Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chase: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Since we had a long drive into the early morning hours we held our briefing at 11 am. It was decided that we would head south to Bismark, North Dakota. We ate lunch once we arrived and then headed to a park to hang out until storms started to initiate. We didn't have to wait long until we were on the road to see some developing storms west of Bismark near Richardton, North Dakota. We watched the line of storms for a while and it was producing some photogenic rain cores and had some very weak areas of rotation on the leading edge. The storms quickly dissipated as the inflow in them cooled.

Team members watch as a line of storms approach us south of Richardton, North Dakota. Photo by John Frye.

Chase: Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sorry for the delay in posting. Yesterday we had a long drive to our hotel in Minot, North Dakota. and got in at 3 am.

We began the day in Miles City, Montana with a weather briefing at 8 am. We determined that our target city would be Sidney, Montana. Once we reached our target city we determined we should drift west to Wolf Point. Once in Wolf Point we stopped for lunch and waited in a park for storms to initiate. After waiting a better part of the afternoon we got dinner. After dinner we picked up a cell south of Wolf Point. We followed the cell for about an hour until darkness made chasing difficult. We fell in behind the cell and took some lightning photography before heading to Minot.

Lightning from a thunderstorm east of Circle, Montana. Photo by Matt Schmit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

(Non) Chase: May 27, 2014

We again our positioning ourselves to chase a system that should bring some severe weather to the northern part of the U.S. Wednesday through Saturday. We spent the morning hiking, sight seeing, and having lunch at Rocky Mountain National Park. We then drove to Miles City, Montana to set up for Wednesday's chase.

The 2014 WeatherHawks chase group at the Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Monday, May 26, 2014

(Non) Chase: May 26,2014

We decided to make our way north to follow the system that will be cutting across the northern United States Wednesday through Friday. This will lead us home to wrap up our trip. Driving from Fort Stockton, Texas to Loveland, Colorado was a gorgeous drive.

The Air Force Academy's football stadium with the Rocky Mountains in the background. Photo by Broderick Frye.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chase: Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our day started out in Odessa, Texas. We had a weather briefing at 10 am and came to the conclusion to move southwest to Fort Stockton. We knew today's conditions weren't ideal but we were still hopeful to get some storms to watch. After lunch, we moved to Sanderson, Texas and waited for some storms to fire up. Unfortunately the storms that started to develop died out quickly today; the best storm of the day was just across the United States-Mexico border to our southeast. Despite the fact that we didn't see much in the ways of weather, we did get to drink in the beautiful scenery of southwest Texas. We returned to Fort Stockton and decided to settle in for the night. We have also decided that we are going to take the next 2 days off from chasing to drive across country to catch a system that is developing in the northern part of the United States. This system comes at a good time because it will lead us back towards home in Whitewater next Sunday.

A Red Mokoi variety of Solanum Nigrum plant. Photo by Stephanie Stoltzmann.

The southwest Texas landscape. Photo by John Frye.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chase: Saturday, May 24, 2014

Today started at 9 am with our weather briefing. It was determined that we would travel south to Odessa, Texas. Once in Odessa we stopped for lunch and decided to travel further southwest towards Monahans, Texas. We drove south out of Monahans and when storms started to develop to our east we headed that way towards Big Lake, Texas. Outside of Big Lake we spotted our first of three supercell thunderstorms of the day. Each of the cells contained large shelf clouds shrouded by green skies indicating large amounts of hail, wall clouds continuously cycling in strength, and produced tornado warnings. While observing the third storm we witnessed a large formation of mammatus clouds. When returning to Odessa for the night we stopped to take some lightning and sun set photography.

Shelf cloud with green color hail core south Big Lake, Texas. Photo by Kristen Anderson.

Mammatus clouds on the under side of the anvil on a storm near Iraan, Texas. Photo by Kristen Anderson.

Beautiful way to end our very active chase day. Photo by Brian Schanen.

Chase: Friday, May 23, 2014

We apologize for the delay it was a late drive to our hotel. We will be in the eastern New Mexico/western Texas area today chasing. Here is a recap for yesterday's chase.

Today’s weather briefing was held at 9am with a target city of Artesia, New Mexico. We took a short detour through Roswell and once we were there and got a weather update we decided to continue to move south to our target city. Once in Artesia, we had lunch and then continued to move more southward toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. Once in Carlsbad it was determined that we should shift east to Jal, New Mexico. Leading up to and outside of Jal we watched the formation of numerous thunderstorm cells. Outside of Jal we stopped to take photos of the cells. The storms fell apart rather quickly and so we attempted to catch a cell outside of Odessa, Texas; but we were unfortunately too late to see anything. We stopped in Odessa for some BBQ and headed for our hotel. While heading north we noticed the formation of some a storm cells to the West. We detoured to get some photos of the sunset and then moved west to capture some lightning photography. Tonight we lay our heads in Levelland, Texas.

