Tags: kansas, lightning, oklahoma, sun set, sunset, texas, tornado
So I’ve been home for few days from my trip and I’ve finally had time to sit down and write about the last few days of my trip.
Thursday was our last chase day in Texas. We waited quite a while for storms to begin. After what felt like several humid and hot hours in a gas station parking lot storms finally erupted. The one we followed seemed to move decently fast, we had to move many times to keep out in front of the rain and hail, it really kicked up the dry dust and dirt.
We chased around this storm waiting for it to get some sort of consistent rotation. It had plenty of lowering but then it would fall apart, so no tornadoes on this one for us. As we were chasing we found many a dead zone to not only our data service but to our phone service as well. It was a Verizon free zone. Without data we couldn’t keep our radar updated so Charles had to use his skills to figure out which was the safe route, keeping us out of the hail. We kept driving for a while trying to find someplace to shelter the vehicle from the oncoming storm. There was what looked like a town on the map but was really an abandoned looking neighborhood but no where that could be cover. So we kept driving.
Finally we entered a larger town and there was a store with some carport-like structures out front. I think it was an auto electronics store. We sat there watching the sun set as the storm rolled into town. It was gorgeous, made everything look orange.
The storm blew in a lot of dirt with its first gust and we tumbled back into the van for a bit. The rain and hail came down, thankfully the hail was not very big. A couple of cars came and went behind us under the other part of the shelter during some of the rougher patches of the storm.
After the sun set and the rain passed us we were given a nice lightning show. It was difficult to capture of course. Also mine were shot through a window because we didn’t want to get out of the car.
We finally pulled into Brownwood, TX for the night. We found a diner that was still open at 10pm and found there was a hotel next door. (Where I had my decision to wait to the last minute to pack in the morning teach me a lesson because I left my childhood blanket there. Yes, I’m 34 and have a blankie. The hotel said they found it and said they would send it out on Monday. I should call them to make sure…)
The next day was a long day of traveling to get into position for Saturday’s final chase. We travelled from Brownwood, TX to Woodword, OK. Then on Saturday morning we headed up towards Phillipsburg, KS to wait for some storms.
Charles picked a great spot, after a short time waiting, little white clouds started popping up out of nowhere above us. Quickly building into large puffy clouds that started to make towers. We watched a lovely storm take place with a fellow chaser until it was decided to go get to a better viewing position for the storm as it looked like it was getting ready to rotate.
Sure enough a tornado was reported by the other chaser who was on the other side of the storm from us. We looked closer and saw the circulation on the ground. It was difficult to see because we had the rain in front of it. We zoomed toward it and we tried taking pictures as we drove but it was so difficult to see. We lost it behind a hill which we soon found out was a dam that we had to get up and over. By the time we got to a good spot the rain had filled in and we couldn’t tell if the tornado was still in progress.
This is the best picture I took of the tornado. It’s circled so you can see it.
One nice thing is I played with some filters on my iPad and the Noir filter really brought out some detail.
As far as we saw that storm did not produce again, but it tried on several occasions. Later it had some magnificent structure, that looked just plain bizarre to me.
As the sun was setting, and we had a 5 hour drive back to Norman, OK still that night, we decided to let the storm go.
I collapsed into my hotel room at 3am,
The next day I flew home. I had a wonderful experience, and I’m quite sure I will be going again. However, it was magnificent to be back home with my husband and my cats.
The next day, Monday, there was amazing and terrifying tornados that went through to the north of Nebraska. I was antsy watching a live stream. I felt weird not going and chasing. The storm that ravaged Pilger, NE spawned 4 tornadoes. It is estimated they were all EF4s. The footage is astounding, if you haven’t seen it, search for it. There were two extremely large tornados right next to each other.
The next night, big tornados ripped through counties north of Pilger and farms and homes were damaged.
The next night big tornados ripped through a South Dakota town.
This is a horrible time for so many people in those towns.
Please consider giving to the Red Cross, or volunteering your time in the clean-up effort.
