Tour 5 - Extreme Instability
On this particular tour laughter was essentially non stop! The first day of the tour resulted in a fairly full day of storm chasing in Kansas, and us being on the ONLY tornado warned storm of the day!
Mother nature was quite stubborn on this tour. We had plenty of instability for storms but the jet stream was largely lacking for most of the tour and a ridge of high pressure dominated most of Great Plains.
Kansas Tornado Warned Supercell.
The next day presented a chase in Colorado but moisture just didn't make it in time and so we watched struggling cumulus clouds. Afterwards we decided to spend some time in the mountains of Colorado to enjoy the mountain life for a couple a days before our next chase opportunity.
We stayed the night in Fraser, Colorado and the next morning visited several beautiful sights in the area, like Rocky Mountain National Park and Adams Falls. After our busy day of exploring we headed towards Winter Park, Colorado and grabbed a delicious dinner of Italian food.
Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park!
Our view outside of our hotel in Fraser.
Departing Winter Park we began our trek on a scenic drive through Northern Colorado into Wyoming. Traversing through Willow Creek Pass into the North Park region of Colorado eventually entering Wyoming. We were on our way to North East Wyoming to witness the beautiful and famous Devils Tower! My forecast began to narrow down a potential chase in South Dakota that I had been keeping an eye on, so we were in great position to have fun in the area while waiting on the chase day.
The guys holding our sign at Devils Tower, WY.
From Devils Tower we headed to Rapid City, South Dakota. Got our hotel booked and ate dinner at the amazing Firehouse Brewing. Delicious food and in house brewed beer. Once dinner was over we traveled through the Black Hills to visit Mount Rushmore and walk off our full stomachs!
Mount Rushmore in the evening setting.
The next day was the long anticipated chase! We set up just north of Rapid City and have a perfect view of large towering cumulus clouds exploding right in front of us. The lifting mechanism for this ongoing convection was upslope flow over the Black Hills. One thing was missing though! Upper level flow was lacking and prevented the storms to move off the Black Hills! A few storms reached severe limits but all we could was stay in place and hope they would move off into the plains. It was a good bit of a wait and we finally decided to grab lunch while keeping a close eye on our stubborn storms.
Later in the day the upper level finally arrived and kicked some potent storms off the mountain range and into the plains. Though it did not stay supercellular for very long it did transform into a beautiful MCS ( Mesoscale Convective System ). Laminar, stacked plate structure appeared right in front of us. The sun was setting quickly and combined with the overcast made good photography very difficult to do. So I apologize for the not so great photograph. We wanted to experience this storm a bit more and drove south near Hot Springs , South Dakota and rode out the storm while experiencing powerful downburst winds and some small hail. The storm was producing copious amounts of rain and low lying areas were quickly filling up.
South Dakota Severe MCS
The next morning we used the day for travel to head back towards Colorado to chase for the final day of the tour. High based marginally severe storms developed and produced some very nice sites over the rolling Colorado plains. Dinner for the final night was done at Teds Montana in Denver. They specialize in buffalo burgers. Their burgers are large, juicy and quite amazing!
Spending 7 days with these guys was nothing short of pure comedy, though the storms were not quite what we were hoping for - the fun was certainly there from beginning to end! Another one in the books for the tough 2017 storm season.