I'd like to mention that one picture in this report belongs to Hannah Weddell, a fellow chaser. I have received permission to use it in my report. You can see all of my pictures from this day on my Facebook page.
On June 16, 2010 a slight risk day turned into a historic one. Extreme instability combined with adequate shear was meant to lead to a low risk tornado day. Although there was still a chance for tornadoes, very large hail was the primary risk.
It is a shame this day has been somewhat overlooked because of a few popular, yet immature, chasers out there who pointed their fingers at us 'liars' who actually observed this storm. It is unnecessary to say that scientists who actually know will be studying this storm for some time to come.
The day started out with a hefty drive from North Platte, SD all the way up to the "Four B's" convergence zone up in Southeast Montana, Northeast Wyoming, Southwest North Dakota, and Northwest South Dakota. This area is more commonly known as the Black Hills and is a common focus point for storm initiation on days like the 16th. It acts much like the Palmer divide in that it provides just enough lift to get storms going when other places can't get it done. In the end, it turned out that we didn't need this source of lift to get our storms going. As we arrived on scene, it was obvious a convergence boundary had set up just east of the Hills, sparking up what I'd describe as atomic turkey towers. I can't find any pictures of these turkeys, but I guarantee you they could have planted fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned chasers. After a prolonged lunch stop at the local Fuddruckers, we headed back east to intercept what I knew would be the show of the day. About fourty-five minutes after initiation:
Notice the overshooting top. At this point it was still trying to really get going, but had already developed a bowl shaped lowering at its base. This storm looked as if it was going to produce even in its immature stages, but ended up dying a quick LP death on the wrong side of the warm front. By this time, a string of storms had developed down the convergence line. The second storm looked pretty but never held any real potential. A strongly rotating wall cloud did eventually develop, but the storm was already crossing the boundary.
It looks like there's no real updraft to the storm, but just to the right of where the picture ends the updraft rockets into the sky. Just after this storm crossed the boundary and died yet another LP death, the real storm started its show. Our view of the updraft was blocked by the 3"+ hail core, but it even had a hook on Baron's which is a site rarely seen. The storm slowed to a crawl, taking its time to get to us, which made us miss a small needle tornado, but we soon forgot about that.
A gorgeous barrel updraft, LP style, lingered on the not-so-distant horizon, dropping two smaller elephant trunk tornadoes. At the time this picture was taken, a larger tornado was trying to form. Here's another perspective:
This is when it really started cranking up. It was obviously starting to right turn directly on top of the boundary, which is why the mid level inflow went from nil to apocalyptic in a matter of minutes. Roger was getting pesimistic, but I had no doubt in my mind this was about to do something incredible. Twenty to thirty minutes later:
Picture courtesy Hannah WeddellOne hell of a storm. This was the most dramatic, intense moment of my life. We had cops flying past us, in and out of the city, panicking over what to do. For a while it looked as if the town of Dupree was going to take a direct hit from a strong to violent tornado.
We were near positive the storm had already anchored itself along the front, but were being slightly thrown off by the tornado's rotation around the meso (if that makes any sense). After moving a mile or two down the road, we turned around to see a half mile plus wide tornado apparently parked directly over town.
Obviously I'm skipping some of the smaller tornadoes for the sake of keeping this report under 5 pages. As the wedge rotated around the left side of the meso, the controversial 4-5 tornadoes on the ground at the same time scene occurred.
Tornado 2: Left-most tornado in the triplet in the middle
Tornado 3: Middle tornado in the triplet in the middle
Tornado 4: Right-most tornado in the triplet in the middle
Tornado 5: Left-most lowering forming, eventually condensated almost all the way to the ground
Tornado 6?: Funnel in upper right corner of the picture. This funnel eventually strengthened and lowered substantially, although it could have gone either way if it was on the ground or not
People are claiming this was just an insane multi-vortex, but I guarantee you it was not. Watch Roger Hill's video at the end of this log and it is obvious they are all separate tornadoes.
After another large wedge, the storm eventually went completely HP. Radar still showed multiple couplets across the now rain wrapped meso so it is very likely there were still tornadoes on the ground.
Roger Hill's video of the outbreak...I had the exact same perspective on the storm.