The storms, they have gone away to greener pastures. Or rather, too far out of our range. After the adventure in Pecos we headed to Del Rio for potential storms. Lo, they jumped the border and headed to Mexico, which is a no-go for this tour group.
While we were heading for Del Rio we crossed the Pecos river and boy that was a surprise to us after seeing nothing but flat plains for a while. Suddenly the ground opened up and there was a river far below us. We decided to stop to get some pictures.
This bridge was built in 1957 after several other lower bridges were destroyed by flood waters over the years since the late 1800′s. According to the plaque it is 273 feet above the river, however it may be more as the river looks pretty shallow thanks to the ongoing droughts.
This next picture shows vehicles for scale.
We ended up in Sonora for this night and the next day was once again a storm-potential-free day for us so we went to the Caverns of Sonora and took the guided tour. It was approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to traverse almost two miles underground. Also it is sealed because it is still a mostly living cavern so it was around 70 something degrees with 90 something percent humidity. From the flyer I thought it was pretty well lit but apparently it was not for me. This was a difficult time for me. The guide was very nice and lent me her flashlight and checked on me along the way. My tour buddies also helped me a lot. Counting stairs for me, warning me of outcroppings, pulling me away from other outcroppings, etc. it was very hard not to touch anything. I did bump my shoulders a couple times, as well as scraped my legs a couple times. There were many times during that I felt like I should have stayed above ground. I didn’t see very much because I was concentrating on my feet, my shoulders, where the handrails were, and where the handrails weren’t. A quote from Star Wars popped into my head numerous times. Luke stating “I’m endangering the mission, I shouldn’t have come.”
There were two moments when anxiety nearly took me over. It was right when claustrophobia, acrophobia, fear of damaging everything around me, and not seeing everything around me to feel safe. I almost let it overwhelm me and I teared up but I sucked it back in and kept walking.
There was one moment when we were resting when we experienced total darkness. The guide turned off the lights and we turned off the flashlights. She had us hold our hand in front of our faces and wave it around. She said if anyone saw anything it was just retinal memory. I wanted to cry out to the world, ‘See? This is what I live with every friggin’ day!!!!’ Instead I kind of made a sound of agreement.
I didn’t get very many good photos because I couldn’t hold the railing, the flashlight and the camera at the same time.
Honestly I’m still not sure if it was a good or bad idea that I went down there.
Here’s a couple photos that actually turned out.
I really liked these. They’re basically straws, they’re hollow as they are made from the inside out. Water drips down inside the straw making it longer with each drop. They had one that was over six feet long but some jackass thought it would be funny to jump up and whack it down. The guide told us of a few moments of vandalism that have occurred over the years. Do they not understand that some of these things take millions of years to be created? Have some respect, people. Also, it’s a federal offense, so just don’t.
Tags: clouds, hail, pecos, SLC, straight line winds, texas
Yesterday’s chase started out in New Mexico again. We spent a while looking at this storm as it came over the mountains hoping that it was strong enough to pull itself together.
As it rose over us we headed back out to follow it. There was a moment when we had to stop because he hail core was crossing the road in front of us. When we started out again we were greeted with this on the side of the road.
This lovely storm didn’t produce a tornado but it sure liked posing for pictures. I think the green inside these storms is right up there as a favorite color.
It even gave a beautiful sunset.
Just look at these ridiculous clouds! This was shot looking up.
The most excitement of the day was when we were heading for Pecos, TX. The core of the storm and the road conspired together to keep us in a dangerous spot. Inside the powerful hail core. There were no roads to escape therefore we had to keep going. All we could see out the side of the van was darkness.
This storm was a beast inside. Straight line winds from the left pushing against the van, whipping rain across so rapidly the lines of the road were barely visible. The only time we had to stop was because on radar there was a strong rotation just in front of us. There were some power flashes as the straight line winds picked up in that moment. It wasn’t a tornado but there was wind rotating in a dangerous manner. Further down the road we started seeing things explode on the road so we knew big hail was starting to come down. It was big, it was loud and there was a lot. We saw a few on the road that were easily the size of baseballs. It seemed like the 3-4″ hail was dropping on the same spot above my head. It cracked the windshield in a couple of spots and later we found it broke part of the windshield wiper blade.
