Tour 6 - Upslope Supercells - GREAT Storm Chasing Tour!
What is up with Tour 6! The last two years this tour has given us some of the most insane storms!
Tour 6 is now ran as a 6 day tour instead of a 7 day tour. The reason is simple, I cannot miss my daughters birthday! So there is a small gap between this tour and tour seven to spend time with family and my daughter.
When everyone starts to book tours they always book tours 3, 4 and 5 before any of the others. The last TWO years we have only had ONE guest on this tour while the tours around it are booked full. The last two years we have seen tornadoes and incredible structure on tour 6. So if you are reading this please consider giving tour 6 some love, because it will likely love you back!
Jaw dropping structure over the Nebraska Sandhills - We chased 5 out of the 6 days on this tour!
This storm chasing tour arrived in Denver, Colorado. We had dinner at Ruby Tuesdays next door to our hotel to celebrate the start of the tour and to go over all the details. I mentioned to the guest that it was likely that a supercell or two would develop in North Dakota the following day and if we left really early the next morning we could make it up there. When I said we would need to leave by 5am to make it to North Dakota, there was no hesitation. He said, "We Chase!" . Chase we did!
Arriving in North Dakota the following day ( about 4pm ) we were met with growing cumulus clouds and soon they would develop into a nice high based supercell. Had the surface temps been a bit lower this storm would likely have produced a few tornadoes. Not a bad first day! After the chase we stayed the night in Jamestown, ND.
The next day was a little bit of a down day, so we used it as a travel day to explore neighboring South Dakota. There would be storms after dark in South Dakota, so we headed to the Badlands National Park to do some landscape photography and hopefully get some bonus lightning photography after sunset. Well, our wish came true! What made it even more awesome was the full moon at our backs, illuminating the Badlands!
We got back to the hotel very late at night, since we were trying so hard to capture great photography. The guest entire goal was photography and nothing was going to get in our way!
Leaving Kadoka, South Dakota the following morning the plan was to head to Wyoming to see if we could get some supercells.
The drive was a beautiful one and once we arrived in Wyoming, we waited in the small town of Chugwater, WY at a very old and very delicious Soda Fountain and Malt Shop. Chugwater has a population of 240 people, and I firmly believe most of the town was visiting the soda fountain that day! Business was booming! I enjoyed an English Toffee Malt... WOW..... One of the best I have ever had!
The Storms were taking their sweet time. I had placed us between two targets and neither was showing much promise so late into the day. Finally some convection was starting to fire over the Casper Mountain range to our North West and we would have to make a quick reposition to see if this convection was going to get it's act together. While heading that way I decided to book a room at the Ramada in Casper, WY. That ended up being perfect, as the storm we were approaching was not far away from Casper and had just gone tornado warned. The storm was not all that impressive on radar reflectivity but did show some rather decent rotation. The waiting we did was now worth it, as we were on the ONLY tornado warned storms of the day. We were also the only tornando tour company on them as well! They were not very photogenic storms and never did produce a tornado, although right at dark another storm we had to let go, due to ZERO road network to stay on it, started to look very very impressive and even showed big nice wall cloud and possible tornado, but the only ones who would be able to see it - Pronghorn Antelope or cows.
The following day was going to be the best day of the tour. What we had just experienced was an appetizer for what was shaping out to be a possible tornado outbreak - something 2017 was lacking majorly.
TORNADO DAY! What started off us a frustrating and tough day turned out to be a great day.
At the start of the day we nailed the forecast on a developing supercell, watched it go from towering cumulus cloud to full blown tornado warned supercell. It was the perfect storm, so we thought.
We stuck with it for a good while and had perfect position to a view any developing tornado - as it was rotating very hard and fast, and just when you thought it was going to drop on - it would not do it. I have never seen a storm so perfect not produce tornadoes. The next storm was developing to our south, but there was a major problem... NO ROADS to get to it - Thank you Wyoming. We finally found a long way to get to it and encountered other storms that tried to produce tornadoes. Then we finally got one! We would have liked to been closer, but when there are not many roads to choose from, it's hard to be picky!
Not perfect but we'll take it! We watched it for about 2 minutes before it dissipated.
What followed the Tornado was beautiful structure!
In all the day was GREAT, we did miss some tornadoes due to the roads not being able to get us to where we needed to be. We chased Wyoming into Nebraska for the day. Stayed the night in Ogallala, NE.
For the last chase of the tour we targeted the Nebraska Sandhills, which also has a lack of roads, but not as bad as Wyoming. Storms really would struggle trying to maintain inflow dominance. We pretty much got two separate chases out of this one day. Later afternoon we had observed nice but brief tornado warned supercells and then later after those storms had collapsed we went back to the east by Grand Island, Nebraska and chased a POWERFUL Bow echo system. While sitting a parking lot we observed a large trash dumpster get wind blown into a row of cars. That was interesting to watch.
Here is the best photo of the day for the last chase of Tour 6 - Upslope Supercells!
The very last day we casually drove back to Denver, Colorado, stopping every now and then to check out some cool or random site or tourist attraction. Once we had arrived we enjoyed a nice steak dinner at the Ruby Tuesday once more. It was a very fun tour and just because we only have one guest doesn't mean we won't work hard. A full van or one guest we are gonna chase to impress and accept nothing less. This is what we live for. I know we were both very tired once it was over though!