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…


Bad Axe, MI Lake Enhanced Snowstorm

2/9/16 – It has been a pretty mild winter here in Michigan so far, and because of that, and the overall upper atmospheric pattern, we have had a lack of snow, with no real big snowstorms yet, at least where I live. So when the GFS and GEM computer models were indicating the possibility of a lake enhanced snowstorm for the thumb region of Michigan, I was definitely intrigued. I continued to monitor the model runs, until about 3AM on February 9th, and that’s when I pulled the trigger to travel to the thumb region to document the impending snowstorm. Google Maps said it would be about a 3 hour drive, but the weather had other ideas. Between the bad road conditions which resulted in traffic reducing speeds to around 35-40mph, and me stopping to shoot footage along the way, it ended up being a 4-5 hour drive. Below is a video of snow in and around the Saginaw, MI area, and also a collection of photos from my drive. … 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…


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…


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…


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…


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…