I fully admit to being frightened and I was texting both my mother and my husband during the onslaught.
We were in that storm for what felt like forever, but was more like half an hour to an hour.
We finally got in front of it just as we rolled into Pecos. We drove around finding a safe place to shelter while the storm went through the town. We parked under the covering of the drive-thru of a bank. Thankfully for the town the hail core skimmed to the side and it’s intensity dropped drastically.
We finally collapsed into our hotel rooms after the longest visit to Denny’s due to the whole wait staff having been shipped in the day before to help out and try to get the restaurant back in working order. However long it took at least the food tasted fresh and good.
It may look like fun or exciting on TV to punch the core of a strong thunderstorm, I don’t recommend it. This is why no matter what time of the year it is, pay attention to the weather forecast before traveling. Even if you’re just driving to work. Weather forecasts are no longer in the realm of palmistry or guessing. There is a lot of technology that is aiding them make accurate forecasts based on past data and current trends. This is why you start hearing about possible tornado outbreaks days in advance.
Having more information is always a good thing.
Knowledge is power as they say.
Tags: gustnado, mothership, new mexico, pancake stack, roswell, sunset, supercell, tucumcari
Yesterday we were in New Mexico and the structures we saw were, for lack of a better term, out-of-this-world.
We started on a storm that was outside of Tucumcari and it as looking promising.
She had some lowering but did not get organized enough to attempt a tornado. We sat on that storm for a while before deciding to head for another storm that was looking very good on radar.
On our journey there we were passed, then we passed, then were passed again by the TIV. We were heading for the same storm.
I have zero cares that this storm didn’t produce a tornado for us because this structure was beyond amazing. Be-yond. I didn’t think I would ever see the pancake stack with my own eyes not through a computer or tv screen. It was gorgeous. Seeing this giant mesocyclone (usually shortened to meso) spinning above us was amazing. Need I mention we were not far from Roswell, NM? This structure is also sometimes referred to as the mothership. I assure you that no alien probing of any kind occurred.
Then there was another storm coming up behind it and they caused some interesting wind patterns. The rear flank downdraft (RFD) from the first storm was sucked up by the updraft from the second storm. At one point there were two sections of the storm rotating opposite right next to each other like a couple of cogs in machinery. They caused a large amount of dust to be pulled up into the air which some reported as a tornado but was not an actual tornado.
Then we were honored with a gorgeous sunset behind the back storm. Which Charles informed us that even though we could not see rain coming down it was in fact hailing, which you can not see as well as the rain shafts. He kept us in the perfect positions to not be affected by any hail which depending on which storm was reported as baseball size.
Being on the same storm as the TIV was something special. Being around other chasers that not only share your interest but come from all over the world to share in that interest is pretty amazing.
This is all stuff I watched on TV, read about in social media, listened about on podcasts. Here I am being part of it. An actual part of it. Seeing someone else’s picture on twitter of the storm I was just witnessing is pretty damned cool.
I’m normally an introvert (unless I am 89% comfortable around you and/or had a couple of drinks), home-body, live-life-through-a-screen. It’s ridiculous what you may end up being a part of just by stepping outside your door, your comfort-zone, your safety-net.
I encourage everyone to do this at least once in their life. I recommend doing it at least twice.
Tags: colorado, new mexico, tornado, trinidad, volcano
70 year anniversary of D-Day.
8 year anniversary of my marriage to the wonderful Robert.
The day I saw my first tornado.
The day I saw my second tornado.
The day I saw a funnel cloud form not far from a volcano.
It was an amazing day.
(Note: These are my own photos, you may take them for wallpapers or background pictures, but please do not take them to sell or to claim as your own. Thank you.)
