Saturday, May 24, 2014
We started the day in Amarillo, TX and we headed South through Plainview and kept going. We intercepted our first storm near Barnhart, TX and watched a storm and a possible tornado, later confirmed as a reported tornado. We continued on past Big Lake, TX and watched a beautiful storm with an amazingly green hail core before we headed away to avoid being pummelled. Some students from University of Mississippi and the University of North Dakota drove into the storm and the hail core.
Storms began exploding everywhere and we got cut off on our way to San Angelo and got whacked by heavy rain and a bit of hail on our way to Midland, TX. En route, we had the fortune to see an amazingly bright double rainbow and when we arrived in Midland, we greeted by fireworks at the ballpark next to our hotel. I gratefully drank a large beer with dinner and fell into bed.
Rain Wrapped Tornado Near Byers, Colorado?
Yesterday’s chase was pretty intense with an amazing HP supercell and chaser convergence like I have never seen before. We started just south of DIA and watched the cell develop. We stayed with it all evening and saw glimpses of what were reported as rain wrapped tornadoes. As further discreet cells developed further south, we were in position to continue heading east on Rt. 36 without getting nailed by anything more than small hail We were treated to a few funnels and delightful light show into Colby, KS.
Edge of Storm
Started in North Platte, NE after forecasting. My morning target was Brush, CO. (I like to pinpoint just for the fun of it). Heading west, we watched the storms developing and putting down hail in Denver. Eight miles west of Last Chance, CO, the storm organized into a beautifully photogenic supercell. This storm produced a number of funnels. Nearing sunset, we headed north and after emerged from the rain to be treated to several rainbows, including a double rainbow. Then, just a few minutes before the sun set, the collapsing storm produced a jaw dropping mammatus display.
Near Last Chance, CO Supercell
Mammatus near sunset
A delightfully fun chase with an isolated supercell on the dryline NW of Ogallala. We chased this storm through Arthur, Keith, and Perkins counties, staying just ahead of (most times), the hail core, that was dropping quarter sized hail. One funnel and a short-lived gustnado later, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset mammatus show and one of the best light shows for a long time. What a treat!
Yesterday, we saw a very low contrast tornado at Guthrie, OK. The sky was filled with haze, the storms were amazingly difficult to deal with due to the energy in the system and the cell mergers, and we refused to try to chase in the Oklahoma City urban area due to traffic issues, although we started the day in Oklahoma City. Chasing in urban areas is almost as bad as chasing in the trees and hills of Missouri, Arkansas, etc. Therefore, we are heading home. We have seen tornadoes four days in a row. A record for us. It has been an active season and we are tired. A good kind of tired but tired nonetheless.
People keep asking me why I chase storms. Days like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that….are the answer. The sky is alive with raw power. Nothing else matters but the energy. In my profession, there are conference workshops dedicated to learning how to “be in the moment” and “mindfulness.” Storms are elemental, a part of the soul of humankind that requires no learning. Being in the moment is essential to stormchasing if one wishes to truly understand this elemental part of nature, stay safe, and experience the energy of these beasts. Standing in wind that threatens to whip my shirt off my body, driving through rain that falls harder and harder and faster and faster, hearing the first dings of hail and knowing that bigger and dangerous hail is just behind, knowing that there are tornadoes wrapped in rain that no one can see until they destroy, or seeing columns of twisting air rotating from a cloud to the ground with dirt and debris coloring it to make it visible…this is the power of energy that mother nature produces and that I experience while chasing. It is real and these beasts speak to me in a way that other things don’t. That’s why I chase.