Large Hail and Severe Wind 5/20/13

The first day home after my plains chase weekend, there was a Slight Risk for severe weather posted up for areas of lower Michigan by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center). All of the ingredients were in place for thunderstorm development. It was only a matter of time before storms fired off. I waited until the afternoon hours, and one storm fired up in Muskegon, and it was on from there as an entire line of storms began developing. The line had individual cells embedded within it, and a few of those showed brief rotation as they merged and congealed into an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). Some of the cells attempted to stay more discrete, but eventually were absorbed into the MCS. It wasn’t long and my target storm became severe warned for severe wind gusts and large hail (radar indicated). I got into position for an intercept. I witnessed a shelf cloud, and also a curious appendage hanging down below one of the individual thunderstorm updrafts within the cell merger. … Read More…

Kansas Tornadoes, Supercells, and Mammatus

May 19, 2013 – After scoring big on May 18, 2013, we started day 2 of our chase a little less frantically. We had some time to position and go over data and surface observations that morning, and also post up a few photos on facebook from the day prior. We knew that it would be another good chase day, but we also knew that storm modes would be different. Faster motion, and storms would congeal into an MCS faster than the day before. So we were prepared for what was in store for the day. We drove a bit further east from where we ended up the day before. The SPC had once again issued a Moderate Risk for the day. We staged in Newton, KS, and had a friend visitor. A Grackle. Then we made our way down to an RC plane park in Wichita, KS to hang out with Michael Phelps for a bit before initiation. Justin Hoyt and Bill Kirkpatrick showed up as well, and we … Read More…

Rozel and Sanford, KS Tornadoes 5/18/13

May 18, 2013 – Earlier in the week, I had been asked if I wanted to accompany my friend Michael Gavan on a storm chasing trip for the weekend. The computer models were in good agreement that there would be severe weather on the weekend of May 18-19. The SPC had put out convective outlooks during the 4-8 day period also. They were talking about the potential for severe weather, including large hail, damaging wind gusts, and of course, tornadoes. After much thought and planning, I accepted Michael’s invitation, and on Friday afternoon, we left Michigan en route to Kansas. We stopped in Springfield, Illinois and stayed overnight for some shuteye, knowing we’d have a marathon drive the next morning to get to our target area. On Saturday morning we made our way through the remainder of Illinois, and into Missouri. We experienced some dense fog on the way there. Less than 1/4 mile visibility in western Illinois. Once we crossed the Mississippi River the fog decreased significantly, and with … Read More…

Showery Sunset 5/14/13

The day began with plentiful sunshine and warm temperatures, but later in the afternoon and evening, some elevated clouds with scattered rain showers and virga moved in. This was the general weather scenario through sunset and beyond. So I was anticipating a decent chance of some sunset photography. I decided to stay home for this photography session as I felt I had a decent view from the balcony. As the evening progressed, what I thought was going to be a relatively boring day, started turning into a good chance to shoot some amazing photos. The showers and clouds cooperated very well, and the following set of 12 photos shows just how stunning and amazing this sunset was. One of the best sunsets I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing. Enjoy these photos, and feel free to share this article with your friends! (click any photo to enlarge) … Read More…

Pea Sized Hailstorm (VIDEO + PHOTOS)

A “General Thunderstorm Risk” area was posted for lower Michigan by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) for April 30, 2013. The HRRR was forecasting a band of elevated showers and thunderstorms to begin developing between 6AM and 9AM across west Michigan. It’s safe to say the HRRR forecast not only verified, but also ended up underdone as the storms intensified a bit more than expected. All of the storms remained non-severe to my knowledge, but several of them produced small hail. The main line came through my area, and then began to back build. This back building led to more storms developing, and one of those produced a decent amount of pea sized hail. Below are two radar screenshots of the stronger cell that produced the hail. On the left is the VIL (Vertically Integrated Liquid) and on the right the Base Reflectivity a couple of steps ahead of the VIL showing the core dropping out of the storm cell, which was resulted in the hail. I filmed it all … Read More…