Just outside of Trinidad, Colorado ( which is an adorable town nestled between to beautiful mountain ridge lines and I would love to visit it proper one day) we sat and watched a beautiful storm pull itself together and start rotating. A nice mesocyclone formed and a wall cloud started to form. It attempted this wall cloud a couple of times. Then we saw a tiny point coming out of the lowering when I noticed there was dust being blown around on the ground underneath it. It was indeed a tornado.
It started to pick up more dirt from the ground and lifting up its column.
Then it became this beauty.
This tornado was on the ground for 34 minutes.
I thought I would be scared like I get during tornado warnings back at home, but I didn’t. I was too struck with the beauty and the fact this was actually happening before my eyes.
I think I will be less scared back home now. Not to say I will be any less prepared of course.
So we watched it as best we could until it dissipated. It was difficult for a time because the rain and hail core settled in on us. Hail was about dime size with random 1″ pieces. Once that tornado died we moved on to see if it would produce again or head to another storm. Then Charles (owner of Cloud 9 Tours) noticed another funnel had of us. We stopped again to take a look. This time with us between the storm and the sunlight it looked white and perfect.
At this point it seemed every single person from the local sheriff’s office drove by towards the tornado. We decided to get a little closer to the tornado as it was going away from us. Then we wee stopped by a police officer yelling at us to turn around, she didn’t seem to care that Charles is a trained spotter as he explained. She escorted us back to the spot we were before and said we could stay there but go no further. Unfortunately during that time of traveling back to our previous spot was when the tornado looked solid from sky to ground and we didn’t get pictures of it. It started roping out when we got out of the van. It was of course still beautiful. It was on the ground about 8 minutes.
So after some dithering with some police road block issues (the last tornado we saw tore apart a power pole and broke power lines and it was laying in the road. It also tore apart some of the barbed wire fences along the road and scoured the ground), and dirt-turning-into-mud-into-a-creek-bed road, we headed south. The delay saw this storm die down and we headed to New Mexico to catch another storm that was promising. By the time we got there it started to bring down a funnel but it did not produce. I got a decent photo of it near a volcano. The funnel is hard to see on the left, and I think you can figure out the volcano. (It’s a photo from my phone, though.)
We celebrated with a steak dinner as is tradition for the group. I thank Charles for picking the best storm for us.
I also thank Robert, for this trip, for my fun electronic gadgets that are helping me out, for everything always.
Tags: colorado, dust, green, hail core, scud, storm
Yesterday, the 5th of June, we followed this storm from start to finish. We were on it for at least 7 hours, watching it grow and grow and try to rotate.
It kept trying to pull itself together to make a nice supercell but it just couldn’t hold itself together enough to drop down a fully formed wall cloud let alone a tornado.
Each time we moved away from it it decided to try to do something interesting. We stopped at one point because there was some significant lowering and some rotation. We could see dust from the fields being sucked in all across the horizon. Some of the dust started rotating but nothing came of it. The dust just hung in the air after it was pulled in and up.
Then later as we had decided this tease was done for the day and we headed for someplace to eat we noticed it was trying to lower again so we stopped. We watched for a little while and boy did it try hard. Alas, she could not produce. But boy, was she a pretty storm to watch.
Tags: bird, bluffs, erosion, kansas, monument rocks, wren
Well we actually headed for Kansas today for a slim possibility of storms today and also positioning ourselves for storms in the area tomorrow.
However the plan as it stands at 8:36pm for me is we’re heading towards Colorado tomorrow for some possibility of upslope action which may produce some super cells.
So today we headed for an unexpected land feature hidden in the endless plains of Kansas. The next few photos are from Monument Rocks, random outcroppings that look like they had been attached to nearby bluffs at some point. There’s some birds that like to nest in them as well. I was told they are wrens and they used to cover all the outcroppings with their nests. I have to wait until I can get to my laptop before I can upload any videos I took with my actual camera.
Think super cell thoughts for us tomorrow!!
