Severe Thunderstorms Near Two Guns

By late morning it was evident that convection was going to be interesting. Updrafts were quite vigorous and there was pileus atop many updrafts.

I thought about photographing storms but got sidetracked. Then I heard the first Severe Thunderstorm Warning on NOAA Weather Radio. Less than an hour later a Tornado Warning was issued.

I looked at the radar data for the warned storm but was unable to see a clearly defined mesocyclone or tornado vortex signature (TVS). As it turns out, this was a non-supercell tornado (NST), sometimes called a landspout—and landspouts are often difficult to detect by radar.

This warning finally got my attention. A short while later, I headed out the door to see if any other storms would be as interesting as this one. I drove east towards some existing convection near and north of Winslow—stopping frequently to take photographs.

New convection forming to the WNW of Two Guns, Arizona. (1651 MST 21 October 2018. )
New convection forming to the WNW of Two Guns, Arizona. (1651 MST 21 October 2018. )

New storms then began to form back to the west and I set my sights on these. By this time, I had moved back west to the Two Guns exit on Interstate 40. Two Guns is now a ghost town and there are several old and interesting buildings in the area. I set up so that I could photograph both the old buildings and the storm. That worked out well.

Strong thunderstorm N of Two Guns, AZ. (1707 MST 21 October 2018)
Strong thunderstorm N of Two Guns, AZ. (1707 MST 21 October 2018)

Then it was time to move to the north side of I-40 so I could get some photos without any buildings in the way. You know—just in case a tornado formed.

Supercell thunderstorm north of Two Guns, AZ. (1714 MST 21 October 2018)
Supercell thunderstorm north of Two Guns, AZ. (1714 MST 21 October 2018)

No tornadoes were observed although for a brief period the visual appearance and radar depiction suggested that the storm was developing supercell characteristics and had some rotation.

As the storm moves to the ENE light from the setting sun illuminates the foreground. (1725 MST 21 October 2018)
As the storm moves to the ENE light from the setting sun illuminates the foreground. (1725 MST 21 October 2018)
Sunset colors illuminate the storm as it moves to the ENE. (1729 MST 21 October 2018)
Sunset colors illuminate the storm as it moves to the ENE. (1729 MST 21 October 2018)
Sunset colors. (1733 MST 21 October 2018)
Sunset colors. (1733 MST 21 October 2018)
Cumulus convection takes on pastel colors as the sun sets. (1742 MST 21 October 2018)
Cumulus convection takes on pastel colors as the sun sets. (1742 MST 21 October 2018)

I shot both still images and video. Unfortunately, the dynamic range from the brilliantly lit updraft to the dark shadowy areas elsewhere was too much for the video and portions of the updraft were overexposed.

 

Still, the video shows some interesting evolution. Thirty minutes (1711–1741 MST) of raw video was compressed into ~18 seconds.

 

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