2019-7-04 REPORTS: WY

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Jan 10, 2014
Sheridan, WY
I started the morning in Wall, SD. Initially I targeted Lusk, but then it became apparent the surface winds and instability were better to the south. And how could I stay away from Chugwater? Fortunately the cell there matured slowly so I arrived just in time. As I exited the freeway the first funnel formed in front of me. I found a hilltop south of town to watch from. That's when the first tornado report came in, but I couldn't see anything despite having a view of the entire storm.

Rusty's Hill
by Kevin Palmer, on Flickr

At this point I had to decide whether to stay below the bluffs or ascend the bluffs to the east. Staying ahead to the east seemed like the obvious choice. If I didn't beat the core across Highway 313, I wouldn't be able to keep following the storm. But it turned out the chasers who stayed below had the better view as the tornadoes developed.

Tilted Base
by Kevin Palmer, on Flickr

There were some very close CG's during tornadogenesis. It didn't feel safe to be outside, so I retreated to my vehicle after setting up my camera for a time lapse.

Chugwater Tornado
by Kevin Palmer, on Flickr

This twister didn't last long. I moved further east because I was right on the edge of the hail core. That's when the 2nd (or 3rd) tornado developed, and I needed a telephoto lens to shoot it.

Chugging Along
by Kevin Palmer, on Flickr

This one lasted a bit longer. From my vantage point it looked like it was shrinking. But it was also retrograding, moving away from me. I wish I had captured the rope out, but my camera was getting hit with quarters. After this tornado it was amazing how quickly the storm just vaporized.

Since I was going north anyway I stopped to check out the storm near Glendo. It was slow moving and produced some nice lightning at sunset.

The Road to Glendo
by Kevin Palmer, on Flickr

I had the idea of finding a campsite at the state park so I could stay longer and watch more lightning over the lake. But since it was Independence Day, there were no campsites available and I decided to just drive 3 hours home instead. I left after 9:00, which was not a minute too soon. The cell intensified after dark. There were reports of 3-4 inch hail, and shattered windshields and skylights at the campground. So I felt lucky to make it out with no damage.