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US Storm Chase 2007 Diary


Nick F

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Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)

    PART 1

    This is my part 1 look at each day of the chase upto day 5, all photos were taken by me ... more to follow.

    Day 1

    Monday 30th April

    post-1052-1179675605_thumb.pngpost-1052-1179674646_thumb.png

    After Ian, Paul and I stopped overnight at OKC after meeting David Ewoldt to pick up our Barons box, we spent most the morning in the hotel car park trying to get the Barons and GPS working on the laptop.

    post-1052-1179685198_thumb.jpg - Paul and Ian, ready to install Barons ...

    Then, early afternoon we headed South 220 miles down the I-35 to DFW airport to pick up the rest of the team. Just to the East of the I-35, we saw our first convection and storms of the trip over Sern Oklahoma:

    post-1052-1179674610_thumb.jpg

    That night the complete team stays their first night in Decatur, 40 odd miles NW of Fort Worth, some heavy rain and thunder during the night moved up from the SW - nothing particularly spectacular - though the window frame in my room was letting water in!

    Day 2

    Tuesday 1st May

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    We headed South/SW into the SLGT risk area progged by SPC, we got as far as Lamprasas on the edge of hill country in South Central Texas, and noticed a discrete cell developing about 50 miles to the West, these storms were slow moving SE in direction so we went South then West to intercept it, by the time we reached the storm it had grown considerably.

    post-1052-1179684528_thumb.jpgpost-1052-1179677382_thumb.jpg

    With the storm stalking close to us with green skies (hail core) and with limited road options, the only choice was to head South down dirt tracks and through fords of rivers (thankfully low flow) with cgs landing around us. Fortunately the storm movement SE was slow - so we reached the relative saftety of a paved road some 10-15 miles further South and stopped on a hill to see the storm at a safe distance on the Sern side:

    post-1052-1179677328_thumb.jpg

    We eventually headed towards Fredricksburg where the storm moved just West of the town and we watched a fairly good lightning show on the edge of the storm as it grew dark, then retired to a hotel in town as it moved away though we still saw anvil crawlers a long while afterwards into the night.

    Day 3

    Wednesday 2nd May:

    post-1052-1179678307_thumb.pngpost-1052-1179678987_thumb.png

    Today was a SLGT risk area over Wern TX, so we didn't have far to go to chase storms, however, the morning was overcast and stayed that way until we headed into the first of storms moving in from the West. Anyway, we headed to Junction where we sat at the Days Inn for a few hours, some nice scenery across the valley below, note the cloudy skies!

    post-1052-1179678965_thumb.jpg

    A line of storms near Sonora was moving in from the West, a tornado watch was in effect, so we headed South of Junction towards Rock Springs and we came across some developing storms towards the Sern tail end of the squall line - while a rain wrapped tornado was reported 11 miles SW of Junction - it was to messy to go North and perhaps find it. Road options were limited but we chose to follow the storms Eastwards back to Fredricksburg, often driving through the core and bear's cage of seperate cells moving up from the SW as we headed East, very messy day with limited photo opps apart from some spectacular cgs as we neared Fredricksburg.

    Here's a barons screen grab of our GPS location in between two potent cells heading back towards the I-10/Fredricksburg, around the same time, very low bases were over us:

    post-1052-1179679612_thumb.jpgpost-1052-1179679620_thumb.jpg

    Skies clearing and rainbow as we booked back into the same hotel as the night before in Fredricksburg:

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    Day 4

    Thursday 3rd May

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    A travel day this day up to Amarillo, to get us North in position for the SLGT/MDT risk forecasted for that Friday over Kansas. Quite a long distance travelled, clear skies all day, and a well deserved steak and 32oz beer or two at the Big Texan in the evening:

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    Day 5

    Friday 4th May

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    A rather long day - a MDT risk was in effect for Kansas today, so we headed upto Dodge City, Kansas - where we stopped for lunch, then went East to St John where we parked at a garage and met 3 chase guys who post on stormtrack, they decided to head South towards Oklahoma border where storms were brewing, so we decided to head that way too. It was early evening as we headed towards Medicine Lodge and we approached the Northern edge of a storm area pushing NNE out of Wern Oklahoma. At first the Nern edge of the storms looked fairly lame on the radar, though we saw an updraft on the Northern edge of the storm area looking West of Medicine Lodge - this developing storm (we didn't know until a little latter as we headed South) spawned the deadly EF5 Greensburg tornado:

    post-1052-1179682313_thumb.jpg post-1052-1179682456_thumb.jpg

    We headed South of Alva (OK) as we had our eye on two supercells which were looking good on the radar with rotations showing, we stopped and took photos looking westwards to the Sern LP supercell near Woodward, it had earlier on dropped a tornado, but was at that point where we were photographing begining to weaken, while the Northern cell we had seen the updraft of further North was really beginning to crank up on the radar and later dropped the EF5 tornado over Greensburg - most likely because it was closer to a 'dry-line bulge' than the cells to the South:

