On this Monday, we were ready to roll! All chasers and equipment were in the same vehicle now and the risk for severe storms was good.
The forecasting challenge for this day: how far north should we go? We felt the whole time that we had to distance ourselves from a warm cap layer in the middle atmosphere which would limit storm development and growth. The more we looked, the more north we decided to drift, all the while carefully monitoring radar trends.
We found ourselves hanging out just south of Scottsbluff, NE, right in the middle of a tornado watch as it turned out. It became clear very quickly that storms were firing and becoming severe north of our current position. This meant traveling into remote areas of the Nebraska panhandle. We finally settled on a well-developed storm northwest of Torrington, WY as it drifted ESE toward us.
We would have bet money that this storm would go tornado-warned while it was approaching us but it never did. Instead, it became outflow-dominated and the shelf cloud it produced is shown in my video review of this day.
Our attention then turned to a new storm to the west. This storm more or less traveled ESE down highway 26 through Henry, Morrill, Mitchell and eventually Scottsbluff, NE. Got got right to the eastern edge of this storm in Henry and pretty much kept just ahead it, traveling in tandem down highway 26.
After documenting a huge dust roll just northwest of Scottsbluff, we headed into the city. We actually thought about heading south to a storm we could we on radar and visually. The our current storm had other ideas! While navigating through Scottsbluff, the storm suddenly went tornado warned! We tried to get some visuals on this storm but it looked to us to be a huge severe outflow of damaging winds with little chance of a tornado sighting.
Again, staying just barely ahead of this storm, we left the city heading ESE. Remember the scene in “Independence Day” when the president’s plane is taking off staying just barely ahead of the blast that the aliens used to destroy Washington D.C.? This is how we felt!
By now, chaser convergence was becoming an issue. Not nearly as bad as more recently documented examples, but it became clear that more chasers and tour groups were on this storm.
So between the storm gust advancing at 70 mph and all of the traffic, it was everything we had to stay safe and ahead of this monster storm.
As it turns out, there were very weak and short-lived tornadoes in this storm. Several chasers did capture these small funnels. But staying under or in such storm is beyond what we set out to do on these chases.
It was a rush to be sure and we were on the two most intense storms of the day so we were satisfied with our chase decisions for the day!
Please check out videos of all my chases on this web site and YouTube under WeathermanTed!