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Outdoorstorms - Tom Dolan

Tornado Visualization and Doppler Radar Analysis Project

May 16 - May 30, 2020 Field Season

Link to 2020 webpage



2019 Field Season - May 4 - May 12 - Plan for this season is to start in Oklahoma City to work the Central Plains storms.   Link to 2019 webpage.













Twin tornado photo above from May 28, 2018 eastern Colorado.

Attended and presented at the AMS 29th Conference on Severe Local Storms held in Stowe, Vermont during the week of October 22-26, 2018.  Presented field research in poster and oral presentation.  Link to presentation:

15.3A Tornado Visualization and Doppler Radar Analysis Project


2018 Field Research


We commenced the year in Denver, Colorado on May 19th going to May 29th, 2018.  This was our 10th season in the field researching severe storms and tornadoes.  Will be updating with the findings for this year on this site as the season commences.

Recently attended and sponsored ChaserCon 2018 which is in its 20th year and was held during Presidents Weekend.  Great time to meet up with fellow storm chasers and hear storm related presentations. 

Picture is Bill Kirkpatrick who we met up with at the Niles-Chapman EF-4 Tornado in 2016, Dr. Greg Forbes who has done outstanding work on Tornadoes, and myself, Tom Dolan.  Dr. Forbes is holding my 2nd edition of my Tornado Visualization Project which I made available at the conference.



As part of the video night provided a five minute video presentation of the Oakley, Kansas Gust Front Tornado Convergence May 25, 2017.


Link to video: May 25, 2017 Oakley, KS

In 2016 we had intercepted the initiation of the Niles-Chapman EF-4 tornado.  Donald and I met Bill a few days early.  This tornado traveled 26 miles in 90 minutes.

Tom Dolan and Bill Kirkpatrick on left and Donald Dolan on right.









2017 Field Research

The season took place May 24th -30th, 2017 with us starting in Wichita, Kansas.  Here is the link to our 2017 Season


















National Storm Chasers Convention was held in Denver, Colorado February 17-19, 2017.

Sunday Morning presented the Niles-Chapman EF-4 Tornado that we observed and documented.  The Tornado had a 26 mile path and was on the ground for 90 minutes.  Made an excellent case study for all phases from initiation, mature and sustaining phase and dissipation that included a collapse. 

ChaserCon talks for Sunday morning were streamed by Severe Studios: https://youtu.be/gIIv3nOzlZQ


97th AMS Annual Meeting | 2226 January 2017 | Seattle, WA

Major Weather Impacts of 2016

The Major Weather Events and Societal Impacts of 2016 session is a poster session and a one day oral session that includes submitted abstracts and invited speakers.  The session specifically focuses on the significant weather/water and climate events and their related societal impacts from Winter of 2015-16 through the Fall of 2016.

Tom Dolan provided an oral presentation on Tuesday morning covering the significant EF-4 tornado.  Links provide access to the recorded presentation and handouts.

Analysis of the Observed Niles to Chapman, Kansas EF-4 Tornado on May 25, 2016

Recorded Presentation and Handout of the presentation is provided online.


2016 Field Research This season takes place May 19th -31st, 2016 covering the central plains.














2016 Season Storm Research Link

On August 11, 2016 presented at the 18th Annual High Plains Chapter Conference.  The presentation covered the direct field observation of Niles to Chapman, Kansas EF-4 Tornado.  The talk included the brief video samples of the tornado as it progressed from initiation through dissipation, 3D analysis videos, and post tornado damage path images.















Tornado getting ready to cross Interstate 70 on May 25, 2016 west of Chapman, Kansas.











3D view of the Niles-Chapman, Kansas EF-4 Tornado below at the time it was ready to cross Interstate 70.














May 25, 2016 EF-4 Tornado caused damage southwest of Chapman, Kansas.  Building destroyed, truck flipped and metal draped in the tree.  Storm shelter is located in the bottom right.







3D Radar view of the Tulsa Oklahoma Tornado on March 30, 2016.









2015 Field Research Link to May 14th - May 31st. 2015 season  This year the trip was an Explorers Club Flag Expedition that covered 18 days and 5600 miles.  Numerous tornado and storms were studied to match field observations with radar data.

The Storm Seasons of past research trips can be found on the link above left.

