2006 Chase Summaries

June 1, 2006  -  June 16, 2006

Brian A. Morganti

June 1, 2006:    Thu - Day 30 - Model, CO:    Weak upper flow, lack of moisture and surface convergence resulted in only a few weak thunderstorms to form over the mountains of extreme SE CO and NE NM.  Throughout the day each model run of the RUC indicated less and less chance of severe storms.  We gave up on finding anything severe and decided to hang out in the ghost town of Model, CO during the late afternoon hours.  We had fun exploring the old buildings and farm implements while we watched weak convection just to our SW near TAD.  The stormy clouds offered an interesting backdrop to the old buildings, so from a photographic point of view the day was not a complete bust.  375m


June 2, 2006:    Fri - Day 31 - Clayton, NM:    Another day lacking in sufficient instability and mid-level flow to support widespread severe storms.  The best upslope flow combined with modest instability appeared to be in NE NM in the higher terrain of the Raton Mesa.  We decided to get a late start and spend a good part of the day roaming around the Capulin volcano and the surrounding area.  It was a good thing we were in no hurry since I woke up to find a dead battery in my SUV since I had failed to turn off all the electrical components the night before.  By late afternoon towers began going up to our west as we explored some old buildings near Mount Dora, NM.  We watched these towers for a bit and then drifted to the east of Clayton as the convection gathered strength and eventually prompted a severe warning for Union County.  We went a bit south of town via highway 402 to watch the storm weaken to our west.


As our storm continued to weaken a new storm gained strength to our north and prompted another severe warning for Union County.  ThreatNet began  to show several shear markers to 92mph on this storm as we traveled back north through Clayton and then northwestward on highway 370.  We watched the storm drift southeastward from a high point a few miles north of town.  The base was rather high but occasionally exhibited some interesting structure and a bit of lightning. 


We then headed back south to Clayton and eventually followed the storm southeastward via highway 87.  The storm had an intense rain shaft on its western flank that began to slide south over highway 87.  We encountered some dime size hail near Texline but were soon able to stay ahead of the precipitation.  We made a few more stops to film the lightning and could still see lightning from this long lasting storm as we approached Amarillo.  I never expected to spend so many hours with the same storm on a day when I really wasn't expecting anything more than a brief thunderstorm.  300m.

June 3, 2006:    Sat - Day 32 - AMA - OKC:  Travel day to get ready for the arrival of TT4.  265m

June 4, 2006:    Sun - Day 33 - TT4 Arrival Day OKC - CNK:    T4 arrives and Nancy heads back home to PA.  A slight risk of severe was in place for parts of KS but the CAP held and no storms formed.  We headed to Concordia, KS to get into position for Monday's severe weather set-up in Nebraska. 305m

June 5, 2006:    Mon - Day 34 - TT4 Day 1 - Spencer, SD:    We left Concordia, KS with a target in mind somewhere in northeast NE.  Along the way Kinney Adams and I became discouraged by the large pesky MCS that covered the eastern third of NE which was looking more and more likely to mess up any possible discrete supercell development south of Yankton, SD.  After reviewing the 15Z RUC and conferring with fellow CFDG'rs Matt C. and Bill R. I was convinced we needed to get north on highway 81 between Yankton and the I-90 corridor ASAP.  By the time we reached Norfolk, NE an isolated cell had popped up near Huron, SD and soon prompted a severe warning for Beadle County.  We kept our eye on storms that were beginning to develop to our west near O'Neil but had decided the "Huron" storm would be our target storm since it was holding together nicely, had no storms to compete with further south, and was moving southeasterly in our direction.  I figured we would be able to make an intercept somewhere near Salem or Spencer, SD.

Just south of I-90 along highway 81 we had a good view of the updraft base and flanking line towers.  The storm had previously been tornado warned but had now been downgraded to a severe warning.  We noticed a large dust plume being blown out to the south from the rain core which did not bode well for what appeared to be a weakening storm visually and on radar.  We got in "perfect" viewing position just south of highway 36 a little east of Spencer.  As soon as I jumped out of the van I was hit with cool outflow gusts...uh oh...and the storm started gusting out like crazy! We all took a brief photo op (the time was 5:37 PM CDT) and then re-positioned a couple of miles further east, but it was evident that this storm was history.  We hobbled back south thru Yankton to intercept the pathetic storms crossing northeast NE.  A disappointing day given my earlier expectations.  540m


June 6, 2006:    Tue - Day 35 - TT4 Day 2 - Pawnee Buttes, CO:    There was a slight risk of severe over parts of eastern Colorado, but we weren't really expecting all that much to happen.  We used the day partly to get into a better position further west for the next few days and also in hopes of finding a pretty storm near sunset.  The storms stayed over the mountains so we visited the Pawnee Buttes area of northeast Colorado, then headed north to Torrington, WY for the night.  537m


June 7, 2006:    Wed - Day 36 - TT4 Day 3 - NW NE:    A data stop in Lusk, WY led Kinney and I to abandon our earlier target in the vicinity of Devil's Tower in NE WY for a more easterly target in NW NE.  The latest RUC model indicated there would be excellent wind and moisture convergence from Crawford to Valentine coupled with good CAPE and Theta-E values.  Additionally Hi-Res SAT imagery indicated a distinct outflow boundary arced across the same area.  We hung out in Crawford with Dean C. and crew for awhile eating BBQ and ice-cream while watching an agitated area of Cu bubble overhead and stretching eastward.  We traveled east on highway 20 a few miles and stopped to watch some TCu back to our west.

        These eventually croaked so we continued east toward the developing storms in eastern Cherry County while keeping an eye on things back to our west.  We stopped again in Rushville just north of the boundary in screaming easterly winds trying to decide whether to hang tough in our target area just north of the OFB or continue further east and south.  Other chasers were doing the same.  I really didn't want to head east as it would be futile to try and catch the ESE moving storms in Cherry and Brown county, but I was getting impatient waiting for anything to happen overhead...I could always come back for an easy intercept.  By 6PM we had caught up with the westward extent of the convection forming along the boundary over highway 61 between Merriman and Hyannis, but it was rather high and anemic.  I called off the chase in Hyannis and chatted with a bunch of other disgusted chasers that soon arrived at the same place.  We headed back to Chadron hoping something would fire along the boundary that was still in place over the region, but nothing happened...that is until now when the CAP has weakened and it is time to get some rest.  425m.

June 8, 2006:    Thu - Day 37 - TT4 Day 4 - Custer County, MT:    A couple of storm cells had already developed to our west by the time we reached Broadus, MT, but we weren't anxious to rush west just yet as the best instability was to our east.  The storms were moving to the NE and it eventually became apparent that these storms may become the main show.  We decided to head north on highway 59 through Volburg on the east side of what was becoming a nice supercell and then cut back south on highway 332 in order to get in front of the storm.  From a high point looking SSW we were able to view the circular structure of this severe-warned cell approaching us from the SW.  We were fortunate to stay out of the anvil rain and lingered for a bit to take a few photos and video.


We then headed back north to get back on highway 59 southbound in order to stay on the east side of the storm which was now moving a bit more ENE.  The structure was mostly blocked by hills to our west, but the storm was weakening by that time anyway.  During a film stop we noticed a very nice vaulted updraft base taking shape immediately to our south at a point a few miles north of Volburg.  This new convection occurred ahead (east) of the now broken line of storms moving to the NE and may have become the LP supercell Eric N. and Jimmy D. described from their viewpoint further north.  A very long chase day but one with supercells for a change!  740m.


June 9, 2006:    Fri - Day 38 - TT5 Day 5 - Clay County SD Severe-Warned Storm:    We hung around in our target area near Canton, SD until late afternoon watching a line of TCu fight the CAP just to our south.  At the same time a couple of storm cells had initiated to the south of Yankton and were headed our way.  The lead cell was intensifying and had become severe-warned and I wanted to get south of it before it crossed I-29 to our south.  We skirted the bulk of the core and headed east of highway 3 into Iowa.  The storm was really struggling as a few more competitive cells formed nearby.  For the next two hours we stayed just to the east of this small storm complex, but it had become rather pathetic.  Even more pathetic was the fact that many of my fellow chasers were "chasing" this thing as well...but there were no other storms to chase within a 125 mile radius!  We finished up the chase near Le Mars, IA and filmed a neat microburst in the fading light to our west.  450m.


June 10, 2006:    Sat - Day 39 - TT5 Day 6 (Final) - Cherokee, IA - OKC:     Travel day to get guests back to Oklahoma City for their departure on Sunday.  No storms were encountered along the way.  655m

June 11, 2006:    Sun - Day 40 - Brush, CO Supercell:    I made the long run from OKC to northeast CO in hopes of seeing a pretty supercell late in the day.  Fortunately storm initiation was late and I made it to Morgan County by 5:30 PM.  A couple of storms had formed to my west near DEN and were slowly moving to the northeast.  I waited patiently for the storms to move eastward into better instability while ThreatNet revealed a very enticing isolated storm near BFF.  I came close to blasting after the Scottsbluff storm, but knew it would be useless as it would take me nearly two hours to get there.  The storms to my west were rather crappy, but they were beginning to tap into the better dewpoints to the east as made evident by several feeder inflow clouds bands.  Eventually a storm formed on the north end the linear mess and began to take on some nice base structure.  The following photos were taken from highway 71 looking north and just south of Brush, CO.


I then paralleled the storm northeast via I-76 towards Sterling and encountered heavy rain and CG's, but no hail.  I headed east on highway 6 at Sterling and could see the southern end of the line to my south as the sun was setting.  I took one last look back to the west and called it a day.  755m.

June 12, 2006:    Mon - Day 41 - Adams & Weld County CO:    Upslope flow combined with higher than recent dewpoints led me to just east of DEN as the first towers began to form by late afternoon.  A cell rapidly developed just south of Aurora and prompted a severe warning for Adams County.  I was able to get right in front of this cell near Strasburg but it didn't take long for it to weaken.  Another cell gained strength just to my north and briefly exhibited a high but somewhat organized base.  The storm struggled for a while as I followed it north to near Hoyt, but it was falling apart and kicked up numerous dust plumes in the process...some of which were rather intense.  As the remnant rain core moved east a nearly full double rainbow was observed. 


