2022-05-10 – Emporia, KS – Vermillion, SD – Positioning Day

Travel Route

Leg 1: Emporia,, KS – Topeka,KS
Leg 2: Topeka,KD to KS-NE border
Leg 3: NE-KS border to Percival, IA
Leg 4: Percival, IA to Vermillion, SD

Events of the Day

[Additional commentary to be added later]

07:00 AM – woke; showered

08:30 AM – Morning weather briefing

09:09 AM – Tried for breakfast at Cowboy Cafe – Closed (COVID) – Re-opens 11 May. Darn!

09:15 Fuel Up – Casey’s – Breakfast is somewhere down the road

10:50 AM – ON THE ROAD heading north toward Topeka

12:01 PM – LUNCH: Cracker Barrel, Topeka, KS

2:04 PM – Cross into Nebraska

2:52 PM – Cross Missouri River. Enter Iowa. Haze to our west and a growing cumulus field to our south, along the IA-MO border.

Growing cumulus field on the IA-MO border. Seeds for storms?
We hit some bumpy roads in Sioux Falls. The star on my shirt got knocked off (LOL)
Crossing into South Dakota

5:37 PM – Continue north. Cross into South Dakota.

Here’s your sign!!
Cumulus grows to our west. Might we get a storm?
Intense storms will form far to our east, way out of our chase territory,

17:45 Crepuscular Rays (faint)  on our west

Haze to our west, with crepuscular rays weakly poking through it


7:09 PM – Arrive in Vermillion, SD

Downtown Vermillion, SD

xxxx – Dinner at Dakota Brick House, Vermilion, SD

This looks like nice place for dinner
Perusing the extensive beer menu
Food, folks, and fun (WAKE UP, LISA)

09:00 PM – Pick up a USB-A to USB-C cable (for charging my MiFi unit) at the local WalMart. Walk back to the motel, as a nice evening stroll feels good.

10:14 PM – Turn in for the night – Best Western, Vermillion, SD

2022-05-09 – Which way to go?

Travel Route: OKC – Emporia,KS

Leg 1:  Oklahoma City, OK- Geary, OK
Leg 2: Geary, OK to I-35N
Leg 3: I-35N (near OK-KS border) to Andover, KS
Leg 4: Andover, KS – El Dorado, KS – Emporia, KS

Events of the day

7:00 AM – wake, shower, dress

8:00 AM – Large, hot breakfast: Eggs, yogurt, fruit, bagel, cream cheese

10:50 AM – Matt and I take a photo of ourselves and our chase vehicles.

First two TORNADOes of the trip

11:00 AM – Safety briefing; brief presentation

Bill Reid gives our first weather briefing
Joke: Emergency underpants (for when we get too close to a tornado) Useful: a digital caliper for measuring hail

11:45 AM – load the vans. Here’s the Van 1 (lead van) crew for the day!

Van 1, Day 1: Front: (left) Kathy, Phil (both UK) Lisa (me), Sonia (France), Carol (Utah), Dave (UK) Driver: Matt (Tennessee); hiding: Bill Reid (meteorologist, lead)

12:00 PM?  – headed west to Geary,OK.

2:00PM? – Had lunch (BLT) at the Broadway Cafe.

3:00 PM? –  Weighed our options: position ourselves for a play in Texas versus head into the northern plains, where are the next three days all have decent severe potential.  Mosied North then entered I 35.

6:00 PM? – Detoured off of I 35 to visit the damage path for the Andover tornado (29 April). The path was quite narrow but had some F2 damage.

Devastated neighborhood along Andover Rd., south of US 400
NWS map summarizing the storm damage from the 29 April 2022 Andover, KS tornado
Lots of damaged and missing windows at a YMCA building along the Andover damage path.

7:00 PM? – Reentered I 35 and continued north. Exited at El Dorado. Ate dinner at Anita’s (Mexican: shrimp cocktail and Carne Asada; great tasting food, but I ate too much and got an upset tummy).

