Category Archives: 2014

27 June 2014 / W Oklahoma, TX Panhandle late storms

Looking northwest from 8.4 miles southwest of Shattuck, OK (8:57 pm CDT)

Looking northwest from 8.4 miles southwest of Shattuck, OK (8:57 pm CDT)

Doug and I drove into Northwest Oklahoma where we had a good feeling that supercells would develop.  Our forecast couldn’t have been farther from correct and it looked like we were headed toward a blue sky bust.  We spent the better part of two hours a few miles southwest of Shattuck taking landscape photos.  Near sunset, storms started approaching from the southern Texas Panhandle and we observed these from Canadian to Wheeler.  Several attempts at lightning photography were made, but the results were generally less than spectacular.

16 June 2014 / Nebraska Cyclic Tornado Producing Supercell

This page will be updated with information about this localized outbreak of tornadoes as it becomes available.

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVhCRoGlBBc

The blog entries that follow are dedicated to each of the five tornadoes that I observed during this event.   Morning thunderstorm activity generated an outflow boundary which extended from northwest to southeast across Nebraska during the early afternoon.  The atmosphere to the north of this boundary was very moist and highly unstable.  Strong low and deep layer shear existed and this all combined to ramp up the significant tornado parameter to extreme levels.  The thunderstorm responsible for the tornado evolved from a cluster of updrafts which first started organizing over Boone County.

Chase route and mesocyclone locations from the Omaha radar using best gate to gate shear.

Chase route and mesocyclone locations from the Omaha radar using best gate to gate shear.

The incredible supercell tracked northeastward across Madison, Stanton, Cuming, Wayne, Dixon and Dakota counties before weakening as it approached Sioux City, Iowa.  Tornado production was almost constant from the first tornado at 3:38 pm to the end of the last tornado at 5:47 pm.  Four of the tornadoes were violent and received at least a rating of EF4.  In one case, two violent tornadoes were occurring at the same time – separated by about 2 or 3 miles.  One of the violent tornadoes struck the town of Pilger, Nebraska resulting in devastating damage, numerous injuries and two fatalities.  Finding out about this near the end of the day cast a somber tone over what had been a well forecast and exciting chase day.

Most of my observations match well with the survey data that has been released from the National Weather Service in Omaha.  The exception is that the NWS currently considers the Stanton tornado to be two events, with an initial tornado lasting for a couple of minutes before the EF4 tornado started.  I will leave this as one event for now, and wait until more finalized survey information is released.

Velocity image from Omaha at 4:15 pm CDT indicating location of tornado approaching Pilger, Nebraska and new tornado that formed southeast of Pilger.

Velocity image from Omaha at 4:15 pm CDT indicating location of tornado approaching Pilger, Nebraska and new tornado that formed southeast of Pilger.

From the National Weather Service in Omaha, Nebraska:

STANTON TORNADO

RATING: EF-4
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/: 12.21 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: TBD YARDS
START DATE: JUNE 16 2014
START TIME: 342 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 6.78 MILES SOUTHWEST OF STANTON
END DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
END TIME: 411 PM CDT
END LOCATION: 6.65 NORTH OF STANTON

INITIAL STANTON TORNADO

RATING: EF-0
START DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
START TIME: 338 PM CDT
END DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
END TIME: 340 PM CDT

PILGER TORNADO

RATING: AT LEAST EF4
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/: 18.41 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: TBD
START DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
START TIME: 4 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 5.72 MILES SOUTHWEST PILGER
END DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
END TIME: 439 PM CDT
END LOCATION: 9.83 NORTH OF WISNER

PILGER EAST TORNADO

RATING: EF-4
LENGTH /STATUTE/: 11.84 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: TBD
START DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
START TIME: 413 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 2.38 MILES SOUTHEAST OF PILGER
END DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
END TIME: 432 PM CDT
END LOCATION: 9.04 MILES NORTH NORTHWEST OF WISNER

