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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!"

June 24, 2009

Day 13 (June 23): Southeast WY/Southwest NE Panhandle Storms

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Chase Trip 2009,Latest Chases,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 9:18 am

From a tornado perspective, my target area failed. From a unique chase/photography experience, it was a success. I chased WEST of I-25… yes, you heard me right. A supercell formed north of Laramie and just sat there developing on the southwest flank. I said to hell with waiting on it, I’ll just drive to it. It was a very risky move because should other more siggy storms develop east of me, I would be screwed because the one-way trip around SR211/Horse Creek Rd. is about 65 miles. This road was perfect to get a closer view of the storm, but the problem was the 7000-7500 foot terrain between me and the updraft base and any lowerings… so about 80% of the drive was just seeing a dark mass to my west without seeing what was beneath the base. Finally, once I neared Horse Creek (NW of Cheyenne), I could see underneath the base. There was indeed an ominous scuddy lowering. I had to break out the 80-400mm lens since the storm was rather far away still. The southernmost of the conjoined, elongated convective entity became increasingly photogenic as I approached Federal, WY. Once again, I took advantage of the telezoom lens to get some compositions of the distant, but very beautiful supercell Cb with mountainous terrain on the horizon. It was a nice sight, complete with classic blocky lowering beneath the distant rotating storm.

Ultimately, this initial storm complex sent out a wad of outflow that ended up becoming the end of the potential tornadic phase of this chase. I followed Hwy 85 then 216 to Albin and became increasingly frustrated at the lack of any structure. Not even tiered shelf structure. I essentially threw in the towel and made my way to I-80. A storm cluster south of Kimball was sparking fairly consistently so I decided to shoot this. Another small supercell-looking cell then developed back west, so I turned back west on I-80 to Pine Bluffs again. As this thing was dying, yet another storm was developing just about on top of my during my drive back to Pine Bluffs. Once I reached Pine Bluffs, I decided to hang out on Hwy 30 northeast of town adjacent Union Pacific rail line. The golden hour light was getting pretty good with numerous convective elements to photograph. I even had a distant rainbow looking east down Hwy 30. That’s right, today I photographed BOTH a morning rainbow AND an evening rainbow. I find that extremely unusual and quite rewarding actually. The sunset light was just getting better and better. Rich, vivid pinks, violets, blues made the convective elements in the sky just jump out at you. Then, before I knew it, I had a pink storm structure to my north with a nice rain-free base and lowering! A large “scud bomb” developed beneath this lowering, and I had an amazing scene in front of me to my north. A non-severe pink storm with a gigantic “tornado look-alike” hanging down below the rain-free base. Simply amazing sky. Just phenomenal. I was fretting about the mis-target today (not chasing the higher CAPE along the front farther east into Nebraska), but that was only until the incredible photographer’s golden hour light gave me a nice treat. I’ll say that this was nice cap to my chase vacation — one with many wild swings in emotion, as most of you have all read about through the various blog posts.


  1. Me likey the one with the train. Fabulous light with some interesting cloud structure. That is definitely where I grew up!

    Comment by pcNielsen — June 24, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  2. Very nice! Way to capture the good light!

    Comment by Dann Cianca — June 24, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  3. Hi Paul and Dann… thanks for the comments, they are appreciated! The light was indeed quite magical that evening around Kimball, Nebraska! -Mike U

    Comment by Mike U — June 26, 2009 @ 4:28 am

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