Zonie Chase

February...chasing severe in Arizona, love that. Had a nice run up the Beeline Hwy 87 (geography: Hwy 87 runs northeast out of Phoenix, Arizona to the edge of the Colorado Plateau known as the Mogollon Rim Country). I was headed north toward Payson. The terrain is highly mountainous upper Sonoran desert (rocky with boulders, giant saguaro cactus and chaparral) then becoming alpine.

Around 5pm a strong cell around 55 dbz with hail core moved over Fort McDowell Indian land, located on the Beeline at the Verde River. I chased the cell north to Saguaro Lake but then heard reports that an even stronger cell was moving NE out of Cave Creek, Arizona (this is north of Scottsdale, Arizona) and would soon come over the ridges and within my view if I went a little further north. At the intersection of the Bush and the Beeline Hwy, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as I came over a ridge.

Beneath a rock hard tower some kind of lowering was forming (my thoughts...no way...sheriff-nado...scud bomb...forget it). But it was clean, I couldn't ignore. I set up to photograph then chased it further up the Beeline until my sunlight ran out.

Sure enough I hadn't imagined it, the cell became warned on as tornadic when it slipped into the Mazatzal range (a highly rugged, sparsely populated mountain range SW of Payson, Arizona). It was a nice looking storm, fast-moving but well put together.

More chances tomorrow.