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Tour Notes from Chase Tour 2 - May 2012

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Stormchase 2012 - Day 10

[b]We're not in Kansas Anymore...[/b]

Day 10 is finally here. Our last day chasing.
SPC have a slight risk for the Plains from Oklahoma up through Kansas to Nebraska.

We set out from our base of McPherson in 40mph hot winds which soon reached 97F and headed for
the dry line.

Dry line Definition: [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_line"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_line[/url]

[attachment=134491:Dry Line.jpg]

A quick stop for Breakfast and the Dow Trucks were already out and about.


We passed through the town of Greensburg which was previously devestated by a major tornado during the evening
of May 4th 2007. Although much has been rebuilt, the signs of that day remain everywhere.

We crossed the state line headed South into Oklahoma. Ahead of us we could see the dry line streaching South to
North across the sky.

[attachment=134370:P1010377.JPG] [attachment=134492:P1010384.JPG]

As we watched, to our North we could see massive and intense build-up along the line. In just 15 minutes some of
these storms went from nothing to being Severe Warned!

We waited. At first it looked as if we'd chosen a point too far south. The cap was holding firm, then boom... the cap
broke and convection started going up all along the dry line.


Moving on we picked a couple of good vantage points to watch the developing storms.

Lightning was all around us and funnels were visible from many of the cells we saw.

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Finally as dusk aproached and we drove through the town of Clinton, Oklahoma we looked West. There on the Horizon it was, our first Tornado on the ground.

[attachment=134493:Tornado 5 Miles West of Clinton OK.jpg]

- Acknowledgments to Dave Vicary for this video screenshot of the Tornado.

We finished up the evening with the Storm coming over us from the safety of a Gas Station to provide protection from large hail and went on to witness an amazing lightning show.

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The people of Tornado Alley take this all in their stride. Whilst devestating, the chances of actually being the victim of
a Tornado here are pretty small. Nevertheless, every year they strike and every year they impact on the lives of these
people. With more knowledge comes beter systems to warn those who live here. Systems such as automatic cell-phone alerts are already being proposed and the more people understand the behaviour of the storms the greater warning times that can be given.

I hope you've all enjoyed this brief insight into Tornado Alley, a tour which has taken us 4000 miles around America.

This has been one amazing trip. Although pretty quiet on the Tornado front, some of the structure we've seen has been
unbelievable. Netweather know how to make Stormchasing fun. Paul and Dave have done an excellent job in getting us
to the best positions for the storms as well as all the general organisation.

If you're still undecided whether to go or not, look back through the photos. You've gotta be prepared to travel to see
the sights but you will see the real America, meet some wonderful people and see weather like you've never seen before!

Thanks for reading.




Stormchase 2012 - Day 9

We began the day in Hays, Kansas.
Todays risk was far up North so the plan for the day was to drive down to Hutchingson and visit the Space Museum there where they also have an IMAX cinema showing Sean Caseys "Tornado Alley".

Temperatures today were crazy. By 2pm it had reached 93F with winds around 40mph but a really dry heat.

The drive took us through some amazing scenery and fields of crops flowing like rivers in the wind.
We visited the historic town of Claffin with its wild west frontage as well as a fantastic disused Prarie house reminiscent of something out of a movie.

[attachment=134334:P1010297.JPG] [attachment=134335:P1010300.JPG]

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We met up with fellow chasers Dana and Chris from Arizona to watch Tornado Alley. An amazing movie and really impressive in IMAX.

Following the movie, we Met Aaron and Laura Hiscox and were kindly invited to their friends ranch near McPherson.
Twenty years ago they had lost everything when a EF4 tornado hit the previous ranch on the same site. Fortunately no one was injured, but after coming up from the basement shelter they found their home destroyed. The family have rebuilt a wonderful house on the site.

We spent an unforgettable evening at the ranch. Home made pizza and some great target shooting to finish the evening off.

