Home of Storm Chasers Erik and Amanda Burns

Home of Storm Chasers Erik and Amanda Burns
Tornadic Expeditions Storm Chasing Tours

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tornadic Expeditions Storm Chasing Tours - Chase Log - April 10th & 11th 2016 - Oklahoma & Texas

Hey everyone!

Just now getting the time to sit down to cover our chases from April 10th and 11th. What a great couple of days with some pretty solid structure on the 10th. Monday the 11th proved somewhat frustrating given the fact we were in east Texas terrain and road network, combined with pretty quick storm motions and a fast moving / undercutting outflow boundary that kept things pretty sloppy, but we were able to get some solid structure by the end of the day which always makes the drive home not so bad.

April 10th. A historical day in weather. On this particular day in 1979 which is deemed Terrible Tuesday a large and powerful F4 tornado struck the city of Wichita Falls, TX. It was one of the costliest tornadoes in US history and took the lives of many and destroyed a large portion of the city leaving a path of total destruction in it's wake. As a storm chaser, chasing on the anniversary of historic tornado day is a bit of an omen. Especially when your target is in the vicinity of said past event.
Amanda and I started the day gathering everyone up, accompanied by my sister Jessica, soon to be sister-in-law Taylor and day tour guest Koby. My target area for the day was Vernon, Texas.
A dryline was to mix east this day out of west Texas with good instability in the warm sector. There was a concern regarding "just in time" moisture return and lagging wave / large scale ascent. Though there was a chance for tornadoes, it was not likely given the fact moisture was a little on the lean side. Our real goal heading out the door was supercell structure.
We made the drive from Sherman, Tx to Vernon where we had lunch while waiting out initiation. Surface winds and 850's for most of the day had a SWrly component which had hampered moisture return some. We really needed that wave to kick in to place more convergence on the dry line and help back surface winds. Some multi cellular convection finally started to fire the the SW of our location, with a more discrete storm that fired near Lubbock that seemed to be in a better forced environment given the fact it was taking on supercell characteristics. High cirrus deck started to fill the sky and convection started to fire in a not so desired fashion. These disorganized storms/clusters were on the nose of a moisture/instability axis. Our hope was that the large scale ascent would make it in time before dark to help the updrafts get the boost needed to get organized. We waited a while in Vernon to see what this cluster would do to our SW. A dominant cell would take over the cluster, then weaken and a new cell would dominate. Our curiosity finally got to us and we dropped SW out of Vernon to explore this struggling complex. The storms were high based,  dumping precip and small hail. Nothing really too exciting. We stayed on this storm as it began to pick up some speed and started to head back towards Vernon. We decided the best thing to do was get well ahead of the storm, give it more time and watch from a distance until or if it got its act together. While heading back east on 287 we were greeted with an INSANE CG lightning barrage. It was intense! CG's striking everywhere around us. We cruised back to the north to 183 to cross the Red River and enter Oklahoma. We sat in Davidson, Oklahoma watching the CG show and planning navigation. We decided to head east some more on 70 back toward Grandfield. Stopping just west outside of Grandfield the storm was slowly starting to organize and a nice rain free base was present. The storm had a cell merger starting to impact it's forward flank and that slowed down some organization. Once the storm ingested the cell merger SErly surface flow began to feed the storm. A nearby chaser had a Davis weather station and I asked if he could get a dew point reading, which was 64F. Not bad at all! Considering the dews in Vernon earlier as we were departing that area were in the mid 50's. Above our heads low strato CU were starting to race into the storm. Inflow baby! The once struggling outflow dominant storm was now becoming a supercell. Scud began to pull from the precip core towards the rain free base where in moments we had our first wall cloud of the day.
We took a moment to snap some photo and admire the beautiful sight to behold over the green Oklahoma wheat field. Unfortunately not long after outflow began to undercut and it struggled to maintain inflow dominance.  So we decided to core it and play a little and get back ahead of it. Jumping on SR 36 we head north through the core and then east on HWY 5 we encountered copious amounts hail up to half dollar size. As the precip core began to thin from departing the core. I noticed a nice base once again, upon exiting the core we were treated with a nice lowering just above our heads and I-HOP pancake structure. We stopped as soon as it was safe to and snapped a few pics.
The storm was rapidly reorganizing, it had broken off the linear like structure it was attached to and began to be a right mover.. Excitement filled the air, we were gonna get our structure!

