Double Trouble: Severe Storms in West Michigan

8/14/15: West Michigan – The computer models had been showing a chance of severe storms for a few days. The SPC put out a Marginal Risk over lower Michigan and Wisconsin. This would be a backyard chase for me right here in west Michigan. Early morning clouds cleared out, which gave way to plenty of sunshine, which contributed to daytime heating and instability which would set the stage for strong/severe storms in the afternoon. A cumulus field appeared and eventually developed into a cluster of multi-cell storms containing hail, some of it large, strong wind gusts, lightning and heavy rainfall. The first storm I intercepted was a hailstorm in the Greenville, MI area. This storm looked menacing as it moved in, and had lots of scud clouds along the leading edge of the gust front. Some of them looked suspicious, but I did not see rotation. There was some lightning with this, but not too much where I was. I let the storm overtake me, and I positioned north a … Read More…


Severe Storms 8/2/15

8/2/15 – This was a day I had been waiting for. Finally, a really good chance of storms in lower Michigan. The computer forecast models all showed convection overspreading the region all day long, and congealing into a big squall line, then sagging south. That is exactly what happened. The day started off quiet in southern lower Michigan, but off to the north, things were already rocking. Strong to severe storms were already pounding the region with intense wind gusts, heavy rain, large hail and lightning. This activity would be what I waited patiently for as it moved down in my direction. There wasn’t much planning that went into this chase. It was pretty much just pick a spot along the advancing squall line, and hope for the best. I watched the storms for hours, and then I finally took off to the west to intercept a stronger part of the MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). On the way, I was treated to some glimpses of a very nice shelf cloud … Read More…


Electra, TX Supercell – Lawton, OK Flooding 5/8/15

5/8/15 – This was the first day of a short “chasecation” weekend with my buddy Michael Gavan. We were talking about heading down to the plains a few days prior, noting the chances for severe weather to come for Fri/Sat/Sun. The setup looked promising, so we decided to partner up and head out for some good days of storm chasing. Loaded up his Toyota RAV4 and hit the road. We took turns driving all night/day from Allegan County, Michigan all the way to north Texas. We slept in shifts, and for a brief time, stopped at a Walmart parking lot among some semi truck drivers for a 30 minute or so nap. A long grueling, tiresome drive, but well worth it to see some storm action. The drive was about 16 hours long, not including stops for gas, bathroom breaks, or to stretch. Storms began firing and most of which were really junky, and you couldn’t see much. Some of which also had trouble sustaining themselves. The storms we saw … Read More…


Northern Illinois Tornadoes 4/9/15

**FULL CHASE VIDEO BELOW** – Scroll down below the video to read the story, and see all of the photos from this chase. In this video you will see our chase from start to finish. The first small cells, a wall cloud we got underneath, and then the massive wedge tornado which we chased for miles. At one point we even hydroplaned, but CJ gathered it up like a champion, all the while I never took my focus off the tornado while filming it. Toward the end of the video, you’ll see 2 tornadoes on the ground at once. One was a satellite. Intense chase day!! Enjoy the video. 4/9/15 – Where do I begin? This was such an amazing chase day. So many great times, and so many great sights. Prior to this chase day, there was a whole lot of computer model watching, and trying to decide which model was going to be correct, or at least, close to correct. There were difference among the models all the … Read More…


Urban Flooding and Hail Event

8/1/14 – Today was a day that had low shear, but enough instability and forcing to pop up some pulse style showers and thunderstorms. There was enough CAPE to provide a hail and heavy rain risk. Normally I don’t even bother with these sorts of events, because of the random nature of the convection, but these were close enough to yield some good footage opportunities. The day started off mostly sunny, but cumulus clouds quickly filled in, and began to develop into showers and thunderstorms. The first ones popped up well to my north, and south. As the afternoon progressed however, some storms began to take shape right on top of me, and just a few miles to my west. I set out to document some hail originally, since I had been placed in a severe thunderstorm warning, mostly for a risk of large hail. As I began my trek westward into town, I got into some pea sized hail, and then the hail shifted south and the core fell … Read More…


Severe Weather: Supercell, Hail Accumulation, Storm Damage

4/12/14 – Today was a day that had looked halfway decent on the computer models in regards to chances for storms for a few days prior to the event. As the time drew nearer, I began having some higher hopes that we’d see some pretty good storms around here. The WRF-NMM was being the most bullish, showing strong thunderstorms training across lower Michigan. As it would turn out, the WRF-NMM would come to be correct. Sometimes it’s that one, lone computer model that nails a forecast, while all of the others are out to lunch. Slowly but surely, the atmospheric parameters came together to create some great severe weather potential. The SPC had issued a 5% risk for hail and wind. 0% for tornadoes despite the somewhat favorable wind shear values which were conductive to a few rotating updrafts. One of which I was on. There are 3 sets of footage, so be sure to keep scrolling after viewing the first batch of media. Storm #1: The Supercell The first … Read More…


Storm Chasing 2012 in Photos

I have put together a photo gallery containing all of the best images from my 2012 storm chasing season. The gallery is from newest to oldest, and begins in October. You will see all kinds of amazing stormy scenes in this set. Enjoy and feel free to share this entry! Click any image for a larger view. … Read More…


Hailstorms (Time Lapse + Photos) 5/30/13

After a long day of waiting for storm initiation, one cell finally decided to develop. I discovered it while it was in the towering cumulus stage, as prior to this cell firing I had pretty much given up on the day, and stopped paying attention. All of the other cells had developed several miles away throughout the day, and this one decided to pop up closer to my chase range. I quickly gathered my equipment and headed to a spot with good visibility. I was also treated to views of some distant storms as well, and a very nice sunset. I decided that I would do a time lapse on my cell. One of my goals for this year is to put together a video of thunderstorm time lapses, so this was definitely a worthy candidate for that. I setup my Canon SX20 for the time lapse video footage, while shooting stills with my Canon SX40 at the same time. (both of which are point and shoot cameras) I tried … Read More…


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…


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…