Tags: clouds, nebraska, storm chasing, storms, wind
Yesterday was a promising day but it was quickly undercut by some wicked cold wind just sucking the life out of the tornado potential in each storm we chased. We saw some very nice cloud structures and some nice cloud to ground lightning. It was a lot of fun actually chasing, all of us gathered around the mounted laptop watching the radar and looking outside. We did a lot of turning around trying the find the right road to get us to the right storm.
One of the things I really like is the impromptu chaser conventions along the way. Yesterday it was at a gas station and there were chasers of all sorts from the amateur to the professional. Even DOW was there.
There were three Doppler On Wheels and a few of their scout vehicles. The Dominator and TIV where chasing in a different area so I haven’t seen them yet.
Here are a couple pictures from one of the storms we chased. This was north of the town Sargent in Nebraska. The smaller lower clouds were just screaming by thanks to that wind.
Then we made our way over to North Platte, NE and of course as we got our hotel these little beauties popped up to our east just to taunt us.
Today’s chasing area I think will be western Nebraska, southeastern Wyoming, and who knows northeast Colorado might want a little attention as well.
Tags: clay, kansas, oklahoma, rain, storms
Started out from Norman, OK and headed for Kansas. I have to say I was thankful we didn’t head for Nebraska the first day of the tour. I may be near my home in a couple of days however,which is just fine because that increases my chance of seeing my husband for at least a moment during these two weeks.
We drove through El Reno and saw from the highway some of the trees that had been damaged last year in the record-breaking 2.6 mile wide tornado. There was a house that looked like it was being rebuilt near that damage so I wonder if it was because it was a new development or due to the tornado.
As we headed for Dodge City in Kansas I noticed how red the dirt was in that area of Oklahoma. Everything looked like it as made of clay. It is very odd to see bright green, so green they were almost blue, seedlings coming up through the vivid red.
We drove through many little towns that had clearly seen better days. There was one little town was beautiful. The houses looked new and well maintained, the yards and streets were clean. I am very curious what their economy is thriving on. There was a lot of oil pumps and storage tanks everywhere so it could very well be that.
The target area we were heading to didn’t look that great anymore as most of the energy was north of the area and everything on the radar looked like it was blobbing together into one big line of storms. We want the little pop up storms, the single towers that have the potential for rotation. There were a couple of those over in Colorado but I don’t think we were willing to go that far for one cell on the radar.
It was decided to head for a particular grouping of storms that looked promising. We were going towards the southern storm of the pair and minds were changed as the northern storm looked more like what we wanted.
We stopped somewhere off the road northeast of Scott City, KS and got out of the van to watch the storms. A few other chasers were out and on these storms as well.
Two storms that looked promising on radar decided to ram into each other and kill any potential for rotation and tornados. We saw some great cloud to ground lightning that I wasn’t able to capture that unfortunately. I’ll have many more opportunities I am sure.
i am extremely tired or I would write more.
I do have to add that the wordpress app and mobile website are terrible for adding pictures and other media.
Tags: fear, uncertainty
I’m sitting in a hotel room in Norman, Oklahoma and I think I have been through the worst part of my journey.
Uncertainty is a great fear of mine. I used to think I was quite adventurous but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not. A large part comes from being comfortable in my everyday life, but it’s becoming more due to the closing in field vision I have been more uncertain about my place in the world.
New places turn everything into hazards: small children, garbage cans, signs, poles, support columns, chairs, suitcases, curbs, stairs, feet, carpet, air, etc. a All hazards.
I managed to only step on 1 or 2 suitcases, and managed to not run into a couple children.
However the fear is still there.
Another thing is the fear of things not being the way you thought they would be, like if the info I was given was wrong, if I get on the wrong plane, if I can’t get to the hotel, if when I get there my name wasn’t included on a list I’m very good at worse-case scenarios.
I’m pretty sure I know why I am that way. I was in a world of certainty when I was younger and when that world was skewed I started making sure I would be ready for the worst case situation. To make sure I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. I wouldn’t be as hurt when the other shoe dropped that I always wait for to occur.
My hope is the more I get out there in the world the more I can let go of many fears.