We continued on HWY 5 towards I44. we stopped a few more times to capture this stunning beast!

Wanting to get that blue light evening setting that us photographers love so much we headed east some more east of Walter, OK and set up on HWY 65 watching the supercell do its thing. The sky was wonderful!

Right after these photographs the storm tried to perform tornadogenesis. A tight RFD quickly developed and before our eyes a lowering was starting to wrap up. Crappy photo but you will see what I am talking about. It was hard to see if it ever touched down or how much rotation there was but it was totally textbook.

The day was not over yet though! A quick look at the radar showed a lone supercell approaching Burkburnett, TX. Storm was exhibiting strengthening low level rotation and we quickly jumped onto I44 south for the new supercell.

As we approached Burkburnett the storm went tornado warned and tight couplet was being displayed on velocity. With no good road options and the storm riding the Red River we decided to move in closer right up to the circulation and give ourselves a good escape route in Burkburnett. Staying on the north side of town we got onto the north bound service road with the exit back onto I44 right in front of us. With extreme caution we watched looking for powerflashes or debris or anything that would indicate an approaching tornado or strong circulation. Like a ghost coming into view about a block away rapidly rotating rain bands entered our sight and then strong NErly winds kicked in. With the van in drive getting ready to jump back on I44 and haul to the north we watched. The circulation stayed to our south and Amanda was able to grab a shot of it as it crossed I44 about a block south of us.

We left the storm and headed for one more SW of Wichita Falls. Beautiful clear star lit skies and a supercell. We took some photos and then headed to Bruams were we enjoyed a good late night dinner. I appreciate the kind service we experienced there. We walked in 10 minuted before they closed and they were happy to serve us. I hate doing that to folks but they were troopers.
Chaser Encountered: Chris Hayes, Adam and Melissa Cuker, Tammy Bethel, Daniel Shaw.

April 11, 2016
I am not gonna cover this day as much because 1. it was east Texas. 2. storms got undercut by a stupid southward dropping outflow boundary. 
My target area for this day was home actually here in Bells, Tx. I was watching visible sat, radar trends and Mesoscale Analysis. Storms over Lake Texoma in southern Oklahoma were building and throwing a cold pool. One of these cells took root and hauled ENE across southern Oklahoma puking cold air during it's path. There was a cell trying to get going in Collin county about 25 minutes from my house. It was stationary and trying to root on very slow moving surface convergence zone / pre frontal surface trough. It seemed to have a hard time to mature. My good friend Aaron Little joined me on this chase. It was his first time storm chasing. Once my sister and her fiancee arrived traveled south on HWY 69 towards Greenville, TX. We had to punch the storm from the north into a crazy precip core where street flooding was rapidly occurring in downtown Greenville. As we approached this storm it was rapidly taking on supercell appearance on radar and strengthening. It was a fight to get to this storm and see if it would produce before the outflow boundary to the north of it ran it over and cause it to be in a rain cooled environment and make it go to mush. Well, Cold air always wins. We struggled to follow this storm and it was crap. We encountered some golf ball hail while trying to race it east on I30. It went tornado warned as a cell merger got pulled in, we briefly saw the base and rain curtains wrap up around it, then it was gone, buried in rain, pulled into the core. I gave up on this storm right after.  

Soon after I contacted my sister Jessica and brother-in-law Ricky, who were trying to play catch up.
We met in Sulphur Spring, TX. After a quick bathroom break and snack grab we flew back west to intercept the monster that smashed north DFW and especially Wylie, TX with monster gorilla hail. This storm had began in NW Texas and traveled all the way through DFW into East Texas. We got on the storm just west of Emory, TX. It of course was an outflow dominant beast. It provided some some great structure over around Lake Tawokani. We followed the storm where it went tornado warned briefly but we never saw anything much, too much cold air puking out of the storm. We stopped in Mineola, TX where we enjoyed some GREAT burgers at the East Texas Burger Company in the down town strip.. Here are some shots of this day.

We still have some room on our 2016 tour season with great deals available for last minute bookings. Day tours are also available.  Tornadic Expeditions Storm Chasing Tours

Monday, March 7, 2016

Severe Weather Forecast - Chase Update - March 07, 2016

Good morning!

Today marks the first chase day of the year with a chance of tornadoes in the southern plains.
As with most early season severe weather patterns they can tend to be pretty disorganized / messy. Lets take a look at what we are dealing with today. I will be discussing mainly the Oklahoma and Texas regions.

