Three chases in…

I’ve now been on three chases, the first was with Nevin and Jeff, the second was with Jeff and storm whisperer Ronnie Rabena and the third was an attempt to meet up with Beth and Chris…but didn’t go as planned.

June 26.

Things started bubbling in mid afternoon and Jeff & I decided to head out to the south west. Jeff had a tip from Ronnie that things might be good so we met up in Sunnybrook about 50 minutes south west of Edmonton.

Ronnie, Jeff and Ronnie’s friend Addy.

We watched the storm develop and I learned quite a bit from Ronnie on development and features. It was looking pretty good and by this time, ECCC had issued a severe thunderstorm watch.

This is the storm we chased seen from Sunnybrook.

You can see the development in this short timelapse I shot including a feature I’d never noticed before., pileus clouds which are the wispy clouds that form on top of rising column of air. You can see them briefly at the 2/3 point of the timelapse.

We headed out due north after the storm around 8pm and it was starting to look really quite nice. Ronnie was in the lead, Jeff was following and I was behind Jeff. We turned west on to highway 627 and as we drove up to the Keephills generating station, Jeff slammed on the brakes and hopped out. I stopped as well and took this pano. This was a pretty cool looking storm at this point. Especially interesting is the way the wall cloud just to the left of the power plant is backlit. Apparently this is quite unusual from the feedback on Twitter. Jeff also has a great shot of this but he hasn’t posted it publicly so I won’t post it here.

Pano of the storm over Keephills taken with my Pixel.

We jumped back in the vehicles and headed back out, but realized we’d lost Ronnie. Fortunately, Jeff was able find him via FB Messenger location tracking (generally creepy…but good for chasing :)) We turned around and headed to RR43 & Hwy627 where Ronnie was parked and waiting. At this point, Steve was thinking about trying to meet up with us, but he was on the north side of the storm near Wabamun. As we rolled up, things started to get interesting.

Here it comes! (and there’s Ronnie)


This whole area is basically a giant open pit coal mine that supplies coal to the generating station (but not for much longer).

Coal truck, storm and Ronnie


And then moments later, this. My first ever shelf cloud!

Shelf pano (and Jeff) taken with my Pixel

-This- is what I’ve been hoping for. It was so cool and beautiful.

And then the gust front hit. And along with…a whole ton of coal dust that had us running for vehicles. Ronnie measured gust strength up to 60kmh but we didn’t measure during the strongest parts of the front so I’m pretty sure the wind speeds were higher.

By the time the front had moved through, the chase was pretty much done and we all headed home.  I stopped for a bit to try and catch some lightning but didn’t get a decent shot.

July 1

We were hoping for a nice Canada Day storm and the conditions looked favourable in Red Deer and areas south. Both Chris and Beth were chasing up north of Calgary so I decided to head south and see if we could join up with them. My wife Kim came along with me and she became my navigator & radar/tweet watcher. This was her first chase and she was excited to come along.

As it turned out, we got a bit of a late start at 2pm and by the time we were hitting Red Deer, the storm had  already formed a massive line several tens of kilometers long.

Approaching Red Deer. Taken by Kim with my Pixel

When chasing, we’re looking for discreet storm cells as these long, disorganized storms aren’t very photogenic. We pulled into Gasloline Alley for a quick break and to find out where Chris and Beth were. They were at a dying cell down in Water Valley, which was still over an hour southwest of us. They were also just about to head back south to see if anything else popped up (it didn’t)


At this point, we were just a few minutes from being in the storm ourselves so we grabbed a shake from Peters and headed back north homeward.

On the way, I noticed some interesting clouds east of the QE2 at the Morningside turn off so we made a detour and got a couple of sort of interesting shots but we were on the wrong side of the storm and kept moving east to try and stay out of the rain….unsuccessfully.

Low clouds shot by Kim with my Pixel


Maybe the best shot of the day by Kim with my Pixel.

Even though the Canada Day chase was a bust, we had a good time, got a tasty shake and Kim got her first taste of chasing. She quite liked it and now wants RadarScope on her phone 🙂

The June 26 chase was much more the true chase experience and I think Jeff has a couple of potential shots from the day that might work for the project. We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes.

Update on the definition of the “true chase experience” from Chris ;p



The next few days look to be hot with not much activity, but I’m OK with that as I am busy with the Whyte Avenue Art Walk this weekend. After the monsoon we had during Art Walk last year, the hot, dry weather forecast is looking pretty good.




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