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May 21st, 2011

Dying Nebraska supercell and twilight mammatus

Day that was forecasted to be a slight risk pretty much verified, as storms ended up being marginally severe. Ended up squeezing some pretty cool photo ops out of what we were presented on a relatively local chase though. Headed west with Chris to intercept a supercell near Prague, NE. Looked great on radar on the way out there but quickly began to fade once we were on it.

Our first view of the storm looked pretty promising.

Went another couple miles up the road and jogged east to stay ahead of it. Stilled looked pretty decent with numerous inflow bands. Took a shot of Chris standing in front of the storm to give it some scale.

Panoramas made the storm look even better lol. You can see where it starts to have issues though. On the right side you can see rain falling out of its own updraft base. Downdraft falling through the updraft equals bad times lol. Click the image for a higher-res version.


Still on its way out, but still pretty photogenic. Nice couple striated layers left as well as textures under the base.

There's your storm... aaaaand it's gone. Lol. Continued to follow it east as it shriveled into nothing. Literally nothing. This was the last wisp of updraft that was left before disappearing entirely.

And as this is happening to our storm, here's what another trailing storm to the west looked like. Pretty promising, actually. Can't remember why exactly we didn't go after it at the time, as it had a pretty healthy updraft and what looked to be a nice base. Probably figured it was just going to die the same death as this storm as it moved east into its bad air.

And at the same time, there was another storm going south of Omaha. We felt pretty dumb at this point, sitting between two storms that looked healthy while underneath a shriveled piece of nothing.

Headed back east through Valley and a small updraft starts towering ahead of us. Sort of a hopeful sign, but we didn't expect anything more out of the day since it had been a fairly local chase.

Some more small towers going up around us once we were back in Omaha.

We decided to pull off the road and watch them/timelapse them as they passed by. Light was pretty cool for a short period as the sun set. I joked to Chris that the cloud base above us was trying to form into our next supercell of the day.

I wasn't entirely wrong lol. As this moved off to our northeast, it developed an anvil and overshooting top. Nice little updraft in some cool lighting!

Then an updraft to the south starts going up. Things were getting cool pretty quickly. This one was producing sporadic lightning and even had a small rope funnel at one point.

Took a panorama when the light was better, framing both storms. One of them in the cool twilight, the other still receiving the last rays of warm sunlight. Pretty awesome contrast! Click for a higher-res version.

As that tower to the right began to explode, it produced some amazing mammatus underneath its anvil. Storm was progressing eastwards but the anvil/mammatus were spreading back to be right over us. With some patience and luck, I managed to capture a bolt of lightning crawling through these majestic clouds! Still one of my all-time favorite storm shots. Taken IN Omaha, no less.

As the storms distanced themselves to the east, they continued to produce a fantastic mammatus shield as well as flickering lightning. You could see their updrafts starting to shrivel, but they somehow maintained themselves until they were too distant to see.

Made a short timelapse of this mammatus evening a while ago, which I have posted on my Youtube channel. Probably need to re-process it, but I won't be able to get around to that for a while. So until then, I'll post my old version here. Certainly happy with how this local chase turned out, the mammatus saved the day!