Tour 3, 2018! Fire, Rain and Wind!
Tour 3 - 2018 experienced some crazy and unusual weather! Extreme drought conditions and severe weather can do some pretty interesting things! On this tour, we traveled across Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. From a fire initiated supercell to a 265-mile long hail storm to insane straight line winds in Texas there was no lack of excitement and fun!
Tour 3 viewing a powerful Mesoscale Convective System in West Texas
Our first day brought us to the Texas Panhandle, there was only a slim chance for severe weather due to capping issues (Area of warm air above the surface that can prevent storms from developing.) but we are here to see severe weather even if the chance is slim we go after it. Little did we know that the cap would be broken by the help of a massive wildfire and a supercell storm would be born! An extremely rare meteorological event!
The intense heat from the wildlife causes rapid pyrocumulus development.
Closer view of the Goodnight, TX wildfire and now developing supercell base.
Tour 3 Guests and appropriate "Burn Ban In Effect" sign with storm and wildfire!
The storm eventually moved away from the wildfire and was sustaining on its own without the help of the wildfire. We stayed mainly the core of the storm and intercepted hail up to the size of quarters. Unfortunately, the storm also had a lot of cloud to ground lightning strikes and because of the dry conditions, it started another wildfire. We watched and documented the fire as first responders came in to battle the flames. They were very nice and allowed us to stay close to watch as we made sure to stay clear out of their way.
New fire started by the storm that was born to life by a fire. The circle of life.
The next day we chased in Texas Panhandle again and observed a high based supercell. Due to the extremely dry conditions, moisture had a hard time establishing itself. So surface based storms and tornado chances were zero. But mother nature still gave us a beautiful sunset backlit supercell!
Quail, TX Supercell
The following day it was time to celebrate Mother's Day at The Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas. All you can eat prime rib! Wooo! LOL! None of us left hungry!
After lunch, we quickly headed North East to get ready for the day's chase. Another sloppy looking set up with moisture being an issue, but not as bad as previous days. More Texas Panhandle chasing! A few tornado warnings were issued but storms really had trouble maintaining storm mode. Still a great day of chasing with some intense moments, such as the tour van almost being struck by lightning!
Severe storm near Higgins, TX
Monday, May 14th we had a bit of a drive ahead of us and targeted Colorado! So we left early and headed northwest to the rolling plains of eastern Colorado!
The set up didn't look too bad as there was ample moisture and upslope flow for a Colorado set up. As we arrived, the storm was just severe warned and from there we would chase the monster supercell from nearly east of Denver into SW Kansas! A very long tracked storm!
Looking due west at the HP supercell northwest of Limon, Colorado.
Image below shows the hail swath the storm produced! An incredible 265 miles!
From Kansas, we would depart the next Morning to Tucumcari, New Mexico for what would be an EPIC day of chasing! We got on a Tornado warned Supercell shortly after we arrived and would chase all the way into western Texas as the storms grew upscale into a large and powerful MCS that produced several tornado warnings and gave us one incredible show! We experienced large hail, damaging winds, and great structure!
Tucumcari, NM supercell
As we followed the storm system to the east into Texas it became beastly as it encountered better moisture and larger CAPE.
Screen shot from the dash cam of the shelf and powerful winds associated with. Note dust under the shelf cloud.
We took shelter under a massive cement grain elevator to let the storm run us over! While watching we experienced a huge wind shift with airborne debris! Possible embedded tornado! Things got a bit intense and everyone got back into the van after I shouted for everyone to "Get Back!" Adrenaline was running high! Woo!
Roof ripped off right across the street from grain elevator.
Once the storm passed we headed out to explore the town to see if there was any more damage. The view at sunset was beautiful! One of the best displays of mammatus we have ever seen.
The final day of the tour we decided to head out to Colorado. It ended up being a bust and not much happening! So we drove back to Oklahoma City for the evening and wrapped a wonderful tour with our amazing guests!
A really great tour all around! It was a slow week in Tornado Alley for tornadoes but we experienced the best storms each day that was out there!