The Storms of 2016

086

Some images and brief commentary on storms from both of our trips to the plains.  The first trip was characterized by murky daily forecast challenges which produced fairly consistent threats of severe weather, but less-than-ideal set-ups for tornadoes.  The second trip followed a long haul from Texas north to South Dakota in search of storms as the weather pattern transitioned into summer.  Both crews were fantastic companions on the road, and I truly enjoyed my time with everyone.

So, here we go:

storm5

Storm north of I-10 in Southwest Texas.  We made a long haul from Blacksburg to Texarkana (900+ miles) for the first night, and then a second long day to intercept this storm on day 2.

mesa2

The view across the Raton Mesa region on the Colorado/New Mexico border:  stunning views with dramatic storms rising over the high terrain.  We set a Hokiestorm elevation record on an actual chase day:  8400′ or so high atop the mesas.

022

After bailing off of storms on the high mesas, we traveled north into Colorado…storms were winding down at this point, but no one really noticed with this spectacular landscape unfolding on our northward heading.

027

Samantha Wright’s hair provides a clue as to what is unfolding in this scene:  air races inward toward an organizing wall cloud.  Strong inflow winds combined with persistent rotation increase the odds that a tornado will develop from the wall cloud.  It did.

leotitornado3

Alex Thornton’s photo of the tornado from the Leoti Kansas supercell.  This was as close to an ideal chase day as one could hope for:  a spectacular storm, a good road network for a close intercept, and uncrowded roads.

Storm Chase Day 06

Trevor White’s photo of the Leoti storm, including incredible lightning displays along with classic supercell structure, in a remote location with little damage potential.  What more could one ask for?

040

Closing in on the Leoti storm shortly after the tornado.  Inflow winds were so strong at this point it was difficult to stand at times, let alone take pictures!

048

A lowering sun provided spectacular back-lit conditions on the Leoti storm toward sunset.  Here, Anne Gale scans a wall cloud in the evening light.

049

Michael Krise, Kerrie Simmons, and Samantha Wright monitor the Leoti storm at sunset.

059

The explosive updraft of a Texas Panhandle storm.  This storm produced a brief tornado that picked up a tractor-trailor on Interstate 40 and deposited it in the median.

069

Early in the game on the Dodge City supercell.  Here, one of the earliest Virginia Tech storm chasers Seth Price (N3MRA) and WFXR’s Taylor Kanost who joined us for a story watch the early development of the wall cloud south of Dodge City Kansas.

080

One in a series of tornadoes touches down just northwest of our position.  Crew members look on as it tracks northward.

Storm Chase Day 09

Yet another tornado from the Dodge City supercell.  This particular tornado stayed on the ground for a very long time, and was still churning across the open country while two others touched down…three vigorous tornadoes on the ground at the same time.

dodgetornado

Another view of the tornado, taken by Trevor White.  Hard to believe something so beautiful could be so destructive.

dodgetornado1

The tornado that refuses to dissipate, and another forms under the new/eastern side of the wall cloud.  Photo by Trevor White.

sethwallcloud

Seth Price’s photo of the menacing, ground-scraping wall cloud just south of Dodge City.  Note the circulation under the left-hand side of the cloud:  a tornado is already occurring, and would grow to be a large, multi-vortex storm.  A tornado emergency was issued for Dodge City Kansas based on this storm.dodgeemergency

dodgetornado

The Dodge City multi-vortex tornado.  Fortunately, it passed west of the main part of town, producing damage only on the outskirts of the city.

014

An intensifying small-scale line in South Dakota begins to produce a photogenic shelf cloud.

026

Shawn Rosenthal clips a quick photo as the storm closes in on Eagle Butte SD.  We played tag with this across the state of South Dakota.sdradar2

The small white circle shows our position ahead of the new, severe-warned bow echo.  We were able to stay ahead of the system as we headed eastbound.  A few places ended in close calls as road work and changes in direction allowed the bow echo to close in on our position.

sdbowecho

The view out of the van window at the time of the radar image above.  After a record-setting (fast!) gas stop followed by a southward turn in the road the bow nearly caught us, but we turned eastbound again and gained ground on the storm after that.

036

Caitlyn Stone checks out yet another approaching shelf cloud in southern Minnesota, as once again we were attempting to stay ahead of a storm the following day.  We spent much of this chase in the whale’s mouth just behind an advancing shelf cloud.

038

One last picture as the shelf cloud races overhead, followed by strong outflow winds.  We would play tag with remnants of this system all the way back to Virginia.  In the end, our crew logged nearly 11,000 miles over the course of the two trips, intercepted dramatic storms both tornadic and non-tornadic, and witnessed miles of spectacular scenery throughout the Great Plains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s