Wyoming supercell too close for comfort

basehunters-supercell-wyoming
Image: Basehunters

The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. — Willa Cather

I saw this photo and video on the news last night and was awed once again by what Mother Nature does out here on the Great Plains. In a lifetime here, I’ve never seen a storm like this.

It seems some storm chasers — the Basehunters — watched this storm and filmed it as it was developing. Only today am I learning that this happened on Sunday, the day my daughter-in-law and grandson were returning from a camping trip at Devil’s Tower. That’s in NE Wyoming, not far from where this supercell developed. They got home safe and sound and I assume the storm probably formed in the late afternoon (typical of such storms), after they were well south of the area. Lucky, because their route home took them right through the area of the storm.

There are some things that grandmothers best hear about only after the fact.

The music in the video is “Empire” (Instrumental) by Shakira.

The sped-up video was actually filmed over the span of about an hour. Note the storm dissipates without spawning a tornado.

36 comments

  1. OUTSTANDING! thanks for posting. I have recurring tornado dreams – I think a carry-over of watching the Wizard of Oz, oh a couple of dozen times over the decades… this should help secure the dream theme for a couple more decades!

    1. Just tell yourself this is not a tornado (it isn’t). And the last report I saw said this storm never dropped a funnel. Tell yourself you know a woman (me) who lived in Oklahoma City all her life and only saw one teensy dissipating funnel in all those years. In any case, sorry to have reinforced any bad dreams.

      1. Well, thanks for the reassurance! But in my dreams, I’m sort of a super hero, see. I witness the storm and then it’s my job to get everyone to safety and stuff. So, it’s all good.

  2. Wow- the power in those clouds! Amazing photos. So glad they missed seeing this develop while heading home– makes me wonder if this was a storm, or that huge ship come to pick up more folks (Close Encounters & Devil’s Tower) … now i have those 5 notes playing in my head 🙂

    1. My grandson had a blast at Devil’s Tower. The campground runs “Close Encounters” 24/7 there and he’d never seen it. What an introduction, eh? (He’s 12.) I’ve always wanted to visit there just because, despite all the photos, I have no real understanding of how big it is. Would I be impressed or disappointed?

  3. I saw something much smaller develop and read the warnings in the motel to gather in the hallway with pillows when heading home from the east coast. No thanks, I’ll take earthquakes and tsunamis, thank you! 😀

    1. Seriously? I could not live with west coast earthquakes. The earth is not supposed to move beneath your feet. Ever. In my experience with tornadoes, a direct hit is all you have to worry about, and the odds are slim that it will ever happen (unless, of course, you live in Moore, Okla.).

      1. Seriously, earthquakes don’t bother me, but I forgot to mention our potential for volcanoes exploding. But a really good one would certainly be inconvenient with the million and one bridges we have to cross to go anywhere. I suspect the hazards you’re most familiar with are less frightening somehow.

        1. Yeah… THAT one is said to be the mother of all volcanoes…
          You got me thinking I could end up with beach front property someday… 😀 Ain’t never no tellin’ what momma nature has in store.

  4. I find it hard to believe my eyes when I see things like this, Susan … we have nothing of the kind down here – well, just the very occasional cyclonic formation, here and there. But THIS ! – no wonder a few of your hairs fell out at the narrow time-gap you mention …

  5. Wow. That’s an impressive cell. I’m awed by nature, too. I’m taking a GIS class, and we just mapped tornadoes in the US, and they’re definitely stronger and more numerous in the central part of the US. Certain towns (like Moore, Oklahoma) have been hit multiple times.
    Living in tornado alley, spring-time makes me nervous. I hate hearing the sirens!

    1. Admittedly spring in Denver is a lot more tranquil than it was in Oklahoma, although your map would have shown that we do get occasional tornadoes this far west. But folks around here can’t tell a rain shaft from a funnel. It would be funny if it weren’t so annoying.

  6. I think you would be impressed & should go see it! It is so huge and just ‘out there’ — i was a kid when we camped there, waaaaay before the movie, but it was kinda scary for me because of the Indian legend about it. I should have looked it up before writing; think little girls were chased by huge bears, but saved after the land rose up under them & the bears couldn’t climb it- the ridges/grooves are from the bears’ claws. The little girls couldn’t climb down, tho, and we see them today as the constellation ‘The Pleides’ Of course i was afraid of running into the bears…. It is not a core from a long-dead volcano, but can’t remember just what it is… will have to look it up now!

    1. Love the legend. I should do some reading. I knew it was out in the middle of nowhere (one reason I haven’t made the trip), but I’d always heard it was the core of an old volcano. No? Now I’m really curious …

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