We started out at a rather leisurely pace – sort of not really excited or anxious about the day. If it happened, it happened. Our target was SW Kansas. We didn’t get drawn too far south and stayed on the northern storms that had formed. The sky was looking interesting as we were getting closer to the storms and then two cells began to merge. Whoa! Suddenly, one, then two, then three landspout tornadoes started dancing together. As they dissipated, another formed and then there were two on the ground. They disappeared and two more formed. In just a short period of time, the cell merger had produced incredible energy. This storm became a beast and we got up close and personal, watching one of the most amazing tornadoes form, then dissipate, then form again as a rotating inflow band. We followed this storm for hours, seeing 11 separate touchdowns. Vortex 2 arrived and caught 3 of the later t’s, getting great data. The bad news? A corrupted CF Card! I think people back home in Boston could hear the swearing. At least my chase partners were taking photos and video.
First set of tornadoes – later verified as three on the ground:
And more tornadoes….
And the most amazing tornado….inflow band I have ever seen. At one point it was a tornado, then it was a rotating inflow band on the ground (?), then…. well, you’ll see for yourself. We have lots of video of this and it’s just incredible. Never seen anything like it before and we were up close and personal.
We were lucky to come out of this day alive! Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it was fast, furious, and wild. In Nebraska, headed north to Lake McConaughy to watch a storm cross the lake…but it didn’t. However, saw a lot of whitecaps on the lake. The wind was howling. Headed further north on Rt. 61/92 trying to stay ahead of the storms, which were moving at 60ish mph. We stayed on Rt. 92 at Arthur, heading east. Before reaching Rt. 97, we got ahead of one of the north tracking fast moving storms and captured a brief tornado on camera while almost being blown away by 70mph winds. Shirts were being held on by hand. The tornado was near Tryon, NE and we were looking NW.
We continued east on 92 through hail and suddenly, out of nowhere, a fast moving shed roof passed in front of our eyes. This thing was close! Debris. At that point, we decided to head on to Oconto to let the storm roll over us and ended up sitting under the whale’s mouth. What a day.
Fist “real” chase of the chasecation (translation – intended chase), we targeted just northwest of Scotts Bluff and found ourselves on a lonely (no other chasers in sight after passing Vortex 2 at the turnoff) and beautiful dirt road with a gorgeous tornado warned storm just NW of us that produced a couple of very brief tornadoes in Goshen Co, WY. A delightful way to start with a bonus sunset.
Leaving the cop, (see previous post) we headed to Thermopolis, WY to Hot Springs State Park. En route, came across a colorful, ideal chaser motel. White sulfur hot springs and unusual rock formations awaited us when we got to the Park.
Wyoming! Well, let’s just say, we didn’t get arrested but….our encounter with the authorities in Wy left a lot to be desired. Driving through Wind River Canyon (wow!), I began to be tailgated by a white pickup truck. Ian was hanging out the window taking video and I was driving under the speed limit, obeying all the laws, bitching about the *&%$* on my tail. Finally, at the end of the Canyon, we came to the resevoir and I decided to pull over to let the guy pass, while Ian took a photo. Well, the *&%$* pulled in behind me. I parked and Ian got out. Next thing we know, the pickup has lights flashing and this voice says, “Get back in the vehicle.” So, the tailgater turned out to be a Park Ranger and I had pulled past a little, teeny weeny, miniscule sign that said “fee area.” This guy was looking for something to stop us for. After the 3rd degree, including issues about not carrying our proof of insurance cards (no such thing in MA) but thankfully the rental car place had stuff in the glove compartment, we found out that we could pay $6 on the spot and be done with the nonsense. Suddenly, Mr. 3rd degree squad goober became Mr. nice guy travel agent, telling us all the sights to see as we headed to NE.