8:15 PM? – Continued north on 835. Bill called numerous hotels and we finally ended up at the Super 8 in Emporia, Kansas.

9:30 PM – turn in for the night.

2022-05-08 – Around OKC (2022 Edition)

7:00 AM – Woke, showered, dressed

8:00 AM – Breakfast. More #ElvisPancakes

9:30 AM – OOPS! Missed (online) church.

1:50 AM – Met Phil and Kathy (both from UK) in the hotel.  Did a WalMart run. Found Phil the #PerfectStorm of backpacks, a battery bank, and some Diet Cokes.

3:50 PM – met Jodie for the second Walmart run.  Bought myself a couple T-shirts, as I forgot to do so on the first Walmart run. Jodie found some nice organic Gala apples. I was gifted two of those, which is great because apples travel well. We made another visit to the electronics section at the Walmart pick up a phone bumper for Jodie. Look for a specific charger for Jodie’s camera gear, but it turned out not to be a Walmart item. Such is life.

6:00 PM – The team met in the lobby and went over to Chili’s for dinner. I ordered a $10.99 special in a margarita. Pretty good food value for under $20


2022-05-07 – On to OKC

Travel Route:

Leg 1: Springfield,MO – Yukon,OK – El Reno, OK – Oklahoma City, OK

Leg 2: A walk from hotel to dinner and back:

Events of the Day

06:30 AM – Sleep Inn, Springfield, MO

In semi-conscious mode. Starting the day with a five hour energy shot and a hot shower (to knock off the dust of the road from yesterday’s drive).
Ah, refreshing!

07:39 AM – Semi-conscious

Travel hint for the day: ALWAYS double-check that you have the correct bottle before chugging down the morning energy shot
(“ I didn’t know this came in lime flavor!”)

#ElvisPancake time!
“Part of a balanced road-mode breakfast.
Thank you very much!”

09:30 AM: Departure: “Hope these two know each other!”

A bit of non-standard parking observed:

Blue skies ahead, so it’s a happy travel day:

STOP 1: Baker Photo & Video (CLOSED!!)

One of the advantages of owning your own business is setting your own hours.
Sorry to miss you, Hank!

STOP 2: Sid’s Diner, El Reno, OK – Get a world famous burger, fires, shake (lunch)

The walls of the epic diner are covered with awards.  And the award winning burgers are worth the wait (though mine was a mere 15 minutes. The 50s-style decor, numerous awards (from “Man vs. Food”, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” and other foodie TV shows) are explanation enough why the map pins in the YOU WERE HERE maps cover every continent.  The young man from Poland (vacationing in Oklahoma with his mother who spoke no English at all) really enjoyed the burger and fries.  As much as music is the universal language, a perfect hamburger also speaks in the vernacular.

Live music alongside the epic Sid’s Diner
Bobblehead versions of owner Marty Hall (left) and son Adam Hall, who handles he main responsibilities of the diner nowadays.

Stopped at the Holiday Inn (4401 SW 15th Street). No reservation found.
The hotel desk clerk suggested I try the Holiday Inn Express down the street (4401 SW 15th Street). Yup! Checked in, sprawled out, and watch Forrest Gump on the TV, starting from Forrest’s arrival in Vietnam.

8:40 PM?
I heard brass music coming from below my room (204). I thought “104 must be an orchestra fan.”  I tried to locate the music as I made my way from the first floor elevator bank to the front door, to no avail. As i exited the front door, it became clear that a bar or restaurant down the street was the source of the blaring music.  There was something odd about it: classic mariachi music … with a tuba added. Had I discovered the first “Mexican Oompah band? What an odd sound, especially with the tuba player trailing the tempo slightly.
#GerMexican vibes!


After a bowl of chili, a Caesar salad and a couple of fruity libations, I strolled back to my hotel, with tuba and guitars still pounding out the beat.

10:00 PM – Off to dreamland. Oompah, Oompah, Oompah.




