Large Hail and Severe Wind 5/20/13

The first day home after my plains chase weekend, there was a Slight Risk for severe weather posted up for areas of lower Michigan by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center). All of the ingredients were in place for thunderstorm development. It was only a matter of time before storms fired off. I waited until the afternoon hours, and one storm fired up in Muskegon, and it was on from there as an entire line of storms began developing. The line had individual cells embedded within it, and a few of those showed brief rotation as they merged and congealed into an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). Some of the cells attempted to stay more discrete, but eventually were absorbed into the MCS. It wasn’t long and my target storm became severe warned for severe wind gusts and large hail (radar indicated). I got into position for an intercept. I witnessed a shelf cloud, and also a curious appendage hanging down below one of the individual thunderstorm updrafts within the cell merger. … Read More…

Rozel and Sanford, KS Tornadoes 5/18/13

May 18, 2013 – Earlier in the week, I had been asked if I wanted to accompany my friend Michael Gavan on a storm chasing trip for the weekend. The computer models were in good agreement that there would be severe weather on the weekend of May 18-19. The SPC had put out convective outlooks during the 4-8 day period also. They were talking about the potential for severe weather, including large hail, damaging wind gusts, and of course, tornadoes. After much thought and planning, I accepted Michael’s invitation, and on Friday afternoon, we left Michigan en route to Kansas. We stopped in Springfield, Illinois and stayed overnight for some shuteye, knowing we’d have a marathon drive the next morning to get to our target area. On Saturday morning we made our way through the remainder of Illinois, and into Missouri. We experienced some dense fog on the way there. Less than 1/4 mile visibility in western Illinois. Once we crossed the Mississippi River the fog decreased significantly, and with … Read More…

Marfa, TX Storm Chasing Footage on 60 Minutes! (VIDEO)

In case you missed it last night, my storm chasing footage from Marfa, TX was aired on 60 Minutes! I would have gotten the word out, but had been told that the airing was moved to April 21st. Fortunately though, the Marfa story can be found on www.cbsnews.com! I have embedded the video below so you can watch it right here if you’d rather. It’s a very nice story about Marfa, TX. A place I would definitely return to and spend more time in one day. The weather down there certainly is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It has a certain special feel to it. I have included my full chase video below the 60 Minutes video, and a few photos below that as well! Enjoy! Feel free to share this blog article with your friends!! Below is the full chase video from Marfa, TX. Photos are below the video, enjoy! … 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…

“Earth Eater” Supercell – Paducah, TX – 5/30/12

On May 30, 2012 we were in Texas tracking the potential of severe weather. There was a Moderate Risk of severe weather, mainly for Oklahoma, however, we decided to play the southwest corner of the Slight Risk area in northern Texas. (If you want to see video, photos, and screenshots, scroll down) There were 2 distinct supercells. You can see that clearly here in this Radar Loop of the storms. The first big supercell fires, goes tornado warned, and drops a tornado in Paducah, TX, before shoving off to the SE. We passed through the town of Paducah, TX where we came across a grass fire in the distance (most likely caused by lightning) and some tornado damage. Most notably sheet metal that had been peeled away and scattered about. We also passed by a barn that housed classic cars that had taken a hit from the tornado. We were en route to the cell which had a history of large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado, until we noticed … Read More…

Texas Supercell 5/28/12

The image on the left is a composite of video cuts. The lightning was intense in this storm, so I came away with a lot of good shots. We began chasing this storm in it’s early stages when it was just developing a core. Hail had already been reported up to at least quarter size, so we knew it was a healthy storm. Plus it looked rather menacing on radar. It was high based for what seemed like forever. We were hoping it would produce at least a small tornado, but the most tornadic thing we got out of it was a shear funnel right overhead. That wasn’t a downer really though, because this storm was an absolute beast. We core punched it a few times, and each time was more exciting than the last as the storm continued to gain strength. We experienced blowing dust, high wind gusts, heavy rain, large hail and insane lightning. The largest hail we experienced was ping pong ball sized. At times in the … Read More…

Nebraska Chasing, Take Two 5/24/12

What was supposed to be simply a travel day to Denver to pick up Chris Johnson, turned out to be a chase day as well. The conditions were marginal, but some cumulus were already beginning to gather in the late morning, and continued to build into the afternoon hours. SBCAPE was around 500j/kg, and there was about 20-30kts of effective bulk shear to work with. Some elevated convection was ongoing to the north, and this activity, perhaps with an associated outflow boundary or some sort of small MCV touched off a few storms to the south of the main cell which eventually became tornado warned with confirmation of a tornado not too far north of where we had spent the night. That sucked, but thankfully the tornado wasn’t all that impressive anyway, so it’s not really much of a loss. We instead chased a couple of strong storms that eventually died off and we made our way into Colorado. Below are videos and images from May 24, 2012. Day 2 … Read More…

June 21, 2011 – West Michigan Storm Chase

The photos featured above are of 3 different storms. Beginning left to right: Storm #1 near Muskegon, MI. Storm #2 near Grant, MI. Storm #3 near Carson City, MI. Today was a good day. I had been watching the models for about a week, and knew it would get active in the Great Lakes. After a relatively slow month of June, we were due for severe weather. For days the computer models showed a big, slow moving, strong, low pressure system pressing eastward out of the Rockies. The SPC (Storm Prediction Center) put us in a Slight Risk for their Day 3 Convective Outlook (June 21st), and also a severe hatch area for their Day 4 Convective Outlook (June 22nd). I knew both days would prove to be active (people doubted me) but I just had a feeling these days would be good. Especially June 21st. I made this call in Bill Steffen’s Blog on June 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm: “Watch out on Days 3-4, Tornadoes will be possible. … Read More…

May 1, 2010 – Arkansas Storm Chase

Image of the “would be” supercell from Texarkana, Arkansas. The chase plan was set after a successful chase the day prior, getting underneath a tornado warned meso in Haworth, Oklahoma. Charles Thomas and I decided to chase back to back on both High Risk days. Though this day was not as nice to us as the last. We decided to chase from Texarkana and go east and northeast from there. Yes into the trees and mountains. The SPC issued a PDS Tornado Watch roughly from Texarkana eastward into central and southern Arkansas, so the spot we were stationed was great. Unfortunately after we spotted some good convection and initiation beginning on radar, the storms outran us. Racing off to the northeast into the mountains and forest area which meant almost nothing worth photos. We made it all the way to Magnolia, Arkansas and got reports of tree limbs down, high winds and hail in guess where…. Texarkana. Yep, we should have stayed put and awaited the cold front for initiation, … Read More…