Saturday, June 16, 2012


      The last two days we traveled many miles home from Amarillo, Texas. I was able to witness some of the most beautiful landscapes painted by the hand of God as I traveled back home; from ranches to black hill and sand hills, to the rocky mountains, to sulfur lakes. I can now say that I have traveled through 14 states in 15 days in nearly 8000 miles. This will definitely be a trip to remember!


        Clovis, New Mexico is where I woke up this morning even more tired than any other day before. Everyone was becoming irritated at the fact that we hadn't seen a full on tornado! We drove to Roswell, New Mexico were we stopped to fill up on gas. Usually this is an uneventful task, but today was a day filled full of excitement. The Dominator showed up at the same gas station. For those of you who may not know who drives The Dominator, his name is Reed Timmer. Reed is the lead chaser of the TV series Storm Chasers.
        As we went throughout our day, the area was forecasted with a slight risk and a 2 percent chance of seeing a tornado. There was one storm that caught our eye, which was the same storm Reed was chasing. The storm however was a bust and so was the rest of the day. We ended up just admiring the natural landscape of New Mexico, which mostly consisted of rock and cactus. The temperatures were mostly in the upper 80's and mid 90's with dry air, making it feel so amazing outside. Since we were so used to the moist air, making temperatures feel like they are in the upper 90's to 100 degrees. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


      We woke up today in Lexington, Nebraska with an unknown destination; other than knowing the direction, SW. We traveled for 10 hours straight finally arriving somewhere on the eastern side of New Mexico. Storms were firing during the early afternoon and our chase team decided to head further southwest. We ended up driving all day thinking it would be a bust, however we got on a classic super cell. This storm produced a nice gust front which brought up large masses of dust. Winds were extremely strong reaching 60 mph. Our professors decided to put us in the middle of this gust front driving straight through, there was no visibility.

      The storm began to strengthen and you could see the hook on the back of the storm on radar. Base Velocity showed a small couplet and shear markers were indicated. A TVS was also issued for this storm and it soon went from a severe thunderstorm warning to a tornado warning. Ping pong to golf ball size hail was reported. Trained chasers had spotted a brief tornado with this cell. On the other hand, we were on the back side of the storm and did not get to witness the touch down. From our view the storm was wrapped in rain and the sun had already started to go down making it even harder to view any type of touch down.

      We arrived in Clovis, New Mexico to settle down for the evening and eat some dinner at IHOP! No place better to eat breakfast at mid night. While at dinner winds began to pick up and lightning became more prevalent. Arriving back at the hotel rain began to fall and soon after pea size hail began to fall. Flash flooding was also becoming a concern.

Monday, June 11, 2012


    Today we traveled a short distance to southwest Minnesota, because the SPC issued a 5 percent chance of tornadoes, along a squall line. Conditions looked good and by early afternoon storms had already began to fire. A meso discussion was issued and informed us that there was an 80 percent chance of issuing a watch.
      The cold front was the main focus on these storms. Advancing into late afternoon, a well defined squall line had formed. A severe thunderstorm watch had been issued and soon after, plenty of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued. The main threat for these storms were wind and hail.
       We chased for several hours learning of how squall lines form and what they look like in the sky, for example the clouds will roll and shelf out. As the evening progressed, we went to dinner and saw that the storms were building and heading toward our location, Mankato, MN. A tornado warning was issued just north of our current county. Storms passed throughout the evening and temperatures dropped.

Shelf and Roll clouds out ahead of a squall line.

Storms firing

     God's eye!


         Casper, Wyoming is where our team woke up in hopes to chase in eastern Montana. This location was issued a 5 percent chance of seeing a tornado. As we drove throughout the day the initiation time became unclear. Models were showing different times and no one really knew what to expect. A severe thunderstorm watch was issued during late afternoon and a few storms fired up in the northern parts of Montana heading toward Canada. The storms weren’t of any significance. By evening hours everyone on the team was exhausted and we decided to stop chasing for the day.