[attachment=134338:P1010332.JPG] [attachment=134339:P1010337.JPG]


Saturday, our last chase day looks very promising in the Oklahoma Panhandle. High CAPE and potential for Large Hail, strong winds and the odd Tornado [img]http://cdn.nwstatic.co.uk/forum//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] Hopefully some good structure and a great chase day before heading home on Sunday.

Remember you can follow us live on the Netweather Stream at:[list]




Stormchase 2012 - Day 8

Thursdays Chase day began in the town of Limon Colorado, situated at 5377 ft ASL and made famous as being the site of the most gruesome lynching in American history back in 1900. Fortunately nothing quite as gruesome during our stay!

The most recent and significant Tornadic event of note was back in 1990 when a EF3 touched down west of Limon.

We woke to a pleasant change in the forecast from the Storm Prediction Centre (SPC). Even early on, distinct tops could be seen over the Rockies and a build-up to the east was already underway by lunchtime.

We left and headed East where dew points were favorable and significant CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) was present.[list]
[*]For CAPE definition see : [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convective_available_potential_energy"]http://en.wikipedia....otential_energy[/url]
As we neared the Kansas State line a number of Storms cropped up. Some severe for a while.

[attachment=134302:P1010264.JPG] [attachment=134303:P1010265.JPG] [attachment=134305:P1010281.JPG]

We took a central path between two significant systems. Gusty winds and heavy rain were present. At one point, the outflow could be seen to lift up surrounding dust into clouds as previously seen down in New Mexico.


Although looking promising at first, none of these storms became Super-cellular. They all however generated some good CG Lightning.


Finally we drove East through Kansas to our overnight stay in the town of Hays.
Looking at the SPC predictions, Friday seems to be a similar convective day however Saturday has a higher risk of some more
organised systems within the Southern Kansas, Oklahoma and the Northern Texas areas potentially providing a good show before the trip back.




Stormchase 2012 - Day 7

Day 7 began in Amarillo.
Initially we'd planned to drive into eastern Oklahoma, however looking at the model forecasts for Fri/Sat we decided to head North into Colorado and await developments for Western Kansas.

The drive took us through the final portion of the Texas Panhandle into a narrow strip of the Oklahoma panhandle. The land is so flat here, a playground for Tornadoes; all the towns we passed have the warning sirens in place. Railroads are key to local transportation and we saw some huge freight trains, some with 120+ carriages and well over a mile long.

[attachment=134287:P1010179.JPG] [attachment=134289:P1010187.JPG]

This is grain country. Huge silos are dotted around the landscape to hold the massive amounts of grain produced across the american mid-west. These indestructible buildings have come off unscathed after some of the most violent EF5 tornadoes of recent years.


The road took us further North. In 90 degree heat we crossed into the South East corner of Colorado.
We stopped at the State Line for a photo opportunity. A lizard and green snake slithered off the road into the long grass, a reminder to watch where you put your feet out here!

[attachment=134293:P1010197.JPG] [attachment=134291:P1010185.JPG]

Driving North West we could begin to see signs of convection over the Rocky Mountains to our West. This was clear on the Barons Radar, however today these storms would remain firmly attached to their mountain home.

As we approached our stop for the day in Limon Colorado, the remains of the storms were dissipating over Denver.

[attachment=134290:P1010241.JPG] [attachment=134292:P1010256.JPG]

With the Storm Prediction Centre improving risk, fingers are now well and truly crossed for the next few days. Those of you on the next few tours should now be getting excited with the chance of a major outbreak forecast! Keep a close eye on the SPC forecast as this develops.




Stormchase 2012 - Day 6

Tuesday was our longest drive so far. Leaving Sonora we drove North and into the the Texas Panhandle, our first view of Tornado Alley proper.

The area is flat, towns are few and far between and skies are big.
Dust Devils can often be seen dancing in the distance across the hot and vast wide open spaces.


Todays weather was hot and clear. Although some convection existed towards the south, the cap held and skies quickly cleared on the drive north to Amarillo.

The main attraction in Amarillo was the Big Texan. Some of the best steaks around and home to the famous 72oz challenge, mind you no one in our group was brave enough to try it!

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Dave did go for the Man vs Food Challenge and Man Won (just).


