Keeping it brief: again, too much driving after busting in Colorado yesterday. I’m waking up in Salina, Kansas, after that very long round trip. I kind of knew I was in trouble when all the cloud cover manifested over my target area yesterday, but I figured, I was halfway there, so why not go for it? The thing is, “halfway” when you’re talking about driving to the front range is pretty dang far. The scenery in eastern Colorado is lovely, though, spare and ascetic. Today, the target is central Oklahoma, though this won’t be one of those crazy outbreak days. This is kind of a “maybe” day. I can feel my trip beginning to wind to a close. I still haven’t decided whether to chase marginal chances this weekend or begin heading home for Florida’s lightning season. There’s no place like home! Click, click, click …
The potent tornado machine is slowly moving east, losing a little of its punch, though my friends in Pennsylvania should watch the weather today. Florida might get storms, too. I hope we get rain at home to keep the plants happy!I chose not to chase in the hills and trees yesterday and instead repositioned north and west. I plan to go into Colorado to see what storms I can catch today. I’m looking for a little of that upslope magic.
I’m slowly catching up on my chase reports. Check out all the 2011 photo logs. The latest addition is the day of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado, which I did not chase, instead choosing to go after a promising area in southern Oklahoma. Again, it meant fewer hills and trees, and that’s a factor in the decisions that chasers make sometimes. Visibility is important. That day I also saw the TIV and the Dominator on the road, which you may have seen in Discovery’s “Storm Chasers” show. I saw storms that day and, of all things, a couple of tarantulas! See the May 22 photos.
On a better note, I had a fantastic day May 23, when I saw a slim tornado, a beautiful low-precipitation supercell, hail, flooding and lightning. All without worrying about tornado-geddon! I’ve posted pictures of the May 23 chase.
The Storm Prediction Center has issued a high risk for today for the heart of Oklahoma. Southern Kansas is also in the target area. Wind profiles today are insane, and those and other parameters suggest a tornado outbreak is possible. So I am feeling a mix of dread and excitement … dread for those who live here, and excitement (and anxiety) about the chase. The storms are likely to be moving at scary speeds, so it will be a challenge.
In favor of getting a few hours of sleep, I didn’t post pix from yesterday – May 23 – which was a wonderful chase day. I saw a slim tornado, hail, flooding, a gorgeous structured storm, and lightning.
I hope everyone has their weather radios on today. Heed warnings.
End of day update: Ugh! The storm we targeted in northwest Oklahoma produced a beautiful, huge tornado over a lake – shortly before or about the time we got to it. Unfortunately, terrible visibility and bad timing meant we didn’t see it. Two of our party went into the precip core to see a subsequent rope tornado, but I didn’t, and the rain obscured it. And then I was caught behind the line of storms as they screamed east at highway speeds, dropping massive and destructive tornadoes in some cases, often wrapped in rain and invisible. Some chasers “saw” but didn’t see these wedges; at least one friend nearly was killed by one. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t get aggressive and try to punch that line, but I’m disappointed I didn’t see more of this historic outbreak, and I am saddened at all of the destruction and loss of life. This has been a terrible year for tornado deaths.
Just 10 miles west of Wichita late at night on the way into town and to our hotel rooms, Jason hit a deer. Or maybe we should say the deer hit Jason. Either way, Jason was OK, but the deer and the rental car were both in bad shape. Many phone calls, the kind attention of a wonderful police officer, and a tow truck later, and all Jason’s stuff was in Robert’s and my vehicles, and we were able to get under way again. We got in about 2 a.m., and it’s taken me forever to get all the photos off my cards. I just don’t have time to process them all tonight before lapsing into unconsciousness, so … more later!
You can’t always get what you want. Today, I don’t think I got what I needed, either – I’m still looking for Mr. Goodstorm, the supercell that will make this trip photographically worthwhile, before I go broke. See the photos from May 19.
Along the way, I continued Dilapidated Shack Tour 2011, and I shot a few images of a horseshoe funnel, which was pretty neat. But day after day of massive drives for little in the way of storms is starting to wear thin. Prospects should get better over the next couple of days. I know, I’ve thought that before.
To top things off – well, you know when people spray perfume and then run into the cloud so they get a light spritz of scent? I think I got a similar treatment from a freshly road-killed skunk. It was dead when I drove by it, but the smell was overpowering, and my car is still kinda funky, at least on the outside. I also saw elk and pheasants today, but at least they were alive. And not stinky.