September 02, 2016: Hurricane Hermine

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Hurricane Hermine Radar
Hermine Radar about 30 minutes after landfall in Florida

* Video * Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and the first to develop in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Ingrid in 2013. The ninth tropical depression, eighth named storm, and fourth hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, Hermine developed from a long-tracked tropical wave that had produced torrential rainfall in parts of the Caribbean. After being designated on August 29, Hermine shifted northeastwards due to a trough over Georgia and steadily intensified into a Category 1 hurricane just before making landfall in the Florida Panhandle during September 2.

We initially setup in Crystal River, along with dozens of satellite news gathering trucks from various networks. However, it was expected that Hermine’s eye was going to make landfall in the corner of Florida’s Panhandle, our goal was to intercept and document Hermine’s western half, where the winds and storm surge were forecast to be the greatest.

As the hurricane neared landfall, we moved north along Highway 19 to north of Chiefland, FL. The attached video shows the intense rain and zero visibility conditions along Highway 19 running along the Gulf Coast.

We would like to also note that we do not offer tours for hurricanes. To do so is far more complicated and would require any tour customer to be with us up to a week prior to landfall. When we intercept hurricanes, we often leave several days before expected landfall to make sure that we don’t have to fight or impede evacuations and traffic. Hurricane chasing also requires us to stay extremely mobile, there are no hotels (hurricane chasers often have to sleep in their vehicles with all their equipment, supplies, and extra fuel as local stores quickly sell out of everything including gasoline). We’re very sorry, but we just cannot offer hurricane interception tours — but we hope that you’re with us to see the next tornado in Tornado Alley!

May 25, 2016: Abilene Kansas Wedge Tornado

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Three years ago while conducting a storm chasing tour, we sat in a small parking lot off a highway near Bennington, Kansas and watched one of the most amazing tornado events in history – a large, potentially violent EF4 tornado that traveled less than half a mile in 30 minutes.  It didn’t hit any structures and due to that it was only able to be rated an EF4 based on measurements from mobile doppler radar, which was parked just down the road from us.  Today, we sat in that exact same parking space and watched the birth of another tornado, which did turn out to be large and violent and unfortunately damaged some property, but thankfully there were no injuries.

Unlike the Bennington Tornado, this tornado traveled quite a distance, I think better than 40-miles total.  After the large wedge finally roped out, the supercell spent some time recycling and produced several other tornadoes that were able to intercept as well.

May 24, 2016: Dodge City Tornado Festival

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* Includes Drone Video * An incredible tornado outbreak event in southwest Kansas near Dodge City.  Just today alone, we witnessed over a dozen tornadoes.

Triple Threat Tornadoes
The day actually started with three tornadoes on the ground at the same time from the same storm cell.  We were able to document the triple threat tornadoes on video, below in the gallery is a single frame of the video showing these three tornadoes (2 rope satellite tornadoes on the right, and a large center-of-circulation tornado on the left).

Drone Flight…
I’ve been waiting all month for the perfect opportunity to attempt to capture tornado footage with our new drone and today it worked out flawlessly.  While watching the first tornado of the day, I noticed that we were close enough to get good video with the drone’s wide angle camera, yet the inflow winds were not outside of our flight limitations.  It took about 30 seconds to get the drone launched and it successfully captured nearly five-minutes of amazing video.  It was the first time a storm chaser who intentionally pursued a storm has been able to document the tornado with the use of a drone.  After successfully landing the drone (due to flight level winds increasing) were able to pursue this supercell for almost two hours while witnessing nearly a dozen other tornadoes from it.

 

May 23, 2016: Night time Tornado near Turkey, TX

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Days like this are both frustrating and rewarding.  The day ended with a tornado forecast validation, however, the tornado happened after dark which not only makes it much more difficult to obtain any good photos of the tornado, but changes the way in which was pursue such a storm due to possible flash floods in the hilly terrain of the central Texas Panhandle after dark.  We began the chase while flying the drone and captured some nice video of the beginning stages of the supercell while it was still over farmland.  The storm began to rapidly intensify and came very close to producing a tornado quite a few times during the daylight, but never fully matured to that stage.  Just after sunset, when we were almost ready to give up on it, it produced a tornado.  We had to move further away than we’d normally attempt for safety reasons, but were able to setup a few cameras and take some extended exposures that captured the tornado when lightning was able to backlight it.

May 21, 2016: Leoti, Kansas Tornadic Supercell

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The beginning of an extended week-long severe weather episode. On May 21st the storms were few, but the prize was a big one. What started as a somewhat messy cluster of storms eventually transformed into one of the most beautiful supercell thunderstorms I’ve seen in the Great Plains in more than 25-years!

It was a fairly classic triple-point set up, very common in western Kansas. Warm and moist air flooded into the region from the south as a dry line strengthened near the Colorado-Kansas border. The dry line is a boundary between dry and moist air, acting as a conduit for storm formation. In addition, a warm front draped across the area. The warm front helped turn a mess of storms into a more focused zone of intense activity. From there, a magical scene was born.

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