WAKEFIELD TORNADO

RATING: EF-4
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/: 16.22 MILES
START DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
START TIME: 440 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 10.28 MILES SOUTH OF WAKEFIELD
END DATE: JUNE 16, 2014
END TIME: 508 PM CDT
END LOCATION: 6.59 PM NORTHEAST OF WAKEFIELD

16 June 2014 / Tornado number 5 / Dakota County, Nebraska

The storm began to weaken as it approached Sioux City, Iowa, but still managed to produce one more tornado which tracked from just west of Hubbard to just north of Jackson, Nebraska.  Visually, this was a very lazy tornado with upward motion that seemed stronger than the horizontal rotation.  There were on and off again periods where dust or wisps of condensation were evident, but some of my images caught substantially larger chunks of debris as the tornado passed very close to Jackson.

After this storm weakened, I targeted other storms to the southwest.  While these didn’t produce tornadoes that I observed, they were pretty storms and the action was much slower paced than that of the afternoon.

16 June 2014 / Tornado number 4 / Wayne and Dixon Counties, Nebraska (Prelim EF4)

Visually, the forth tornado of the day may have been the most violent, and has received a preliminary rating of EF4.  This tornado formed a few miles to my northeast – and to the east of dissipating tornadoes 2/3.  It tracked with a more northerly component for several miles – passing a few miles west of Emerson.  The tornado was highly visible during the first half of its life, but unlike the others, became wrapped in rain during the final few miles.

16 June 2014 / Tornado number 3 / Stanton, Cuming, Wayne Counties, Nebraska (Prelim EF4)

The third tornado of the day formed in a field next to me as I was observing the Pilger tornado to the northwest.  The tornado wasn’t very strong for the first few minutes of its life, but gradually intensified into a violent tornado.  It nearly paralleled the path of the Pilger tornado as it tracked northeast for several miles.  Eventually, the tornado began to drift closer to the Pilger tornado and ended up weakening and merging into that circulation about 7 1/2 miles north northwest of Wisner.  Observing two, violent tornadoes side by side was a first for me, and incredibly impressive.

16 June 2014 / Tornado number 2 / Stanton, Cuming, Wayne Counties, Nebraska (Prelim EF4)

The second tornado of the day was a long track tornado which formed 5.75 miles southwest of Pilger and tracked to 8.4 miles west northwest of Pender.  This tornado struck the town of Pilger, causing extensive damage, numerous serious injuries and unfortunately, two fatalities.  The tornado had likely been on the ground for about 10 minutes when it came into my view as I was traveling north toward Pilger.  I was somewhat unaware that a town had been impacted, as Pilger was obscured from my view by a hill.  I did notice a large amount of debris and had the feeling that something substantial had been hit.  The tornado grew quite wide toward the end of its life, about the time it absorbed tornado number 3 to the north northwest of Wisner.

16 June 2014 / Tornado number 1 / Madison and Stanton Counties, Nebraska (Prelim EF3)

Figuring out the day was as simple as looking at a surface map and finding the area where moist low level flow would remain backed and LCL heights wouldn’t be adversely affected by the heat coming up through Kansas.  I drove north out of Belleview and storms were forming when I reached my initial target area.

The environment was very suitable for significant tornadoes and that was reflected by how effortless it was for the first tornado to form.

The tornado formed about 4 miles northeast of Madison and tracked to 2 1/2 miles west northwest of Stanton.  It continued northeast and eventually weakened around 7 miles north northeast of Stanton.  A gradual left curve spared Stanton from what likely would have been a devastating blow.

I only observed the tornado during the first half of its life, before traveling east in anticipation of the next tornado.  My position at the time was 9.4 miles east of Madison, and my view was to the northwest.

15 June 2014 / Travel Day

I drove up to Belleview, Kansas during the evening while keeping an eye out for the possibility of storms over Northern Oklahoma and Southern Kansas.  The cap held strong and I made it to Belleview around Midnight.