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May 3, 2020

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Violent Skies - Tour 7 - Girls Know How to Have Fun!

Tour 7 - Violent Skies 2017 is one to remember! It was our very first all ladies tour!
Three Americans and one Kiwi. This tour took us from the central plains and across the high plains.
Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico are the states where we experienced severe weather. Including one breathtaking tornado warned supercell near the front range of New Mexico!
Say hello to Tour 7!

 

The very first day of this tour took us right into Kansas! Where we experienced brief supercell like storms that were very prolific hail and lightning producers. What really stole the show was the insane mammatus clouds! We parked on the side of the road for a long time photographing the amazing display! We even took a group selfie!
A really great start to the tour!
Most tours it takes a day or two for everyone to get comfortable with one another, but on this particular storm chasing tour, it was as if we had all been friends for life!

 

      The amazing display of mammatus in Kansas!

 

After our Kansas chase over we headed towards Nebraska where the next chase was anticipated. 
The day was not looking too promising but good enough to give it a strong effort. Since we pretty much woke up that morning in our target area we would not need to drive far. With each set of new data, it looked like storms were going to hold off for a good while until closer to dark. After spending some time at a local park watching the ducks and listening to hilarious stand-up comedy by Jim Gaffigan we headed over to grab some lunch at Sin City Burgers in Grand Island, Nebraska. Lunch was quite delicious! A for sure a place to head back to if in the area! Once we had left from lunch I knew of a great place where they make pies from scratch! Down the road in Grand Island, there is Lees Family Restaurant. They have the BEST coconut cream pie you will ever eat! The servings are massive! 

 

 Tour Director Erik, happy with his pie!

After pie and coffee, it was time to get into position for the day's storm chasing activities! A short drive down the road and we in position! Not long after, towering cumulus clouds began to rise up through the atmosphere. It looked as if things would get started much earlier than expected, but that was not the case. The growing towers of cumulus simple were struggling to become the powerful storms we hoped they would become. After a bit more of waiting and closely monitoring radar and satellite observations, it looked like we need to drop south a little bit. Storms further south were not in the better environment to have the shear needed for supercells. They were more thermodynamically driven and with the lack of shear, the storms would have a harder time gaining storm-scale rotation. 

 

Upon getting to the new area the newly born storms were just barely reaching severe limits. They sure did put out one heck of a lightning show on though! As daylight became darkness the storms intensified as the low-level jet was starting to kick in. At this time storms began to show some supercell characteristics and the lightning had increased to levels that were almost unimaginable! 
A person simply could not count to two without three to five strikes taking place. It was much too dangerous to get out of the van! The storm had very impressive striated supercell structure! Like a big stack of IHOP pancakes! Though it would not stay discrete very long the storm started to grow upscale into an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System) but the structure and lightning maintained its impressive display! Everyone was so impressed and excited! An amazing two days of chasing!

 

 The beautiful storm on the Kansas, Nebraska border!