A texan limo trip back to the hotel, complete with Bull Horns. At 12mpg I don't think I'll be getting one!


With weather not performing well, the next few days look like positioning for the predicted storms on Friday/Saturday.
Originally Oklahoma on Wednesday, however a last minute change meant we're off to Colorado first then moving to Kansas ready for the final show before the journey back.

Hope you're all enjoying the live streaming.

Hopefully another good convective day before we head back.




Stormchase 2012 - Day 5

Nothing could quite follow Sundays amazing day at Roswell.

Monday in Carlsbad started with a storm and heavy rain early morning.
It was all looking good. We saw Sean Casey and Brandon Ivey from Team TIV at breakfast who were also headed south to the Mexican boarder to pick up the days threat potential down there, however on the way down we passed the DOW (Doppler on Wheels) trucks headed the opposite way.

We reached Big Bend National Park and had little to no radar coverage and no internet for the live stream or backup GRLevel3 data. We met up there with other Chasers from Arizona and waited for the storm.

I suppose we'd been spoilt by the Mothership supercell on Sunday. Unfortunately no real visible structure.

Overnight we stayed in Sonora, Texas and visited a great Mexican Restaurant.

A long trip on Tuesday awaits as we head up to Amirillo on our way to the Central Plains.




Stormchase 2012 - Day 4

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][b][size=4]The Roswell Mothership Supercell [/size][/b][/font]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][color=#323232]What a day![/color]
[color=#323232]Starting off this morning in Carlsbad New Mexico, we first headed north to Artesia. Here we waited patiently as a cell formed to the west over the foothills of the Rockies. It looked promising at first, but as soon as it left the sanctuary of the mountains it lost energy and collapsed.[/color][/font][/size]


[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][color=#323232]Seeing more cells on the Barons Radar forming to the NW we drove North to Roswell, took in a few alien sights then drove out west to find a good vantage point to await the incoming storm.[/color][/font][/size]

[attachment=134173:P1000349.JPG] [attachment=134174:P1000350.JPG]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Two huge mothership supercells aproached us, amazing CG lightning and green skies indicating large hail were clearly visible. [color=#323232]We turned the car around to avoid the largest hail and headed back through Roswell to catch it a second time around on the approach to Artesia.[/color][/font][/size]

[color=#323232]The storm was increasing in speed and gaining energy from the warmer plains. Amazing structure was now clearly visible and the storm was trying to drop a funnel.[/color][/font][/size]

[color=#323232]We aproached Artesia and looked back. Skies were black and looking unbelievably threatening. The wind was increasing as we drove past the oil refinery and east out of town.[/color][/font][/size]

[color=#323232]I looked to our west and a huge dust and light debris cloud [/color]caused by the storms' icy outflow was fast approaching. Leaping back into the car to close the window we drove further up the road. [color=#323232]By this time, the two supercells had merged and the storm put down a gustnado to our left.[/color]

Funnels were forming and fading in front of our eyes.[/font][/size]

[attachment=134177:P1010036.JPG] [attachment=134178:P1010039.JPG]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][color=#323232]We got ahead of the storm for a while, but eventually we knew the rain would catch up and it did.[/color][/font][/size]

[color=#323232]Under a disused gas station canopy we waited. Day turned to night and suddenly we were in the core. Winds howled to 70mph plus as dime sized hail pelted down and lightning was all around. The sheer power of nature is often hard to imagine unless you witness it. We did![/color][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Acknowledgements to Dave Vicary for this excellent video of the moment the core passed:[/font][/size]


Also, watch the following capture from my camera during the core transition:

[color=#323232]As the core cleared through, we drove into carlsbad onto the aptly named Canal Street! Flash flooding was everywhere. [/color]Our planned evening of lightning viewing ruined by the fact that there were simply too many storms![/font][/size]


[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][color=#323232]A welcome steak and rib dinner in Chillis topped off the day with many of the big names in Stormchasing there including Sean Casey, Brandon Ivey and the crew of the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) formally from the Discovery Series.[/color][/font][/size]

[attachment=134180:P1010064.JPG] [attachment=134179:P1010063.JPG]

[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][color=#323232]All in all an absolutely stunning day. One of those you remember for ever![/color][/font][/size]




Stormchase 2012 - Day 3


Todays tour was a re-positioning day ahead of whats looking like a very promising setup for Sunday.