    Radar that evening showing Sern supercells SW of Alva we were looking at in Nern OK, and the developing Nern supercells over into Kansas which were brewing an EF5 for Greensburg a while later ...

    post-1052-1179683978_thumb.png

    LP supercells near Woodward OK, 2nd picture shows 2 discrete LP supercells beside each other with sun in between:

    post-1052-1179683207_thumb.jpg post-1052-1179683933_thumb.jpgpost-1052-1179683943_thumb.jpg

    By the time the Supercell that was headed for Greensburg was taking shape, it was way off to the North, so we gave up and booked into a Motel in Alva, that evening eating in a Pizza restaurant we noticed very strong winds blowing outside, SE inflow winds blowing in towards the Greensburg storm, alot of lightning pulsating in the sky to the North of Alva that late evening aswell!

    PART 2 coming later ...

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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    just about to start and read this Nick, looks like a long but very interesting and enjoyable one.

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    Posted
  • Location: South Shields Tyne & Wear half mile from the coast.
  • Location: South Shields Tyne & Wear half mile from the coast.

    Excellent read there Nick its great to see photo's of the storms that we were following with you back home, fantastic structure on that supercell can clearly see the rotation .... awsome mate.!!! So you going back again next year ? thats what i'm afraid of is that you'll want to go back every season ..knowing my luck on my first stormchase there would be a death ridge in place for my entire adventure.. B) ..lol. lookin forward to part 2... when we gonna see some video? :wallbash:

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
    just about to start and read this Nick, looks like a long but very interesting and enjoyable one.

    This only the first 5 days - another 6 days of chasing to come ...

    So you going back again next year ? thats what i'm afraid of is that you'll want to go back every season ..knowing my luck on my first stormchase there would be a death ridge in place for my entire adventure.. B) ..lol. lookin forward to part 2... when we gonna see some video? :wallbash:

    You bet, I'll be back, still have yet to see a tornado with my own eyes rather than caught on the off-chance by digi-cam - lucky as it was! Also have yet to witness large hail, largest I saw was pea to marble-sized, even though there were storms around when we were there producing golf-ball size hail.

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    Posted
  • Location: Leigh On Sea - Essex & Tornado Alley
  • Location: Leigh On Sea - Essex & Tornado Alley

    Great Pics Nick. NL Will have to upload Video Clips when I have better Broadband connection, that will be end of this week when I have recovered, currently on 8,345 Miles or the equivalent of driving to Scotland every day for 20 Days ! :wallbash:

    We fly in 27 hours so currently about to head down the Highway to Heaven towards the Dallas Metroplex for our last steak meal in Decatur, some of the Video Footage is Stunning and well worth the wait.

    MILES # 8,690 By Tomorrow

    AVERAGE # 435 Per Day

    GAS # $3.19 Average

    TORNADOES # 3

    SUPERCELLS # 16

    HIGH RISK # x1

    MODERATE # x2

    SLIGHT # x10

    TRAVEL # x3

    TEXT RISK # x4

    SIGHTSEEING # x1

    CREATURES # Deer (Near Miss) Tarantula, Prairie Dogs, Skunks, Dogs, Cats, Terrapin, Snakes x2, Cows (Near Misses!)

    STATES # 10

    HIGHEST ELEVATION # Colorado 6,567 Feet

    Best part of the trip was on 7th May when we Intercepted 3 Supercells 250 miles outside of the SPC Risk Box. The High & Moderate Risks were Insane days with 18 hour days and so many Supercells it was hard to pick them off at times. Seeing the Greensburg Damage was very Humbling and an eerie silence fell in the Car, seeing a rain wrapped wedge coming over the hill like a monster was also an adrenaline rush as was leaving Ellsworth with a Tornado bearing down on us, taking the others 30 miles south and leaving our luggage at the Hotel shows how risky this all is.

