This section is for storm chases done in the central / Midwestern United States during the year of 2015. This includes all storm chasing activities (including any major chase "expeditions") during the year of 2015 in the central USA (aka "Tornado Alley"). For 2015, all chases in the central USA will be logged in this section, with many of the chases being possible "spot" chases / major severe weather "setups" chased. Here you should find many pictures of lightning, tornadoes, hail, strong winds, along with many severe thunderstorm elements. Keep in mind that this chase log is scientific evidence and portrays my on-going storm chasing research. It has been placed on this page for easy reference and meteorological interests. Please do not plagiarize or copy this document to other sites for distribution.

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STORM CHASING - CENTRAL UNITED STATES - 2015 CHASE LOG

With this chase log being for any chases in 2015 in the Central USA and Midwest ... The first major chase trip in early April 2015 landed in Illinois near Rochelle late in the day on April 9th. In this spectacular picture above, a violent tornadic supercell with wedge tornado looms ominously looking northwest of Rochelle, Illinois. This violent tornado was to tear across the small towns of Kings and Fairdale causing extensive damage, killing two people, and injuring dozens more. The picture above was the view of the violent tornado from north of I-88 and west of I-39 on county road 251 and north of Hillcrest.


TABLE OF CONTENTS - CLICK TO GO TO PAGE


ABOUT THIS CHASE LOG FOR THE MIDWEST

This is a chase log for any chases during 2015 in the Midwest and Central United States that were conducted as "spot" chases as well as any dedicated chase trip. Each chase section within this area will have its own details and such for that particular chase. This area was set up in the spring of 2015 and is for any chase that was conducted in the US Plains and Midwest. Equipment use in such chases range from cell phone to HAM radio communications, digital / still cameras, video (SD) and high-definition (HD) camcorders, and data logging / GPS via laptop computer. Storm chasing involved driving in harsh conditions and / or for long periods of time.

All chases and observations are in chronological order and a chase number is assigned to each entry. Please bear in mind that all observations adhere to modern storm analysis standards and do not include all storms that occurred in a given area for a particular chase period.

Any kind of storm such as a thunderstorm, tornado, waterspout, tropical cyclone, and extratropical storm can be chased or observed. I have tried to keep this log of any storms that I have observed as accurate as possible, while using terms and expressions to abide by those used by most meteorologists and storm spotters today.

Storm chasing and observation can be extremely dangerous and may result in serious injury or death. I have received intermediate and advanced training for storm spotting in 1996. I strongly urge anyone who is to try their hand at storm spotting to get training before doing so. You must also have a good understanding of meteorology and storm dynamics. "If you don't know what you're doing, Don't do it!" Contact your local National Weather Service office for information on storm spotting and about training to become a Skywarn storm Spotter.


CHOOSE A VIDEO CLIP BELOW - LINKS TO YOUTUBE

Supercells And Violent Tornadoes In KS And IL On April 8-9, 2015
Illinois City Tornado On June 22, 2015


CHASE MAP FOR APRIL 7-9, 2015

This is a chase map for the first chase of 2015. The chase / travel track is in blue, and includes the trip from the Chicago area, to Kansas City and Wichita for the first travel day and chase day in Kansas on April 8, with the long return and trip for the second chase day on April 9 in Illinois and return to the Chicago area later that evening. The target areas appear as yellow outlines for both main chase days, with storm intercepts denoted by the red "X's".


CHASE TRIP CHRONOLOGY FOR APRIL 7-9, 2015

This was the first chase trip of the year of 2015, and was a long (miles traveled), but successful, mini chase trip. I cleared my work schedule for Wednesday (4/8) and Thursday (4/9) and left my work near Hoffman Estates by 4 PM or so on Tuesday (4/7). This was just a day after bringing my main chase vehicle, a 2009 Ford Escape, from Florida to Illinois, and hastily preparing the vehicle for chasing (hail protection for windows being the main duties). The anticipation of chasing these days started a week in advance, with a vigorous upper level storm system pushing into the western USA after crossing the Northern Pacific ocean, with subsequent ejection into the Central USA progged by all weather models by 0z on 4/9.

I left Hoffman Estates on the afternoon of 4/7 anticipating the first chase day will be in south / central Kansas late on 4/8. I headed west on I-90 to I-39 in Rockford, IL, then south on I-39 to west on I-88 to I-80 across the river and into Iowa to Des Moines by late evening. I headed southwest into Kansas City for the night via I-35, arriving just before midnight on 4/7. The following morning, I woke up and forecasted the target area to be anywhere from Wichita, Kansas and points south and west of there along a warm front and advancing dryline expected. Meanwhile, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had this area in a enhanced, then moderate risk, with a 15% hatched tornado, 15% wind, and 30% hatched hail in the outlook, which extended from north-central Oklahoma and points northwest well across central Missouri.

I left Kansas City and headed down I-435 and I-35 into Wichita by early afternoon, fixing a GPS comm-port issue en-route. I left Wichita and headed south along Highway 81 to Wellington, meeting with many chasers who also were there (Skip Talbot, Tony Laubach, John Moon, Blake Naftel, etc). I prepared my vehicle (front hail screens) and began headed west along Highway 160 for initiation. Meanwhile, SPC (Storm Prediction Center) issued MCD (mesoscale discussion) #0234 and subsequent tornado watch box #36 valid until 12 AM CDT midnight. I met with John Moon's group and headed west towards Harper and Medicine Lodge along Highways 160 and eventually 281. The storms developed along the triple point (dryline and warm front intersection) and became tornadic by about 6 PM CDT. A large tornado lasting a few minutes was noted southwest of Medicine Lodge at this time.

I left the area west of Medicine Lodge and headed back east on Highway 160 to Isabel road east of town and northward to near Nashville, Kansas as the storm weakened as it got north of Highway 42. Very large hail to baseball sized was observed covering the ground at dusk with the passage of this storm. After dark, I continued east on Highway 42, and back into Wichita for the night at roughly 10 PM CDT. I opted to stay in Wichita but leave very early on 4/9 as storm activity was to be anywhere from west-central Illinois to near the I-80 corridor and points north of there. This was to be a very long drive, but fortunately headed back in the general area of Chicago.

I woke up early on April 9 anticipating a very long chase day, and this day, amid expectations to be marginal, turned out to be a chase day to be remembered. I looked over data briefly and saw a very large area of enhanced probabilities over much of the central USA, Mississippi River valley, and Midwest. The area of interest will be the warm front draped over central and into northern Illinois ahead of the surface low and Pacific front in Iowa. This meant a long drive out of Wichita to Kansas City via I-35 through Topeka to I-70 via I-335. By about 8 AM, I headed east on I-70 through Kansas City and eastward to I-270 north of Saint Louis by lunch time. I headed north and east into Illinois to near Springfield on I-55.

Upon looking at data, the enhanced outlook had both the tornado and hail probabilities upgraded, with a 10% hatched hail (formerly only 5%), 30% wind, and 30% hail (formerly 15%) over north / central IL from eastern Iowa to Chicago and Indiana. This was coincident with my forecast, considering the leading edge of the surface low, Pacific front, warm front, and most importantly, intense upper air support for storms approaching from the west. Another area of upgraded hail also was out looked farther south in Arkansas (not my target). Later in the afternoon, the SPC issued mesoscale discussion MCD #0246, and tornado watch box #39 valid until 8PM CDT centered west of the IL / IA border and another one (TWB #41) farther east valid until 11 PM CDT over northern IL.

I decided to head back north and west, attempting to get to the area north of the IA / IL and MO borders and towards I-80. Since it was still around 1 PM, I had time to make that decision. I headed west on highway 36 / I-72 out of Springfield and chose highway 67 west of Jacksonville to head north and west as quickly as possible. By about 5 PM, I was south of Davenport, IA and watching a line of developing supercell storms pushing east across eastern Iowa, with the northernmost storm being the one with greatest chances for tornadoes (near warm front, and with SE flow ahead of it, despite all winds south of that storm being veered to southwest). I headed west off Highway 67 on Highway 17, then Highway 26 to road D into Illinois City along Highway 92.

The storm to commit to was northwest of Muscatine, Iowa by about 5:30 PM and I crossed the Mississippi River there knowing I had options back through I-80 / Davenport if needed. I encountered the storm near Highway 61 in Iowa west of Davenport. The storm was outflow dominant, but still may have had a weak tornado that was rain wrapped / low visibility. I continued paralleling this storm through Davenport then back across the river into Illinois via I-80 and east and northeast on I-88. The original storm became outflow dominant and weakened. Meanwhile, a small convective shower popped up south of Dixon and quickly developed into a supercell storm, well ahead of the original storm near Fulton at the time. This was to be the main violent supercell.

I continued northeast and east along I-88 until between Dixon and Rochelle, watching the storm rapidly intensify. Initial tornado genesis was noted east of Dixon by about 6:30 CDT. The tornado was initially a narrow elephant trunk tornado that evolved to a stove pipe. West of Rochelle, and still heading east on I-88 (toll road), the tornado intensified to a violent wedge tornado. I got off I-88 and headed north on Highway 251 through Rochelle, and west of I-39. The wedge tornado was noted with a smaller satellite going around it (a stovepipe) as it continued to the NE at 40 MPH. Once north of Rochelle and Hillcrest, the now violent tornado passed over the small towns of Kings and Fairdale causing extensive damage. This was roughly 7 PM CDT.

The tornado continued northeast out of site as I headed north to Highway 72 (Chicago Avenue) and got stuck behind the destruction of Fairdale along Highway 72 eastbound. I stopped and offered assistance. Damage was extreme, and in some cases, trees were debarked and the topsoil removed in large swathes. With another HP supercell coming in from the west, I back-tracked west on Highway 72 to near I-39, letting the storm pass near a gas station there, while producing winds gusting near 70 MPH and quarter sized hail. I uploaded some footage there, and when conditions improved, cautiously resumed driving south on I-39 to I-88 east. I continued east to Aurora, and north on Highway 59 and back to Hoffman Estates. This was the end of the chase trip. Total mileage was 1,943.3 miles.


APRIL 7-9 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME / BASE CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURACHICAGO, ILKG4PJN4-7 TO 4-9IT CONSULTANT


STORM REPORTS FOR APRIL 8-9, 2015

Above are the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) storm reports for both April 8 (left image) and April 9 (right image). In the storm reports images, each red dot denotes a tornado report, a green dot a severe hail report (1" and larger), and blue dot a damaging severe wind report (58 MPH and up). Significant hail (2" and larger) and significant wind (65 knots and up) is denoted by a black triangle and square, respectively. There were a total of 317 severe weather reports on 4/8 (consisting of 10 tornado, 207 hail, and 100 wind reports). Out of the hail and wind reports, 31 significant hail and 10 significant wind reports were on 4/8 as well. On 4/9, there were a total of 395 severe weather reports (consisting of 21 tornado, 176 hail, and 198 wind reports). Out of the hail and wind reports, 9 significant hail and 3 significant wind reports were on 4/9 as well.


