Yearly Archives: 2008

DAY 11 – Can you say Wa-Kee-ney? – 20080603

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this: 1300Z 1300Z SUMMARY:

  • 1000C – Daily Briefing:
  • 1030C – Left Ogallala, NE (Super 8 Motel) – fueled partially ($4.289/gallon!) – Dove S to Imperial,NE via Grant, NE. An illegal U-turn with 3 highly ‘decorated’ vans attracts the attention of a Nebraska state patrolman and we spend about 20 minutes roadside while Woody successfully negotiates for 3 written warnings (one per van).Exciting!
  • 1338C – S on NE61, crossing the NE/KS border and mving to Bird City, KS.
  • 1354C – We observe a large. reddish dust devil — several hundred feet high! — to our SE as we come into Bird City.
  • 1355C – We jog west on US36 then S to Goodland, KS on KS27. MD1179 is issued.
  • 1501C – Lunch at the Goodland,KS Subway. I am 20th in line. Ugh!
  • 1542C -We continue west on I-70 (about mile 437), crossing into Colorado.
  • 1647C – After lunch we stop S of Arriba, CO. EB storm outflow catches us, bringing huge plumes of black dust with it.
  • 1652C – Jog west 1/4 mile then south
  • 1700C – Our storm weakens and decayes into a loose cluster of cells aligned SW-NE
  • 1702C – Headed E on US40/287.
  • 1752C – Held for road maintenance about 15 minutes. Took “Little (Out)House on the Prairie” photos, as some of our group take a pit stop at a Porta-Potty along this lonely stretch of highway.
  • 1753C – Exit Kit Carson, CO, on the east side of town
  • 1828C – Exit Cheyenne Wells, CO after a bathroom break at “Penitentiary Park” baseball field. Coldest toilet seat of the trip, so far! (about 45 degF!)
  • 2010C – Blasting S on US83, trying to outrun a storm. We get spectacular dusty outflow video, including a drive in near-zero visibility. Coal dust blowing off a pasing train adds to the dusty darkness.
  • 2030C – E os KS4. The sun makes a brief cameo appearance.
  • 2230C – Arrive at motel in WaKeeney, KS as the storm does. We get strong winds, heavy rain, and a good lightning show as the storm pounds the hotel while we unload our bags. After we check in, we double back one exit to grab a late dinner of omlettes, acon, eges, and our breakfast treats.

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
1030C ______ (T1 Chase Van) Ogallala, NE
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
2230C ______ (T1 Chase Van) WaKeeney, KS
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
12:00 _____ ______

DAY 10 – A Shot at Distant Storms – 20080602

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this:

1300Z 1300Z

  • 0700C – Got about 6 hours sleep. Grabbed a light continental breakfast. Checked the models.
    My target: NE panhandle, west of I-76/I-80 junction.
  • 1000C – Group met. we looked at surface obs, model data etc. as follows:
    • RAP surface obs (wind, dew point, etc.)
      Discussed wind convergence, location of front, storm genesis, rotating storms, and supercells
    • GOES visible satellite image for Nebraska (hi-res image, Weathertap)
    • UCAR/RAP/ETA model
      • 500mb winds — eastward trough to our west — supportive of storms; southwest inflow we like
      • 700mb (10,000 feet MSL) — turning winds in NE Colorado
      • 0000Z CAPE – Nebraska panhandle has CAPE bullseye (less CAPE needed, due to altitude)
      • 0000Z Theta E (available moisture) – identified moisture axis runnng NW-SE north of NE panhandle
      • 0000Z 12-hr precips – storm area in Nebraska panhandle, NE Colorado
      • 0000Z Storm relative helicity (SRH)
    • SPC Day 1 (D1) Outlook
      • Target west edge of best risk in our chase range: NE Colorado, Nebraska panhandle
      • D1 Wind Outlook
      • D1 Hail Outlook
      • D1 Tornado Outlook
    • Glance D2 Outlook for planning/logistical purposes
      • 700mb – -10 degC isotherm indicates where cap should hols storms for the afternoon
        Cap too strong(-15 degC isotherm): no/weak storms, Cap too weak: unfocused, widespread storms, Ideal: explosive, focused storms
      • 500 mb winds – only good strength and direction on SE Kansas
    • D3 Outlook
      • E Nebraska / W Iowa (start by Lincoln, NE?)
      • 500 mb winds – only good strength and direction on SE Kansas
    • D4-D6: A cahnce for severe weather
  • 1030C – Left Super 8 Motel at Colby, KS, moving toward far western KS and eastern Colorado.
  • 1630C – Double back S from Wray, CO through Burlington, CO. 3-inch (baseball-size) hail seen scattered on lawns there, as well as sporadic street flooding. Full sun at Burlington. We blast east on I-70, following the storm that dropped the hail. We turn around about at Goodland, KS.
  • 1840C – Returned to Burlington, CO after blasting east to Goodland, S following hailer. Storm fizzled.
  • 1953C – North from Wray, CO (again) toward Julesburg, CO, I-76 and our next decision point. Storms develop just south of he NE panhandle.
  • 2101C – Lv US6 for CO14 at Sterling, CO — moving west — stopped at N road to Kimball for lightning/sunset photos

