My Tornado Alley chase went fast this year. I cut it a bit short because the weather prospects didn’t seem all that great. Still, I saw a couple of tornadoes with friends and a few other pretty storms. I really hope Florida delivers this summer, because I haven’t had my full dose of storms by a long shot!
I have a lot of updating to do on my old storm-chasing site, SkyDiary.com, but you can see the report from May 16 here.
I’ve posted one more year-end video: Storms of 2016, consisting mostly of time-lapses of the incredible supercells and tornadoes I saw during my storm-chasing season in Tornado Alley. I doubt I’ll ever see another year like this one. The video is just over two minutes, accompanied by Very Dramatic Music. I hope you enjoy it.
In case you missed it, I previously posted a video slide show of my favorite storm photos from this year, too.
This year was challenging personally but was the most impressive I’ve ever had when it came to chasing storms. Tornado Alley lived up to its name in a dramatic fashion during my 20th season, and though Lightning Alley wasn’t particularly productive, a once-in-a-lifetime capture at home in Florida made the lightning season pretty exciting, too.
I’ve wrapped up some of my favorite storms and skyscapes of the year – along with a handful of rocket launches – in this slide show set to music. (You can see more of my storm photos and buy prints in my official weather galleries, and 2016 chase accounts can be found at sister site SkyDiary.com.)
Thanks for watching. A peaceful new year to you all.
I still haven’t posted all those photos – Hurricane Matthew and then life got in the way – but I have just made the most spectacular photo (above) and an additional shot available in my online photo gallery for print orders. Both are available in various formats, including canvas, metal and fine art prints.
During a busy summer, I’ve been posting videos here and there, which you’ve noticed if you subscribe to my YouTube channel. Since I’m about to do a presentation on storm chasing, I thought I’d include video from this year, so I made a shorter edit (about 4 minutes, 40 seconds) of the incredible tornado I saw May 9 near Wynnewood, Oklahoma. (Also near Elmore City and Katie – I think the storm chasing community has not quite settled on the unofficial geographical location.) If the music bugs you, check out the longer version.
I’ve been slowly updating my 2016 storm reports at SkyDiary.com after the most incredible and successful storm season I’ve ever had. And this May 24 storm was one of the most amazing. I’ve never seen a supercell produce so many tornadoes, with incredible structure to boot. This photo is one of my all-time favorites.
Here are a couple of videos from that day. One tells the story of the tornado chase; the other is simply a stunning time-lapse of the spinning storm as it spawned tornadoes just south of Dodge City. If you ask, why do you chase storms? The answer is: days like this. Especially because the city was mostly spared. (Though photos from that day and the aftermath show pretty much total destruction at the landfill.)
I’ve had three chase days and a day “off” (to work) this Tornado Alley trip, and two of the chase days found me in front of tornadoes I could not have imagined. In fact, the first tornado I saw on Monday was the most dramatic in my 20 seasons of chasing – or at least compares to the 12 May 2004 chase in Attica, Kansas, that saw a house destroyed.
Unfortunately, several houses were damaged or destroyed by the EF4 (upgraded from EF3) tornado I saw near Elmore City, Oklahoma, on Monday, and it killed one man. A hundred feelings rushed through me as I watched the tornado get close to my location on a hill in the difficult-to-chase, tree-filled terrain of southern Oklahoma. First, I considered my escape route, because the tornado was coming my way. And then I was filled with dread as I saw the tornado approach the structures near where I was parked – even though I had no idea so many homes were in the path. Once it started hurtling debris with incredible force and speed, I felt sick, even as I was filled with wonder. This was the most stunning tornado I have ever witnessed, partly because of my proximity to it, but also because of its unusual visibility, manifest power, long duration (it was on the ground for about 25 minutes), and sheer beauty as it shifted from a multi-vortex serpent to a swirling white stovepipe wreathed in dust to an ethereal white rope. And the roar – it had an incredible, clearly heard roar.
It was also a thrill to see two scientific research vehicles speed past me to plant probes in the tornado’s path. For a second, it was like a scene from one of my novels.
You can see all of my photos and video at my sister site at SkyDiary.com, though I’m embedding the video in this post as well. I hate to see tornadoes destroy people’s lives, but I am humbled to be a witness.