STORM RADAR / SATELLITE IMAGERY - APRIL 8-9, 2015

The images above show two visible satellite images of the developing storms. The left one is over southern Kansas on April 8, and the middle one the tornadic storms over northwestern Illinois on April 9. The image to the right shows the intensifying supercell (base reflectivity), and shows a prominent hook, as well as the beginning of an velocity couplet in the inset of the same image. This is the developing tornadic supercell near Dixon, Illinois that was to move to the northeast ahead of a cluster of storms near the warm front and produce the violent EF-4 wedge tornado in Olga County north of Rochelle.


DETAILED CHASE LOG FOR APRIL 8-9, 2015

1). April 8, 6:00 PM - Interception and indirect penetration of an extremely severe and tornadic thunderstorm in Barber County, Kansas from west of Medicine Lodge, and north and east towards Nashville, Kansas near Highways 160 and 42. The storm was a classic (and cyclic) supercell thunderstorm. Two tornadoes were observed with this storm, one being a brief low contrast elephant trunk, and another one being a large tornado that lasted about 5 minutes. Fortunately these tornadoes occurred in open rural terrain. The storm had a striking visual appearance, with a striated updraft and multiple layers (like an upside down wedding cake). The storm also produced winds gusting near 50 MPH, and baseball sized hail. Hail to at least 2.5 inches, albeit melted, was observed west of Nashville, Kansas behind the storm as it was weakening. Heavy rains and frequent lightning (with some close hits) was also observed. Hail damage was observed near Nashville. Conditions causing the storms were a warm front / dryline interaction, surface heating, vertical wind shear, a low pressure system, and strong upper trough. Documentation was digital stills, HD video, and audio. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 12 AM CDT the next day.

2). April 9, 6:00 PM - Interception and subsequent penetration of a very severe and tornadic thunderstorm from west of Davenport, Iowa in Scott County, and points east to near I80 and Highway 61 near the Mississippi River. The storm was encountered again west of Fairdale, Illinois in Olga County and near I-39 as it evolved to a line segment behind the other tornadic storm that affected Olga County (below). This storm was an HP supercell storm, and a weak, possibly rain wrapped tornado was briefly visible from the SE side of the storm before it became outflow dominant. The storm also contained frequent lightning, heavy rains, quarter to golfball sized hail, and winds gusting over 70 MPH. The storm was caused by a warm front / Pacific cold front interaction, surface heating, vertical wind shear, a low pressure system, and an intense upper trough aloft. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 11 PM CDT.

3). April 9, 7:00 PM - Interception and indirect penetration of an extremely severe and violent tornadic thunderstorm in Ogle County, Illinois from north of I-88 near Dixon and towards Rochelle and near I-39 / Highway 251 near Kings and to near Highway 72 near Fairdale. This storm was a violent and cyclic classic supercell thunderstorm. It produced a violent wedge tornado, nearly a mile wide at times that destroyed the small towns of Kings and Fairdale leaving two people dead. The storm developed on the southeastern side and ahead of a cluster of storms, formerly a supercell, to the northwest near Davenport, Iowa. This one cell explosively intensified, and quickly moved to the ENE and NE where it became tornadic near Rochelle and east of Dixon. The tornado started as a cone, then evolved to an elephant trunk, and ultimately a stovepipe. The storm quickly cycled and produced a large and violent (EF-4) tornado northwest of Rochelle just before 7 PM CDT. At one point, the developing wedge had a large satellite (a small stove pipe) tornado rotating around it. This tornado continued until it was out of site to the northeast of Fairdale, where I had to stop and offer assistance (Highway 72 was also blocked there). Ground scouring was noted with the passage of this tornado, along with complete destruction of buildings, homes, trees (with debarking), and vehicles. A semi was overturned by this storm south of Highway 72 on I-39. The ground scouring was along a large swath, oriented SW to NE, with bare dark dirt left. Golfball sized hail was also noted as this storm crossed I-88 earlier. Winds gusting 70 to 80 MPH were observed (RFD) as well as inflow over 60 MPH. Heavy rains and frequent lightning were also encountered. The storm was caused by a warm front / Pacific cold front interaction, surface heating, vertical wind shear, a low pressure system, and an intense upper trough aloft. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 11 PM CDT.

This concludes the chase log for the central US Plains and Midwest (including chases in Kansas and Illinois) chase trip for April 7-9, 2015. The summary includes a total of 3 severe thunderstorms, all of which produced tornadoes. 4 tornadoes were observed, two significant (with one of those being violent and causing fatalities). The main chase vehicle conducting this chase was a 2009 Ford Escape. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR APRIL 7, 2015

My chase vehicle (2009 Ford Escape) with hail protection in place and ready to start chasing in Kansas (April 8, 2015).


GALLERY FOR APRIL 8, 2015

This is the target area and guidances provided by the storm prediction center. From left to right is the tornado probabilities, mesoscale discussion #0234, and tornado watch box #36. The refined / final target area for 4/8 was pretty much on the southwestern side of the 15% hatched tornado probabilities shown in the SPC outlook (1630z) to the left. This area is pretty much in the northern (top-center) of the tornado watch box, and ahead (east and northeast) of the surface low (dryline and warm front "triple-point") shown in the middle image for MCD #0234.

Skip Talbot and his Mesodome (camera housing) atop his chase vehicle near Wellington, Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Part of the chaser convergence near Wellington, Kansas on April 8, 2015. Skip Talbot, Blake Naftel, Tony Laubach and many others were there.
Wall cloud on the Medicine Lodge supercell storm in Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Brief wedge tornado to the southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Occluding supercell after tornado weakens to the southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Weakening mesocyclone and low scud clouds southwest of Nashville, Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Looking north at the RFD clear slot and intense mesocyclone southwest of Nashville, Kansas on April 8, 2015.
Large hail, partially melted (tennis to baseball sized) near Nashville, Kansas on the evening of April 8, 2015.
Piece of very large hail held up to car headlight. This was one of many pieces covering the ground near Nashville, Kansas on the evening of April 8, 2015.
Hail covering roadway near Nashville, Kansas on the evening of April 8, 2015. Note the hail fog forming.


GALLERY FOR APRIL 9, 2015

This is the target area and guidances provided by the storm prediction center. From left to right is the tornado probabilities, mesoscale discussion #0246, and tornado watch boxes #39 and #41. The final target area wound up being pretty much in the "venn" area where tornado watch boxes "overlap" in northwestern to northern Illinois in the image to the right. This area is also towards the far northeastern end of the shaded area in the mesoscale discussion in the middle image, and the top of the 10% hatched tornado graphic furnished by SPC on their 1630z outlook.

Tornadic HP supercell storm to the west of Davenport, Iowa on April 9, 2015. The weak tornado, to become rain wrapped soon, is to the lower right side of the image.
Possible weak tornado becoming rain-wrapped to the west of Davenport, Iowa on April 9, 2015.
New supercell developing near Dixon, Illinois on April 9, 2015. This will be the violent supercell and tornado to affect the areas north of Rochelle, IL later. The powerful RFD is developing in the center of the image, with flanking line and updraft just right of that. The view is to the east.
Powerful RFD clear slot develops on a rapidly intensifying supercell storm near Dixon, Illinois on April 9, 2015. The view is east along I-88.
Developing tornado north of I-88 and southwest of Rochelle, IL on April 9, 2015.
Mature elephant trunk tornado north of I-88 and southwest of Rochelle, IL on April 9, 2015.
Stovepipe tornado north of I-88 and southwest of Rochelle, IL on April 9, 2015. The view is to the north.
Close-up view of the large stovepipe tornado north of I-88 and southwest of Rochelle, IL on April 9, 2015. The view is to the north.
Another similar view of the large stovepipe tornado north of I-88 and southwest of Rochelle, IL on April 9, 2015. The view is to the north.
Approaching a violent wedge tornado just west of I-39 near Rochelle, Illinois on April 9, 2015.
Violent wedge tornado, backlit by a flash of lightning, heading towards Fairdale, Illinois on April 9, 2015. The view is to the north along Highway 251.
Myself with violent wedge tornado in the background off Highway 251 and north of Hillcrest / Rochelle, Illinois on April 9, 2015.
View of violent wedge tornado north of Hillcrest / Rochelle, Illinois on April 9, 2015.
Closer-up view of violent wedge tornado north of Hillcrest / Rochelle, Illinois on April 9, 2015.
Damage in the foreground near Kings and Fairdale, Illinois with the tornado still on the ground moving into the distance. The view is to the northeast.
Extensive damage to a farmstread near Fairdale, Illinois on April 9, 2015.
More damage north of Highway 72 and near Fairdale, Illinois. Note the bare dark dirt from the ground scouring in the center of the picture extending left to right. This was late on April 9, 2015.
Trees and debris blocking the road as lightning flashes overhead and the chase ends (time to stop and assist) on April 9, 2015 near Fairdale, Illinois.


GALLERY FOR APRIL 10-11, 2015

Steak dinner upon returning back to Chicago on April 10, 2015.
Damage in Olga County (north of Rochelle, IL) on April 11, 2015.
Ground scarring (black line oriented SW to NW) to the west and north of Rochelle / Hillcreast and viewed from PAC 750 skydive aircraft at about 5,000 feet. The view is to the north on April 11, 2015.


CHASE MAP FOR MAY 7-11, 2015

This is a chase map for the second chase of 2015. The chase / travel track is in blue, and includes the trip from the Chicago area, to Kansas City for the first travel day on May 7, then the chase days in Oklahoma on May 8, Colorado and Kansas on May 9, and the "attempt" at chasing on May 10 (cancelled target was too far north of Nebraska in NW Iowa). The return was back to Kansas City later in the day on May 10 with a return via flying back one-way (green line is the flight path) to Chicago early on May 11, leaving my main chase vehicle in Kansas City until my next trip out. The target areas appear as yellow outlines (greyed for "cancelled" target on May 10) for the main three chase days, with storm intercepts denoted by the red "X's".


