High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

May 25, 2005

Short chase trip May 26-27

Filed under: Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 10:03 pm

Well, after much interpretation of the models, it looks like a very interesting setup in New Mexico the next couple of days. I am off work tomorrow (Thurs. 26th) and Friday 27th, and have decided to join my friends Jon Smith, Rob Mitchell, and Mitch Daszewski, who are currently on their week-long chase trip.

The last two days have been quite fruitful for them on the High Plains of southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. On Tuesday, 24th, they intercepted several supercell thunderstorms, including near Joes, CO during the mid-afternoon hours: (pictures below are from Mitch’s camera cell-phone)

They ended the chase day intercepting a monster supercell thunderstorm northeast of Lamar, CO near Sheridan Lake:

Today, they chased a couple of nice supercells between Las Vegas and Santa Rosa, New Mexico. This same area looks quite good tomorrow as well, and is my preliminary target. I will leave Dodge City around 7:00am to meet up with the guys.

My friend Matt Crowther is also out there with his wife Betsy, and they also intercepted those beautiful storms the past couple of days to mark the beginning of their chase vacation. See his chase blog for his accounts… as well as his awesome photographs from Eastern Colorado on the 24th


May 22, 2005

Storm Chase (sort of) – May 21

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 6:34 am

Kinda sort of a storm chase, I guess. I ventured outside of Dodge at 6:30pm when I noticed small Cb’s (Cumulonimbus) going up about 30 miles northeast of town. By 7:30pm or so, all this activity pretty much evaporated, but a small supercell thunderstorm did persist farther east near Lyons, KS, which I opted not to chase given the fact that I had to be back in Dodge to work a midnight shift. Nevertheless, I did click a few releases of the shutter on the D70 while I was out and about…


Storm Chase – May 17

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 6:21 am

(to view full-size images, right click "View Image" if using Firefox)

I left DDC around 12:30 and drove to my target area near Oberlin, KS. I
did see the first Cu develop right around this area upon arrival, and
after pulling up a radar image on StormLab and seeing the myriad of
fine-lines that Rogelio talked about, I figured I was at the southern
edge of the best area. Did see the North Platte complex in the distant
NW, but as I approached McCook, I decided just to stick down here closer
to my target. The storm(s) that ultimately became the Lexington-Cozad
stuff first initiated near Stockville (~25 NE MCK).

I followed this to Farnam, and by this time an elonged area of updraft
was now extending SSW-ward. I contined east to Eustis and the Johnson
Lake area southwest of Lexington…

By the time I reached I-80, it was a full-blown quasi-linear cluster of
high-based storms and the dust was really beginning to limit the
contrast/visib. I exited I-80 at Overton, and the dust limited
visibility to less than a mile numerous times around town. I had a hard
time opening my door to get out of the car. I pulled up a radar/metar
overlay on StormLab and EAR and HDE were both like 15033G43KT.

I continued east to the Odessa area where I finally got back into better
visibility. By this time, a new area was developing off to the
southwest near Holdrege. This structure associated with this storm was
more picturesque now that the sun was getting lower.

I stopped again on the southwest side of Kearney, at the Kearney Event
Center parking lot just before sunset with this view…

And then about 15 minutes later, looking west from about 5 miles east of

I stopped for a brief bit at around midnight near Hill City for some
lightning on my way home…


May 17, 2005

Chaseday Forecast: May 17

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 12:19 pm

Today is a chase day. I will be leaving Dodge City shortly, heading north to an area from Colby, KS to McCook, NE. Low level moisture will be lacking for tornadoes, it appears, however with a strong upper level disturbance moving into the high plains, good convergence and adequate instability and shear should support a decent supercell or two. I will be in search of "tail-end Charlie", a term storm chasers like to coin for the "end-of-the-line" southernmost storm that usually has the best environment to be a sustained longer-lived supercell. We’ll see what happens… at this point, it looks like tail-end Charlie will be vey near the NE/KS border… *maybe* as far south as I-70, but we’ll see. I don’t like the heavy cirro-stratus sheild moving into western KS at this time… but by 5pm, I think this will be less of a problem. -Mu

