What can I say? I love Colorado. Not only is the landscape breathtaking, the allure of high plains storms captivates me, too. The Palmer Divide is to blame as it results in a natural phenomenon that produces rotating storms almost continuously, under the right circumstances.
This was my first time doing a high plains chase and I was mesmerized by everything but the Verizon LGE data network. haha.
Colorado Tornado Warned Supercell Storm near KDEN
I thoroughly enjoyed (and look forward to many return trips throughout the rest of my years) the isolated Colorado scenery. In some places, you could see for as long as the Earths curvature would allow you. In the midst of that expanse I stood. Surrounded by the natural world. The only man made thing able to be seen was the road I was travelling. In some cases, I even stepped off the paved roadways to venture down dead end gravel/sand roads only to find myself staring into the “Land of Color”.
Colorado Tornado Warned Supercell Thunderstorm near Denver
Once the storms got going, I positioned near humanity, a.k.a The Denver International Airport (KDEN for you avgeeks..haha). On the first day, May 21st, 2014, I would watch a beautiful (on radar) supercell develop. Looking at the storm, it was an HP supercell not long after it formed. However, the entire storm was rotating very quickly and it was easily observable with the naked eye.
Tornado Warned Colorado Storm
The second day, due to the lackluster upper air support, storms fired. Although they were very nice to look at, they were anything but impressive. After following them for a while and witnessing some great hail, danger close lightning strikes, and beautiful storm cloud covered Colorado scenery, I decided to head back east.
Lackluster Colorado Storm is still a beauty
I ended up catching a small line of storms near Burlington, CO that were putting on quite the lightning show. Of course, I stopped to photograph what I could and was able to snag a few great lightning photographs. I did use the Nero Trigger (the latest model that they have) and it performed flawlessly. I captured numerous lightning bolts but only a few bolts were actually close enough to make a good lightning photograph.
Kanorado, KS Lightning Photography
Kansas Lightning Photography
I am home now and already missing the high plains. I can’t wait for the next time the winds blow just right and allow for another visit to my new favorite state!
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
I went storm chasing and I didn’t see much today. In fact, I probably would have seen more by staying home. However, it is that time of year to take to the open roads in search of storms. So, I went. I intercepted a huge gustnado. Total fun but now the inside of my car needs a bath. Then I shot this:
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Fall is definitely here in Missouri. The fall colors in the deciduous trees are going crazy! While we do have the autumnal coloring annually, it has been a fairly long time since we have had colors this vibrant.
Here is a taste of what is in store should you decide to venture out and take a look for yourself. You’d better make it quick, though. These colors are already fading fast and it wont be long until the leaves are on the ground being buried by the snow.
Feel free to leave a comment and share this with anyone that you would like.
This was the most spectacular and insane storm that I had ever witnessed with my own two eyes! June 14, 2013 near West Point, Nebraska.
This was a typical triple point play, in terms of storm chasing. I targeted about 15 miles south and east of Norfolk, NE. As the day progressed, I watched my target area with vigor. Everything was coming together nicely. As I drove north towards West Point, NE after fueling up in Blair, I could start to see the puffy towering cumulus informing me that initiation had taken place. About 30 minutes later I could start to see the mesocyclone that had developed. To my surprise and amazement, it was the best looking storm I had ever seen in my life. It looked like a stack of pancakes just moving across the Nebraska plains. Honestly, I was suddenly hungry……..and for pancakes, too!!!
The West Point, NE Supercell
Looking west on hwy 32 about 3 miles w of West Point, NE on June 14, 2013.
A little closer now, on Hwy 32 w of West Point, NE. 6.14.2013
This chase was fairly difficult as I could not keep a good mobile internet signal going. So, I resorted back to the basics. I stuck with my target area and pushed to get there. I watched the clouds and how the wind was blowing across the fields and adjusted my target as was needed. Finally, my mind was blown away after watching the storm initiate and mature into this amazing structure. Below is the video that I shot from this chase.
Yesterday, around the Kansas City metro area, we finally got some much needed rain. Severe thunderstorms developed in a north-south oriented line from Omaha down to just west of KC. Surprisingly, a few miles to the west of Omaha, one of the storms was capable of producing funnel clouds and even a brief stretched rope tornado! As the storms continued to form, the started moving east. Copious amounts of rain fell and even some reports of damaging winds in excess of 60mph that caused a lot of tree branches to fall. As the storms rained themselves out and moved out of the area, the locals were treated with a beautiful parting gift. The sunlit back side of the rain shower was illuminated, and with it, a massive and colorful double rainbow.
A beautiful rainbow admired as storms moved away from Kansas City
The image above has been added to the Storm Chasing limited edition photography gallery and can be added to your collection. Each image is limited to 300 prints to maintain exclusivity. Check it out!!!!
Tonights beautiful display of lightning was prompted by an MCS that made its way out of south-central Nebraska and pushed a fairly windy and strong gust front ahead of it. This gust front (or outflow boundary) was the triggering mechanism needed to get a few summertime pop-up CB’s (cumulonimus a.k.a thunderstorm clouds). Along with these high based storms were strong winds, hail up to an inch and a half, and a great display of lightning throughout most of the evening. The storms were so close to home that I could not resist the temptation to play in the rain just so that should the rain evaporate and not make it here, at least I will have been in some rain. The problem that the storms had tonight was that warm temps aloft created a fairly strong cap and once the outflow boundary moved away from the storms that it sent upwards, they had no more lifting force to sustain them. The bases of the storm were nearly 10,000ft above ground, so they were also limited to a narrow corridor of moisture up above. Nevertheless, most of the areas in and around northwest Missouri received some much welcomed and even more needed rains and we were also treated to a great electrical display in the sky. Happy 4th of July, everyone. Enjoy the photographs.
