• Sun, 13 Jun 2021 15:53:00 +0000

    May 16, 2021: West Texas Supercell Stunner

    Andrew, Alex, and I drove all night from central Illinois to Lubbock, Texas in hopes of a couple days of good storm chasing on or near the Llano Estacado.  We left Canton around 8:30, picked up Alex at 9:30 at the Macomb Amtrak station, and made it to Lubbock around lunch time.

    After lunch at Torchy's, we killed time at a park in Lubbock with Alex Goldstein, Kevin Bente, and Isaac Schluesche.  By 6 p.m., there were two areas that caught our interest.  The first, to our northwest, seemed rather disorganized and not particularly vigorous.  The second, to our south, seemed like the right meteorological play given the strong convergence and backed low level flow in the vicinity of the dryline bulge.

    By the time we got to Lamesa, our area hadn't really taken off yet (and was moving farther and farther away).  The area to the north, though, had finally congealed into one supercell thunderstorm and looked like it had the best chance to produce a tornado.  We indeed missed a tornado — brief, but a true stunner, and it was a difficult pill to swallow.  Between Lamesa and Big Spring, we finally made the decision to turn around and get back north to that storm, knowing that we'd get to it close to sunset and still had some hope for another tornado.

    It didn't produce another tornado, but I don't think we could've been prepared for what we would see.  This low-precipitation (LP) supercell spun across the expansive skies of the Llano Estacado so slowly that we didn't move for over 90 minutes, and other than the coyotes in the distance, the birds nearby, and the occasional pair of headlights drifting across the horizon, we had the spot to ourselves.  A true rarity on the Plains in primetime, especially with a storm of this caliber.

    Video above, and a few still photos below:

  • Wed, 01 Jun 2016 22:36:00 +0000

    Just a quick post here to remind myself of an underwhelming couple of days chasing.  Took a trip to Kansas with Mark Sefried and Jarrod Cook on Thurs., May 26 for an enhanced/moderate risk day.  Up until the 0z runs the night before, the day screamed "incredible potential."  But with the 0z runs and throughout the day, it was painfully obvious that, despite the crazily favorable environment, too much forcing early in the day would cause way too many storms to form.

    A combination of a poorly timed low-level jet arrival, some veer-back-veer in the wind fields, an increasingly diffuse warm front, and the aforementioned convective overpopulation (leading to storms choking on their own outflow the whole day) led to storms that only occasionally displayed supercellular characteristics.  Originally, we played near that warm front, thinking that it would serve as the boundary where low-level helicity would be maximized (thus creating a more conducive environment for tornadoes), but, as the warm front mixed out more and more, we dropped south to the Wichita area.  This area had been relatively untouched from the day's convection, and we hoped that outflow boundaries would kick off more convection with the LLJ kicking in.

    We played with a couple supercells in the Newton area, both showing some broad rotation, and found 1.5-1.75" hail in the core of the left split (image below).  After one more play with the outflow boundary, we found some barbecue in Wichita and called it a night.

    On Friday, we decided that getting home was more appealing than the chase opportunity in the area, but we did stop in Kansas City for some BBQ (Joe's) and to tour the Boulevard Brewery.  Both excellent choices.  As we drifted home on US36, we spotted a funnel cloud (near Gallatin, MO) along an outflow boundary -- what many would refer to as a "cold air funnel" and the type that has produced several landspouts across OK, CO, NE and MO this week.  This led to finding a couple others with convection along that boundary (including one that extended close to halfway to the ground), and, ultimately, a storm that became a full-fledged supercell for about 45 minutes between Trenton and Princeton, MO.  We documented this storm, which exhibited good supercellular structure, until it died in outflow, and then we finished the drive home.

    Following my Saturday commitment, I stood out on Bob Ems Field in Canton, enjoying a great lightning show and one of the better mammatus shows I'd seen, as outflow-dominant multicells took over the eastern sky about 20 miles to the east, with the mammatus floating directly overhead.  With the setting sun, this made for some great lighting, and, though low-level clouds took away some of the photogenic qualities of the lightning, it was a great way to spend two hours.  If only those storms were 5-10 miles further west -- or if the sun had gone down just a bit earlier.

    Now, unfortunately, this means I have to process some images.  Some previews (iPhone pictures of the T3i display) are embedded.

    It always seems like it's tough to get two good days in a row with one trough; let alone three.  Scheduling conflicts kept me away from the Plains for Tuesday and Wednesday, surely a couple of the crazier days of the year.  But we all had Thursday and Friday off, so it was worth the trip, even given our concerns, which ultimately came to fruition.

    Rumor has it that a ridge that is currently dominating the Plains/Midwest will break down somewhere in the area of about 10 days from now.  Supposedly there's a jet waiting off the Pacific Coast.  I fully expect that the middle and latter parts of June will be pretty exciting, storm-wise.

  • Thu, 31 Mar 2016 19:24:00 +0000


    It's been roughly four years since I had a website.  Maybe more.  And without Brendon Bauman, a good friend and a very talented photographer, web designer and all around e-handyman, it probably would have been many more years.

    On this particular page, you'll find site updates, words to go along with photos (I have the best words), storm chasing accounts (when I feel like doing them), and, occasionally, ranting and raving.

    Welcome to my little corner of the Internets.  We'll see how this goes.