Watch: Seattle-area storm chaser gets dramatic twin tornado video in Colorado
COPE, Colo. -- It's one thing for a storm chaser to capture a tornado in video; it's another when you get two in the same shot!
Michael Snyder of Normandy Park, Washington spent some time earlier this week out in Colorado and Wyoming chasing tornadoes and he hit pay dirt on Monday.
This particular chase began in Cope, Colorado and went to Siebert, just north of I-70. Snyder credited the new GOES-16 weather satellite in guiding him where to go, even before the storms materialized.
"You could see a well-defined outflow boundary from the night before's complex of thunderstorms (on the satellite imagery)," he said. "This boundary got heated in the sun for a few hours (Monday) and was the focal point for the storm formation in the afternoon."
The twin tornadoes were formed a bit differently than traditional tornadoes -- these were likely "landspouts", which don't form in supercell thunderstorms.
"A landspout is a tornado with a narrow, rope-like condensation funnel that forms while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing and there is no rotating updraft - the spinning motion originates near the ground," according to NOAA's National Severe Storms Lab. This is similar to how waterspouts form.
Something else to note in the video -- the tornado on the right is spinning backwards!
"The Twin on the right was anticyclonic rotation," he said. "The first anticyclonic tornado I've ever seen!"
Snyder said he saw five landspout tornadoes Monday, although he's pretty sure the fifth one he captured was a traditional tornado formed from a supercell thunderstorm.
"It was a warm, sunny day up until the storms went up, and the chase was over well before sunset," Snyder said. "But in between was pretty fun!"
Harrowing Encounter With A Traditional Tornado
Seeing two tornadoes at once might at least qualify as the most exciting thing that might happen in, say, a week for most folks. But not Snyder. The day before, he got up close to a strong tornado that formed in Wyoming.
Storm forecasters with the National Severe Storms Labs had given Wyoming only about a 2 percent chance of tornadoes Sunday, but Snyder noted some signs of potential storm development.
"It was a fairly hidden setup from most of the storm chaser community," Snyder said.
In fact, the only other person who was there to chase the storm was noted storm chaser Reed Timer. "Probably the most famous chaser there is," Snyder said.
Sure enough, a tornado formed near the town of Federal, Wyoming, just northwest of Cheyenne. Then, it got interesting.
"We were right next to that strong tornado," Snyder said. "And then the tornado was moving right at us, so I had to get north enough to get out of the way."
You can see on the video the tornado taking a bit of a turn back toward them.
"As soon as we got off the road, the tornado turned directly onto the road and area I just was," Snyder said. "It was nerve racking!"
He said he saw the tornado tear the roof off a couple of houses and destroy a few barns, and he was among the first people back to offer help after the twister passed.
"One man there said he had just survived his roof being torn off." Snyder said. The tornado would later be rated an EF-2 tornado by the National Weather Service.
Snyder has had many trips out into the Plains to chase storms before retreating to the severe-weather-averse home in Normandy Park. But this might trip may stick among his most memorable.
"Best two-day trip,ever!"