Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trinidad & Amarillo Tornadoes - June 23, 2016

Pulled off something that I am not sure has been done before. Caught tornadoes in 2 different states on the same day, that are not adjacent to each other (Trinidad, CO & Amarillo, TX). I know Mike Umscheid and Jeremy Holmes were able to make both tornadoes as well.

I figured this week was probably the last chance at something with decent midlevel flow south of I-70 for the year. I planned on taking Tuesday off, but changed it to Monday on Sunday afternoon as the setup was closer and was too good to pass up. Targeted SE Colorado, but was a bit nervous leaving the Panhandle as some models fired storms there too. The surface flow just north of the Black Mesa out of the due east was too good to ignore. Got lucky that the HRRR was off on it timing and the Panhandle stuff went later than forecasted

I originally went to Campo with plans to adjust from there. Felt confident that just north of the mesa was the place to be so I drifted west to Kim, CO. Storms had already fired west of Trinidad in the mountains and south into NM, but I was a little hesitant to go that far west. I let the storm get a little more mature before I blasted west about 50 miles, while only see ~3 other cars on my way west. I got in range of the storm as it moved east of Trinidad with the wall cloud scraping along the north edge of the mesa. Really was a sight to see. It was pretty clear this storm had a tornado coming. The wall cloud tracked along just south of Highway 160, between the highway and the mesa. Soon after it pulled off the mesa the wall cloud tightened up and drop the tornado. I only saw a handful of other chasers on the storm, which given the lack of stopping places off that highway would have been bad with anymore. Pretty sure we all got the same shot because we kept stopping in the same places. June in CO and not a 100 chasers, it just felt weird.

One thing I will say about that storm was it had some really big hail for what I was expecting. Even stranger was it was tossing these big stones out east of the tornado out of the southwest, since it had wrapped up so much.Definitely picked up a couple new dents from that storm.

After that storm crapped out from storms coming up from the south I decided to go back to Boise City for gas. I stayed in Boise City for about 5 minutes before deciding to try a make a break for home (Amarillo) and while hoping the storm north of town might wait for me to get there. It looked like junk when I cored it on 287 as it was ingesting some other cells from the south. I made my way around east of the storm right as it really ramped up the structure. One of the craziest cg producing storms I have ever dealt with. Didnt get too many shots of lightning as I really couldnt get out of the car. Ended up a little too far east getting structure shots and missed the best tornado shots, but being east had it's perks too. Once again only a handful of chasers were on the storm, more than the Trinidad storm but still so few that it made you wonder if it was really June. Didnt know it was possible to see tornadoes in the Southern Plains and Colorado without a horde around it. Sitting alone on a highway and staring a storm like that one down, it really doesnt get any better.

Photo album:

Video (18 minutes), mostly time lapsed of Trinidad and Amarillo storms:


  1. Incredible shots! I love seeing shots like this with the shelf like clouds.

  2. Thank for your very good article! i always enjoy & read the post you are sharing!