After a successful chase tour and an extra few days chasing — with nothing but a REALLY well-washed van to show for the latter period), I’m back to work. I’m focused on recharging myself, as work has been insanely busy this last week.
My next chase-related activity will be extracting the videos and stills from my GoPro cameras and Nikon D7000, respectively. I have also spent a little bit of time cleaning up my GPS tracks, as several dropout occurred during track recording. Hopefully, I can recover (or reconstruct) the lost tracks, so I do not have to beg for them from fellow travelers, a last resort.
Hoping to have a REAL update for you by this coming weekend (08-09 June).
This morning held a pleasant surprise: the SPC has put a 10% hatched (EF2+) risk blob up, where there was none yesterday.
I’m a little bit tired, but will catch up on writing later.
To sum up: there was a 10% tornado risk this morning (more than we expected given yesterday‘s day two predictions), but development of storms did not follow the pattern we be expected. We did briefly see some interesting features (like a wall cloud by Mulhall), but nothing hinting at tornadoes. More violent weather was off to our Northeast, into an area with very dodgy roads (due to flooding, shown here in a couple pictures below). While we could have gotten show those areas, the risk of being trapped by floodwaters or sinking our vehicle up to the axles in mud was simply not worth it.
Congratulations to those who did see tornadoes this day. We would have loved to join you, but with a group of 16 people we could not risk getting stuck. I’ll be watching for your spectacular pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets.
The day started with a 6 AM wake up call at our hotel in Amarillo. It is very quiet. Very quiet, indeed.
The morning round of storms has already started to our north.
My first look at the SPC Convective Outlook is very scary:
An outbreak of strong tornadoes and severe thunderstorms is expected
today across parts of the southern and central Plains. In addition,
many of the storms will have very large hail and wind damage. The
severe threat will be concentrated from west Texas and the Texas
Panhandle eastward across Oklahoma, Kansas into western Missouri and
western Arkansas. Additional severe storms with wind damage and hail
will be possible this afternoon from southeast New York into
southern and central New England.
...Tornado Outbreak Expected Across the Southern Plains Today Into Tonight
Graphically, we see these:
Today appears to be a historic tornado outbreak in the making, and here we are ready to jump into it.
We started this Sunday at the Northwest in in Woodward, Oklahoma. We expected the date to be a down day, so we repositioned for Monday. Monday look to be a very big day, so it is critically important that we position ourselves correctly to get the most out of the day. After considering the forecast, thanks to do along the way, and where we like to wake up Monday morning, we headed toward Amarillo.
We refueled and re-provisioned at Shattuck, Oklahoma. As we rounded the bend toward El Tipi fuel station and the Ventura grocery/fuel store, We all noticed a large collection of windmills. We doubled back after our fuel stop/ pit stop/grocery stop to check out the windmills.
We wrapped up the day with a visit to the Big Texan Steak Ranch (BTSR). I enjoyed a 12 ounce Fort Worth cut ribeye with all the trimmings. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful a side of cowboy beans can taste at the end of a long day. Must embrace the simple things!
We started our day at Norton, Kansas, a little place in northwest Kansas, less than an hour from Nebraska and Colorado. Our breakfast was one of those mid-range continental breakfasts: fresh made waffles, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, and coffee.
We made a brief pit stop at Atwood, Kansas, for to the famed “It’ll Do” motel and this memorial tank.
We went westward into Colorado, stopping at The Grainery (in Idalia, Colorado) for lunch. Some members of the chase team had been here before (for a celebratory steak after catching a photogenic tornado at Prospect Valley).
After lunch we continued west to Joes, Colorado at a rustic little prairie walk and roadside playground.
As we walked around and relaxed, we saw some cumulus towers go up, so we headed east then north. Picking a couple of target storms as we went. One even surprised us by going severe-warned briefly.
The best looking storm of the bunch did not last long and became outflow-dominant. This produced spectacular wave of blowing outflow dust. We braved the dusty, gritty breezes to grab a few photos.
My favorite shot of the day was a view of fellow traveler, Graham Clowes, dwarfed by the dusty thunderstorm that pursued us across southwest Nebraska.
Once darkness set in, we wrapped up our chase day and headed to McCook, Nebraska for the night.
Woke up this morning around seven. Tended to the chargers and gadgets and got mostly packed. Took a nice hot shower and then got dressed for breakfast at eight.
Safety briefing and introductions to place at 10:30 AM. We reviewed the model forecast for the day and discussed where we were going to head for the day. No target today, as the weather is not very active, though Bill and Chris and Bob said we would try for some storms in western Oklahoma or maybe a little ways into Kansas just across the border.
After the briefing we pack the vans and departed the hotel Around noon, and unusually late start on the day. This is perfectly OK, as we do not have far to go and the expectations are not high for the day.
We headed west on I 40 and then angle to the north west toward Woodward. After a brief fuel stop/pitstop/snack stop at Watonga, we continued on to ceiling where we had lunch at the Crooked Arrow. It was actually kind of a cosmic moment, as JD (one of the first time chasers in our group) and I were talking about Chicago politics. The word “corrected” came up in the conversation almost at the exact same moment as we saw the sign on the restaurant. I would call that poetic.
Instead of continuing to Woodward, we headed north out of some good looking towering cumulus had gone up during our trip from OKC. The storms were briefly severe warned, as they were producing hail up to the size of quarters. GR level three was showing 1 inch and 2 inch hail markers on the storms at various times (and we did have some hail that bordered on severe size, that is 1 inch or better)
After the storms fizzled, we passed through Medford, Oklahoma then continued north to Wellington, Kansas where we grabbed a quick bite to eat and some fresh fruits at the Braum’s restaurant. A quick note to those who have not traveled in this part of the country: Browns is an oasis for fresh produce, and I stopped at the stores in this chain is a happy event or chasers. It’s one of the few places we can get fresh oranges apples and bananas along the way. Brown’s is key to getting the food needed to maintain a healthy diet on the road.
Our day really started with Chinese lunch at Golden Palace, a place with over 100 items of high-quality Mandarin and Cantonese appetizers, soups, entrees and (American-style) desserts.
After lunch and a quick fuel stop, we visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. If you go, allow up to two hours to walk through the amazing exhibits, pictured below.
After the museum visit, we went to the Oklahoma National Memorial (“the bombing memorial”). Although it is a somber place with moving tributes to those lost, it also holds a message of hope and recovery. Photos are below.
We met up with most of the tour group and walked up to Charleston’s for dinner. Simon and I split a Kale-Quinoa salad, which was still an overwhelming amount of food, even split in half.
Then, we returned to the hotel, where I spent the balance of the evening charging devices, uploading photos, and (finally) sleeping.