Our chase target for the next few days is New Mexico, and in the morning things were already looking promising.

The drive took us through parts of Western Texas then out on to the flatter plains of New Mexico, finally to Calrsbad in the evening where we enjoyed an excellent meal at local restaurant.

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Latest updates for Sunday indicate Up-slope convection in the foothills of the Rockies is forecast to lead to severe thunderstorm development in a line from Carlsbad to Roswell New Mexico.

Fingers Crossed for a good day tomorrow...




Stormchase 2012 - Day 2

Day 2 began in Corpus Christi on the Gulf coast. After a night of severe storms alleged to be the worst in 20 years causing significant damage in and around Corpus Christi; Friday morning started dry and hot with temps climbing into the mid 90s.

On what initially looked to be a pretty dead day, a drive to the beach had to be done followed by a quick dip in the gulf all streamed live to whet the appetites of our growing audience of hundreds.


Our planned drive North and West was diverted by some huge convection to the West of Houston. By the time we reached it tops were reaching 40000ft. Convection was visibly explosive, something I've never witnessed before.



We positioned in the rain free zone at the enterence to a small farm attracting the attention of a pack of cute dogs! From here we watched the base and sure enough we had rotation. The base dropped to form a slowly rotating wall cloud over a stunning corn field foreground with the setting sun behind.


Driving back west we were treated to a great sunset and decaying cell over San Antonio visible from 90 miles away!

Day 2... Success!

Overnight in Kerrville then off to New Mexico in the morning and a new timezone (BST -7hrs).




Stormchase 2012 - Day 1

What an amazing day!
For those of you not watching the livestream, todays chase started in Irving Texas. A quick drive thru downdown Dallas, then the long drive south via Waco and Austin where the skies soon began to look interesting!

After passing through the MCS (Mesoscale Convective System) we finally reached a stream of supercells headed up from Mexico. Bang! A huge lump of hail hit the roof of the car - Just one piece but it sounded like a rock hitting.

We headed into the town of Kenedy as the sirens sounded and the skies turned green. We turned and headed to our vantage point in the clear. The storm had developed an impressive wall cloud with significant rotation visible.

We pulled off the road near a farm and watched as the slow moving system gathered pace. It moved very slow with a long updraft tail feeding the developing storm.

Keeping a close eye on the Barons satellite radar system, it was time to move on. This time around 5 miles down the road to a good vantage point near a construction site. Lightning was amazing by this time. Stong CG bolts in the distance at first and then closer.


It was time to move. Lightning was all around and the rain curtain was rapidly approaching. This is known as the bears cage. Within the rain curtain of a High Precipitation (HP) Storm can lurk a rain wrapped tornado. Not something you want to stumble into by choice!

We moved on to see supercell after supercell. One farm we stopped outside provided a great view of the wall cloud for the live stream. We spoke to a young farmer and his mother, originally from Kansas who spoke of the sheer fury of some of the storms she's witnessed in her lifetime.

The day ended with a fireworks display, Texas style! Lightning like I've never seen before. Crawling across the night sky over open fields of corn lighting the sky almost constantly whilst in the distance a lowering and rotating wall cloud ominously edged ever closer.


After 700 miles we headed into Corpus Christi. An eerie calm before the storm.
Just five minutes after arriving at the Restaurant the heavens opened. Rain rate of 4 inches per hour, palm trees blowing, CG lightning flashing. An eventful end to what seemed like a week rather than a day.


Just a few days ago we thought we were coming out here sunbathing. Chances of storms were fading. How things change in just a few days.

Friday looks to be a South Texas day again. Already reports of Waterspouts off the Mexican coast. After that, headed west, across into New Mexico. Maybe a spot of Alien chasing and hopefully some awesome storms to come.

Watch this space...



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