SPC current day 1 outlook graphic.

Since the over all pattern is not very organized there are several elements that complicates the forecast. 1. Extensive cloud cover over the region inhibiting a more substantial severe threat. 2. Lack of appreciable surface convergence along the DL and late arrival of main push. 3. Narrow instability axis.   The dryline will set up from Central Texas into Western Oklahoma, surface dew points ahead of the DL will vary from lower to mid 60's and a strong 50kt low level jet ahead of the DL. The amount of instability is questionable due to cloud cover and misty conditions.

Morning Sounding from KFWD ( Fort Worth ) shows pretty impressive low level shear and SW flow already set in place at 500mb. Providing the turning with height needed for storm rotation. Instability is weak in this sounding and the sun will need to come out for the instability to rise for  higher severe thunderstorm potential. Wind fields will strengthen throughout the day as a surface low over eastern Nebraska deepens and the powerful wave moves closer to the region.

This mornings model guidance is consistent with not developing storms on the dry line until well after dark. There has been decent consistency with storms developing in the open warm sector along the western fringe of the strong LLJ axis and eastern edge of the instability axis. The likely hood of this happening is high. This should take place between Highways 281 and I35 from just south of I20 north into Southern Oklahoma. These storms would need to tap into the boundary layer in order to have a more substantial severe weather and tornado threat.  But again, this is conditional of the availability of cloud breaks for the needed surface heating. If the sun can come out and get the CAPE up and storms stay isolated there is plenty of shear for them to spin and the tornado potential will increase greatly for an isolated tornado or 2. 

Here is the HRRR simulated radar model output for 0z ( 6pm) later today. I believe these storm will fire close to the I20 corridor between 3pm and 5pm.

Below is my target area as of right now. I plan on heading out this area up 281 and analyze trends and make adjustments as necessary. Right on the western fringe of the strongest LLJ max and eastern edge of greater instability, of course if the instability can get up there. 

So with all that said, lets get out hands dirty and enjoy some time on the road! Not expecting much but sometimes mother nature can throw surprises!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On Call Storm Chasing Tours

We are offering day tours for the 2016 storm season! This is a great opportunity for anybody who wants to experience the thrill of chasing without taking a week off work or are pressed for time. It is easy to sign up and no cost to get on the waiting list. 

We offer our day tours outside of our scheduled tours. If we don't have a 7 day tour booked during a particular period or anytime the conditions are favorable for tornadoes and supercells day tours will be available!
How it works! Once you are on the sign up sheet and a great chase day looks promising in our forecast we will call you within 48 of the potential chase. You let us know if you are on our not! If you are a go a payment will be due before the chase begins. If for some reason we have any doubts about a potential day we will call off the chase and fully refund your payment. 

The meeting place of our day tours depends on where our target area is for the days chase.  This will be discussed with you before the tour begins. You are responsible for your travel to the base location. 

To sign up visit our on call storm chasing tour page! We hope to see you in Storm Season 2016!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Storm Chasing Tour Season 2016 is coming! Are you ready?

Business is starting to pick up and there is a few thing to do before we start tours! We are super excited about this season with some of the ENSO outlooks showing a possible transition from our strong El Nino into a La Nina later this year. There is no hard solid proof but there has been a trend in some years that there is an increase of severe weather and tornadoes during this type of transitional phase. So something to keep our finger crossed for and hope that if there is an increase that the weather behaves and stays over open terrain where we can enjoy them.

We currently have a great special right now that runs until the end of February. The New Years Resolution discount. All storm chasing tours are now $250.00! You can view this here current special for a more affordable storm chasing tour.

We also have included on call storm chasing day tours to our offerings. This is a great opportunity for folks who don't have the time for a week long tour. It is free to sign up for on-call storm chasing day tours. Once you are on the waiting list and we are forecasting a promising severe weather event with high tornado potential we will contact you to see if you are on board. If it is a go for you we will collect payment and hold your seat on the van. If for some reason we lose confidence in the forecasted event we will contact you to let you know that it is no longer a "go" and we will promptly refund your money. On-call storm chasing is $325.00 per person.

I will have another post here shortly. The new van is about to get fully rigged and it is going to be SWEET! I am confident we will have one of the best storm chasing tour vans in the industry packed with useful technology!

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Storm Chasing Tours 2016 Holiday Price Special!