High Plains Chapter of the AMS and NWA held its 2015 Conference in Goodland, Kansas August 12 and 13.  This provided an opportunity to present findings of the four Kansas Tornadoes that took place on May 24, 2015.  Images were captured and processed of the over 3 hours of tornado activity with near miss of multiple towns during the duration of the event.  This included the merging of a squall line that then forced the forth tornado to form directly south of Dodge City, Kansas avoiding a possible direct hit.

May 24, 2015 a large mile wide tornado developed between Kismet and Plains, Kansas.  The image to the right is a blended image of the rotation and wind directions.

We had parked just east of Kismet observing and video recording.  Images backlit by lightning display the tornado.  Fortunately a new circulation formed just east of Plains diverted the tornado north prior to striking the town.







Northern California Explorers Club

September 25, 2015 presentation on the findings from this years Explorers Club Flag Expedition.
















2014 Field Research Link for 2014 season

Site visit to Pilger, NE Twin Tornadoes during the 2014 season

3D Video link of the Doppler Radar Analysis of the Stanton-Pilger, NE Tornado Complex that occurred on June 16, 2014.

Link to Video Stanton-Pilger, NE Tornadoes



Yarnell Hill Fire YouTube 32 minute Documentary - A Geographical Analysis includes a tribute to the lost storm chasers.

2014 CHASERCON Sponsor - The 16th annual National Storm Chaser Convention will be held President's Day Weekend, February 14-16, 2014 in Denver, CO. http://chasercon.com/

Storm Chaser and Research Safety:  In an effort to improve safety in and around severe storms have added storm safety guidelines to this website modeled after the Fire Safety orders and Watch Out conditions used in firefighting.  Storm chasing and research can be dangerous and risk of loss of life is real.  Feedback is encouraged: http://outdoorstorms.com/safety.htm




2013 Field Research: http://www.outdoorstorms.com/2013season.htm 

The El Reno Tornado was significant in its destructive power with the growth of the storm to 11.7 miles high.

This brought tragedy to the Storm Chase Community with the loss of four storm chasers/researchers during the El Reno Tornado on May 30, 2013. 

Tim Samara, his son Paul Samaras, Carl Young, all storm researchers, were overtaken by this 2.6 mile wide tornado that was up to 3.3 miles long. 

Here is an image of the radar showing the debris absent hole as seen from the dual Doppler radar data.  The scale of the hole is comparable to those seen in hurricanes.

This storm season also brought tragedy in the wildland fire service in Arizona with the loss of firefighters in one weather triggered event.  Strong cyclonic and anti-cyclonic rotation is documented with storm heights reaching 40,000 prior to the firefighters being overrun.

On June 30, 2013, 19 Hotshots of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were overtaken by a firestorm.  A 12 minute lesson learned video was put together to help understand this tragic event and was provided to the fire investigators during their review.  Additional close up radar and photo imagery created into 32 minute put on YouTube.  Yarnell Hill Fire Documentary Video

Investigation Video: Yarnell Hill Firestorm  Shorter Tribute Video: Last Stand at Yarnell Hill

The official fire investigation report can be found here: Yarnell Hill Documentation

This site is being used to catalog field weather research combined with radar analysis of storms encountered.  Additional analysis of historical storms is being added using the new radar processing techniques discovered during this research.  Special interest is being researched on the effect of rotation seen in radar data processed and the actual damage from these tornadoes.   New techniques in analyzing radar data, blending of this new radar data and putting the images in motion in a video format provides an exciting new way to view these tornado generating storms.  Work continues to automate the 3D analysis for near real time modeling and forecasting.  Field testing continues.

Tom Dolan is the lead researcher with degrees in Geography, Environmental Science and Computer Information Systems.  He became a paramedic in 1981 and holds his California Paramedic license but currently focuses on large scale hospital information technology projects as a practicing project management professional - PMP.  Field weather research commenced in 2009 with multiple annual trips to model the findings with ground observations.

Navigation on this website includes annual trip reports listed under Storm Seasons.  Specific Tornadoes that have additional radar research performed is listed under Storm Analysis.


  • American Association of Geographers
  • American Meteorology Society
  • The Explorers Club
  • National Eagle Scout Association


Contact Information

Postal address
Tom Dolan
2351 Sunset Blvd, Suite 170, PMB 255
Rocklin, CA 95765
Electronic mail



Copyright 2009-2019 by Tom Dolan. All rights reserved. Federal copyright law prohibits unauthorized reproduction.


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Last modified: 05/18/20