Author Topic: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley  (Read 12158 times)

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Offline Macca

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May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« on: 17 May 2007, 09:33:22 PM »
Hi all,

Currently sitting in Sidney, NE (4,100ft ASL). Slightly more interesting day today than yesterday. Weak "backdoor" front (haha) drifting S from the NE/SD border towards the three state corner region of NE/CO/WY. Moisture is pretty limited but should increase a little throughout today and tomorrow along the front range east of the Rockies.

We are probably going to play with the north east Colorado area today (and maybe again tomorrow). There is actually *some* shear here today with low level easterlies forecast to develop during the day today (ahead of the front) and we are sitting on the southern edge of the NW'ly flow on the back end of the upper trough sitting over the Great Lakes region which is giving us about 25knts in the mid levels. It should be enough to push storms off the ranges at least.

Macca & Chris (& Jimmy, Brad, Esa & Andrej).

Offline Macca

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #1 on: 18 May 2007, 10:21:19 AM »
Hi all,

We stayed around Sidney for much of the afternoon as Cu and very shallow Cb's developed in the vicinity.  After a while we got bored and went to move to another line of activity to our SE.  We made it about 15mi before it started to look crap so stopped and threw the ball around for a while. 

After 30 minutes or so of this, we noticed a very nice cluster of cells about 80mi to our east in west central Nebraska so we made the quick call to book it east on I-80 to North Platte to get close to this action.  These cells were clearly much better than anything we'd seen all day so we were keen to get on them (although we knew they would be high based with DP's in the mid to high 40's throughout the area). 

Various cells developed along the frontal boundary (the "backdoor" one) and there were some reports of hail to 2cm from these cells.  We eventally got close enough to these storms just as they weakened near McCook in south western Nebraska.  We checked into a motel here in McCook and were planning on heading out of town for sunset although one last storm to our NW (moving SE towards us) had our interest.  But this wasn't to be the only show.  A small cell developed right over McCook and put out some flashes and rumbles on sunset.  After the rain from this close cell moved on, we packed out camera gear and headed just S of town to shoot the cell coming in from the NW.  It picked up in intensity nicely just as we set up and it put out some nice (but fairly infrequent) CG's and CC's.  Photogenic nonetheless.

Pics from today here...

http://macca.bsch.au.com/gallery/20070516

Models are still a bit unclear as to the position or intensity of the next upper trough although it does seem to be a central/high plains event.  The latest GFS run shows chaseable set ups for almost the entire outlook period, however, the best shear sits quite a way north.  EC also has chaseable action for most of the outlook period as well, however, I think it digs the upper trough a little deeper into the plains, dragging the better shear slightly further S (into N Kansas/S Nebraska).  The next 2 days should provide a better idea as to how this system is going to pan out early-mid next week.

Tomorrow is slightly similar to today with more front range/high plains action from New Mexico right up through Colorado and Wyoming.  Find some moisture pooling, find some hills, find a good view and watch the storms.  Steering flow is a bit more slack tomorrow than today which means storms may struggle a bit to get off the range but we'll see what surprises it can throw at us.  Moisture levels should be slightly higher too which will help the situation.

Macca & Chris

Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #2 on: 18 May 2007, 10:24:46 AM »
Hi,

We chased after a storm that headed south through North Platte, Nebraska but weakened. Other storms developed and gave out some interesting though not frequent lightning activity. These storms coincided with reasonable cold air aloft and wind shear. Macca has an excellent desciption above. Some pics:




Full set of pics available here:
http://australiasevereweather.com/photography/photos/2007/jd20070516.html

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
« Last Edit: 19 May 2007, 01:51:34 AM by Michael Bath »
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Offline Macca

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #3 on: 19 May 2007, 10:16:17 AM »
Hi all,

We are currently in Lusk, Wyoming.  We planned to chase the front range today, however, upper level ridging was stronger today than yesterday and moisture increases were only evident in south western South Dakota (more on that area later...).

We drove from McCook, Nebraska westwards into Colorado to Fort Morgan and then turned north to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  There were several weak looking high based storms along the ranges to our west and we also suffered from anvil junk for much of the day.  When we were 30mi S of Cheyenne, a cell which was about 40mi N of Cheyenne became tornado warned.  We later learned it produced a probable landspout just west of the highway we would drive along just an hour later.  Who would've thought...