CHASE TRIP CHRONOLOGY FOR MAY 7-11, 2015

This was the second trip of 2015 dedicated to storm chasing in the central United States. This trip was with great opportunities and foresights, only to be partially trumped by shifting target areas, morning convection complicating forecasts, and - worst of all - a logistics error on May 9 causing me to miss tornadoes in Colorado (more on that below). I left the Chicago area after work by driving out on I-90 during the afternoon of May 7 and headed through Rockford and south on I-39 to I-88 west into Iowa to meet I-80. I continued through Des Moines to I-35 south and was in Kansas City just after Midnight on May 8, 2015. May 8 was originally an area targeted from NW Oklahoma to SW Kansas, and this pattern was amidst a very active week of severe weather with tornadoes nearly every day of the week of May 3-9.

On Friday, May 8, I forecasted early and found the target area would be a bit farther south and west. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) originally had an area extending from west-central Oklahoma northward into southern Kansas, with a large moderate-risk of probabilities outlined. The tornado threat was 10%, with a 15% wind, and 45% (hatched) hail for this outlook. I left Kansas City and took I-29 to I-35 down through Emporia, then Wichita, and continuing all the way to Oklahoma City, then southwest on I-44 to Chickasha, stopping there to see what was going on. Storms were developing southwest so I continued west to Anadarko, then south on 62 to near Lawton, and west to Highway 183 to go south towards Frederick. The main supercell storm was encountered from near Davidson along 183 and just south of the Red River in Texas.

I continued with the storm back along 70 in Oklahoma to near Grandfield. After finishing the chase, I headed back up highway 36 north and back to 183 via 5 west. I headed north on 183 all the way to Seiling, then northwest on 183 to Woodward for the night. With May 9 being the anticipated chase day, I forecasted early and planned to leave Woodward to head the a target area anywhere from SW Kansas to east-central Colorado. This area was also out looked by SPC in an enhanced risk, with a 10% tornado, 15% wind, and 30% (hatched) hail outlook. A second distant target, in the DFW area in Texas, was not considered, but that area had 15% (hatched) for tornado probabilities. I decided to stick with the committed target and took 183 to 270 out of Woodward and west to highway 83, then north into Liberal, Kansas.

Still pretty much on target for a Colorado chase, and chatting with Rodger Hill's group, I continued out of Liberal on 83 to Highway 160 and west into Colorado. Initiation was underway and a couple of nice storm cells were in range, with one about 45 miles NW of me south of Lamar and near Highway 287. I made it to between Lycan and Two Buttes on 116 and realized I was low on fuel. This was the "nail in the coffin" for today's chase. With no gas in most towns, I had to painfully back track to Johnson City, Kansas to take on fuel. This caused a 45 minute delay, and the storm near Lamar began producing tornadoes (that would be the Cheyenne Wells storm). Now in race / catch up mode, I rushed north on 27 to Syracuse, then west on highway 400 back into Colorado.

I reached Bristol after a lengthy bridge-out one lane light delay, I headed north on 385 all the way to near I-70 in Burlington, reaching the former tornadic storm in its cold outflow dominated stage. This was not an easy pill to swallow and a hard lesson learned to always keep that gas tank topped off. With hail covered ground near Burlington, I headed back east on I-70 quickly to intercept another supercell storm south east of Oakley. With daylight waning and the storm already north of I-70 when I finally got to it, I pulled off near Grinnel, Kansas in an attempt to go north, which was a failed dirt road (216) jammed with other chaser traffic. The intended north track was highway 23 farther east. With this storm, I WAS able to observe the tornadoes from a distance due to the continuous lightning.

I stopped on highway 23 just south of Hoxie and spent time shooting lightning (digital still exposures) of the supercell storm - With many images revealing a large tornado under the SW side of the storm. After I was done, I headed back to I-70, then east to Salina for the night. May 10 was an "iffy" chase day, but with any good target area being way too far out of reach from Salina, Kansas. The northern target was from SE South Dakota to NW Iowa, and much activity was on the north side of that early in the morning (with a tornado at 10:30 AM in SD). Originally, this target area (before it shifted way N), was over NE Kansas and SE Nebraska into Iowa. The SPC had this final area in an enhanced outlook, with 10% tornado, 30% hail, and 15% wind. Another distant area with higher probabilities was also in Texas.

I headed out of Salina via north on 81 to Belleville and east on 36. Encountering some very disorganized storms, and seeing any target area will be affected by the early day convection, I decided to head to Seneca, then north into Nebraska to highway 8 near Dubois, to head east across the river to highway 159 and I-29. With much more activity planned in chasing, I decided to leave my vehicle in Kansas City until my main chase trip starting May 18. I continued back down I-29 and stayed in Kansas City for the night. The following day, May 11, I parked my vehicle in long-term parking, and flew back to Chicago for the work week there (avoid the long drive there and back out the following week). The total mileage on the vehicle was 2,363.0 miles.


MAY 7-11 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME / BASE CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURACHICAGO, ILKG4PJN5-7 TO 5-11IT CONSULTANT


STORM REPORTS FOR MAY 7-11, 2015

Above is a comprehensive compilation of storm reports from the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) for the period of May 7 through May 11, 2015. Obviously there is a very active severe weather pattern underway denoted by this graphic, with a total of 856 reports of severe weather. Out of these reports, there were 109 confirmed tornadoes, 478 damaging wind reports (with 2 extreme damaging wind reports at 65 knots or higher), and 269 hail reports at or over 1" (with 25 reports of 2" hail or greater). In the images above, from left to right, we see the tornado outlook (20z), MCD (mesoscale discussion) #571, and tornado watch box #149 valid in 9PM MDT. This was a very complicated forecast, with two distinct target areas (a 10% tornado outlook extending from SW and western Kansas and into east-central Colorado as well as a hatched (significant possible) tornado outlook near the Dallas / Fort Worth area in north-central Texas. Both of these verified, but I opted for cold-core / upslope and better upper air dynamics for photogenic tornadoes in the 10% outlook area to the northwest. The Dallas area saw more HP type supercells and tornadoes. The setup is also shown in the middle image for the MCD #571 issued outlining an interesting cold-core type setup. To the right is the tornado watch box.


STORM RADAR - MAY 9, 2015

Above are two radar images of the Oakley / Grinnell / Hoxie low-topped supercell as it was producing significant tornadoes. To the left is the base reflectivity image, and to the right is the Doppler velocity image showing impressive gate-to-gate shear (couplet) centered on the "hook" of the reflectivity image.


DETAILED CHASE LOG FOR MAY 7-11, 2015

1). May 8, 4:30 PM - Interception and penetration of an extremely severe and tornadic thunderstorm from near Davidson, Oklahoma and eastward through Grandfield and Devol from near Highways 183 and 70 in Tillman County. The storm was an HP supercell storm. At least two tornadoes were observed with this storm, one was a brief elephant trunk tornado forming from the left split, and later a low-contrast multi-vortex tornado within the main circulation of the HP storm ("Bears" cage). In addition to the tornadoes, very heavy rains, frequent lightning with some close hits, 60 MPH winds, and tennis ball sized hail was encountered. The main core had baseball sized hail. This storm also had a striking visual appearance. The storm remained over open country, but some flash flooding was noted with the passage of this storm. Conditions causing the storm were a low pressure system, stationary frontal boundary, surface heating, and an upper trough. Documentation was audio, digital stills, and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 9 PM CDT.

2). May 9, 6:00 PM - External observation of an extremely severe and cyclic tornadic supercell storm from along Highway 385 in Cheyenne Wells in Cheyenne County, Colorado. This storm was not reached until it weakened near Burlington and I-70 and was outflow dominant. None of the tornadoes were observed as a navigation issue / fuel stop caused problems getting into position on the storm on time. Hail was observed covering the ground (marble sized) with an occluded wall-cloud and a temperature drop from the mid 70's to near 40 degrees (F)! The storm was also a low topped type of cold core storm. Conditions causing the storm were a low-pressure system, dryline, warm front, surface heating, and upper trough / low. Documentation was digital stills, and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 9 PM MDT.

3). May 9, 9:30 PM - Observation of an extremely severe and cyclic tornadic supercell storm from along Interstate 70 and Grinnel, Kansas in Gove County. The storm was not directly penetrated, but large tornadoes, illuminated by continuous lightning, were observed with this storm. The storm was also a low topped type of cold core storm. Conditions causing the storm were a low-pressure system, dryline, surface heating, and upper trough / low. Documentation was digital stills, and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM CDT.

4). May 10, 12:30 PM - Observation of a disorganized but marginally severe storm passing through Nemaha County near Oneida, Kansas and along Highway 36. The storm was a multicell severe storm, and small marble sized hail was observed on the ground after the storm passed. The core was not directly penetrated. Conditions causing the storms were a low level jet, surface heating, a low pressure trough, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM CDT.

This concludes the chase log for the central US Plains and Midwest chase trip for May 7-11, 2015. The summary includes a total of 4 severe thunderstorms, three of which produced tornadoes. 4 tornadoes were observed in total. The main chase vehicle conducting this chase was a 2009 Ford Escape. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR MAY 7, 2015

Hail grills installed on chase vehicle (Ford Escape) prior to the chase trip for May 7-11, 2015.


GALLERY FOR MAY 8, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the categorical outlook (20z), MCD (mesoscale discussion) #545, and tornado watch box #143 valid in 9PM CDT. The SPC had a moderate risk in place in SW Oklahoma and Texas extending south of the Red River towards Lubbock. This moderate risk was originally near the NW OK panhandle and south-central Kansas, but an outflow boundary pushed farther south than expected earlier in the day.

Brief tornado on the northern (left) split of an HP supercell southwest of Frederick, Oklahoma on May 8, 2015.
View southwest at massive wall cloud and HP supercell storm. A possible tornado (barely visible) is in the center of the image just above the ground. This is along Highway 183 in Oklahoma just north of the Red River / Texas border on May 8.
View of occluding RFD (left) and FFD (right) with notch area and wall cloud (center) of the HP supercell storm near Grandfield, OK on May 8.
Inside the "bear's cage" of the HP supercell storm near Grandfield, OK on May 8. Brief multi-vortex tornado barely visible just left of the center of the picture looking WSW.


GALLERY FOR MAY 9, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the tornado outlook (20z), MCD (mesoscale discussion) #571, and tornado watch box #149 valid in 9PM MDT. This was a very complicated forecast, with two distinct target areas (a 10% tornado outlook extending from SW and western Kansas and into east-central Colorado as well as a hatched (significant possible) tornado outlook near the Dallas / Fort Worth area in north-central Texas. Both of these verified, but I opted for cold-core / upslope and better upper air dynamics for photogenic tornadoes in the 10% outlook area to the northwest. The Dallas area saw more HP type supercells and tornadoes. The setup is also shown in the middle image for the MCD #571 issued outlining an interesting cold-core type setup. To the right is the tornado watch box.

