July 3, 2020


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Spotted Horse, WY
Gillette, WY 10:51 AM 7/3/2020
Dickinson, ND 11:14 PM 7/3/2020
Camp Crook, MT
0 mph
Updraft Base, Gust Front


Upslope chase on the WY/MT/SD with high based storms.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Anton Seimon, Tracie Seimon, Hank Schyma. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung S9, Additional photography courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl shooting on a Nikon D4s.




My email to the group the night before the chase:

"Tomorrow's thermodynamic profiles suggest a target of Mobridge, SD to points north into North Dakota depending on which model has a better handle on the moisture plume. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing a focal point at the surface or upper level support for a supercell target out that way, unlike today which fired off storms on the dryline with weak southwest flow aloft. To the east tomorrow, the favorable low level thermos sit on the ridge without much of a significant feature at the surface for lift that I can make out. It would be an OFB from a morning MCS, some light zonal flow, and convective temps maybe to get things going.

Wyoming: Models look favorable for initiation off the Big Horns with some easterlies at the surface and upper 50s dews possible up to 60 to the east. Supercells possible as storms organize in higher instability to the east, however thermodynamics do not support a sig. tor. from a robust surface based mesocyclone. Lid strength isn't thermonuclear like it was today, but 3C (or higher in places) is still enough to put a serious hamper on the storm's low levels. Unless the elevation and upslope can compensate with its magic somehow. The better low level profiles look confined to the Black Hills and high terrain, however.

In short, I'd see some storm action in the area here in ne WY tomorrow, but wouldn't expect tornadoes. To the east, a highly conditional gamble that could support a tornado if the lift and UA support were there, but they probably aren't. Additional targets probably exist in northern corners of ND or far eastern MT on the edges of the CAPE plume amidst light zonal flow and maybe where the advection causes some surface features?

Undecided on which target is in the team's best interest. "
My morning thoughts and Hank's forecast graphic:

"HRRR with a consistent signal of upslope initiation off the Big Horns, tracking a supercell east northeast. Initiation at 20z or so between Buffalo and Sheridan. Storm peaks 22z-23z near Recluse. Roads are difficult but 14 might be the way to go.

NAM lid strength at 5-7 C and negligible 0-3km CAPE should preclude a real tornado show today, so this would be a structure shot. I don't see an environment favorable for a sig tor within strike range, however. Open LSI and 3Cape pool shifted east to the I-29 corridor in SD, with the main uncapped instability plume way up on the ND/MN/MB corner. Top of the ridge with just a broad temp gradient and southeast surface flow, reminds me of our Iowa day.

Maybe an open lid strength up in western ND north of 94, still seeing negligible 3Cape and CAMs hold off bringing in storms until late. Another secondary target is a north south line of storms forecast to go up in eastern MT, say due north of where we're at now. Questionable storm mode again. "

Desolate Tailgating
13 miles NE of Arvada, WY
2:01 PM
Atop a hill with epic views of the middle of nowhere Wyoming, the sun baked us, so we made our own shade with hatches up and blankets.
Hank serenaded us while we watched turkey towers come off the Big Horns.

High Based Storm
36 miles NNW of Gillette, WY
4:57 PM

Pecos Hank
36 miles NNW of Gillette, WY
5:12 PM

High Based Storm
21 miles SSE of Broadus, MT
6:03 PM

Shooting Time Lapse
4 miles W of Hammond, MT
7:02 PM

Baby Devils Tower
17 miles WNW of Camp Crook, SD
8:11 PM

Swirly Cloud Motion
6 miles WSW of Camp Crook, SD
8:30 PM
We had some cool textures and motion overhead in the evening light right on the Montana/South Dakota border, but that's about all we could squeeze out of this chase.
Anton and Tracie spotted a family of skunks off the side of the road while Brindley and I shot storm structure. We watched elevated bases and then lightning in the darkness on the way back to Dickinson, ND for the night.


We had some pretty moments on this chase and some fun times hanging out in the middle of the nowhere, but overall a bust for supercells and tornadoes. At least we weren't missing more tornadoes.

Lessons Learned

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