Severe Studios

Monday, May 27, 2013

Severe Weather Outbreak Likely In Kansas This Afternoon

Currently heading towards, Salina, KS to get in position for a potential severe weather outbreak this afternoon. Things seem to be shaping up nicely for a fairly localized tornado outbreak along the warm front/triple point in N Kansas. Stay tuned to and for live streaming video and updates!

Monday, March 25, 2013

First Chase May Be About A Week Away!!!

     With the beginning of Spring 2013 starting off very cold due to the infamous "Greenland Block" pattern keeping much of the continental US below average temperature-wise, there has been a much below normal amount of severe weather in the month of March so far this year. Models are finally beginning to agree that temperatures across the country will begin to rise this week... and possibly be back to or above normal by this weekend!

     Although still a week out, and still too far away to make a detailed/confident forecast, a few days early next week have my attention. The last few GFS runs have shown a system developing early next week that could potentially bring a severe weather threat to the Texas Panhandle, Western Oklahoma, up through Western Kansas and Nebraska.
GFS Forecast Surface Dewpoints, Tue April 2nd, 18z (1:00 PM) 
     There is also some promise for this system to be a multi-day severe weather episode, possibly towards the Mid-Mississippi Valley area by Wednesday.
GFS Forecast Surface Dewpoints, Tue April 3rd, 18z (1:00 PM)
     Although the latest model runs have got many storm chasers like myself drooling over the possibility of finally getting out on the road next week, it is FAR too early to be making any concrete plans. For example, the system I have talked about was an entire day earlier in previous model runs. Basically, just the fact that a decent looking system showing up in the models for next week is enough to get me excited at this point, just for the fact that it means there is a chance for a chase or two!

Stay tuned for further updates!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Photos of 2012

Although 2012 proved to be a real test to the sanity of storm chasers and severe weather junkies nationwide, it was not without its opportunities to snap a few nice shots.

Here is a few of my favorites from 2012.

Monday, April 30, 2012

5/1 and 5/2 Severe Potential

Tomorrow it appears an active period of weather will begin across parts of the Northern Plains and Upper Mississippi River Valley. This active pattern will usher in much warmer temperatures to much of the Midwest to kick of the month of May. Along with the warmth, ample moisture will be present to fuel several rounds of severe weather.

For Tuesday, it appears storms may begin to develop along a dryline/cold front over parts of eastern South Dakota, Nebraska, west Iowa, and Minnesota. Many of these storms may be severe, however tornadic potential is fairly unclear at this point. There is also a slim chance that more discrete activity could develop further south across parts of Kansas.

Wednesday could be a fairly interesting day, given several outflow boundaries may be left behind by Tuesday's storms. This could provide additional focus for storm development, as well as enhanced tornado potential in some areas, namely over parts of central Iowa.

I will be out tomorrow and likely Wednesday, and will be streaming live at

Donovan Gruner

Alright, so I haven't done anything with this blog for just over a year, but I am starting back up! This will be my temporary site until the new "" site is ready.

The next few days hold the possibility of being decent chase days in the Midwest/Great Lakes regions, so later I will be posting a bit about that. May be heading out tomorrow morning for MN/IA, depending on 00z model runs and forecast trends.

I am also using Twitter again (@donovangruner), and will be trying to keep this stuff as updated as possible while chasing.

Donovan Gruner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 8th - 11th, Thoughts on April 14th - Tornado Outbreak Possible

Chaser convergence at Pizza Hut

     Last Friday, I headed out on a 3 day chase adventure with Brandon Sullivan and Connor McCrorey. We targeted a bit southwest of the OKC area, being models were showing a discrete supercell firing to the southwest.  We stopped in El Reno for some pizza before the chase, and met up with Tony Laubach, Colt Forney, Kevin Rolfs, Scott Peake, and others. Towers began to go up shortly after finishing our pizza, and we decided to head northeast.

    After sitting in a field watching towers trying and dying, I began to get a little nervous. However, a tower just to our west was able to break the cap, and rapidly became a monsterous supercell.

   This storm was a very beautiful storm, however it just didn't have what it took to produce. It came very close for a little bit, and despite the plethora of reports of funnel clouds and rapidly rotating wall clouds, OUN didn't seem to want to tornado warn it.

This should probably be tornado warned...

   After watching this beast for a few hours, it became apparent it probably wasn't going to produce. However, it did drop a good sized swath of 3"+ hail, and was very photogenic. We eventually decided to start heading north to set up for Saturdays target, but got sidetracked shooting lighting. As we were shooting lightning, the storm we were shooting went tornado warned. We decided to head a bit south and west to check it out.