May 14, 2005

An active storm period winds down

Filed under: Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 9:55 am

The past few days beginning Tuesday, May 10th have been quite fruitful for many storm chasers:

May 10 – Two classic supercells, one near Grand Island Nebraska, and the other in eastern Iowa, provided beautiful storm structure photography and videography for many chasers. See storm photographer Mike Hollingshead’s photography from May 10th near Grand Island. Simply amazing and inspiring work. May 10 Storm Track Chase Accounts and Images

May 11 – The day that was hyped up as being the big tornado day. It didn’t really turn out that way, however, as the majority of the severe weather developed along the front along the KS/NE border and moved north of it, producing a destructive hailstorm in Hastings, Nebraska. Storm chasers did see some tornadoes in extreme southwestern Nebraska and near the Idalia, Colorado area. Two dryline supercells did develop after 8pm in southwestern Kansas. One of these supercells produced a long-track significant tornado northeast of Ulysses, KS right as darkness was setting in. Only a handful number of chasers documented this storm, as the rest of the chasers were farther north. May 11 Storm Track Chase Accounts and Images

May 12 – Big West Texas day. Numerous storm chasers documented tornadoes from Plainview east to South Plains, TX as well as a couple late evening tornadoes at dark northeast of Lubbock. The most widely documented tornadoes were the ones near South Plains, TX, as were shown on The Weather Channel. Many of the storm chasers that documented this tornado paid the price, however, with giant hail causing significant damage to their chase vehicles, including those with reputable storm chase tour groups like Cloud 9 Tours and Silver Lining Tours. May 12 Storm Track Chase Accounts and Images

May 13 – Western Oklahoma to Northwest Texas. The majority of storm chasers intercepted a meaty supercell thunderstorm from near Paducah, TX southeast to Truscott and points south. At least one decent sized tornado was observed by storm chasers near Truscott. A tornado was also observed by a storm chaser along the Texas Panhandle border with western Oklahoma near Allison, TX. May 13 Storm Track Chase Accounts and Images

Of course, during this good stretch of chasing, I have been at work on evening shifts, until Monday the 16th. I am looking at Tuesday 17th as a possible chase day on my day off as more westerly flow comes across the Rockies allowing a lee trough to develop bringing moisture back north. -Mu

May 10, 2005

Storm Chase – May 8

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 12:18 am

Upon driving to my target towards Medicine Lodge and points east, I noticed hard towers going up at like 1:30pm to my north. I was torn as to what to do, because I liked the area farther south with a bit higher instability and a little more shear. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was indeed telling me something visually, and you just can’t ignore a heavily congested area of Cu in the western portions of Central KS, especially in May.. regardless what the setup may be. So, I opted north and caught up with a south-southwestward propogating severe storm near Lyons, KS. For awhile, this was reminding me *a lot* of June 11th last year near Ft. Dodge, IA with the updrafts continuously developing on the south flank down the shear axis.

I did see a high-based funnel cloud that persisted a couple of minutes about 4 W of Lyons, but no evidence of a debris whirl beneath. I continued to follow it southeastward with periods of cyclonic shear zones with sometimes modest rotation. I did see at least two more distinct high based funnels, however, again, no debris cloud beneath. I did not observe the debris whirl weak landsput that both Davies and Roger Hill et al. observed.

The updraft of this storm was becoming less impressive with time as it was becoming more and more undercut by outflow from it’s FFD and the McPherson storm immediately downstream. The McPherson storm ultimately became the better looking storm, and after a brief break in Hutchinson, I optioned east towards Newton where I was greeted with a menacing shelf cloud. The underbelly of this shelf was spectacular with perhaps the most impressive "whale’s mouth" appearance I have ever seen. The Nikon D70 got a workout :)

I drove south to stay ahead of this storm, and then I noticed a small LP updraft to my immediate south. This storm rapidly became supercellular-ish in appearance as it approached northwest Wichita, with a great looking bell-shaped updraft base:

I followed this storm into the northwest suburbs of Wichita just south of Maize. I did have some near 1" diameter hail pelt me as I was driving south towards the updraft, which made for some fairly neat video looking at this striated updraft base bearing down on me. I then got just east of the updraft and got this view just as it was getting dark:

On the way back home to Dodge City, I was able to get one hell of an incredible lightning show as viewed from near Kingman, KS. I clicked away on the shutter for a good 45 minutes as well as video. Probably my best night lightning documentation in a couple of years:

My thanks to both Jay Antle and Fritz Kruse for invaluable nowcast support.. from a photography standpoint, this was a *very* satisfying chase.