Low topped LP supercell off Highway 385 looking northeast while trying to catch up with a tornadic storm farther north in SE to E Colorado on May 9, 2015.
View of the Cheyenne Wells, Colorado supercell from about 30 miles out on May 9. Hard to believe this "low topped" storm produced a half dozen tornadoes.
Hail covers the ground (marble sized) south of Burlington, CO along highway 385 on May 9. Note the "traffic jam" of storm chasers!
This is a time exposure of the Grinnell, Kansas cyclic tornadic supercell after dark on May 9. Lightning was continuous enough to illuminate the entire structure of this low topped supercell. To the lower left a large tornado can barely be made out under the storm base!
Even from 30 miles away, the lightning reveals a large tornado (or a tornado and a satellite) under the base of the storm. In this image, two tornadoes can easily be seen to the lower right side of the image!
Earlier view (poor quality from a video frame grab) of one of the large tornadoes looking NW from east of Grinnell, Kansas on May 9 at roughly 10 PM CDT.


GALLERY FOR MAY 10, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the tornado outlook (20z), MCD (mesoscale discussion) #584, and tornado watch box #156 valid in 9PM CDT. Note how the setup completely separated into two distinct target areas nearly 1,000 miles apart with a 10% tornado probability. Both targets were not reachable in time from my position in Salina, Kansas (for the prior night). The northern target area of interest was once again plagued by early morning and messy convection, and the good tornadoes wound up being in Texas for the most part (outside of a significant morning tornado in SE SD). Both the MCD #584 and tornado watch 156 reflect the setup and best severe weather possibilities being confined to NW Iowa and SE SD near the low pressure area and warm front.

Disorganized severe storm in messy morning convection passing through northeastern Kansas on May 10, 2015. This was pretty ,uch a cencelled chase day, with anything good for the day developing far away.


GALLERY FOR MAY 11, 2015

Throw-back picture at the end of the chase showing the Grandfield, OK storm with my vehicle and a chaser convergence off highway 70 in Oklahoma. I left my vehicle at the airport on May 11 and flew back to Chicago instead. I left my vehicle there in long term parking so I can pick up chasing again on my main trip a week later.


CHASE MAP FOR MAY 18-26, 2015

The diagram above is the chase map for the period of May 18 through May 26 (foolishly cut short from a June 1 return). The blue lines show the chase / travel paths. Red "X's" are storm intercept locations. The green line is the flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (with a Tampa connection) to Kansas City on May 18 (where I left my chase vehicle in long-term parking from the last trip). The chase ended on May 26 with a return to the Chicago area 6 days earlier, assuming activity (because of forecasted weaker 500 MB flow) was going to wane after May 25 - But it didn't ... And a major event of tornadoes was missed after my return, making the decision to return early the worst mistake so far in over 25 years of chasing.


CHASE TRIP CHRONOLOGY FOR MAY 18-26, 2015

This is the so called "main" or "expedition" chase trip where about 2 weeks is spent in the Central USA as long as active conditions warrant. This is also my third trip for 2015 for storm chasing. May 18 was the first day, and was in the wake of an active pattern over the previous weekend, so this was a travel day. I had my vehicle parked in the long term parking at Kansas City Airport from my previous trip, so I flew in from Florida (Fort Lauderdale to Kansas City with a connection in Tampa, instead of the original plan to return from Florida to Chicago and drive out). I picked up my vehicle, and left Kansas City at about noon. I headed down I-29 to I-35 south, through Emporia and Wichita, and eventually all the way to Oklahoma City by evening. I figured this will be a good starting point for this week’s activity.

May 19 was the first chase day of this trip, with a low-end slight risk chase on tap in the Texas Panhandle from south of Amarillo as far as Lubbock as the target area, The SPC also had this area in a slight risk most of the day, with a 5% tornado, and both hail and wind probabilities at 15%. A warm front / boundary was put out by morning convection, and a possible dryline was forecasted to bulge out near Plainview by late afternoon. I left Oklahoma City via I-44 to I-40 west, all the way to Amarillo. Out of Amarillo, I headed south towards Canyon on I-27, then to Tulia where I encountered the stationary boundary and saw a cluster of storms to the west along the dryline bulge. SPC already had a tornado watch #189 in place to the east of the area, but issued Mesoscale Discussion 699 for my target area. I headed back north to intercept the cell that was crossing near Canyon, taking I-27 to near FM 1541 and to 1151 east towards Claude to intercept the storm.

Once near Claude, the storm weakened and I decided to check out new "tail end" storms to the southwest. I followed Highway 207 south across the Canyon and back again, watching the new supercell storm with a wall cloud form near Wayside. The storm was moving to the ENE and the best bet was to avoid the Canyon Country (Palo Duro) and back-track north to 287 east and southeast out of Claude towards Clarendon. The storm became an intense supercell storm with impressive hook and couplet on radar. I headed south on highway 70 and observed the rotating portion of the storm, then east on 256 through Lakeview and to Memphis where this storm weakened as well. It was getting late so I wrapped up the chase and headed down 287 to highway 86, stopping for fuel in Turkey, then continued along 86 west to 70 south to Matador. I headed west then south on 62 to 82 west near Ralls. Finally, I took 82 into Lubbock, spending the night there. This was anticipating another marginal setup the next day.

May 20 was a marginal slight-risk type chase day, ahead of a cold front that just does not want to stop "surging southward". This pushed the chase target area far into extreme SW Texas, up to the Mexican border! SPC also had a small slight risk area, with a measly 2% tornado, and 15% probability for both wind and hail in an area near I-10 and in SW Texas. Since I was already in Lubbock, I decided to chase the setup, and was rewarded with a nice supercell storm north of Fort Stockton during the afternoon before the front undercut it. The day began with forecasting in Lubbock, and packing up and heading south on highway 87 through Big Spring and farther south on 33 to near Big Lake. I headed west on 67 to Girvin, then south on 11 to I-10 (Bakersfield, TX). I headed west on I-10 to Fort Stockton, intercepting a supercell storm on Highway 18 north of there. After that, I continued south on 18 through town and into rural Texas on 285 and east again on FM 2400.

I wrapped up the chase on 2886, and back-tracked to I-10 and back on 11 / FM 1901 to Mc Camey. From there I took 385 north to Odessa, and I-20 east to Big Spring for the night. May 21 was not a chase day, but a travel day to position northward. I pretty much headed north on Highway 87 out of Big Spring and continued north through Lubbock via 87 / I-27 and into Amarillo off I-40 for the stop for the day. I had dinner with other storm chasers at the Big Texan, Steakhouse. I spent the night in Amarillo anticipating better storm chase prospects farther north.

May 22 was a chase day with an area targeted in northeastern Colorado, pretty much west of the Burlington area and westward towards Limon, along and south of the I-70 corridor. I left Amarillo early after forecasting and seeing the new target area, which was ahead of a developing low pressure system along the Front Range and there was also a warm front draped near I-70, with upslope wind flow. The SPC had this area in a small slight risk, with both wind and tornado probabilities at 5%, and hail 15%. I headed out of Amarillo via highway 287 north, and continued on that road all the way through the OK Panhandle and into Colorado and to near Kit Carson, then NW on highway 40 to Limon and a bit southwest of there to near Matheson on highway 24 for some storms. I backed to Limon, then southeast towards Hugo, then north to I-70 and east to more supercell storms near Burlington. The SPC also had a mesoscale discussion (MCD 718) out for this area as well. By dusk, I wrapped up by heading east on I-70, and stayed in Goodland, KS for the night.

May 23 was yet another "tornado less" chase day in east-central Colorado. The target area for the day was very close to the one for yesterday, with backed winds ahead of a developing low pressure area, but with cool temparatures. The SPC also had a slightly larger area in a slight risk, with a 5% tornado and hail and wind probabilities both at 15%. The SPC wound up issuing mesoscale discussion MCD #725 and subsequent tornado watch 195 valid until 7 PM for much of eastern Colorado. I headed west on I-70 back into Colorado to Limon, then south on Highway 71 to Rocky Ford where storms were developing near La Junta by about 3 PM. A tornado warned storm was intercepted near La Junta along Highway 50. The storm was followed to near La Animas on 50 then north on 14 to Highway 96 and Haswell. The storm quickly evolved into a line segment. I headed east on 96 out of Haswell, then south on 287 back to 50, heading west for one last look at the storms, then finally east all the way into Dodge City, Kansas for the night.

May 24 showed very little chase prospects but turned out to be one of the best days to chase ... And what did I do? Assumed it was not good to chase this day, and headed to Wichita from Dodge City via highway 400 thinking nothing was going to happen (SPC had a 2% tornado probability with a marginal slight risk for much of SE Colorado that wound up being under-forecasted). It's May, and you CHASE ... And not chasing to get my vehicle maintenance done caused me to miss a good storm in the SAME PLACE I basically busted in SE Colorado on the 23rd, and low and behold, a wedge tornado develops just SW of Dodge City (where I was all morning on the 24th) after dark. I basically spend the later part of the day (and night) in Wichita, planning on driving back to Chicago on the 25th due to lousy chase prospects from then until the end of the month.

On May 25, I woke up early and saw two possible target areas warranting a stay to chase (after missing the good stuff on May 24). There was a moderate risk issued by SPC to the south on central Texas (with a 10% tornado probability, 30% hail, and 45% hatched wind). Farther north on NE Kansas, there was also a slight risk, which seemed much more amicable for chasing, with a 5% tornado and wind / hail both 15%. I forecasted and headed out of Wichita early via I-135 north to Salina, then continued north on Highway 81 to 36 near Belleview. Storms began developing near Salina, so I backed down there to near I-70 east for intercept of severe storms, including an LP supercell near Salina. I continued east on I-70 to highway 75 north out of Topeka. The storms became outflow dominant clusters (again). I headed north to highway 36, then east all the way into Missouri to I-35 north, and into Des Moines, Iowa for the night. This was the last day of chasing.

The following day, May 26, I headed east out of Des Moines on I-80 to I-88 in Illinois, then back to Hoffman Estates for return to work by lunch time. This ends this rather unsuccessful chase trip, with a total mileage of 4177.6 miles logged (in states CO, IA, IL, KS, MO, OK, and TX). With my return ... And thinking a quiet pattern was in store - Numerous tornadoes developed in KS, OK, and TX from May 26 through the 28. The decision to cut this trip short, and return early to Chicago proved to be one of the most foolish (and embarassing) mistakes I ever made in my chase career of over 25 years.