Hey everyone!

Just a little update on our tour pricing the remainder of 2015. We are running an awesome special for $350.00 off on all of our 2016 storm chasing tours! This is a great opportunity for an affordable storm chasing tour package! Tours will book quickly during this time so do not miss out. Normal price for tours is $2800 for individuals and $2650 for friends and family sharing a room together. New pricing is $2300 for room share and $2450 for individual. The special runs until December 31, 2015.
To book or for more info Storm Chasing Tours 2016

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tornadic Expeditions

What a ride the last year has been. I have not wrote in my blog in so long! I lost my hotmail email and was not able to log in, but after some hard work I was able to get back in! Anyhow!

I started Tornadic Expeditions Storm Chasing Tours to bring a new life into the storm chasing tour industry.
Do not get me wrong, there are many good companies out there, but I wanted to bring the private tour experience without the private tour price tag. There are many tour companies that run the large passenger vans, and folks maybe riding with others they do not know. I asked myself "If I was gonna go on a tour what kind of experience would I want?". Being an experienced storm chaser I thought to myself, small, private, personal. When I was a new chaser many years ago I was full of questions and was hungry for knowledge and understanding. So what better way than to have that one on one experience. It is much easier for four people to get the attention they deserve than 12 or more. A family of 4 or 5 or group of friends can tour with me and have the entire van to themselves.

Most of us tour operators advertise the same services with our own unique twist. The thing one should consider when selecting a storm chasing vacation is the personality of the people running the tours. Sitting in a van with somebody for a week and they do not talk much or appear uninterested at times would be boring as hell.  Heck no!! We want fun and excitement! I get excited over the smallest needle tornadoes and funnel clouds! Why? Because it is amazing! I have the fortune to chase year after year! The number of hours spent at home vs hours chasing. Storm season is not that long and there are not tornadic storms everyday! That is pure fact! So the time spent on the road chasing is marginal compared to everyday life, so yes I am gonna get excited, I do not get to see it everyday! The bigger picture is nailing a forecast and being there at that moment to observe what you are going after! We do not have control over how big or small the tornadoes are, so appreciate what mother nature gives to us!

That is the beauty of running tours. Taking folks out who have seen very little or nothing at all in the way of supercells and tornadoes, and being there to see their first experience. That is one of the biggest reasons for Tornadic Expeditions, to strive at producing an unmatched experience in a small group setting while educating about the sky above our heads and the power it displays. We are here to cater to your needs, the customer shapes us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Severe Weather Discussion for 10/21-10/23

Well a very active pattern is getting set in place. Today it impacted parts of New Mexico and extreme West Texas. A couple of tornado warnings were issued today on a New Mexico storm that exhibited brief supercellular structure.

The next several days a Dryline will in be place over west Texas and north into Oklahoma and Extreme southern Kansas. This Dryline will push very slowly east over the next 3 days. Tomorrow we will see severe storms over west Texas. Thursday we shall see some severe weather activity over west Texas. Shear, instability are marginal so hail and gusty winds will be the main threats.

Friday The Dryline will be much tighter. A Negatively tilted trough punching through Texas will create excellent environment for severe weather. The system is much more organized! 30-40kt Low Level Jet. Forecast soundings show a very nice right turned hodograph. Dew points will be mainly in the low to mid 60s. But the biggest concern with Friday is the narrow corridor of instability along the dryline and the amount of available CAPE. This is probably due to cloud cover from the robust low level jet creating a drizzly low stratus deck. If the sun can come out for a few good hours out ahead of that dry line I wouldn't be surprised to see a good storm or 2 come off the dryline and maybe even a tornado or 2. We are for sure keeping an eye on this day for a probable chase. This will be a West Central TX , SW Oklahoma day.

Saturday the Dryline/front takes a more SW to NE orientation and becomes more progressive. We should see more supercells and a more widespread areas for tornadoes on Saturday from North Texas to NE Kansas. Kansas looks very impressive on tonights 0z NAM run. Still have got the nice SW flow in play. Cloud cover and morning convection could put a damper on instability once gain. We need that sun out ahead of the DL/Front.

As far as Friday Saturday go, The shear is quite nice and decent convergence for storms to fire. Thermodynamically it is on the marginal side of the fence. A lot of times it seems the models always under do instability.

Will be posting a much more detailed post tomorrow night. On Fridays Potential.