Other photos are located on my May 8th storm chase gallery

May 7, 2005

Storm Chase – May 7

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 11:43 pm

Pretty much a bust. I first went after a lame excuse for a small storms in Kiowa and Edwards Co., farther east removed from the dryline convergence. I didn’t like this area because the storms would eventually move east out of the best convergence and instability. Sure enough they croaked as I neared Great Bend. Westward Ho to the dryline. I drove west to Ness City and monitored turkeys for the rest of the chase. I saw enough turkey towers try sooo hard… to last me the rest of the chase season. Short story is I went back and forth on US283 from south of Wakeeney to Ness City up till 8pm.

There were at least two "groupings" of turkeys that had my interest, but never could they do anything… with hardly any bases. Just not enough convergence for the strong near surface speed shear I guess. Of course, when I decide to blow the chase off and drive south back home, one of the clumps of turkeys decided to develop a nice, long flat base. I didn’t think much of it and kept driving.. I should have known better, for about 10 minutes later, I actually had rock-hard towers going well up into the far reaches of the troposphere. I turned around and went back north in hopes of sunset photography with the small Cb. I didn’t quite get the photography I was looking for with nuisance cloud debris between me and the Cb. The storm pretty much croaked just after sunset north of Wakeeney.

I put a few pics on my website here

Storm Chase – May 6

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 1:01 am

I had a rather spontaneous storm chase on the evening of May 6th in far western Oklahoma Panhandle. I intercepted a picturesque, small "LP" supercell thunderstorm after 7:30pm CDT. I posted a few pictures on my website gallery.

Here’s one of those photographs:

May 5, 2005

Storm Chasing May 7-8

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 11:08 pm

Welp, the first significant chase event of the spring season will commence this weekend. I am off work May 7-9, so I am free to roam the plains. This weekend chasing situation is one where there will probably be a widespread "target" for chaseable supercell thunderstorms from South Dakota to North Texas. The entire dryline from Nebraska down into West TX is vulnerable to good storms with widespread high amounts of instability and low level moisture, along with deep layer shear and subtle cold advection in the mid levels.

In this situation, It may be best to chase closest to home, which I may very well end up doing. I am very leery chasing eastern TX Panhandle and Western OK on Saturday given the congruence of a number of things that could make it a "zoo" of chasers out there…. It’s May 7th, It’s a Saturday, It’s the first good chase day in a long time, It marks the beginning of many storm chasers’ "chasecations". I have visions of "Sitka" in my mind, and this isn’t even Memorial Day Weekend! Thankfully, there will be the large area of potential supercell thunderstorms, so the "hordes" should be dispersed.

The slow moving upper trough will allow the the front/dryline to slugishly move eastward such that Sunday’s convective activity will probably fire from Northwest Iowa south through eastern KS… down into N. Texas. I really like the looks of North Texas, but this is quite a haul from Dodge City, althought it *may* be worth it.

I just try to avoid Oklahoma at all costs during the peak of storm chase season (roughly the 1st week of May through the 1st week of June)…. I’m hoping for a locally enhanced area in NW KS or something ahead of the trough… I can simply never go wrong, many times, chasing in my home state. -Mu

May 4, 2005

Storm Photo

Filed under: Photography,Storm Chasing — storm300 @ 10:45 pm

April 10th, 2005: supercell thunderstorm w/ a well-pronounced rear-flank downdraft "clear slot" and bulbous funnel cloud. This is actually a tornado, believe it or not, as other chasers closer to this feature confirmed strong ground circulation over the Cedar Bluff Reservoir in western central Kansas.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress