The Basics of Storm Chasing in Colorado and the High Plains

This video is meant to be an introductory lesson for those folks just starting to chase and those who traditionally chase the more traditional lower plains of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, etc. Chasing in the high plains is a different experience which requires less overall on the parameters to have success. Additionally, there are unique strategic…

Storm Chase Case | Chester, OK Tornadoes | April 16, 2017

For our second ever video of this type, we’re taking a look at a day that would challenge any chaser to pick out the right target. This is another Slight risk/2% tornado risk with the dryline in the Texas Panhandle being outlined for a supercell risk. However, because some might call us renegades, we opted…

Storm Chase Case | Needmore, Texas Tornado Warned Supercell | May 4, 2019

Here’s a new experiment for our channel and I hope we can continue to evolve and develop this content type. Today, we’re doing a start-to-finish storm chase case with some thoughts on forecasting, strategy, and storm anatomy throughout. The hope is these become an all-encompassing source of learning as we move forward. So with this…

Hodographs and Storm Photogenic-ness/Spotting Hazards (Guest Lesson from Cameron Nixon)

The hodograph is a super important tool for storm chasers to master because it can anticipate storm mode and…yes, how they’re going to look and behave. In our first ever guest lesson on Titan U, guest star Cameron Nixon (https://twitter.com/cameronjnixon) takes you through the hodograph and what it looks like to use them to gauge…

Some Notes on Chasing a Twister – A Storm Anatomy Guide

Tornadoes are the ultimate catch for storm chasers and the ultimate piece of any severe weather season. But they’re rare — which is another thing all to itself. If you are in the midst of a developing tornadoes, here are some things we look for to indicate a storm is about to produce a tornado…

The Types of Weather Models

This long-form course is all about weather models and the different types of weather models. This course covers what each different model type does and what they’re best for when forecasting. If you haven’t done so, be sure to check out our introductory course to weather models, The Hitchhikers Guide to Weather Models. When it…

Why Do Storms Turn Green? Hail? Tornadoes? Aliens?

Aliens? Surface of the ground? Hail? How about…none of the above (except maybe aliens). The answer actually lies within a simple trick of light. Storm clouds are inherently blue and sunlight tends to be orange or red — put those two colors together and you end up with green of some sort. So not magic….

What are updrafts and downdrafts?

From the NWS Glossary: Updraft – A small-scale current of rising air. If the air is sufficiently moist, then the moisture condenses to become a cumulus cloud or an individual tower of a towering cumulus or Cb. Downdraft – A small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks toward the ground, usually accompanied by precipitation as…

What is the rear flank downdraft?

The rear flank downdraft (RFD) is a key ingredient in tornado formation in supercell thunderstorms. The RFD is a region of air (usually dry) subsiding on the back side of a mesocyclone that then wraps around the mess. It is often visible as a clear slot wrapping around the wall cloud.

What is a wall cloud?

Check out this definition from the NWS Glossary: A localized, persistent, often abrupt lowering from a rain-free base. Wall clouds can range from a fraction of a mile up to nearly five miles in diameter, and normally are found on the south or southwest (inflow) side of the thunderstorm. When seen from within several miles,…

What are shelf clouds?

Shelf clouds are usually associated with the leading edge of storm outflow — this is usually a sign of a line of storms or an HP supercell. Often, rising motion is seen at the front of the shelf, with the underbelly of the shelf being quite turbulent.

What are anvils?

Anvils are the flat, spreading top of a cumulonimbus cloud. Thunderstorm anvils may spread hundreds of miles downwind from the thunderstorm itself. Sometimes, they may even spread upwind.

A Primer on Tornado Formation…

How tornadoes form is one o the biggest questions facing atmospheric scientists today. However, we do know a lot of the ‘whys’ of tornado formation. Most tornadoes form from what we call supercell thunderstorms. These storms have a rotating updraft known as a mesocyclone, which creates the processes necessary for tornado formation.

What are landspouts?

Not all tornadoes originate from a mesocyclone or even a supercell. One type of non-supercell tornado is a land spout. Landspout tornadoes occur as the parent storm cloud is in its growth stage with the spin originating in the boundary layer of the storm.

Choosing a Storm Chase Target: Warm Fronts

When it comes to warm fronts there’s a real love/hate relationship storm chasers possess with them. On one hand, some incredible cyclic tornado machines have occurred on them — on the other they can be quite fickle when it comes to getting the right ingredients to come together. Let’s learn about them! Why Warm Fronts…

Choosing a Storm Chase Target: Triple Points

When it comes to storm chasing, dry lines may be the bread and butter of targeting — but triple points are oftentimes the bullseye that demands attention. This region is also often an overlooked target for new storm chasers. Don’t ignore it. The triple point is usually where the dryline meets a warm front or…

Choosing a Storm Chase Target: Ingredients to look for

Making a successful storm chase forecast and getting the best storm chasing targeting involves a lot of work. Severe storms need lift, ample wind shear and ample instability to sustain themselves. Hence, a lot of the work in forecasting storms hinges on these three ingredients. These main ingredients make up the fundamental elements you always…

Choosing a Storm Chase Target: Drylines

When it comes to a bread and butter surface boundary for storm chasers, it is hard to argue with the dryline being anything but that. Present each spring where the dry and hot airmass of the desert SW interfaces with the warm and moist airmass of the Gulf of Mexico, drylines are what make a…

Choosing a Storm Chase Target: Boundaries

Surface boundaries are the basic storm chase target. In this video, we discuss the different boundaries you can target for storms while out chasing. There are numerous boundary types to keep in mind from dry lines to warm fronts to cold fronts to outflow boundaries and more. We’ll talk about the different surface boundaries and…

The Basics of Lift: What Patterns Result in Storms?

Severe storms need three main ingredients: wind shear, instability, and atmospheric lift. Atmospheric lift is important to get air parcels in an unstable atmosphere to begin lifting upwards and eventually condensing into clouds. Lift is necessary to overcome a capping inversion on the most dynamic days as well. Usually, lift is associated with an upper…

How big can tornadoes get? Does the size matter?

Let’s answer the question: How big do tornadoes get? Tornadoes can be both very big, and quite small. Their sizes can range from a few yards across to a couple of miles! Thus, tornado size is certainly a variable topic. Interestingly, size doesn’t matter in terms of tornado strength. Bigger tornadoes do have a bigger…

Where, exactly, is tornado alley?

Depending on who is asking, the answer to where is tornado alley varies greatly. Who is asking? Why are they asking? Where are they asking from? Much of the United States lives under a near constant yearly threat from tornadoes spawned from supercells. The answer to where is tornado alley is actually quite complex. Air…

What are supercells?

A supercell is a thunderstorm with a deep, persistently rotating updraft. Supercells are the least common form of thunderstorm yet they are potentially the most violent. Large hail of greater than baseball size, strong damaging winds, and tornadoes can accompany these storms. To storm chasers, Supercells are the grand catch — they are the bounty…

When is the peak of severe weather season?

When discussing the peak of severe weather season, the answer relies almost exclusively on the answer of “Where do you live?” As a general rule, the peak of severe weather season moves from southeast to northwest through the year and back again. Thus, the typical peak of severe weather activity is much different for Birmingham,…