The Red Rock Tornado Part II
I-35 and East


All images and text
© copyright Gene Moore

The lighting had changed dramatically during the first 10 minutes the tornado had been down. The scenes before the cone tornado crossed I-35 where the best for me that day. The tornado was front lit and the debris cloud was getting intense.

Looking northeast at the tornado from south of Billings. From this shooting position I would have to move east and begin to silhouette the tornado. I chose to go north and east instead of straight east. Most of the chasers were waiting at or just east of I-35. They were getting quite a show as this monster intensified and marched in their direction.

front lit tornado turns white

  wide shot of tornado

When I regained my position on the storm I was shocked at the dramatic change that had taken place. This image shows the tornado moving across open country a couple miles east of I-35. Two and three inch hail stones were falling sporadically, but there was no rain. A moderate wind was blowing out of the north and the precipitation increased during the next five minutes. I could hear a roar from the tornado. When I returned to my vehicle the windows were rolled up and the radio was on, but I could still hear the tornado. It was loud.

I continued to shoot the tornado, moving much further east of this position, but the photography got progressively worse as rain and hail increased. The white streaks in the linked images are large hailstones. The final images show a large tornado to my south-southwest, but they are not included here. My scanner has a hard time pulling out the tornado. The funnel was getting much larger visually as it moved further north. Finally, I could hear the tornado at it's loudest, but could hardly see it, an uncomfortable situation. Consequently, I let the tornado pass and dropped south to intercept the next cell.

  wide angle - tail cloud east wide angle - looking south

This is a very wide angle panorama of the whole storm. The first shot is looking east and covers 104 degrees. The second shot is looking south and covers about 90 degrees, there is a little overlap. Both shots were taken at the same time and should provide a good view of how the storm looked during the tornado.

The "tail cloud" configuration first started south east of Billings, OK and was initially pointing northeast. It may be seen in the first image at the top of this page behind the tornado. During the tornado it wrapped around the back of the main circulation and was pointing NNW at the time of this image.

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