Lightning from an isolated cell near Eunice, New Mexico. Photo by Johnathan Wleklinski.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chase: Thursday, May 22, 2014

The morning briefing was held bright and early at 7:30 am. We decided on our target city as Clovis, New Mexico. On our way down, storms started firing around 1:30 pm. We stopped in Clayton, NM for a quick update and decided to follow a storm starting to develop to our northwest and we stopped to see the development of mammatus clouds from the passing storm. Storms started to develop to our south so we changed direction and moved southeast towards Dalhart, Texas. Upon arrival at Dalhart, another update led us to travel further south and ended up stopping to watch the storm move in and take some photos. There was some great lightning that a few of us were able to capture. We also got to experience the storm’s outflow that carried a significant amount of tumbleweeds in our pathway. We continued south east following the storm through Channing, Texas. At that point, we decided to abandon the chase as the storms moved out. We ended the day in Portales, New Mexico. We’re in a good location for tomorrow’s storms.

Storms northwest of Clayton, New Mexico. Photo by Kristen Anderson.

Mammatus clouds near Clayton, New Mexico. Photo by Kristen Anderson.

Tyler Tomaszewski with a lightning strike in the background. Video Capture by Matt Schmit.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chase: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This morning when we held our weather briefing, we were already very well situated within today’s area of severe weather risk. We decided to head east somewhere near Lucerne, Colorado and update ourselves on the weather there. A powerful supercell was moving east very slowly out of Denver, and we moved south to intercept it. Around the town of Last Chance, Colorado, we saw a weak wall cloud on the back end of the storm. Mammatus clouds dotted the anvil of the storm overhead. The supercell had multiple tornado warnings on it during the day, but we weren’t able to see a tornado. Still, it was a very successful day. Tonight we are in Goodland, Kansas, and are planning to leave early tomorrow to head down to Texas in preparation for the next few days of severe weather.
Wall cloud west of Last Chance, Colorado. Photo by Matt Schmit.
Mammatus clouds on the back of the storm north of Burlington, Colorado. Photo by Matt Schmit.
Sunset as we drove from Eastern Colorado to Goodland, Kansas for the night. Photo by Matt Schmit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chase: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An update for the last 2 days…

Monday we left Whitewater and headed west towards Nebraska hoping for some storms to fire in the central part of the state. No storms ended up developing so we stayed the night in Kearney, Nebraska.

On Tuesday, we woke and held our daily weather briefing where it was decided to head further west towards Cheyenne, Wyoming. There were two areas of interest one in northeast Colorado and one in southeast Wyoming and Cheyenne would give us a good access to head to either location after an early afternoon update. During our lunch stop in Sidney, Nebraska we decided the northern area was the best choice for today’s chase. After leaving Sidney a thunderstorm started to develop north of Cheyenne near Wheatland, Wyoming.

While heading north out of Cheyenne another cell started to develop to the southwest of the original cell near Slater, Wyoming. We watched this storm continuously recycle itself and produce a large hail core. After driving in the area the storm had passed we drove through drifts of hail that were a few inches deep at some points. We tailed the storm towards Scottsbluff, Nebraska watching it produce a tremendous amount of hail; no reports we heard were of large hail just large quantities. We pull off the chase south of Scottsbluff once the cell began to weaken. We are now in Fort Collins, Colorado for the night and right in the area where storm initiation should begin Wednesday afternoon (May 21).
Students Melanie Sorman (l-r), Stephanie Stoltzmann, Brian Schanen, Jacob Strohm, and Jonathan Wleklinski enjoy a storm producing large amounts of hail moving across the Wyoming landscape. 
Hail covers most of the road way heading into Slater, Wyoming. All the white spots on the ground are drifts of hail.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Preparing for our 2014 trip

Two weeks from today on May 19, the WeatherHawks group will be heading out for their second annual Great Plains chase field course. The group is lead by Dr. John Frye from the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Assisting Dr. Frye on this year’s trip will be Andy Courtney. Andy went on the trip last year as a student and will serve as Dr. Frye’s assistant this year. There are 8 students, with various backgrounds, enrolled in the course. The wide backgrounds of the students will bring a unique perspective to the course and our travels throughout the Great Plains region. Adding to the unique perspective will be an additional person accompanying us on the trip. Dr. Frye’s son, Broderick, will also be joining the trip this year and will be guest blogging about the trip from the perspective of a middle school student. We will be out chasing from May 19 until June 1.

Similar to last year, we will be creating a daily recap on our blog ( We will also be posting quick updates throughout the day while in the field on our Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts. Please share this information with any other weather enthusiast that you may know. You can also send us questions via those social media outlets or via email at uww.weatherhawks at (replace the at with the symbol).