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
10:30C 17876 (TT4 Uplander) Colby, KS
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
22:30C 18311 (TT4 Uplander) Ogallala, NE
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
8:01 est. 435 miles TT4 Uplander – finally, Scott gets a turn at driving

DAY 9 – We Get Tempestuous – 20080601

We are on our way. There are about 20 people with the group:

  • T1 van: 8 people
  • U1 van: 6 people
  • U2 van: 6 people – Scott (Driving), Maria, Diane, Barton, Howard, Lisa

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this: 1300Z 1300Z

  • Started near I-40 at the Wingate Hotel in OKC (on Meridian Blvd.)
  • Charged off to western Kansas, a move to position for storms in central Nebraska on Monday afternoon
  • Looked over severe- and tornado-warned storms near North Platte, NE. One storm looks like we might catch up to it in far northwest KS, but it fizzles before we get the chance. It’s diurnal, that is grows or fades based on available daylight; as our sun fades, so does our storm.

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
1300 est. 17451 (TT4 Uplander) Oklahoma City, OK
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
2101 17876 (TT4 Uplander) Colby, KS
MILES TTL. ELAP. TIME REMARKS
8:01 est. 435 miles TT4 Uplander – finally, Scott gets a turn at driving

DAY 8 – Tulsa Trek – 20080531

Storm Prediction Center May 31, 2008 1300 UTC Day 1 Convective Outlook

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this:

CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK:

1300Z Convective Outlook for 20080531

TORNADO OUTLOOK:

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
10:00 est no est. Pittsburg, KS
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
00:01 no est. Oklahoma City, OK
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
14:00 est no est. Over 300 miles for this period

DAY 7 – Yes, Dorothy, We’re Back in Kansas – 20080530

(Yawn)

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this:

CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK:
1300Z Probabalistic Outlook

TORNADO OUTLOOK: 1300Z Tornado Outlook  for 20080530

  • Started along side I-70 in central Kansas
  • Wandered down to Chanute, KS and Fort Scott, KS. Tried a shortcut down Scott Road only to discover it was washed out. I got practice rocking the van out of one rut and into the next until we could back down the road. (It’s now obvious to place less trust in Scot’s namesake than Scott himself. We watch the sky and the radar for a while.
  • Meandered to Nevada (“neh-VAY-da”), Missouri, then back into Kansas.
  • Got some beautiful late day shots of our storm (and that’s basically all we got besides rain). I’ll add the pictures when I get time on the road (since I’m not driving again until DAY 16 or so).
  • Checked into the Super 8 Motel in Pittsburg, KS. Got a bit of a lightning show as a severe storm passed to our south.

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
09:58 6657 Super 8 Motel, Abilene, KS
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
22:43 (TBA) Super 8 Motel, Pittsburg, KS
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
12:45 (TBA) (TBA)

DAY 7 – Mileage Notes

Here are my iPod/iTalk-based mileage notes for the trip, so far:

DATE/TIME TRIP ODOMETER VEHICLE ODOMETER NOTES
05/24 21:30 trip 000.0 odom 4995 TRIP START – manual note
05/25 14:24 trip 414.5 odom 5410
05/25 17:44 trip 235.9 odom 5646 $43.24 11.38gal
05/26 10:16 trip 183.5 odom 5830
05/26 14:24 trip 316.3 odom 5962 $65.99 16.926 $3.89/gal
05/27 10:48 trip 225.2 odom 6188 10:47am Pratt
05/27 16:30 trip 403.4 odom 6366 OK 11 & I-35 , Oklahoma
05/28 12:02 trip 117.5 odom 6483 – McPherson Nicklefest (at Perkin’s) – off to Nebraska
05/29 10:16 trip 291.1 odom 6657 + smalltalk (high risk blob)
05/29 11:43 trip 332.9 odom 6699 – Grand Island, NE

So far, then, we gone 1704 miles, seen 2 promising storms, but have lttle to show for our efforts.

And that’s why it’s called storm chasing: you do not always catch them.