N Oklahoma Tor Warned Supercell around 10 PM
   After sitting in a field watching this beast for a while, we began to head back to I-35 when it appeared the tornado threat was diminishing. When we were just about back to the highway, an intensifying couplet began to appear on radar, so we started heading north to see if we could see anything. As we were driving north, we began seeing a cone-like feature in front of us every time it was backlit by lightning. As we got closer, it became more and more apparent it was probably a tornado, or extremely low and immense funnel. We got very close and experienced 70+ mph winds, and saw a semi nearly take out a row of cars parked on I-35, trying not to drive into a possible tornado. This storm went on to produce at least one tornado to our east, however we decided to ditch it to get in position for Saturday.

   We made it to Topeka early Saturday morning, and slept a few hours. We then headed to Omaha to pick up Brett Wright from the airport. We then decided to get Pizza Hut again, being we'd had luck every time we had eaten there before a chase. We looked over data over a few pizzas, and headed out. After watching a Cu field on satellite for a while, we began to see the towers in the distance. We decided to head a bit closer to get a better look. We watched one of the towers begin to dominate, and eventually grow into a monster supercell just NW of Omaha.

   After going through a few splits, the right split seemed to be getting it's act together. It strengthened, and then rooted itself into the warm front. It then turned hard right, and began to look like it may produce. We stopped in Mapleton, Iowa for a fill up, and the storm went tor warned. We headed a bit to the west to get a better look, and may have seen a few brief spin-ups. The inflow at our location was so strong, it ripped the drivers door open, and bent the hinges. We couldn't get the door shut, so I ended up tying it shut with my shoelaces in hopes of salvaging at least one tornado.

Video shot by Brandon Sullivan Wicked Wind Media
   Shortly after the door incident, we found ourselves watching a nice cone funnel come down with a little dust getting kicked up underneath. It rapidly intensified, and became a 3/4 mile wide EF3. Unfortunately, it hit the town of Mapleton, where we had just filled up. We decided to head into town to see if we could do anything to help, and try to figure out a way to fix the door for Sunday's chase.


   We stayed in Mason City, Iowa Saturday night and planned for Sunday. We decided to head to the La Crosse area. Brandon did an interview with Canadian National News in La Crosse, and then we decided to head a little north and west towards Tomah, WI. Storms began to fire quickly, and a PDS Tornado Watch was issued. We watched  a spectacular show on radar as several supercells split and merged with each other over and over. Our target storm quickly became tornado warned. We saw at least one tornado early on, however weren't able to get any good photos or video due to fast storm speeds and excessive amount of trees.

   Later on, we got some absolutely incredible structure. The storm eventually produced several tornadoes for us, but the amount of trees made it nearly impossible to shoot any photos or video. NEVER EVER CHASE IN NORTH WISCONSIN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER!!! After seeing what appeared to be a huge wedge cross a few miles in front of us, we decided to just about give up... when we got a radar update showing an intensifying couplet just to our west. We sat still and watched a wall cloud spin across the road in front of us, but it just couldn't put anything down. Due to a lack of roads and how far north we were, we decided to call off the chase and begin heading south to Rockford to stay at my parents house.

   It was a great weekend, however it could have gone better. Unfortunately due to the door issues Saturday, we missed 10+ tornadoes after dark, including a violent wedge, twin stovepipes, and a multi-vortex tornado. I've even heard rumors that there was 3 tornadoes on the ground at one point. That storm is definitely one of the most powerful storms I've ever witnessed... and is likely one of the most powerful on record. Congratulations to everyone who got some amazing video and pictures of these spectacular nighttime tornadoes! At least I got to end the trip nicely by spending a night at home and seeing my best friend, Sputnik!


    It now appears that tomorrow could be a fairly significant severe weather outbreak across parts of the Southern Plains/Ozarks. A line of discrete supercells could develop along a dryline from SE Kansas to NE Texas in the evening. Tornadoes, some strong, are possible with any supercell that is able to develop. Potential may ramp up a bit towards sundown due to a strengthening low level jet around 00z to 01z. I currently like Central to East Central Oklahoma due to the positioning of the jet max, enhancing lift due to the left exit region over this area. SPC has issued a Moderate Risk, and I've been having good luck with those lately. If you live in areas affected by this system, pay attention to watches and warnings and stay tuned to local news or NOAA weather radio for more info.

Donovan Gruner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One of the Biggest Severe Weather Events of All Time

   Yesterday was one of the biggest and most widespread severe weather events of all time, with 20 reports of tornadoes, nearly 900 reports of damaging wind events, and nearly 200 reports of severe hail greater than 1 inch in diameter. These reports came in from nearly 20 states stretching from Texas to Florida, and up to Pennsylvania. This was easily one of the biggest severe weather events as far as coverage and number of reports in the last 5 years.

    This weekend appears that it will be another active weekend. Things will likely kick off in the Central Plains on Thursday, and several rounds of action on the dryline are expected through Sunday. At the moment it appears the threat could reach from Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas up to Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana. More updates to come as the event draws near.

Donovan Gruner