Classic Chase Day

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Woke up in Midland, TX and headed west to get out of the clouds.  Leisurely drive with stop at the Odessa Meteor Crater Museum, and on to Kermit, TX, which was my target for initiation.  We hung out and watched roadrunners, including one with a lizard in it’s mouth.  Photos not following – they are fast!  Spent most of the day on a back road in Kermit and at the convenience store for bio breaks.  Watched clouds try to develop, watched them fail.  About 5 miles out of Kermit, we came across buggy racing on sand dunes.  We had a blast watching this for awhile.

sand racing near Kermit TX copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, we spotted a storm that had developed on the dry line about 75 miles away and the chase was on.What a beautiful LP supercell that we watched for quite some time about 28 miles SW of Hobbs, NM.

Backlit supercell

Backlit supercell

 

Classic day of chasing – hurry up and wait, then a gorgeous, peaceful storm with beautiful backlighting and lightning.  Exhausted, late night, back to Midland.

We Got Whacked!

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.

Hail core

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.

Double rainbow

Double rainbow

The Big Texan

We left Guymon, OK and discovered that K-Bobs was now a China Buffet. This was baaaaddddd!  I was obsessed with Tucumcari, NM today – because I love saying Tucumcari.  Our real target wasn’t that far from Tucumcari but I insisted to my chase partners that we needed to go to Tucumcari just so I could keep saying Tucumcari.  They were about ready to throw me out of the car after about the 100th Tucumcari.  We ended up at the Ute Lake outside of Tucumcari where the most we chased was lizards.

 

Annoyed Lizard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After annoying a lot of lizards, we headed to Amarillo to the Big Texan to discover Peggy Hamner Willenberg, Chris Kridler, Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison, Mark Robinson, and the Canadian Weather Network, which is filming a tv series, was taking up 2 tables.  Mark was trying to eat the 72 ounce steak (for tv) and failing.  This is what chasers do in Amarillo when there are no storms!

 

Chaser Women

Chaser Women

Chaser Convergence

Chaser Convergence

 

Do It for Canada, Mark

Do It for Canada, Mark

Joplin, MO

Yes, we were chasing the storm that hit Joplin, MO. We veered off of it a few miles from Jopin when any tornado that developed would be rain wrapped and very dangerous to chase. The storm was a beast and kept evolving and expanding. The beast that hit Joplin ate 3 more cells as it grew. We have seen from the field that cell mergers appear to contribute to tornadogenesis, and Ian has done a bit of research and found some articles on this topic.

We were sitting on top of a hill watching beautiful storm structure when we turned on the radio and learned about what happened to Joplin. Speechless, with tears in our eyes, we could only say our prayers and look in awe at the power of mother nature. We talked about whether we could help in any way but none of us is a qualified first responder and we knew that the chasers in our community who are would respond generously, as they did.

We carried on the chase with mixed emotions, knowing that we couldn’t change what mother nature brings to us. Many ask why did this happen and why are there more deaths this year? It’s an active year – La Nina is one reason. And, for all of the unpopulated and sparsely populated land in tornado alley (and what they have now coined dixie alley), storms and tornadoes don’t determine their paths by whether structures and people are in front of them. It’s probability. The vast majority of the time, tornadoes hit noting but fields and many go unreported unless someone happens to see it. Sometimes, it hits a town. Like in Alabama, Joplin was under a tornado warning for quite some time. In this end of the world, there is a bit of a “it won’t happen here” mentality, which we hear all the time.

Yesterday, while watching storms develop on a dirt road and looking at some holes in the ground (armadillo dens?), an elderly man stopped to check that we were ok. I told him that we were watching the storms and he said, “You know what I do when those bad storms come? I go to bed and say my prayers.”

Many people don’t have tornado shelters. A tornado as strong as the one that hit Joplin requires a basement or a reinforced storm shelter to be really safe. Most important – it requires that someone actually be in one of these. A few years back, we met a woman who showed us her storm shelter. It was filled with junk. She was using it as either as extra storage or a junk bin. We were watching a storm that could produce a tornado right where she was. I hope that she decided to clean out here shelter.

We went on to see a beautiful tornado just on the other side of a lake in Bernice, OK and a beautiful sunset.

Windmills and sunsets: May 19 Chase

Started the day in Woodward, Ok and ended in Dodge City in 1.5 in hail. We played the triple point and enjoyed the isolated cells around Spearville, KS, missing the mess to the North and South and enjoying gorgeous structure and sunset. Too tired to post more. What a chasecastion already.

Newly Discovered Volcano Mitigation Strategy

Belated post since we’ve been quite busy. I’ll be catching up with a few. Here’s more on Yellowstone:

While walking around Yellowstone, I discovered the USGS’s new Volcano Mitigation Strategy. Actually, Ian, being a contractor, immediately called it this after I said to him, “Hey, they figured out a way to fix the volcano.” I guess it’s time I re-take contractor speak 101 since I’ve lost my touch.
Duct tape has many uses!

More incredible colors of nature, not photoshopped! I swear this is real! We remain in awe of what mother nature produces every single day.

blue pool


beauty amidst desolation

lower falls

desolate pool

steamy


yellow mats

A Moose, A Bear, and Extremeophyles – All in One Day

The snow is melting, the steam is steaming, there’s way too much to do and we decided to stay an extra day. Yesterday’s hunt for animals in the Lamar Valley let us to find a moose, a large black bear, a pronghorn antelope, and just missing out on two grizzlie sightings. And, of course, the usual Bison road hazards. Up to Mammoth Hot Springs for a not so exciting time since we have found that we favor the much more extreme boiling, roiling, bubbling stuff in the geyser basin. Some of you might have guessed that about us! Off to find more bubbling stuff.

mid geysey basin

pattern

monoscape

eerie beauty

wonder

bubbler

red mud gurgler