MAY 18-26 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME / BASE CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURACHICAGO, ILKG4PJN5-18 TO 6-1IT CONSULTANT


DETAILED CHASE LOG FOR MAY 18-26, 2015

1). May 19, 4:30 PM - Interception and penetration of a very severe and possibly tornadic thunderstorm in Armstrong County, Texas between Canyon and Claude along FM 1151. The storm was an HP supercell storm. Conditions encountered were occasional lightning, torrential rains, 60 to 70 MPH winds, and hail up to quarter sized (mainly marble sized in large amounts). A rotating wall cloud / small funnels was also noted with the updraft of this storm. The storms were caused by an advancing dryline, low pressure area, surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. The area was to the west of a tornado watch valid until 9 PM CDT.

2). May 19, 7:00 PM - Interception and penetration of another very severe and possibly tornadic thunderstorm in Donley County, Texas near Highway 70 and south of Clarendon and west of Lakeview on 256. The storm was a large HP supercell storm. Conditions encountered were frequent lightning (with some close hits), torrential rains, winds gusting near 70 MPH, and occasional hail up to quarter sized (the main core was not penetrated). A large rotating wall cloud / small funnels was also noted with the updraft of this storm, with some tagging rain curtains. The storms were caused by an advancing dryline, low pressure area, surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. The area was to the west of a tornado watch valid until 9 PM CDT.

3). May 20, 5:00 PM - Interception and penetration of a severe thunderstorm in Pecos County, Texas near Highway 18 and just north of Fort Stockton. The storm was an LP (to classic) supercell storm. Conditions encountered were occasional lightning (with a couple close hits), heavy rains, winds gusting near 50 MPH, and hail up to quarter sized. A rotating wall cloud was also noted with the updraft of this storm, with some small funnels. The storms were caused by an advancing dryline, low pressure trough, surface heating, southward moving cold front, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also valid for the area until 12 AM CDT the next day.

4). May 22, 4:30 PM - Interception and penetration of a strong to severe thunderstorm in Elbert County, Colorado near Matheson and along Highway 24, then near 40 towards Hugo and south of Limon. The storm began as an LP supercell storm, and evolved to classic / multicell at times. The storm had a striking visual appearance, and some small funnels were noted with the storm as well. Small hail was also noted covering the ground. There was occasional lightning, 50 MPH winds, heavy rains, and small hail. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a warm front, low pressure system, and upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms.

5). May 22, 7:00 PM - Interception and observation of a severe thunderstorm in Kit Carson County, Colorado near I-70 and Burlington to Bethune. The storm was a supercell storm with strong rotation observed on its southeastern side, with 50 to 60 MPH inflow winds. The core was not directly penetrated, but heavy rains, small hail, lightning, and 50 MPH winds were observed. A rotating wall cloud and some funnel clouds were also observed with this storm. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a warm front, low pressure system, and upper trough. Documentation was digital stills. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms.

6). May 23, 4:30 PM - Interception and penetration of strong to severe thunderstorms near Otero County, Colorado from near La Junta and Highway 50 to near and north of Las Animas. The storm was a small supercell storm that evolved to a cluster / bow segment of multicell storms. A rotating wall cloud and some funnels were observed, as well as lightning, heavy rains, hail to 1", and winds gusting over 60 MPH. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, low pressure system, and upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 7 PM MDT.

7). May 25, 5:00 PM - Interception and penetration of severe thunderstorms near Saline County, Kansas from near Salina and points northeast along Interstate 70. The storms were a multicell cluster of severe storms, but an LP supercell storm with a rotating wall cloud was observed on the northern side of the storm complex. The multicell cluster of severe storms eventually overtook the LP storm, and had 60 MPH winds, heavy rains, frequent lightning (with some close hits), and hail up to quarter sized (1 inch or so).Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a low pressure system, frontal boundary, and upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also valid for the area until 10 PM CDT.

This concludes the chase log for the central US Plains and Midwest chase trip for May 18 to May 26, 2015. The summary includes a total of 7 severe thunderstorms. No tornadoes were observed on this trip. The main chase vehicle conducting this chase was a 2009 Ford Escape. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR MAY 18, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 18, 2015. Today was an arrival day and not a chase day, with most activity confined out of reach in extreme SW Texas.

Flying into Kansas City to pick up my vehicle there from the week prior and start my trip on May 18. While overflying Missouri, the unmistakable line of the cold front can be seen below us (note the upper-left inset from NCAR at the time).


GALLERY FOR MAY 19, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 19, 2015. The main chase target areas were near Amarillo, Texas and points southeast of there.

Paying tribute to Tim and Paul Samaras, and Carl Young, who perished in the May 31, 2013 El Reno tornado. A beautiful memorial is still maintained for them along side Reuter Road in rural Oklahoma. Always keep these folks in our hearts on EVERY chase trip.
Developing supercell storm along the dryline west of Canyon, Texas on May 19, 2015.
RFD and wall cloud looking north in Canyon, Texas.
Punching through hail core with 60+ MPH winds and marble hail on Claude Road east of Claude, Texas.
Rotating wall cloud before being under cut by FFD / cold air looking SW. This was SW of Claude, Texas.
Another supercell later develops to the southwest and takes a path south of the previous one that affected Claude, Texas. This one had an incredible radar signature as it was over the Palo Duro Canyon and west of Clarendon, Texas on May 19!
The view of the same "hook" you see in the radar image above, while heading down highway 70 out of Clarendon, Texas.
The storm looked impressive on radar, but did not produce any tornadoes, just lots of low-level rotation. This is a view of the wet RFD approaching highway 70 between Clarendon and Memphis, Texas from in the "bears cage" of the storm.
Weakening supercell storm at sunset while headed back to Lubbock, Texas for the night.


GALLERY FOR MAY 20, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 20, 2015. This was a very marginal chase day with very low probabilities for tornadoes, and a surging cold front that made it all the way into Mexico, with the target areas in extreme SW and southern Texas.

A developing supercell storm north of Fort Stockton, Texas from heading west on I-10 on May 20, 2015.
Low level mesocyclone of the supercell storm north of Fort Stockton, Texas on May 20.
Hail up to quarter sized falling along Highway 18 north of Fort Stockton, Texas.


GALLERY FOR MAY 21, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 21, 2015. This day was a travel / reposition day to go farther north again. The areas of any storm development were near the SW TX / Mexican border and US east coast.

This place is a MUST when storm chasing and stopping in Amarillo, Texas for the night! The Big Texan Steakhouse, with many chase vehicles parked in the parking lot as well.


GALLERY FOR MAY 22, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 22, 2015. The area targeted for this day was the 5% tornado probability / slight risk in Colorado.

Initiation of severe storms in the target area in Colorado (this cell is SW of Limon).
Developing LP supercell storm near Matheson, Colorado (SW of Limon) on May 22, 2015.
Hail covers roadway after passage of LP supercell north of Hugo, Colorado.
Another developing supercell storm looking east along I-70 towards Burlington, Colorado late in the day on May 22.
Rapidly rotating area of supercell storm near Burlington, Colorado.
Small funnel on rotating area of supercell storm west of Burlington (near Bethune), Colorado.
Wall cloud on low-topped LP supercell storm near Flagler, Colorado.


GALLERY FOR MAY 23, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 23, 2015. The area targeted for this day was again in Colorado, but a little south of yesterday's target areas on May 22.

HP type "notch" of supercell storm being embeeded in developing bow segment near Las Animas, Colorado on May 23, 2015.
North edge of wall cloud with chasers along highway 14 near Haswell, Colorado on May 23.
Briefly rotating wall cloud, with possible gustnadoes underneath, before being rapidly undercut by outflow near Carlton, Colorado.
Impressive shelf cloud along the gust front east of Carlton, Colorado as storms become outflow dominant.


GALLERY FOR MAY 24, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 24, 2015. This day was taken as an off day in Wichita, KS for needed car maintenance. The 2% tornado probabilities were not encouraging, however, storms and tornadoes DID occur in SE Colorado and later near Dodge City, Kansas.

Altought not the best choice for May 24, 2015 ... I took this as a down day and had some needed maintenance done to my chase vehicle.


GALLERY FOR MAY 25, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 25, 2015. The area targeted for this day was the 5% tornado probability / slight risk extending into northern Kansas / SE Nebraska. The higher probabilties in SE Texas were associated with a powerful wind event (MCS) and were not planned for chasing.

Some cows were loose near Courtland, Kansas while on route to the target area for the day.
Small (LP) supercell storm with wall cloud forming near Salina, Kansas during the afternoon of May 25, 2015.
Another view of the LP supercell storm and RFD clear slot / wall cloud.


GALLERY FOR MAY 26, 2015

Above are the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) outlooks (including the main probability, hail, and tornado) products for May 26, 2015. This was the day I mistakingly and foolishly gave up on minimal chases since May 18 and went home to Chicago. Tornadoes developed in central Texas (and more so on May 27) after my return.

Backside of shelf cloud and "whales mouth" over central Iowa while driving back from Des Moines to Chicago associated with a morning MCS.


CHASE MAP FOR JUNE 1-5, 2015

This is a chase map for the fourth chase of 2015. The chase / travel track is in blue, and includes the trip from the Chicago area, to Sioux City, Iowa for the first travel day on June 1, then the chase days from June 2nd to the 4th. The return was back to Chicago was early on June 5. The target areas appear as yellow outlines for the main three chase days, with storm intercepts denoted by the red "X's". The dotted line on the June 4 target was the western most limits for that day, due to time constraints.


CHASE TRIP CHRONOLOGY FOR JUNE 1-5, 2015

This is the fourth chase trip for 2015. This was an impromptu chase trip with a last minute decision to head out for a few days starting Monday, June 1 after clearing my schedule for my main IT job in Chicago. I left Hoffman Estates after work on June 1, and headed west on I-90 to I-39 (Rockford), then south to I-88 and west into Iowa to I-80, taking that all the was west through Des Moines to I-680 north of Omaha, NE, then north on I-29 to Sioux City, Iowa for the night. The plan was to chase a setup anywhere from South Dakota to Nebraska on June 2, then on June 3, that being the "main" day encouraging this trip, in NE Colorado / KS / SW NE area.

June 2 was the so called "day before" chase day, and the plans were to target the south end of a very large slight-risk area extending from North Dakota south and southwestward to western Nebraska. In this slight risk, the SPC had a 5% tornado, 15% wind, and 15% hatched hail in their probabilities. There wound up being two target areas, one relatively out of reach in far central ND, and another from south-central SD into NW Nebraska and points south. I forecasted and headed out back on I-29 out of Sioux City and northward to Sioux Falls, SD. I headed west on I-90 to Murdo for lunch and to wait there.