Meanwhile about 75 miles to my north a nicely developed Cb could be seen near Kimball, NE.  I decided to finish up the day by getting on the western flank of this severe warned storm to take advantage of the low sun angle illuminating the western flank of the storm.  My first film stop was just south of the town of Keota, CO. 


I still had some ambient light left so I traveled further north to the town of Grover and took a few more shots as the sun was setting.  I didn't find the big supercell or land-spout tornado I had hoped for, but all in all a very enjoyable chase day from a photographic perspective!


June 13, 2006:    Tue - Day 42 - Red Shirt - Badlands, SD:    I picked a starting point for today's supercell potential in western SD somewhere near Sturgis, but made the mistake of using highway 85 thru Deadwood.  I forgot about all those trees and hills and dang vacationers with their huge cumbersome campers on wheels.  The first significant tower went up just to my northeast as I passed by Four Corners, WY.  The scenery was beautiful and I stopped to take a few photos.

  I eventually made it to Sturgis, but my once severe warned cell was now history.  However there was another cell about 25 miles further south and was slowly moving eastward to the south of Rapid City.  I figured it should be relatively easy to intercept this slow moving cell somewhere along highway 40 southwest of Hermosa.  Just south of Red Shirt I encountered nickel size hail that was being blown back west from the main core.  The towers were rather dramatic and there was a rainbow off to my east, so I decided to hold up a bit for a few more photos.

      I then continued further south and east into the core but decided once again that the main show would be the awesome towers over the beautiful South Dakota Badlands.  I found a good high point overlooking the Badlands and spent the final hour or so filming the show off to my northeast and later to my east as the sun set.  460m.



June 14, 2006:    Wed - Day 43 - Miles City - Baker, MT:     Today appeared to be a good day for supercells in SE MT, but the storms formed into a convective cluster early to the SW of Miles City.  We drove to Broadus for lunch and after a data stop at the local library decided the best area appeared to be back to our east and there were already a few towers building in that area.  The best plan was to head north via 59 and then back east on highway 12.  But by the time we reached Miles City the most intense storm in what was now becoming a messy line of storms was just off to our west.  Unfortunately this became the main show for the rest of the day as we were able to stay ahead of or just to the south of these ENE moving cells via highway 12.  The routine was to film the advancing shelf cloud in the warm easterly air, enjoy the calm for a minute or so and then get blasted by the cool westerly outflow air.  The following photos were taken form just east of Miles City to a point just west of Baker, MT.  400+m



June 15, 2006:    Thu - Day 44 - South central ND:     We left Lemmon, SD this morning and decided to head a couple of hours east based on the ETA/RUC forecast for high CAPE and vertical motion profiles.  SFC charts also indicated the best dewpoints were to be found in extreme NE SD/SE ND.  The BIG negative was the formidable CAP with 700mb temps in the 14 - 17C range.  We hung out in the town of Ashley, ND until late afternoon studying data and watching the sky and radar for a sign to move.  SPC analysis continued to show we were in a good spot as the CIN continued to erode in our area.  At 6:30 PM CDT ThreatNet showed a few small radar echoes about 25 miles to our west and southwest. We drove west on highway 11 and could see the first towers a few miles west of town.  Near Hague we watched the bases lower and an increase in the CG activity.  One cell a few miles to our WNW was rather linear but was obviously becoming the dominate cell.  We figured it was time to get moving and soon cut through a moderate rain core in order to take a north option via highway 83 to Linton.  We then crossed back west thru a much stronger core and began following the storm's southern flank to the northeast via a series of unpaved roads.  As we exited the core we blasted thru wildly outflow driven rain curtains and by this time the cell was severe warned for Emmons and Logan County and was beginning to look rather impressive visually and on radar.  Several scary lowerings were observed and Threatnet placed a shear marker on the forward flank inflow notch of the storm several times.  We encountered nickel-size or slightly larger hail in the town of Gackle, but it was now dark and the best of the show was over.  Overall a fun chase!  385m


June 16, 2006:    Fri - Day 45 - Final Day - NW IA:     The slight risk of severe today covered a large area from ND southwestward to the TX PH region.  We figured we could easily make it to northeast NE which had plenty of CAPE available for any storms that initiated.  Unfortunately a large MCS was in progress and was moving east into our target region by early afternoon, which pretty much precluded any chance of seeing a photogenic supercell.  We played around with several moderate to strong storms in extreme NW IA until late afternoon, and then called it a day.  At least I ended up in fairly decent position to start my long drive back to Pennsylvania.  416 chase miles/730m total.

Interesting Factoids for May/June:

Miles logged while chasing on my own:                 11,586

Miles logged while chasing with Tempest:             10, 582

Total Miles:                                                         22,168

Average miles per day:                        462

Total days on road:                              48

Total days in chase mode:                    30

Severe storm intercept days:                 22

Tornado intercept days:                         3

Average time to bed:                         1:45 AM

Gas prices paid:                               Ranged from $2.54 to $3.03 with average of $2.79.