DAY 7 – The Dorothy Effect – 20080530

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

“I if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard”
– Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), in the final Oz scene of “Wizard of Oz

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this:

CATEGORICAL OUTLOOK:
1300Z Convective  Outlook for 20080530

TORNADO OUTLOOK:

Wouldn’t you know it! We are in Illinois when storms fire ferociously in Kansas last Thursday — Tempest Tours guests witnessed 10 tornadoes in one day! — and now that we’re in Kansas, Illinois has storms forecast! @#$%! And we cannot play the Illinois storms since we need to be in OKC tomorrow. Grrrr. Undecided

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
09:50 no est. York, NE
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
22:43 no est. Pittsburg, KS
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
12:53 (TBA) (TBA)

DAY 6 – Near Miss – 20080529

This is our most promising day so far. Scott’s choice to place us here at York, Nebraska puts us at the western tip of the high risk area, right along I-80; we are in a perfect starting location with the best available road options.

I will contain my excitement … NOT!

The morning SPC outlook maps looked like this:

CATEGORICAL OUTLOOK:

TORNADO OUTLOOK:

(http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/archive/2008/day1otlk_20080529_1300.html has the associated text)

TRAVEL SUMMARY:

  • Took off westbound on I-80 from York, Nebraska
  • Ended up in west/central Kansas, near Kearney and Aurora
  • Wandered south of the interstate. Saw a nice wall cloud, but lost in in poor contrast as we wandered eastward on (mostly) unimproved roads. Rough driving, but I needed to polish my back roads driving skills anyhow.
  • We wandered north on Highway 14, towards Aurora, only to discover a rain-wrapped tornado cut across the road less than 100 yards fro I-80.  Ther ewere overturned semi trucks and trailers, power lines across the road, and high tension towers down.  Scott’s analysis of what we saw: we narrowly missed a tornado there. (We later heard that I-80 was closed from Aurora to York, due to storm damage.  If not for a 2-minute pit stop — my bladder was about to explode and was beginning to really hurt! — we might have been unwilling participants in the event.)

  • We basically saw nothing else storm-wise, though the damage at both Kearney (seen on The Weather Channel) and Aurora was consistent with EF1/EF2 damage (not that we did a full engineering survey).

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
10:06 6657 York, NE
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
22:47 no est. Abilene, KS
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
12:41 no est. (TBA)

DAY 5 – North to Nebraska – 20080528

We headed north to York, Nebraska from McPherson, Kansas, after meeting up at 10:30 and grabbing a leisurely breakfast at Perkins.

We are hoping for strong storms tomorrow and Friday, but I may be spending a lot of time behind the wheel, particularly if a derecho event materializes. If it does, we could end up all the way back around Chicago! (That would be a pain, since Scott and I need to be in Oklahoma City on Sunday and the Chicago-OKC run is about a 13-hour trek).

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
10:16 6483 America’s Best Value Inn, McPherson, KS
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
16:16? 6657 Super 8 Motel, York, NE
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
6:00 174 Position for Day 6

DAY 4 – Nature Break – 20080527

Today the weather was pretty washed out from yesterday’s storms. While there was a slight risk of storms into extreme southwest Oklahoma (and more into Texas), we would have been many hours away from where we’d like to start our long trek to eastern Nebraska for Thursday expected action (the next decent chance for significant storms). We, therefor, chose to not go far south from Wichita unless the potential for significant storms in Oklahoma materialized (which it didn’t). The rule of the day was blue skies, sun, and low scattered cumulus blobs dotted across the sky.

We played tourist, first visiting the Twister Museum in Wakita, OK (where one of the climactic — or is that climatic Sealed — scenes of the movie “Twister” was filmed). We also grabbed lunch at the Twister Cafe, across the street, where we mingled with locals like Judy, the restaurant owner. The townsfolk of Wakita are the friendliest people you could hope to meet; one wonderes how they survive so far off the beaten path. As we learned in Greensburg yesterday, it takes a special breed of people to thrive here in the Great Plains. Citizens of the Great Plains do not surrender to the forces of nature easily. They are a proud and resilient breed,

After lunch, we charged down OK 11A, jogged west, then headed south to the Great Salt Plains Lake National WIldlife Area to get some nature photographs. As we shot pictures and video of the local residents (dragonflies, various bird species (ilike sand cranes), swarming red ants, and a pair of water moccasins skim the lake surface in search of their afternoon snacks. We also took some pictures of the dam and its spillway, used to control local flooding (as we had in the area last night).

ESTIMATED TRAVEL

START TIME START ODOM. START LOC.
09:57 no est Days Inn & Suites, Wichita, KS
FINISH TIME FINISH ODOM. FINISH LOC.
18:53 no est America’s Best Value Inn, McPherson, KS
ELAP. TIME MILES TTL. REMARKS
8:56 (TBA) (TBA)