Friday, June 8, 2012


      Starting location was Cody, Wyoming where we woke up and left to head toward the Nebraska panhandle.  This was our prime location for chasing since the SPC gave it a five percent chance of producing a tornado. Our destination was 6 hours from where we started in Wyoming.
                Storms began firing around 12 p.m. Mountain Time in eastern portions of Wyoming.  A watch was issued fairly early in the day.  By the time we reached Nebraska around 2 p.m. Mountain Time storms were really starting to fire. The first tornado warning was issued around 3 p.m. location was Platte co. Wyoming. Originally we were headed toward this storm until a second storm formed just south east of the warned storm. This storm showed signs of progression and strengthening. The team decided to go ahead and chase after the developing storm; however this storm slowly died out. Our next step was to figure out how to get back to the original storm. We headed west and then back north toward this monster storm with TVS and strong shear. As we started heading north a new storm started to develop, we were sure to core punch this storm before it decided to intensify. This storm grew quickly and started to show rotation, TVS was indicated. We followed this storm for most of the evening, not letting us down completely; the storm dropped a brief tornado and had great structure. The mesocyclone was well developed and the wall cloud was very easy to see.  Scud was moving into the storm showing signs of strong inflow. This storm never did drop a tornado after the first brief touch down, but it kept its structure very well. After a while, the entire meso was rotating and became rain wrapped.
                Soon after we gave up on following storm, we noticed rotation on another cell just east of that storm. Two mesocylones were very prevalent and we positioned ourselves in the middle of the two. This was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. As we headed out of the super cells we drove straight into the storm that spun a brief tornado. The mesocyclone was positioned right above us and the clouds were still rotating.
                Storm reports from the SPC indicated hail up to four inches and a major tornado. This tornado was not yet rated. As we continued throughout our evening we headed toward Cheyenne, Wyoming for dinner where I witnessed some of the most impressive lightning. Then to Casper, Wyoming; on our way we saw slight damage and hail which had gathered on the side of the road. Storms will continue throughout the evening in the southeastern portion of Wyoming.


    Starting in Rapid City, South Dakota we left around 7:30 a.m. Mountain time. Our forecast showed a slight chance for severe weather in mid parts of Montana, with a 5 percent chance of tornadoes according to the SPC. Construction made it hard for us to make good timing for initiation.

    Traveling into Wyoming we were welcomed with a herd of cattle and their ranchers. Wyoming is very vacant, mostly open territory with a very low population. Indian reserves were common. Most Indians now open up casinos and other attractions to help with their towns.

     Coming close to Montana, a sever thunderstorm watch was issued for the southern portion. Storms soon began to fire into intense super cells, and we were in the perfect location just west of Billings. The first storm we were chasing was decent and had small amounts of shear, allowing it to have good structure. However, a new storm formed to the north of us and began to grow with great shear. This storm hit White Sulfur Springs. This storm dropped one weak tornado, however we didn't witness it; we saw small amounts of damage coming into the outskirts of the town.

      More storms began to fire around us and before we knew it, we were stuck between 3 super cells. The first storm we were tracking had since grown into a fantastic cell. The shear readings were close to 80 and you could actually see the storm on radar rotating. Chasing this storm was down right impossible! Our road connections were limited and we were located in mountainous terrain.

      We decided it was far too dangerous to chase this monster. We needed to focus more on how we were going to get out of the situation we put ourselves in. Wind, rain, and hail made it almost impossible to see especially in the mountains.

      To end the day we came to conclusion that we really had no chance of getting to chase the original cell. The road network was a mess. We instead headed to Great Falls, Montana where we ate dinner and spent the night.

       As we got to the hotel more storms were training over Great Falls. A few had shear indicators and one with a TVS indicator. Lightning was also a dangerous contributor to the storms. God sure knows how to put on a show!