2020 Storm Chasing Highlights

As we all know, 2020 has been the year of challenges. We did what we could with the cards we were dealt and here are the highlights from this season!

Beastly classic supercell near Stratford, Oklahoma, May 4, 2020.

March.

Early storm season came in like a lion in 2020! My wife and I went out and chased a weak warm front in North Central, Texas. I figured there was a chance of a tornado or two with any storm that could interact with the warm front and that would be proven to be true! Just north of Throckmorton, TX we experienced a low contrast, short-lived cone tornado on a weak supercell as it crossed over the boundary. Not the greatest tornado in the world, but our first chase and our first tornado of the year! March 17, 2020.

Tornado just north of Throckmorton, Texas.

The following day we chased in Central, Texas and experienced a beautiful tornado warned supercell near Baird, Texas. Though it might have produced a weak short lived tornado, I could not confirm ground contact due to the terrain blocking my view.

Baird, Texas, Tornado Warned Supercell.

April.

April would bring us one of the best tornado days of 2020. On April 22 we experienced a severe weather outbreak not far from our home! This chase would have taken place during Tour 1 - Epic April but unfortunately, like many of our tours, it did not operate due to the pandemic. We observed a couple of nice tornadoes on this day, one of which was long-lived and rated an EF2.

Springer, Oklahoma tornado with bowtie vortices

May.

May was really quiet, like really quiet. We had a few good chases and one brief tornado. We did what we could! Our tours were still not operating so just chasing on our personal time making the best of things. Here are our experiences in May.

Powerful large hail producing supercell near Seymour, TX May 7, 2020.

Tornado Warned Supercell near Purcell, Oklahoma, May 4th, 2020.

Burkburnett, Texas Tornado - This storm also produced hail over 5 inches that punched through roofs and entering some homes.

July

We finally get to run a tour! Tour 8 was the only tour that we operated during 2020! This tour broke the record for the most miles driven during a single tour. Over 6,000 miles in 10 days. It was a ton of driving even for tour standards, but we were on the hunt, and with this being the only tour of the year for us we were hungry and ready to hunt tornadoes and supercells. This was a very visually appealing tour On the way up to Rapid City, South Dakota for the start of the tour we picked up one of the guests along the way in Oklahoma City. We arrived a day early in case there would be some bonus chasing for us guides and one guest. We hit it off right with a tornado near the Wyoming/Montana border the day before the rest of the guests arrived. Unfortunately, that would be the only tornado for this trip but the supercells, amazing structure, lightning, and hail were not! We chased most of the 10 days having spent them in some states we normally don't visit during Tour 8. All states visited, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. Let's take a look at the goods on this trip!

Guide Adam Lucio captured the distant tornado in the roadless expanses of NE Wyoming and SE Montana. July 6, 2020. Two consecutive years of seeing tornadoes in Wyoming on July 6th.

Incredible Supercell SE of Rapid City, SD on July 6th.

Stunning shelf cloud over the famous Sturgis, SD.

Monster HP Supercell near Thedford, Nebraska.

Textbook classic supercell structure with wall cloud nearing the Badlands of South Dakota.

Transient supercell structure near the Colorado/Nebraska border! A marginal day that produced a couple of powerful severe storms!

Transient supercell was a lightning producing machine! We snagged a few different bolts off this one. This being my best.

The final scene of our 2020 chase season in the plains of South Dakota on the way back to Rapid City to depart the tour.

Conclusion.

2020 will go down in the book as the year of challenges. It was one of the slowest plains tornado seasons on record in the USA, pandemic, travel bans, closures, and the list goes on. Though we were not able to operate most of our tours we did get to operate one safely and responsibly. If we were to learn anything about this year it would be to never take anything for granted. Live each day to the fullest and play the cards at hand the best to your ability. Onward to 2021!

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