We had plans of possibly making the trek to Yellowstone National Park in far north western Wyoming tomorrow but we decided against this when we worked out that we would really only get 1/2 day there which wasn't nearly enough time to see what the place has to offer.  We then decided we would pay a visit to the Badlands in South Dakota tomorrow instead.   

So we headed for Douglas (about 100mi N of Cheyenne) and we see these storms firing in SW South Dakota...interesting.  Turns out the DP's increased to the low 50's in this area today on the nose of the LLJ pushing into the region.  Also turns out one of these cells dropped golf ball hail with some baseball hail in there too....BUGGER!  Hehe.  Can't be everywhere I suppose.

We had quite a lot of trouble getting accommodation  in this area thanks to a state "track" meet in Casper.  All towns within 40mi of there were fully booked so we had to make a dash for Lusk (50mi east of Douglas).  Turns out this place is quite nice...one of the better places we've stayed.   Anyways...so we are heading to the Badlands tomorrow for some scenery and maybe the odd storm or two before targeting southern Montana for Saturday.  Sunday looks to be in the eastern Wyoming/western South Dakota area and after that, things get a bit vague. 

Macca & Chris (still with Jimmy, Brad, Andrej & Esa).

Offline nzstorm

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #4 on: 19 May 2007, 05:54:23 PM »

Heading north ATM, current position OK panhandle.  Visited the new NWS facility in Norman yesterday, worth a visit in a ridge.

Our postion is normaly available here as long as we have internet coverage. Our name is Willoughby.

http://www.spotternetwork.org/google.php
 
Steven Williams
Storm Chaser

Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #5 on: 19 May 2007, 07:02:35 PM »
Hi,

Yes this accommodation at Lusk is one of the better accommodations we stayed at with lots of space - not packed in like a Sardine can:) Thanks for arranging that Macca.

Finally systems are coming through with some decent flow. If my eyes are not playing tricks on me (based on current GFS data), I like the region in central northern Montana for tomorrow (Saturday) and then heading east and south east with subsequent storms. Montana is a large state so staying at Billings may be a good idea tonight but we shall see what others think and what the latest models suggest at the accommodation decision time.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
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Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #6 on: 21 May 2007, 01:17:45 AM »
Hi all,

After leaving Lusk, Wyoming, we went for a little drive through the Black Hills. A few high based storms developed near and over the Black Hills, extreme SW South Dakota. More of an incentive to drive through. I musy say - very picturesque not the storms of course. So we left this region to check out the Devils Tower. An explosive updraft developed to our east - great timelapse potential.

Finally a great visit to the Devil's Tower, extreme NE Wyoming with some impressive picture opportunities including an American Indian singing (worshiping) at the base. Good to see technolgy spreading through with us catching up with the same American Indian on a cell phone!

Our next destination was Sheridan Wyoming - well who said there was a time table. We set up for some high based very weak storm lightning. But as evening approached, so did the lightning. It went crazy - well not in frequency but character. Say no more!

We almost found ourselves without accommodation but the magic from Macca did it once again!

Explosive updraft north east of Sundance


Devil's Tower - very impressive


American Indian in his ritual


The lightning show


Here is the whole collection from the night:

http://australiansevereweather.com.au/photography/photos/2007/jd20070518.html

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
« Last Edit: 21 May 2007, 08:42:31 PM by Jimmy Deguara »
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Offline Macca

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Re: May 16 - 18, 2007 - Tornado Alley
« Reply #7 on: 22 May 2007, 07:40:53 PM »
I have a few minutes to catch up on some pics, etc from the last few days...

As Jimmy mentioned, on Friday we watched some high based storms pop up on the Black Hills in SW South Dakota and we took a drive through the very picturesque Black Hills Forest.  With little in the way of "real" targets, we payed a visit to Devils Tower but on the way we were interrupted by an explosive updraft way off to our NE which was fairly awesome. 

Devils Tower is another of the amazing formations  (which they seem to have a lot of here in the US) located in north eastern Wyoming.  We spent over an hour here and we were fortunate enough to be able to hear a native Indian chanting (or whatever it was) which made for quite a surreal scene with the Devil's Tower in the background. 

We planned on driving to Sheridan but as Jimmy also mentioned, we stopped to take photos of the sunset and some high based storms which had some infrequent lightning.  But as darkness approached, a cell to our NW went rather beserk giving us a South Australian-like lightning show.  This boosted the spirits of all the chasers as the past few days had been rather benign.

Here is a sample of just a few pics from this day...

http://macca.bsch.au.com/gallery/20070518

Macca & Chris