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…


Summer “Pop Up” Storms 8/10/15

8/10/15 – This was a warm and humid day, and there was some instability around. That usually leads to what’s commonly called “pop up” or “popcorn” convection. These types of pulse showers and storms can be isolated, scattered, or numerous, depending on the given conditions at the time. These were of the isolated variety. A few showers and storms had developed off to the north and northeast, and they produced outflow boundaries which touched off a few more storms as the afternoon and evening progressed. These were quite photogenic, and I ventured out on my bicycle to have a look around. I snapped lots of photos, but picked the best ones, or the most interesting ones for this article. I saw several cumulus and cumulonimbus towers, and was also treated to a beautiful sunset. In one of the sunset photo, you can see a cluster of sunspots on the lower right of the solar disk. I encountered a small Rabbit on the way to the fields, it wasn’t scared of … 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…


Low Topped Supercells 5/26/15

This was an interesting day. The dynamics were in place for storms to go into a supercellular mode if they developed, but the overall instability was mitigated a bit by cloudiness in the morning, followed by more cloudiness and approaching showers in the afternoon hours. Despite the limited instability, the atmosphere still put on a show with supercells. These supercells were low topped, and some of them didn’t even contain any lightning. I watched one small shower which developed to my south, and moved NNE toward my location. I tracked it up through Greenville, MI and all the way north to just south of Lakeview, MI. I abandoned it after I saw that it wasn’t going to get the job done. During the chase though, it did produce quite a few nice scenes. The initial wall cloud was flat on the bottom, but soon, it began bringing in some scud clouds, and an appendage appeared beneath the wall cloud. Many claim this was a funnel cloud, this was not the … Read More…


Southwest Kansas Chase 5/9/15

***FULL CHASE VIDEO BELOW – SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PHOTOS AND READ THE FULL CHASE LOG*** The day started off with a drive north through some of the Wichita Mountains onward to southwestern Kansas from Lawton, Oklahoma. Along the way, we encountered some elevated convection, as well as a deck of Asperatus Clouds. These proved to be quite photogenic. As we moved northward, we were witness to some beautiful scenes, including this one just off the road somewhere in southwest Kansas of a CU field developing across the rolling plains. While waiting for initiation, Michael Gavan and I met up with Blaize Edwards, Jared Stevenson, and Amanda Ann at Presto in Sublette, KS. We talked, joked, laughed, and traded stories for a while. We saw some other chasers rolling through, and also talked to a few of the locals who were quite interested in what we were up to. After that, we were on the road to developing storms to our south. A couple of cells tried to fire closer … 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…


2014 Storm Chasing Highlights

2014 was a really interesting year in regards to storm chasing for me. There were a number of firsts. Initially I wasn’t going to do much chasing, and concentrate on other things such as Fishing Pleasures, and a few other projects. Throughout the year, I did get out to experience a number of great weather events though. The year was off to a slow start, not much happening in March. Just cold and boring. By the time April rolled around though, some truly awesome weather events took place. April 12th was one of the coolest chase days I can ever remember for me here in Michigan. Intercepted 2 very photogenic storm cells, saw accumulating hail, and beautifully structured storms coming over the fields. I was able to get some nice time lapses. This was also the first time I ever saw hail accumulate to such an extent here in Michigan. In late April I went against my initial plans of not leaving my home state, to join some friends on … Read More…


Lake Effect Snow Whiteouts 1/9/15

1/9/15 – After documenting a powerful winter storm on 1/8/15, I stuck around the next day to document the absolutely crazy lake effect snow conditions that were ongoing. Ground blizzards and whiteouts were the common theme. Most of the time I couldn’t see more than about 50 yards while driving. In many cases, I couldn’t see past the hood! There wasn’t quite as much “natural disaster” type of stuff to get footage of as the day before, but it was still quite impressive. Travel was difficult for everyone, and the windy conditions made the already cold air feel even more brutal. I headed to the lake shore area in and around Muskegon. Visiting places like Pere Marquette Park and the Great Lakes Naval Memorial Museum. At times I couldn’t even see the structures just across the street from them! While on Beach Street Rd., I recorded some video of waves crashing against the lighthouse which was quite surreal to witness. If there had been less ice buildup, the videos would … Read More…


West Michigan Snowstorm 1/8/15

1/8/15 – This was a day that I had been anticipating for about a week. The computer models indicated that there would be a rather potent clipper system swinging through the area in the afternoon/evening. This system would gain lake enhancement, and also produce lake effect snow into the overnight period. Pretty much anywhere along the west Michigan shoreline was going to get smacked, especially the further north you were. I targeted Muskegon, MI for this system. With a new camcorder added to my lineup just a day before the event, I was prepared to head out and document this system to it’s fullest. I drive an F-250, and it has 4WD, so the snow depth and road conditions didn’t concern me much. I was more worried about somebody else being careless and hitting me. The National Weather Service had posted a Winter Storm Warning for the first 2 rows of counties inland of Lake Michigan. Road conditions were really good at the beginning from Greenville, to Cedar Springs, but … Read More…


Christmas Eve Heavy Snow Event

12/24/14 – I wanted a snowstorm for my birthday, and my birthday just happens to fall on Christmas Eve. I got my wish! ..well … sort of. The medium range computer models (GFS and ECMWF (aka the EURO)) were both showing the potential for a big storm system to impact the Great Lakes region around Christmastime. The only issue was, how much warm air would advection would impact the outcome of this system. The models trended pretty well through the medium range, but by the time the model runs were in the short range, it was anybody’s guess as to what would happen. The GFS, NAM, ECMWF, GEM, and others were flip flopping all over the place. Everything from all rain, to rain to snow, to an all out snowstorm with some models predicting anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of snow. The NAM was the one that remained most bullish in regards to snowfall. There really was no pinning down a forecast until about 3-6 hours before the snow … Read More…