Empty MT

11 June 2016

A pretty good setup turned out to be something of a failure, but you'll never guess what it turned out was at the end of Fish Hatchery Road...

It's surprising to have so many days in a row in Montana. Particularly when you consider that the weather in the US had been so quiet for so long and that the moisture to power storms comes from the opposite corner of the US – from the Gulf of Mexico. But one way or another there was still enough moisture in the area and another setup was set to fire up storms off the mountains. Again the wind was a bit strangely setup and we could expect storms to move north, indeed they were expected to push into Canada by late in the night.

We are getting to know the few main roads in central Montana very well now, so barely needed to check the maps to find out times and distances to reach our initial target. By the time we were even close to it, though, it started to become apparent that storms were going to fire further south than we had anticipated and we needed to head that way, further retracing some drives from the last few days. We ended up in Miles City as storms seemed to be getting going over hills.

The first one was already heading off into an area we couldn't follow it, but the next one was heading up from the south so we found a small country road called Fish Hatchery Road, just along from Miles City...and yes, you guessed it, this road lead to a fish hatchery. It was Sunday though, so no visitors today, and lots of anti-trespassing notices made it seem an unfriendly plaice. Sorry, on with the John Dory.

Storm shelf

Several other chasers found us on Fish Hatchery road – we spoke to a couple (you'll have to ask me about the prairie dog guy) and then quite a nice storm came over the mountains and blew up a good dust storm with its forward flank winds. The dust settled and we moved a little up the road to get a better view. While the storm didn't have a create deal going for it, it did manage a sheer funnel. This is a funnel cloud but not from a mesocyclone like you would normally expect, and can be indicative of the storm interacting with a boundary – which can lead to some other types of tornado. Sadly not to be this time, but at least we got a funnel cloud!

funnel close up

A similar story repeated for the next couple of hours, via a couple more weak storms, not without their share of, albeit limited, structure. But even my new lucky lightning t-shirt couldn't get them moving.

Waiting for tornadoes

After a couple of these we called it a day and finished with a head-on intercept of the last storm of the afternoon, on the start of our long drive for the next day's risk, potentially in Colorado. That last intercept finished with sitting in the car getting rained on but getting some good close lightning to shake us around a bit, before we headed on south, a long drive perhaps, but good to be heading for core chase territory.

SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Sat June 2016

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Sat June 2016

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