2022-05-06 – Southwestward, Ho! (2022 edition)

Today’s Travel Route:

Leg 1: Bolingbrook, IL – St. Louis, MO

Leg 2: St. Louis, MO – Springfield, MO:
5:42 AM

Eight hour timer just sounded. Started the process of waking up. Took my morning blood sugar reading. Not good: 61

6:03 AM

Waiting for they Redberry serial to be absorbed. Started the day with the blood sugar reading of 61, which is pretty low. Felt pretty dizzy as I went to the bathroom for my morning P. Sat there for a long time rather than get up too quickly and pass out. Today will be a busy day with about eight hours of driving. Once I feel well enough to be up and around, I will grab my roll-on bag, jump in the van, and hit the road.

4:30 PM

Arrived at Texas Roadhouse  (TRH).  After confirming our reservation for 5pm (for 9 people), I set myself to the task of finding a hotel room for the night. I paused for a moment, fixated on the building across the parking lot. Someething familiar about it. Looked at the windows and decided to walk around to the front of the building, as I had a hour to kill. A hotel!! What luck, Booked my room for the night. Thanks for being so fortunately located, Sleep Inn.

Did a double-take at the sign along the front walkway. Remember that all-import SLASH (or somebody may give your dog a cigar):

5:09 PM: Birthday girl, Lisa McGeough, has arrived with others in tow.
It took a long time to get a table, as two peoplw in our party were unavoidably stuck in traffic. We almost lost our reservation, as a matter of fact.  FORTUNATELY, the manager stepped in to allow 7 of 9 of us to get seated.  Our server, Farrah, took excellent care of us (and I let the tip reflect that, as all grateful diners ought to do).

Most of us had not seen each other is a year or so.  Several of us had not crossed paths in 5 years, so this get-together was a big deal for all of us.

The [Outlaw Chaser] gang’s all here. Not pictured: Lanny Dean, who had prior obligations.
8:00 pm-ish?

Posing with Paden by the Tornado Pursuit Vehicle (TPV). #OutlawChaser ! #FunnelPatrol

After dinner, we hung out, compared chase vehicle notes, and took some photos.


11:28 PM

Difficult to fall asleep until my hotel room neighbors finally pass out after 30 minutes of impassioned moans and groans. I guess you cannot shout out “get a room!” when they already have one. Ha, ha, ha!

Daily Weather Trivia

Which forecast office is YOUR local area forecast office?


2022-05-04 – STAR WARS Day 2022

Unlike years past, this year I am doing a lot of last-minute preparation’s. Typically my bags are fully packed I need the van a full week in advance. This year, I am running up to the wire, completing only two days before the trip. Letting my preparation run right up to the last minute reminds me of some thing I’ve known a long time: there’s good adrenaline and bad adrenaline. Now that everything is ready for the trip, the bad adrenaline is draining out of my system little by little. It is fading as my level of distress (that’s negative stress) falls. Hopefully the reward on this trip is lots of good adrenaline (eustress, the good kind).

In it average year, two days before the trip I am mowing the lawn. This is partially to avoid getting a citation from the local code enforcement people and partially to get the grass cut at the last possible moment.  Like most people, I also don’t like the idea of pissing off my neighbors by having overly long grass. The newest neighbors to move in our a little bit fussy about such things, and I try to be sensitive to their needs.

The very last moment before the trip are occupied with things like unplugging the kitchen appliances and several odds and ends around the bathroom. The last thing I need is to accidentally leave some thing on and hear from my neighbors that my house burned down while I was away. Also, as a volunteer with a local fire department it would be especially embarrassing to have the house burn down.  It seems that every year there is one of those “my, how ironic“ stories about a fire chief making some terrible mistake and returning home to find his house burned to the ground

One of my favorite things during the last few days before a vacation is that stretch of days where I don’t want to make any trash. Who wants to come back from vacation with the house stinking from two week old trash, right? During this stretch I tend to eat meals that are more like my “road meals“ and do my best to avoid any kind of leftovers.

I try to do this once the chase is underway, too. I am certain I have probably left 100 pounds of food in the motel refrigerator in one town or another over the last 20 years.  I only hope that the hotel maids enjoy the food and (on rare occasion) a few beers that I may have left in the fridge.

