Strong Grungy Storms 9/3/15

9/3/15 – This was an interesting day. Elevated storms came through in the early morning associated with a wave of low pressure. The amount of debris clouds leftover from the morning convection limited the severe potential for later in the afternoon. SPC had a general thunderstorm risk across the region. A few storms did go severe warned though, and a few others reached strong criteria. I got into some of the grungy stronger storms which offered up some interesting structure. The clouds were not of supercellular nature, but they exhibited a lot of similar features given the ample moisture, some CAPE, and shear to sustain them. I meandered around Stanton, MI mostly, and stayed in Montcalm County to document what I could of the storms. They weren’t extremely impressive, so I didn’t want to travel very far. Below is a video of the storms, and also a collection of photos, some of which look quite ominous. One of the images is a wedge tornado lookalike. No confirmation of any damage, … 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…

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…

Heavy Rain and Urban Flooding

9/1/14 – With a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast for the day, and high precipitable water values across the area, I knew that if any storms developed, they would be putting down quite a bit of rain, and that is exactly what happened. I had been looking at computer models and other data in the days leading up to the storm day. I didn’t think there would be a lot in the severe weather department, at least not for my immediate area, so I decided to concentrate more on the wind and rain element of the storms. I figured a decaying line of convection would be moving toward lower Michigan during the morning hours, and a new line of storms would fire up ahead of that area of decaying convection. That is exactly what transpired. The storms took a little while to get their act together, but once they did, they packed a punch in many areas. Here’s a radar image of the storms as they moved through my … Read More…