Sunday, July 3, 2016

7/1/2016 Shelf near Springfield, CO

We (CoD Trip 5) rang in July with a nice day of storms in southeast CO. High dewpoints and a strengthening wind field excited us for tornado potential. Instead, convective morphology and lack of strong surface heading due to cloud cover really hampered the tornado potential.  We targeted the Trinidad area initially for an early/quick tornado, but the winds/instability did not really materialize as hoped. We opted to move further east, where the lone meaty supercell of the day formed just northeast of Kim, CO.  We watched it for a while (see timelapse) before it grew upscale into a large MSC and associated shelf cloud across southeast CO.

MISC: Van 1 began to break down (carrier bearings). Limped to Dodge City, KS to overnight.

Laura shooting the storm from her habitat

Saturday, July 2, 2016

6/28/2016 Chadron to Ogallala, NE Derecho

We awoke in Scottsbluff, NE (new Fairfield Inn) with a target near Torrington, WY. Low 60s dewpoints were progged in the NE panhandle, and shear profiles quite supportive of supercell storms. We had lunch in Torrington at Deacon's before heading to a softball park to launch a radiosonde (data attached below). It was clear in our sounding that the moisture was shallow and dewpoints began to mix out to the mid/low 50s by late afternoon. We bailed on the upslope play to head toward Chadron to catch developing convection coming out of the southern Black Hills.  This convection quickly grew upscale into a southward propagating MCS and will likely be classified as a derecho. We got a front row seat for the shelf as it passed through Chadron, where it produced a measured wind gust of 103 mph! Continuing its south track, we slid toward Alliance and caught a nice picture of the shelf as it passed over Carhenge. It was a great spot for a group shot!  For the grand finale, we set up on the southwest side of near Lake McConaughy (near the damn; good idea Walker!) to let the shelf pass and overtake us. There were several boaters that were caught as this derecho passed over the lake. A great day in some beautiful country.

MISC: Overnighted in Ogallala, NE. 

Prepping for balloon launch
Lapse rates for days! Dry low-levels reveals the mixed out nature of the boundary layer
Shelf at peak intensity near Chadron, NE

Boater cutting it a little close!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

6/27/2016 Oshkosh, NE Supercell

Started the day in OGA, with an initial target near the AIA area. By mid-afternoon, it was pretty clear that the Cu field was becoming agitated on the nose of the theta-e axis just to our northwest. After lunch at Valentino's, we set sights on developing echos just north of Oshkosh, NE. This cell rapidly strengthened into an impressive supercell, with nearly 40 mph inflow at times. The structure was impressive, but it did not last very long. We blew off the windbag near Julesburg to set sights on new convection coming out of the Pine Ridge. This was a good decision, as we were treated with a nice sunset and a short drive to our hotel in Scottsbluff.

MISC: Overnighted at brand new FF Inn in Scottsbluff.


Monday, June 27, 2016

6/26/2016 Oshkosh to Arthur Supercell

Sunday was the first solid supercell setup in favorable storm chasing terrain.  Trip 5 departed Winner, SD by late morning with an eye on the North Platte to Sidney, NE area for convective initiation.  After lunch at Whiskey Creek in North Platte, we ventured northwest to towering cumulus to our northwest near Oshkosh.  These towers matured into several transient supercells, which we tracked toward the Arthur area. As the cells began to dive south, we let the strongest of the convection pass to our east as it hit the town of Sutherland.  We drove into Sutherland after the storm to find tree branches down, leaves shredded, and large hail. The students were excited! The drive back west to our hotel in Ogallala featured occasional lightning and breathtaking sunlit towers with nice mammatus.

MISC: Overnighted in Ogallala at the "Quality" Inn.

As "close" as it would come.  See timelapse below. 
Large hail in the foreground. 

Drive back west to OGA

Saturday, June 25, 2016

6/22/2016 North Central IL Supercells

Finally, a day on the home turf!  6/22 featured a MDT risk for severe storms across a large part of northern and central IL.  The biggest meteorological question this day was convective morphology, as the thermodynamic and kinematic parameters were off charts (literally!). This day had a feel like 6/5/2010, with a warm front in play, and CI occurring in a rather broad field of stratocumulus.

This will be a placeholder, as I need to come back and add more meteorological synopsis, pictures, and video.

Overall, saw two brief tornadoes, great structure, and impressive CG lightning. Subset of pictures below.

