Southwest South Dakota
After being chased out of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming by upslope thunderstorms, a
side trip over to Mount Rushmore ended with playing a chance on the HRRR being
correct. The model was pretty consistent in spawning a supercell off the higher elevations
of the Black Hills by early evening thanks in part to the same upslope flow which cut our
backpacking trip short by a day.
Example of the thunderstorm which would form about overhead on the 16th. Not much for heavy precip but the lightning
was the biggest problem. It would suddenly become very foggy with light to moderate rain and the temps would
plummet to just above 40 degrees. It was weird to hear thunder sometimes below us. It was hard to tell where the
lightning actually was as it was like four flashes going off at once on all sides. This pic is from below trail 45 in the
Cloud Peak Wilderness coming down from the Seven Brothers Lakes via the Buffalo Park area.
After spending the night in Sturgis, SD and a early afternoon trip to Mount Rushmore, we set up just south of Hermosa,
SD on highway 79 east of the Black Hills. Road options are very poor and with still hilly terrain, areas with good lines
of sight are few and far between.
After a few failed attempts at initiation, a supercell finally did develop on the northwest side of the Rapid City area and
started moving southeast towards us.
It developed a very nice inflow band stretching off to the east/northeast. Note the dead skunk off to the left of the
camera. Thank goodness for southeast inflow winds.
We changed our location by a mile or two a few times in an attempt to be able to observe the base of the wall cloud the
best we could. This storm never really looked like it was going to go tornadic as it would rapidly cycle over and over as
the outflow would undercut the wall cloud and throw out large chunks of scud.
The base of the wall cloud looked rather ominous coming over the ridge. The was a lot of rising motion but very weak, is
any low level rotation.
|Another cycle, another tail cloud pulling moisture up right off the ground.
Nice scenery north of Hermosa still. We left our previous position due to a lot of people showing up and the state
patrol getting annoyed with people parking on the side of the highway and not pulling all the way off on approached etc.
Southeast of Hermosa now. Pretty evident this cell was on it's last legs as the inflow was much weaker and the updraft
did not look as crisp.
The cell quickly died and left a pretty orphan anvil which definitely was photo worthy but I had my eyes set on some
cells to the southwest of the Badlands near Chadron, NE. I've been try for over a decade to get a decent storm off to
the south in there. I'm still trying to get the shot I want but the following images are from this year's attempt.
Just happened to have one of my wildlife lens with. Good thing as the storms approaching from the northwest were
about to cut off my light on the storms to the south. The fleeting light made for a couple spectacular minutes though.
And I will continue to try for that lightning shot. As soon as it started to get dark enough to shoot longer exposures, the
southern cells began to rapidly weaken lessening the lightning ops.
Once in while we could see cloud to ground strikes which were about 70 miles away. That was cool. By now we were
keeping track of the bow echo approaching from the northwest. I didn't want to deal with high winds on I90 in the dark
so we packed up and headed east out of the path for the night.