Print can be purchased in the “Lightning Stills” gallery.
Print can be purchased in the “Lightning Stills” gallery.
Print can be purchased in the “Lightning Stills” gallery.
It was a long drive that seemed to fly by as I drove up. A triple point setup was in the making and I was targeting an area between Aberdeen and Watertown, SD. Storms fired around 5:00pm CDT and exploded upwards. From initiation to tornado warned, it had to have been less than one hour. The parameters were looking good, the gas tank was full, and I was in position.
Starting to anvil out.
The first storm was to the north and west of my position so I decided to make a move. The storms had fired along the warm front, but also along a line that went from my NE to the SW. I figured I would get to the first storm and then just keep moving into positions on the southern storms as they went by. This ended up up not happening for a multitude of reasons, the main one being detours from road construction. The first storm I was on had already been tornado warned due to circulation. There were not any reports of confirmed tornadoes, yet, either. The structure on the storm was fairly amazing as it grew into a high precipitation monster. At some points, the rain was so heavy and the sky so dark, I was not able to see more than 10-20ft in front of me.
East of Britton, SD
Since the rotation on the Britton cell started to weaken, I opted to move to the next storm down the line. The lead me just south of Sisseton, SD. This was a very interesting scene. There were three individual mesocyclones, each with tail clouds and strong inflows. Two of these wall clouds (and developing funnels) can be seen in the video from this chase. I was aware that I was sitting under one of the meso’s but knew I would be fine as the stronger inflow winds were directed at the developing funnel just to my west. The cloud motions were so intense. This was truly a monster. The wall cloud further to my west tried to produce a funnel/tornado as the funnel nearest me dissipated. The RFD provided a nice rain curtain the the further east wall cloud and eventually was out of sight forcing me to reposition back north a few miles to see behind the rain. A nice wall cloud still, however, no tornado.
South of Sisseton, SD.
As the storm overtook me, I headed further south. I ended up getting stuck in the extreme rainfall due to a detour that took me in a square with no other road options to stay ahead of the storm. This did not make me happy. Being pelted by hail and torrential rain slowed my trek. I eventually made my way through and got back in front of the storm where I stayed with it it made it’s way towards Ortonville, MN.
I approached the towns of Big Stone City, SD and Ortonville, MN, which was right across the bridge. I started noticing some rapid movement in the clouds, followed by an increasing inflow wind. Shortly after that, while driving south on the highway that led into Big Stone City, I could see what appeared to be strong RFD winds moving from the west to east. Then, I noticed a spot on the ground, right where the RFD and inflow seemed to be aiming. There was something there, it seemed to be rotating, and it was on the ground. There was no clear funnel that I could make out, due to the high amounts of rain, but that was about to change.
I started making out a faint funnel shape in the clouds almost directly over the stuff spinning on the ground. Sure enough, there was a nice funnel that was forming right in front of me. I make the comment in the video that it crossed the road right in front of me, not saying it was close, but saying that, literally, it was directly in front of me and heading straight into Big Stone City/Ortonville. As it crossed the road, you could see a power flash in town, followed by very strong RFD winds. The winds, I will add, were not strong enough to push over my brick shaped Xterra, although I am sure helped with some of the damage in town. The storm was tornado warned. The public reported a tornado. Law enforcement also reported a tornado, as well. As I drove through the town, there was damage and debris all over the place. Power lines were down, trees and been pushed over and up rooted, the tops of some of the trees had been stripped of leaves and branches, minor damage to the buildings, and all the road construction signs had been knocked down making it difficult to realize the bridge was out up ahead.
After getting my bearings and doing the best I could to see if anyone needed help, a few ambulances and fire trucks rolled into town. Seeing that they are trained fro scenarios of this sort, I decided to head south and find a new way across the river. As I moved south towards Millbank, I emerged again from the heavy rains and found a beautifully shaped storm. It was impressive, to say the least.
South of Big Stone City, SD
This storm was still tornado warned but I had lost too much ground to keep up with it, so I opted to move to the next storm, which was coming out of Clear Creek at the time. That storm was heading towards me so I grabbed some dinner, refueled, and waited. It had some rotation, however, it wasn’t enough to get a tornado, so I ended up watching the storm move into the approaching darkness to my east. Once it was dark, it put on a pretty good light show that was illuminating the structure and updraft of the storm.
Overall, it was a beautiful storm and a great chase day. Below is a video of the day in summary. Also, two of the prints above are available to be purchased. They are both located in the Photography>Storm Chasing gallery. Until the next storm!!!
An impromptu chase took place today as the Storm Prediction Center issued a 5% tornado probability centered over Des Moines, IA this afternoon. After perusing through the data, I was actually pretty surprised to find that the main reason SPC issued the 5% tornado threat was due to veering winds with altitude. There was not much else for the storms to work with. Nevertheless, you won’t know unless you go. After about 365miles round trip, I got my Xterra cleaned and managed to snap a few photographs.
The willow in the storm
I thought this image was very intriguing and decided I would share it with everyone. The rest of the images had too much rain and not enough…..subject. On to the next storm, which will probably be tomorrow’s cold front play in Kansas, again.