Nighttime Wedge Tornado

Turkey, Texas - May 23 2016
A very interesting chase day... AND our third tornado day in a row. We didn't think it was going to happen, then after dark, the storm near Turkey, Texas did it for us.
Similar to yesterday, the storm we were on wasn't too impressive until it started to get dark. If there's one thing we've learned this season it is to never give up on your storm. After a full day of chasing, we were treated to one of the best lightning displays I've seen in a very long time. There were bolts coming down all around us, some at very close range, and interestingly, there were frequent times when multiple contacts with the ground would occur simultaneously from one flash.(Up to 5 hits as one point).

An increase in lightning activity is sometimes an indicator of a strengthening storm, and can sometimes be a precursor to tornado production. Well, that's exactly what happened. The storm went tornado-warned, and we tried to keep ahead of it because I don't usually like to chase tornadoes after dark. One complication was that our best escape road was closed, so we (along with a hoard of other storm chasers) had no choice but either drop south, or head back into the storm.... South it was!

We pulled off and spotted a very large tornado, illuminated by lightning. It was far enough away that there was no danger to us, but it was difficult to see in the murk. The wedge-shaped tornado was very close to the town of Turkey, and luckily the town was spared a direct hit. It was likely a very strong tornado.


The night tornado near Turkey, TX. Image from Blake Naftel.
The rounded base of the rotating storm before it unleashed its barrage of lightning at us.


As the sun sets, storm chasers gather to photograph the lightning.
Very prolific lightning.


Storm structure and lightning.
This five-contact strike was comprised of multiple bolts striking simultaneously. There is no image staking or compositing of multiple exposures.


More simultaneous lightning strikes.
A "Bolt from the Blue" coming out of the storm to the south of our storm. Sometimes lightning bolts can arc outside of the storm, striking well away from any rain, in places where people might think they are safe.