    Paul Sherman

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    Posted
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight
  • Weather Preferences: Snow, Storm, anything loud and dramatic.
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight

    I enjoyed that read, thank you. Great pictures aswell, oh yes and that mouthwatering chunk of steak, that picture shouldn't be allowed, I have not long eaten and still drool at the thought :wallbash:

    Regards,

    Russ

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    Posted
  • Location: Swallownest, Sheffield 83m ASL
  • Location: Swallownest, Sheffield 83m ASL

    Brilliant read.. Can't wait for part two. Thanks for taking the time to do this Nick. :wallbash:

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    Posted
  • Location: Scarborough, North Yorkshire - 80m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Tornadoey
  • Location: Scarborough, North Yorkshire - 80m ASL

    Great read Nick. Brings back the good memories. I'm still hoping to get a compilation video of some timelapse shots of the various storms done at some point. Unfortunately, my Mum was in hospital last week so I had my mind on other things. It will be done though! One of the videos of the Stafford wall cloud doesn't really need to be timelapsed either as it's so clearly rotating. Shame it was moving so fast and we didn't have much time on it :drinks:

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)

    As promised PART 2...

    Day 6 (High Risk)

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    Saturday 5th May

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    Sobering start to the day watching the news of the devastating tornado over Greensburg overnight some 40-50 odd miles to our NW from Alva where we started the day. It was an exciting start to the day - with a high risk given out by SPC over Central Kansas. We drove North to Pratt initially, surveyed the situation and saw the potential along a squall line moving NNE out of OK across South Central Kansas then decided to head South and West (road West to Greensburg closed). We reached the tail end of the squall line at Coldwater, took some pictures then noted some interesting new tail-end development on the radar just to the SE, so we headed back East a bit to be on the Eastern side of the new cell moving NNE, then followed it North along dirt-tracks as it developed - storms this day were shifting at 40 mph+!, after a while we saw the cell develop a mesocyclone and rotation somewhere SW of Pratt:

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    -it really did look like it was going to drop any second, the wall cloud was rotating and lowering!

    We continued to zig-zag up dirt-tracks NE to keep up with the mesocyclone, we had a hard job keeping up with it slowed by the dirt roads, but we eventually caught up with it on the main road North of Pratt only to be thrown East then North along dirt-tracks to avoid being pummelled into low visibility by the precip. core:

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    We continued NE, it never dropped anything I saw other than Cgs and a lot of rain and hail - however there was a report of a tornado near Stafford which the storm we followed passed over and also Nathan caught a distant funnel around that area on camera. Continuing NE of Stafford we were getting low on Petrol so as we reached a town called Sterling to fill-up and gave-up chase on this particular storm. However, another line of severe storms was moving NE though Dodge City up to Great Bend further West, so we headed North to Lyons then West towards Great Bend. On arrival 5 miles East of Great Bend we encountered the Eastern edge of the squall line moving NE with the wx radio screeching out tornado warnings, a tornado reported to have touched down SW of Great Bend - we then headed NE along the edge of the squall line - as shown on the Barons screen grap below:

    post-1052-1179852916_thumb.jpg

    We continued through Claflin - where we saw some tornado damage in the growing darkness, with corrugated iron ripped across the road from farm buildings, tree damage and plies of debris, a tornado was reported here earlier as well. After some core punching we finally decided to find somewhere to stay the night - Ellsworth was closest so we booked in at the Best Western. Not long after we booked in, the familiar wx radio warning signal was coming through and we were then informed that the county was under a tornado warning with a tornado reported as touching down 15 miles SW of where we were. On the safe side, we got in the car and drove SE out of the line of storms heading our way and sat it out in the dark out on the edge of the squall line as it flashed and rumbled NE across Ellsworth, until the risk had passed then we headed back to the hotel:

    post-1052-1179853083_thumb.jpg-postion of us sitting out a tornado warned storm headed for Ellsworth

    Storms continued through the night - some great cgs and strong straightline winds, Paul introduced me to the sound of 'hail roar' something I've never heard before up in the clouds - a very eerie sound!