By afternoon, the SPC issued MCD (mesoscale discussion) 866 and subsequent severe thunderstorm watch box 248 valid until 10 PM MDT. The distant "second" ND target also had its own MCD and tornado watch box, but no tornadoes formed on any supercells up there. I decided to head south out of Murdo, SD on 83 through the Rosebud reservation and west on Highway 18 to Pine Ridge, then south and southwest into Nebraska via SR 87 to near Rushville, then west on 20 to 87, then south and west on rural roads past 385 to near Highway 71 and Marshland (where storms were first intercepted). I continued south on 71 / 2 back to 385 and through Alliance. I continued south on 385 for the LP storm interceptions near Bridgeport and SR 88, then southeast to Dalton, then back up to Highway 26 to wrap up the chase by heading into Ogallala, NE for the night.

Once again, today (June 3) was a typical and extremely frustrating chase day, heralding some sort of "jinx" that has been following me around for about a month and a half. The day started out in Ogallala, NE looking at data and seeing the best place to be was from Cheyenne, WY southward to as far as Denver. SPC also had an enhanced risk for this area, with a 10% tornado, 30% hatched hail, and 15% wind in the aforementioned area forecasted. I simply headed west on I-80 through western NE and into Cheyenne, Wyoming for late lunch. By early afternoon, SPC issued mesoscale discussion MCD 871 and subsequent tornado watch box 251 valid until 9 PM MDT in a narrow area extending from eastern WY to just south of Denver, CO.

After waiting for hours in and north of Cheyenne, creeping up and down I-25, I watched candidate storms go up, but fizzle repeatedly after coming off the Laramie Range to the west. It became apparent that storms were not going to sustain themselves. With powerful supercell storms developing south of Denver, I made the decision by 4:30 PM MDT to abandon the primary target and go for the Denver storms, about 100 miles to the south at the time. I headed down I-25 which was high speed until I hit the rush hour perfectly on-time in Denver Metro.

It took about an hour to go 20 miles, from I-25 and eventually east on I-70, with additional construction delays and NO south options until Beyers. Finally in Byers, I headed south on CR 181 to target the main supercell storm between Kiowa and Agate. Of course, pavement gave way to packed dirt southwest of Deer Trail, but I stuck it out south and east on CR 125 ahead of the storm back into Agate via highway 86. The storm weakened and I was tired (and frustrated) and called it a day by heading east to I-70, then into Limon, then north on highway 71 to Broom and I-76, taking I-76 all the way into Julesburg, NE meeting I-80, and east into North Platte for the night.

June 4 was supposed to be a travel day back to Chicago. But with the continued lack of success at seeing tornadoes the past couple of days opted for a change of plans. I decided to target anywhere from north-central Kansas to SE Nebraska, where a potential chase target existed, reinforced by an enhanced risk and a 5% tornado probability along the KS / NE border from about the highway 183 corridor eastward to just past I-29. The area also had a 30% hail and 30% wind probability with the hail upgraded to hatched (significant) as well as tornado risk expanded west in the 1630z outlook.

Once again, there were TWO target areas. One being in north-central Kansas and points north and east, with expected CAPE of 4000+ and initiation as early as 21z, and the other well to the west in Colorado SE of Denver. The latter had a measly 2% tornado probability (we'll get to that later). I forecasted and left North Platte, heading east along I-80 to Grand Island for lunch near highway 281. I decided to drop south on 281, avoiding outflow from elevated storms north of the area that was pushing SW. I headed down 281 to Hastings, then eventually west on 34 towards Minden, then south on highway 10 into Kansas and near Kensington to go west on 36. SPC in the 20z outlook cut away a large portion of the 5% tornado probability to my north and east, so the SE Nebraska chase prospects were not looking good anymore.

Southwest of the outflow and back in the high CAPE air, I headed west into Phillipsburg to wait with many other big storm chasers (Chuck Doswell, Cloud 9 / Tempest Tours, Randy with the "Outlaw Chasers", Bill Reid, Charles Edwards, Scott Peake, and MANY others)! During this "chaser convergence", we watched a tower go up and immediately form a small LP supercell, but the cap was in place, and it weakened after about 5:30 PM to the disappointment of many. My problem was that going WEST was NOT an option, I already took this day off, and HAD to be to work back in Chicago the next morning. With still nothing going on by 7 PM, I called it a "cap bust" and said goodbye to the folks there, and began heading up Highway 183 north out of Phillipsburg.

Just as I left, with intent to start the long drive back to Chicago, a small echo appeared on radar reflectivity at about 7:45 PM - And which way was it? You guessed it, 85 miles to my WEST near Atwood, KS - The direction I could not go because I had to be back east for work the next day! I still was heading up 183, watching the storm blossom into a supercell on radar, now into Nebraska and south of Holdrege. In temptation, I drifted west for a bit on 4, but I had to turn back, and went back on 6 to 183, through Holdrege, and continued north to I-80 east. The storm I turned back on wound up being a photogenic LP supercell, witnessed by nearly everyone who was at the "chaser convergence" earlier in Phillipsburg.

The "straw that broke the camel's back" didn't come from the Atwood storm I had to abandon, but (remember?) the 2% tornado outlook in Colorado near Denver ... Well, a violent cyclic supercell producing multiple tornadoes was underway all this time - Right between Limon, Kiowa, and Deer Creek - Or the SAME place I was in just 24 hours prior! Frustrated and downright SICK ... I drove east straight through Lincoln, Omaha, then into Iowa via I-80 to Des Moines, arriving there at 12:30 AM, spending a short night, and continuing the long drive at 6 AM on I-80 east to Illinois, then I-39 and I-90 back into Hoffman Estates, arriving at my office at roughly 10:30 AM. Total mileage was 3032.6 miles. This trip drove the point deep that maybe I should be taking up a hobby other than storm chasing - Like sewing or something?


JUNE 1-5 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME / BASE CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURACHICAGO, ILKG4PJN6-1 TO 6-5IT CONSULTANT


DETAILED CHASE LOG FOR JUNE 1-5, 2015

1). June 2, 5:30 PM - Interception and observation of a very severe thunderstorm in Dawes County, Nebraska from west of Highway 385 and north of River Road near Marshland. The storm was a multicell cluster of strong and severe thunderstorms that evolved into a high precipitation supercell, then became outflow dominant with strong winds and dust (a "haboob"). The storm core was not penetrated, but small hail and winds gusting over 60 MPH were encountered with lightning and rain. A large, rotating wall cloud and RFD clear slot (wet RFD) was noted with a brief and large funnel cloud. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a low pressure system, dryline / boundary interactions, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM MDT.

2). June 2, 7:30 PM - Interception and observation of a severe thunderstorm in Morrill County, Nebraska from near highways 385 and 26 as well as south of there near Bridgeport and Highway 88. The storm was an LP supercell storm. The storm core indirectly penetrated, and hail to 1" was observed. Some dust, winds near 50 MPH, moderate rain, and lightning were also observed. The storm had a striking visual appearance ("stacked plates" effect). The storm undergone downscale evolution revealing a "barber pole" updraft as it weakened amidst other LP storms that formed west and north of it. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a low pressure system, dryline / boundary interactions, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM MDT.

3). June 3, 7:30 PM - Interception and observation of a severe thunderstorm in Ramah County, Colorado from between Kiowa and Agate and west of I-70 and north of highway 86. The storm was a supercell storm (classic to HP), with a striking visual appearance. The core, with baseball sized hail, was not penetrated. A rotating wall cloud was noted looking WSW into the storm, with a large funnel / possible brief tornado. The storm remained over open rural country, otherwise just light rain, 40 MPH winds, small hail, and lightning were observed from my part. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, a low pressure system, upslope wind flow, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 9 PM MDT.

4). June 4, 9:30 PM - Penetration of strong to severe thunderstorms along Interstate 80 from near Grand Island and eastward in Hall County, Nebraska. The storms were a multicell cluster / line of thunderstorms, and were outflow dominant. A shelf cloud was noted with the gust front from these storms, and winds near 60 MPH, small hail, torrential rains, and frequent lightning was observed. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms.

This concludes the chase log for the central US Plains and Midwest chase trip for June 1 to June 5, 2015. The summary includes a total of 4 severe thunderstorms. Once again, the bad luck of no confirmed tornadoes were observed on this trip. The main chase vehicle conducting this chase was a 2009 Ford Escape. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 1, 2015

Heading west on I-80 through Iowa late on June 1 after work. Unfortunately, the only "cones" to be bagged on this trip out would be mostly traffic cones, as late-spring road contruction was quite widespread on many highways and interstates.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 2, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the categorical outlook (1630z) issued by SPC for this day (June 2), tornado probability (I targeted the SW side of the 5% risk area), and MCD (mesoscale discussion) #862. The majority of the storms developed near the MCD issued for the SW part of the slight-risk area, with some isolated supercells forming in central North Dakota as well.

This is an intense line segment / multicell storms evolving to HP supercells near Chadron, Nebraska on June 2, 2015. The mesocyclone is developing in the center of the picture.
Closer view looking WNW towards a developing supercell storm, with the RFD and mesocyclone (with wall cloud and funnel forming in the upper center-right of the picture). This was June 2 near Chadron, NE and Marshland and west of highway 385.
Powerful RFD gust front forming as the supercell storms near Marshland, NE undergo up-scale evolution and start to become outflow dominated. June 2, 2015 west of highway 385.
A large wall cloud and funnel develops with the HP supercell storm just before being undercut with outflow as the tour groups watch. This was June 2 west of highway 385 in Dawes County, NE and north of highway 2.
As the supercell storms near Dawes County, NE evolved into an intense line segment, outflow dust was kicked up causing a "haboob" (dust storm). June 2 near highway 385.
Near zero visibility inside the dust storm (outflow "haboob") near Highway 2 and 385 in Dawes County, NE.
LP supercell storm near Morrill County, NE farther south and near highways 385 and 26.
Later view of a down-scaling LP supercell west of Dalton, NE near SR 88 at sunset on June 2.
Remnant updraft of LP supercell NE of Dalton, NE undergoing down-scale evolution with a narrow "barber-pole" structure at dusk. The orange color is from the setting sun on June 2. Quarter sized hail was still falling at this point.
Final view of weakening LP storm and "barber-pole" updraft before dissapation late on June 2 and NE of Dalton, NE.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 3, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the categorical outlook (1630z) issued by SPC for this day (June 3), tornado probability (with an upslope-augmented 10% risk area including Cheyenne, WY and Denver, CO), and MCD (mesoscale discussion) #871. The majority of the storms developed on extreme opposite sides of the MCD and target areas (one supercell south and east of Denver and another on the northern side 100 miles north of Cheyenne. Neither of these storms produced any significant tornadoes.

