piled out of the vehicles. This action area wrapped in rain a bit, and was unable to produce again. Fortunately for Sioux City, just up the road, the supercell weakened quickly and considerably. Our tornado chase for this day was over…but it was only 6 p.m.! We headed west to some undercut but ominous-looking stuff between Yankton and Vermillion, and then caught a rainy mess moving northeast through Cedar County, Nebraska. This led us back to our motel in Vermillion.
The cell outside of Vermillion looked ominous, but this large lowered area was not rotating:
Wow — the action got going very quickly for us right after lunch on this chase day! We were somewhat fortunate to be relatively close to the updraft base when the tornadic supercell started to produce between Madison and Stanton. If lunch had lasted a little too long, or if I had dawdled in Ord too long, then we might not have made it to Stanton County in time. There was a nice storm on the dry line near Custer County late in the day, but it was not a big tornado-maker. The Stanton, Pilger, and Wakefield, NE, tornadoes were rated EF4. Two perished in Pilger.