In any case, the part a vacation that seems to start first is vacation meals. And I really like it!

2022-05-02 – Awkward Compatibility

In order to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, I do a different equipment set update each year:

1st year: Computer upgrades
2nd year: communication upgrades
3rd year: photography/videography upgrades

This year, I ended up doing mostly communication upgrades, with a focus on cellular technology. The main driver in this process was the acquisition of sprint buy T-Mobile. A short while after that acquisition, T-Mobile started forcing customers to change equipment, whether they were fully ready to do so or not.

So my planned (computer) and unplanned technology updates for 2012 are as following:

  • New laptop (Dell 5515 touch with Windows 11)
  • Mobile hotspot (T-Mobile MiFi)
  • New phone (Apple iPhone 12 pro)
  • New tablet (Samsung 8 inch android tablet)
  • New vehicle tracker/Wi-Fi (T-Mobile Sync Drive, 2 units).

Upside: save the iPhone, none of the T-Mobile gear cost a nickel — effectively a free upgrade over the next 24 months

Downside: lots of reconfiguration and some compatibility issues between the MiFi and my Wyze cameras. The latter is been particularly annoying. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the problems by downgrading the Wi-Fi security, clearing cache, doing factory reset, and a variety of other things to no avail. All the work I did last season getting a five camera mobile security system running has been totally destroyed by the upgrade process. I am miffed.

This evening I will go through the packing list and make sure I have everything packed and ready to go for the trip. I have had some equipment changes lately, so my 2019 daily checklist will have to be updated. I can pack using the marked up edit copy then print the 2022 version at my local Office Depot. This is all just part of a pre-trip ritual, but sometimes it gets old.


16 May 2021: INTERIM UPDATE:

07:00: wakeup call
08:00: breakfast
10:00: briefing:

Shear: xxxx
Lift: xxxx
Instability: xxxx
Moisture: xxxx

xx:xx: Pass Happy, TX (Saw an F3 tornado here on May 5, 2002
xx:xx: East of Tulia, TX – Stop to discuss storm options
18:24: Olton, TX – model stop
19:34- Sudan, TX – funnel cloud in progress; tornado develops 2 minutes later. Tornado stays on the ground 6 minutes.

After a moderately long drive from the Guymon, OK, we caught this photogenic tornado a few miles from Sudan, TX:


A more complete update (with details of the forecast, chase strategy, and maps) will be posted later.

MAPS of the day’s route:

20210510 – Oklahoma City – Del Rio, TX – Borderland Thunderbumper (DRAFT)

Start – Oklahoma City,OK
End – Del Rio, TX
Distance– 669 miles (664mi captured on GPS track)
DRAFT – map and more photos to be added soon

07:00 – Wake up call; packed my gear; morning chores

07:30: Light breakfast with a couple of my fellow travelers

08:15: Pack my gear in the #2 Tempest van

08:30: Morning briefing : We are heading to South Texas, as it is the only area with a slight risk of storms.

09:00: Depart Oklahoma City on I 44, possibly the bumpiest the interstate in the country

10:41- Enter Texas, crossing the Red River. It is obviously a drought year as much of the riverbed is visible.

11:01 – Depart Wichita Falls on US277S.

13:01: Around Anson, TX, follow US 83, Passing by Abilene and many smaller town.

15:59: Anvil Time! South of Junction, TX (and I-10), we choose our first storm for the day. We are in rugged territory south of interstate 10. The road network here is very sparse, so we have to choose carefully. The cost of a mistake is missing a storm and ending up several hours travel from the next one.

1850: Decision Point! First storm fizzles, so choose our second storm of the day. Daylight is running out, but there is still atmospheric energy to fuel a good storm.

20:40: We briefly see a conical lowering that could be a funnel. Our storm gets tornado warning, probably for this feature which might be interpreted as a developing Tornado.

21:10: We arrive at the La Quinta motel in Del Rio, TX. We grab our gear and pack it in for the night