Denver rush hour traffic encountered attempting to leave the Cheyenne, WY area down I-25 to I-70 east to target supercell storms to the ESE of Denver, Colorado on June 3. This was the only option to avoid missing any storms. Do not try to chase in Denver proper during rush hour!
Approacing an intense supercell storm over the Palmer Divide southeast of Denver and west of Limon, Colorado on June 2.
Another view of the supercell storm west of Agate / Limon, Colorado on June 3. Note the intense rotation extending past the cloud boundary and causing clouds away from the storm to form "rings" (line rings around a planet)! Beaver's tail extends from center to lower right with an intense hail core.
I am not sure what to call this, scud or a weak tornado? This was west of Agate, CO on June 2 just before an HP supercell storm over the Palmer Divide weakened. The view is due west at the wall cloud.
Another view of a supercell storm developing after sundown over Denver, Colorado from about 50 miles away near Last Chance, CO on highway 71.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 4, 2015

In the images above, from left to right, we see the categorical outlook (1630z) issued by SPC for this day (June 4), tornado probability (with my main target being from the central part of the NE / KS border and points east), and MCD (mesoscale discussion) #887. Do you see the circled "?" way to the west in Colorado on the edge of the 2% tornado countour? That's where more than a HALF DOZEN tornados developed from a violent cyclic supercell (including Simla, Colorado) on this day! In my target, it remained capped, except for some LP supercells west of there near Atwood, Kansas at dusk.

Elevated (high based) showers and thunderstorms over Grand Island, NE while headed east on I-80 during the morning of June 4. These rather harmless storms are marginally severe with air parcels feeding into them from an unstable layer aloft (elevated) while the air near the ground is still stable.
Part of a very large chaser "convergence" in Phillipsburg, Kansas near highways 183 and 36. The sky is becoming convective above as Tempest Tours here waits for initiation. Chuck Doswell is the one with the hat standing in the center of the crowd.
The Outlaw Chaser's "Caminator 2" tornado video probe. This is the same unit that got exceptional footage from one of the Pilger Tornadoes in June 2014.
Many storm chasers waiting for storms to go up in a gas station at Phillipsburg, Kansas on June 4.
Finally a welcome sight! A nice cumulus tower rapidly develops and right away begins rotating with an impressive LP appearance for such a small convective cell. This was late on June 4 over Phillipsburg, Kansas.
To the dismay of many chasers, the want-to-be supercell storm cannot fight the capping inversion and shear, and shrivels up leaving an orphan anvil behind. A small high-altitude funnel appears on the orphan anvil. This area remained capped afterwards.
Some more chasers, from left to right: Charles Edwards (Cloud9 Tours), Rocky Roscovich, Gene Robertson and his wife, and Scott Peake (with Extreme Chase Tours).
Myself not in a good mood. I could not go farther west with nearly every chaser (at the Phillipsburg "convergence") who scored big with beautiful LP storms 80 miles west near Atwood, Kansas later in the day on June 4 near dusk. I had to head back for work committments and I am heading up highway 183 back into Nebraska to take I-80 back east. This was before the real "salt" in the wounds, when I found out what happened in Colorado in the exact same place I was in less than 24 hours prior!
Not much of a colsolation was encountered back east passing through Grand Island and Lincoln, NE along I-80 after dusk on June 4. This was a line segment of severe thunderstorms, and a pretty shelf cloud associated with them.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 5, 2015

Since this trip was mainly a failure at seeing tornadoes, I took my receipts - Pretty much all I had to show besides structure shots - and arranged them upon my desk (while back at work that morning) in the shape of a tornado.


OTHER CHASES IN 2015 IN THE MIDWEST

This section is for any other chases and / or storm pictures taken in the central United States / Midwestern areas during 2015. These include any chases or observations of storms that were local chases (particularly to the Chicago area and / or trips lasting a single day), but not part of a dedicated / longer chase trip. In the image above, my chase vehicle sits aside Highway 67 with a developing tornado in the background while chasing a cyclic HP supercell east of Illinois City, Illinois late in the day on June 22.


DETAILED CHASE LOG FOR THIS SECTION (OTHER CHASES)

1). Feb 1, 5:00 PM - Observation of the coastal (Lake Michigan) effects and impacts of a powerful extratropical storm, and blizzard conditions, in Cook County, Illinois and in the Chicago area from near Montrose to Fullerton and around Lakeshore Drive. The conditions encountered were winds gusting over 50 MPH with near zero visibility, with blowing and drifting snow. Maximum accumulation was over 19 inches, being one of the top blizzards to affect the Chicago area in several years. Some power outages were observed, along with numerous vehicles stranded and accidents. The snow was blinding, and large waves battered the lakefront as well. The conditions were caused by an intensifying extratropical storm passing near and to the south of the Chicago area, with the backside (cold sector) of the storm affecting the area with a large arctic (Canadian) high pressure to its northwest. A strong jet stream and upper trough was also present aloft. A 2013 Ford Focus was used in the observation. Documentation was HD video and digital stills. A blizzard warning was also in effect for this area until Feb 2.

2). June 10, 7:30 PM - Observation of very severe thunderstorms (from a distance of about 25 miles) late in the day from Cook County, Illinois. The storms were near Joliet / Minooka and the storms produced heavy rains and hail up to 4.25" (grapefruit sized) near Minooka at the time. The storms were not penetrated, just observed from a distance, with a display of incredible mammatus and updraft / storm structure. Conditions causing the storms were surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms.

3). June 20, 1:30 PM - Interception and penetration of a severe thunderstorm near Tipton, Iowa in Cedar County and along Highway 30. The storm was an elevated line segment of strong and severe storms. Very heavy rains, lightning, 60 MPH winds, and hail to 1" were encountered with this storm. The storms were caused by a surface boundary to the south, surface heating, and an upper trough. Documentation was still digital photos. A 2009 Ford escape was used to chase the storms.

4). June 20, 7:00 PM - Observation and penetration of very severe thunderstorms from near Pella and Oskaloosa, Iowa in Marion County near Highway 163, and points southeast and east along Highway 63 and 34 into Mount Pleasant and Henry County. The storm was initially a multicell cluster of severe storms, with 2 embedded HP supercells. A large wall cloud and some rotation was noted at this point. Hail to 1.5", frequent lightning with close hits, torrential rains, and 70 MPH winds were observed at this point. The storm supposedly had hail approaching grapefruit sized, so the worst part of the core was not penetrated. The storms evolved into a derecho-like bowing MCS, which raced east and had winds gusting over 75 MPH. The storms were caused by surface heating, a cold front, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital still photos and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 10 PM CDT.

5). June 22, 7:15 PM - Interception and penetration of an extremely severe and tornadic thunderstorm from east of Muscatine, Iowa across the river in Illinois, and from near Illinois City along highway 92 / 192 and points east and southeast towards Alpha and Woodhull along Highway 67 and eventually I-74 and highway 17 / 34 north of Altona mainly in Rock Island County. The storm was a cyclic HP supercell storm, and produced at least 2 tornadoes during its cycles in Illinois (possibly another before crossing the Mississippi river in Iowa). One of these tornadoes was observed at close range. The tornado in a heavy rain wrap ("bear's cage") region and was a multi-vortex that evolved to a stovepipe / cone, then a wedge tornado. The tornado became rain wrapped and remained over rural areas, damaging some farm equipment and downing power poles (power flashes seen). RFD winds gusting to near 80 MPH with small hail and horizontal violent rain was also encountered. A second possible tornado, with impressive "stacked plates" supercell structure was observed farther southeast near Woodhull along Highway 67. The storm had frequent lightning with numerous close hits. The storm was caused by surface heating, a pre-frontal convergence area (ahead of Pacific cold front), outflow boundary, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital still photos and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 11 PM CDT.

6). June 24, 7:00 PM - Interception and observation of very severe and possibly tornadic thunderstorms from northwest of Winterset, Iowa and near Greenfield in Madison County near Highway 169 and south of I-80, and points southeast and east through Osceola on Highway 34. The storm was a cluster of HP supercells, one having strong rotation and a striking "multi-tiered" shelf cloud and impressive visual presentation. The storms evolved to an intense multicell cluster with embedded supercells. An area of very strong rotation (wall cloud and RFD clear slot) was noted near Greenfield before outflow undercut the storms. Other conditions were frequent lightning, very heavy rains, 60 to 65 MPH gusts, and small hail. The main storm cores were not penetrated. The storms were caused by surface heating, boundary interactions, a lower pressure trough, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital still photos and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 2 AM CDT the next day.

7). July 17, 5:15 PM - Penetration of a strong to marginally severe thunderstorm from near Highways 72 and 25 in east Dundee, IL and points south to near Elgin, IL in Kane and Cook Counties. The storm was part of a cluster / line segment of thunderstorms. Some lightning, 50 MPH wind gusts, small hail to dime sized, and very heavy rains were encountered with this storm. Some traffic signals were out and street flooding was also observed. The storms were caused by surface heating, boundary interactions, and an approaching upper trough. Documentation was digital still photos. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms.

8). July 18, 2:30 PM - Interception and observation of a very severe and tornadic thunderstorm between Hebron and Harvard in McHenry County, Illinois from north of Highway 14 and west of Highway 47. The storm was a supercell storm that developed initially on the south side of a cluster of strong and severe thunderstorms. This classic to HP storm developed a weak tornado over rural areas of McHenry County, with circulation extending to ground level with airborne tree debris and a visible funnel above it. The tornado did damage mainly to trees and a destroyed barn / shed. A well defined RFD clear slot and wall cloud was also noted with this tornadic supercell. The storm quickly merged with other storms afterwards and evolved to a multicell cluster. Frequent lightning, with some close hits, 50 to 60 MPH wind gusts, small hail, and very heavy rains were also encountered with this storm. The main core was not penetrated. The storm was caused by surface heating, a well-defined NW to SE oriented outflow / lake breeze boundary, a low pressure trough, warm front, and upper trough. Documentation was digital still photos and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 10 PM CDT.