6/13/2016 Failed supercell near Pueblo, CO

6/13 looked good in model land, but an overnight MCS scoured much of the moisture across ern CO. Strong heating and attendant destabilization was limited to portions of southern CO, so we ended up targeting the Pueblo area despite an initial target of the Palmer Divide. The cell looked great initially, but could not stay organized after pulling off of the orographic forcing.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

6/12/2016 Convection near Casper, WY

6/12 featured a "marginal" risk for severe weather on the high plains of eastern WY.  We awoke in Dickinson, ND, and decided that the best chance for some good photos would be near the Casper, WY area by late afternoon.  This area did not disappoint, despite the marginal ingredients, and we were able to watch some transient organized convection just southwest of Casper. 

MISC:  Overnighted in Rawlins, WY.

6/11/2016 Lodgepole, SD Thunderstorms

The forecast environment of 6/11 appeared to be favorable for supercell thunderstorms, especially with regard to kinematics, but the convective morphology proved to be unfavorable.   By late afternoon, convection fired off the Black Hills and north of the Bighorn mountains in a deeply mixed environment with southwesterly surface winds.  These thunderstorm established cold pools and copious amount of dry mid-level air likely inhibited greater organized potential, especially when considering the strong surface winds and vertical shear profiles sampled by nearby 88D RADAR's.

Despite the morphology, we were able to latch onto a briefly severe storm near Lodgepole, SD, that had impressive positive CG lightning (video to come later). 

MISC: Chasing with Dad. Overnighted in Dickinson, ND.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6/3/2016 Storm Lounging near Hays, KS

No need to storm "chase" on 6/3.  Instead, we broke out the field chairs, and at several times were able to sit and take in the western KS scenery (including a glorious Great Plains sunset). It was a magical experience and a great ending to the first personal storm chasing trip of 2016 with Laura and Walker.

MISC: Overnighted in Russell, KS


6/2/2016 Makin' Lemonade

6/2 was a real "lemonade out of lemons" day.  The atmosphere has not been dealing the best ingredients as of late, but we were able to make the best of it in western/central South Dakota.  Damaging wind gusts were the primary threat this day, with a MCS that was forecast to develop in western South Dakota and move eastward with time. We were scraping the bottom of the peanut butter jar for moisture, but still managed to get some pretty good shots in front of some artsy scenery.  Perhaps the neatest part was letting the storms pass overhead at the motel in Chamberlain, SD, where we sat on a nearby covered dock as the storms rolled in.

MISC: Overnighted at a neat Mom & Pop place ("A Bridge View Inn") in Chamberlain, SD.

GPS log

6/1/2016 Drifting Along the Frontrange

6/1 was a leisurely drive along the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  We started the morning in Trinidad, with another meager atmospheric setup for severe convective storms. Our only hope was weak forecasted instability along the Palmer Divide and Cheyenne Ridge (two well-known convective initiation mechanisms by storm chasers). We chose the latter and were treated by some pretty scenery in northern Colorado and some good lightning.

MISC: Overnighted in Fort Morgan, CO.

GPS route for the day (plotted in red)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

5/30/2016 Roswell, NM Sunset

Lack of robust severe storms this day due to weak upper-level shear and significant uplope flow component to the surface wind.  Still able to enjoy the scenery and a pretty sunset near Roswell.

MISC: Overnighted in Roswell, NM.

5/29/2016 Mentone, TX Thundestorm

Met up with Paul Sirvatka and Trip 3 crew to launch a weather balloon from Kermit, TX. The sounding (below) revealed nearly 100 J/kg of CIN in the environment near Kermit. A storm was able to form in the higher terrain / steeper lapse rates to the west near Mentone, but quickly decayed as it entered the unfavorable thermodynamic environment further east. More robust supercell development was likely inhibited by the presence of milky mid and high-level stratus throughout the day.

MISC: Overnighted in Hobbs, NM.

Brief severe storm near Mentone, TX
Weather balloon launch from Kermit, TX

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5/28/2016 Snyder, TX Convection

Saturday was a fairly marginal setup for severe weather from an ingredients perspective, especially in regards to vertical wind shear. Late May dewpoints and some veering of the wind with height along a morning outflow boundary was able to create an environment at least supportive of widely scattered severe storms.  We watched a beautiful sunlit updraft tower from near Hermleigh, TX in front of a windmill farm and then moseyed northeast toward Snyder, TX where we were treated with a spectacular evening lightning show.

MISC: Overnighted in Snyder, TX  |  Walker's Birthday  |  Found neat hail divots in a field near Hermleigh, TX