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…


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…


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…


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…


Battle Creek, MI Snowstorm 2/1/15

2/1/15 – A large and powerful snowstorm affected a large portion of the United States from the Midwest, through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. Dumping 15-20 inches of snow in a number of areas, packing strong wind gusts, and snowfall at rates of up to 1-2 inches per hour. This was a long duration heavy snow event, which resulted in lots of blowing and drifting, high snowfall accumulations, near blizzard conditions at times, motorists becoming stuck or stranded, a number of accidents and slide offs, and many schools and businesses closing down due to the conditions. One computer model stood out from the rest several days before, showing a snowstorm set to impact northern areas of the US around Feb 1-2. That model, was the GFS. Over time, the model forecasts trended northward with the snow. Many people were skeptical. I was favoring the northward trend. Then suddenly just a couple of days before the storm, the GFS forecast showed it all south of the area. Within a … 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…