9). Aug 2, 9:00 PM - Observation of severe thunderstorms including a tornadic supercell storm ahead of the storm cluster. This was anywhere from Cook / Lake counties in Illinois to earlier storms to the SW near DuPage county. The storms were north and northwest of Chicago and produced large hail and wind damage. A tornado was also reported in Lake county, then offshore in lake Michigan as a waterspout. The storm was extremely active electrically. The tornado was not observed. Heavy rains, small hail, 50 mph winds, and frequent lighting was encountered with the indirect penetration of the storm cluster. The storms were caused by a frontal zone, surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. A 2009 ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A severe thunderstorm watch was also valid until.2 AM CDT.

10). Aug 18, 5:15 PM - Interception and observation of a severe and tornadic thunderstorm near Livingston and Grundy Counties in Illinois from near Highway 17 and 47 west of I-55 southwest of Dwight and Mazon. Two supercell thunderstorms developed ahead of a multicell storm cluster to the west, and these storms were targeted as they moved from near Livingston County, northeast towards Grundy, and eventually southern Cook County. A large rotating wall cloud, impressive structure (with striations), and a brief tornado were observed with the northern of these two supercells (HP to classic in nature). Both storms were tornado warned. The core was not penetrated, but 50 MPH winds, frequent lightning, heavy rains, and small hail was observed. No damage was noted as the storms occurred over rural areas. Conditions causing the storms were a low pressure trough, surface heating, boundary interactions, and an upper trough. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 10 PM CDT.

11). Oct 3, 11:00 AM - Coastal observation of strong winds and high waves on Lake Michigan near the south side of Chicago along Lakeshore Drive. Strong winds gusting 30 to 40 MPH, and waves 5 to 8 feet were observed on the lakefront, crashing over the sea walls in some places. The strong winds were caused by a very large trough of low pressure over the eastern USA and Canada, and strong high pressure to its northwest (mainly affecting coastal NE USA). A 2009 Ford Escape was used to observe this wind event. Documentation was digital stills and HD video.

12). Nov 11, 4:00 PM - Interception and penetration of a very severe and tornadic thunderstorm in rural Monroe County, Iowa near Hiteman / Georgetown and north of Highway 34 and west of highway 5. The storm was an HP supercell storm, and contained a possible embedded, rain wrapped tornado. This area passed just to my west and north, and wet RFD (rear-flank downdraft) winds over 60 MPH (possible gusts over 70) were encountered. The tornado was not visually discernible, but a funnel cloud was observed half way to the ground earlier with this storm to my southwest before RFD wrap obscured it. The storm also contained frequent lightning, strong winds, very heavy rains, and hail up to nickel sized. This storm was part of a broken line of semi-discrete supercell storms that evolved into a powerful, fast-moving squall line afterwards. This line was followed east on 34 until highway 218, where additional severe wind gusts were encountered. Damage observed was some roof damage, trees down, power out, and flooding. The storms were caused by a strong low pressure system, cold front / dryline, warm front, strong upper trough, and meager surface heating. Documentation was digital stills and HD video. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also valid for the area until 6 PM CDT.

13). Nov 21, MORNING - Observation of the effects and impacts of a powerful extratropical storm, and heavy snow conditions, in Cook County, Illinois from the NW Suburbs and eastward into the northern Chicago area around Lakeshore Drive. The conditions encountered were winds gusting over 30 MPH with near zero visibility, with blowing and drifting snow. Maximum accumulation was over 16 inches. Some power outages were observed, along with some downed trees from ice accumulation. The snow swath had a very steep gradient from the heaviest snow to almost no snow at all near the Chicago lakefront. Large waves battered the lakefront as well. The conditions were caused by an intensifying extratropical storm passing near and to the south of the Chicago area, with the backside (cold sector) of the storm affecting the area with a large arctic (Canadian) high pressure to its northwest. A strong jet stream and upper trough was also present aloft. A 2009 Ford Escape was used in the observation. Documentation was HD video and digital stills. A winter storm warning was also in effect for this area until later that day (November 21).

This concludes the chase log for the central United States and Midwest (including tornado alley / Illinois) ANY OTHER chases in 2015 not part of a special section (especially those for single-day "spot" chase trips). The summary includes a total of 13 observations. In those, 10 severe thunderstorms, 6 of which were tornadic (with at least 3 tornadoes confirmed). Three coastal observations (Lake Michigan) / winter storm chases are also included as well. The main chase vehicle conducting this chase was a 2009 Ford Escape. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 10 (OTHER CHASES)

Some severe thunderstorms, a multicell cluster / HP supercell, looking south from Cook County, IL during the evening of June 10, 2015. The storms were south of Joliet and near Minooka at the time. Grapefruit sized hail was reported in Minooka, IL from this storm!
Anvil blowoff spreading eastward over the Chicago area from the Joliet / Minooka cluster of severe storms. There was quite a display of mammatus with these storms at dusk on June 10, 2015.
Close-up view of the incredible mammatus spreading over northern IL and the Chicago area late in the day on June 10, 2015. The airplane is on approach into Chicago O'Hare airport and the storm poses no threat to it.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 11 (OTHER CHASES)

While trying my hand at chasing more severe storms a day later on June 11, 2015 south of Joliet, IL, the storms could not get going. Here is a view of a dying updraft that could not stay south of a stationary front and has become elevated over a cooler air layer to the north of it.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 20 (OTHER CHASES)

Gust front / shelf cloud associated with elevated severe storms to the north of Tipton, Iowa on June 20, 2015.
Another view of gust front / shelf cloud associated with elevated severe storms to the north of Tipton, Iowa on June 20, 2015.
Wall cloud on embedded supercell storm before undercut by outflow near Oskaloosa, Iowa on June 20, 2015.
Mesocyclone just prior to being undercut by outflow near Oskaloosa, Iowa on June 20, 2015.
Powerful outflow and gust front racing eastward towards Fairfield, Iowa on June 20, 2015.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 22 (OTHER CHASES)

Approaching tornadic supercell storm near Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Developing mesocyclone (RFD to the left) near Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Wall cloud near ground near Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015. First tornado about to form after this.
First touchdown of tornado east of Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Tornado widening to wedge phase east of Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Close up of wedge tornado near Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Multi-vortex nature of tornado east of Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015.
Power flash as tornado crosses road east of Illinois City, IL on June 22, 2015. Tornado rain wrapped at this point.
Wall cloud near Woodhull, IL on June 22, 2015. Second tornado formed from this cycle.
Second tornado near Woodhull, IL on June 15, 2015.
Weakening cyclic supercell near Altona, IL on June 22, 2015.
Lightning frame capture near Altona, IL on June 22, 2015.
Lightning near Altona, IL on June 22, 2015.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 24 (OTHER CHASES)

Joining up with John Moon III (F5 Chase) and his girlfriend chasing with him to the SW of Des Moines, IA on June 24, 2015. We were also chasing with the Outlaw Chasers (Randy Hicks).
T-Shirt of Randy Hicks with the Outlaw Chasers. These folks are from Missouri and your typical "crazy and fun" chasers.
Crepescular rays shining through a weaking LP storm trying to go up in an area of weak convergence to the south of Des Moines, Iowa on June 24, 2015.
Here is a picture of my chase vehicle (photo by John Moon's girlfriend who was chasing with him that day) approaching the intense (formerly tornadic) HP storm and shelf cloud.
Another view of the impressive appearance of the shelf cloud associated with the wet RFD of the HP storm west of Winterset, Iowa.
View of HP storm near Winterset, Iowa becoming outflow dominant and sending out a powerful gust front. This was late on June 24, 2015.
Another intense supercell storm with strong rotation tries to produce a weak tornado near Greenfield, Iowa just before outflow undercuts the storm.
Wrapping up the day (June 24) with a view east along Highway 36 at dusk towards a powerful MCS. The sky is extremely turbulent with outflow and an intensifying low-level jet.


GALLERY FOR JULY 17 (OTHER CHASES)

Here is a view of a supercell storm looming over the horizon and distant Chicago (IL) skyline on July 17, 2015.


GALLERY FOR JULY 18 (OTHER CHASES)

Towering cumulus along a NW to SE oriented outflow boundary (looking west on I-90 west of Rockford, IL). This was the start of strong and severe storms that will eventually produce severe weather in the area, including a weak tornado in McHenry County, IL. July 18, 2015.
View to the east near Highway 14 approaching McHenry County, IL with explosively developing supercell storm looking to the east. This was part of a storm cluster, and will eventually produce a weak tornado on July 18, 2015.
Intensifying rotating updraft base of supercell storm near Harvard, IL on July 18, 2015.
Intense RFD clear slot developing with the classic to HP supercell storm east of Harvard, IL on July 18, 2015.
View of developing weak tornado over rural areas of McHenry County, IL east of Harvard, IL on July 18, 2015.
Weak tornado (to the far left in the photo) forms and does damage to trees and some farm buildings over McHenry County, IL and ENE towards the IL / WI border before weakening as the storm merged with other storms in the cluster of thunderstorms. July 18, 2015.
Weakening storm becomes outflow dominant with a well developed shelf cloud and gust front as it evolves to a cluster of severe thunderstorms north of Woodstock, IL on July 18, 2015.


GALLERY FOR AUGUST 18 (OTHER CHASES)

Tornadic supercell developing from 40 miles away over Grundy County, IL on August 18, 2015.
Radar images (main image is reflectivity and upper-left inset is the velocity) of the northern cell (of two supercell storms). The northern one was the one affecting Grundy County / Mazon. Aug 18, 2015 at about 6 PM CDT.
Rotating wall cloud near Mazon (Grundy County), IL on August 18, 2015.
Funnel reaching the ground as a tornado with striking supercell structure looking NW from Highway 17 near Mazon, IL. August 18, 2015 during the evening (6:05 PM CDT).
Close up of brief weak tornado west of Mazon, IL on August 18, 2015.
Lightning as storm passes over the southern parts of Chicago on Aug 18, 2015. Still tornado warned.


GALLERY FOR NOVEMBER 11 (OTHER CHASES)

Approaching a highly sheared HP supercell (the view is towards the WSW) on November 11, 2015 in Monroe County to the southeast of Des Moines, Iowa.
Here is a radar image (soppler velocity), showing a substantial couplet to my southwest (the GPS location is the white circle to the upper center part of the picture). This was a completely rain wrapped tornado in Monroe County (Iowa) on November 11, 2015.
This is a view of the rotating base of the storm, looking northward, before being blasted with RFD winds. This was in Monroe County, IA on November 11, 2015 near Hiteman.
Strong winds (most likely wet RFD), buffeting the area near Hiteman, Iowa as a rain wrapped HP supercell tornado passes close to my location.


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