Convective Snow Showers

2/12/16 – This was a day that really gave me the storm chasing itch, but the thing is, these weren’t thunderstorms. They were heavy snow showers. Steep lapse rates, coupled with other favorable upper level support, sunshine, and lake effect influence created the perfect setup for intense convective snow showers. Some of these looked like pop up thunderstorms almost, taking on anvil shapes, and bubbling updrafts. I started the day near Greenville, MI, snapping off a couple of shots in a field of the snow showers, then headed west toward Rockford, MI on M-57. I staged around M-57 and US 131. I began documenting some of the heavier snow showers as they raced through the area. Some of these created some whiteout conditions in a hurry, and slowed traffic down and caused some backups too on US 131. Below is a video of the snow in the Rockford area, and also photos from Greenville and Rockford. After that batch of snow showers, I drove over to Belding, MI to intercept … Read More…

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…

Strong Thunderstorm – Rockford, MI 6/8/15

After missing out on storms all day, I took a chance on a small rain shower with associated outflow boundary in the evening. This was part of a failed attempt that a storm made, trying to cross Lake Michigan. We were under the influence of a “lake shadow” most of the day. This also meant that our atmosphere hand’t been worked over by any convection, and there was still some instability around. I was on my way westward to pick up a boat I found on Craigslist for fishing, and on my way there, this once small shower, turned into a full fledged thunderstorm. Though this storm never became severe, it was still a strong storm, packing strong wind gusts, small hail, heavy rainfall and lightning. The structure wasn’t half bad either! A nice treat for a day when I thought I wasn’t going to see anything. This storm quickly died after sunset. I chased it south a few miles into the Rockford, MI area. It was moving pretty fast, … 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…

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…

Storm Chasing 2012 – The Best Chases

Today is December 31st, the last day of 2012. For some it was a good year, for others it was a bad year. For me, it was a mix of both. This year wasn’t friendly to all storm chasers. The nationwide drought situation played a huge role in the lack of storms in the United States. One thing we didn’t have a shortage of, was heat, and dry air. It was extremely difficult if you were a chaser to get footage of tornadoes this year. I mean certainly, many chasers did intercept tornadoes this year, but overall, it was a lackluster year. That’s great for the general public, but sucks for a storm chaser. This year I was able to do a proper US plains tour through tornado alley, thanks to my friend, and chase partner, Michael Phelps of stormscapelive.tv, my sponsor Mike Curtis of Farm Bureau Insurance, and all of my friends and fans who have donated to me over this past year. This tour took us everywhere from … Read More…

Severe Weather, Tragedy, and Time Lapse

Pictured left is the only photo I was able to obtain of the outflow boundary as it approached. Scroll down to “Tragedy” for the reason why. SEVERE WEATHER On May 1, 2012, a Slight Risk was issued for areas of the Midwest, including the lower Great Lakes. This included a large portion of lower Michigan. The SPC kept it’s Slight Risk area over my region through day 3, 2, and finally day 1. The main threats were to be hail, and high wind, I agreed with this. On May 3, 2012, severe weather was imminent, it was just a matter of when. The majority of the thunderstorms were elevated, and being triggered in large part by the warm front. The warm front was draped across lower Michigan, and had led to thunderstorm development. Through the day, more storms developed, eventually forming a squall line. This line of storms extended from Lake Huron, all the way back to Wisconsin, but what broken in nature for most of the afternoon, this seemed … Read More…

October 19, 2010 – Explore Cumulonimbus

Click image above for full size. This image is from MODIS. This is the warm sector of a low pressure that was located in the southern portion of the Gulf of Alaska on 10/18/10. Once you have the image full size, you can take a look at all the cumulus & low topped cumulonimbus over the open water. The low pressure center itself (not seen here) is off to the left of this screenshot & was sinking southward. These were not severe thunderstorms. Not very often you get to see a scene like this off the west coast of North America. Click Here for a Wiki page on Cumulonimbus. … Read More…