    Day 7

    Sunday 6th May

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    We headed SW through Great Bend and onto Kinsley - on the way we saw workmen repairing downed power lines along the roadside, the way the poles had snapped suggested tornado damage the night before, also much flooding along the way through Kansas.

    post-1052-1179853475_thumb.jpgpost-1052-1179853491_thumb.jpg

    Dropping South of Kinsley down the 281, we passed the Western side of Greensburg about a mile away and saw the flattened mangled skyline of the town in the distance, we saw satellite damage along the roadside South as well:

    post-1052-1179853540_thumb.jpg

    A severe warned squall line moving NE along a cold front with hail and High precip. was hampering our route South on the 281 so we eventually headed East towards Medicine Lodge then South to Hardtner towards the OK border, we headed West to get closer to the squall line again down a paved road which turned dirt track, a cell was developing to the South aswell here was the barons at that point:

    post-1052-1179853606_thumb.jpg

    We continued down the dirt track to get closer to the squall line - which was spreading a shelf cloud East across us, with the track getting rather slippery with wet mud and hail core and what looked like a lowering to the ground, we decided to head back to paved road -spinning the car at one point as we beat a hasty retreat on the wet mud - look what Nathan caught on camera behind us!-

    http://www.netweather.tv/forum/uploads/mon...15378_thumb.jpg

    Pictures of squall line and inside the shelf cloud:

    post-1052-1179853667_thumb.jpg post-1052-1179853732_thumb.jpg post-1052-1179853771_thumb.jpg

    As we went back through Hardtner, the Tornado sirens started wailing, an eerie sound and confirmed our suspicions backed up by Nathan’s video capture. We continued on South down to Weatherford, catching the edge of a 500-600 odd mile NNE moving squall line along the cold front that stretched from central Kansas down to around Childress. Overnight at the hotel in Weatherford, OK, we were treated to some rather lively cells which continued to back build from the SW over us - giving us some great lightning with close cgs.

    Day 8

    Monday 7th May

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    Day dawned cloudy and misty, a SLGT risk indicated, Childress was our target. So we headed West into TX Panhandle to Shamrock then South to Childress. Not a lot happened - some weak mid-level convection passed over with a few splashes of rain, then nothing else for the rest of the day. Perhaps was a blessing in disguise really as we had just had 3-hard and long days chasing over OK and KS. We booked in for the night at Childress, bad mistake, as we later found out in the restaurant that it was a ‘dry county’, gasping for a beer after dinner, we headed 15 miles to the county border and found that two liquor stores were closed! Bah Humbug. Apparently there were storms overnight, but must have slept through.

    Day 9

    Tuesday 8th May

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    Another SLGT risk this day over Wern TX, Lubbock down to Abilene was our general target area with another squall line expected and was already apparent in the far West of TX over Midland down to the Mexican border. We headed South to Guthrie then West towards Lubbock, as we headed into the Cap rock Escarpment East of Lubbock - we encountered the mass of rain - stopping off for petrol at some small town it was only 13C grey and raining - felt like Scotland. We headed South to Post, on the way we encountered the squall line with a distinct dark base running South along the Cap rock Escarpment, cgs were quite frequent. Again the squall line was shiftng NE quickly at 40 mph+ it was was also propagating East. We saw some discrete cells further East in the clearer warmer air, so we headed East from post and followed developing super cells until we encountered a wall cloud and rotation near Throckmorton - a 'sheriffnado' was reported near Throckmorton - one picture below shows what looked like a funnel at one point, the radar picture below shows these cells:

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    The squall line to the West was quickly swallowing up these discrete cells further East , so when we got to Olney, NE of Throckmorten there was just one big squall line and impressive shelf cloud moving quickly East and it quickly engulfed us as we made the wrong decision to head South into it, it took us what seemed like an eternity to get out of the storm which had seriously strong straightline winds and rain that reduced visibility very low. Eventually we were spat out as we zoomed NE and took some great photos of the shelf cloud as it advanced towards us:

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    -what's that coming over the hill is it a mothership?

    We headed NE then SE down the 287 to Decatur (again) - where we booked in the Comfort Inn, strangely the squall line to the West died and disintegrated before reaching Decatur that evening.

    Day 10

    Wednesday 9th May

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    Well our initial target the day before was the San Angelo area 200 odd miles to the SW - but the next day we ended up around Holliday SW of Witchita Falls, not as far SW as originally planned, and we waited for some storms to move up from the SSW along a slow moving cold front over Lake Kickapoo (great name) which was a great location to look South and see a line of storms approach over the water.

    post-1052-1179855166_thumb.jpg

    Great cloud structures were seen with a good shelf cloud chasing us again -

    post-1052-1179855218_thumb.jpgpost-1052-1179855264_thumb.jpg

    … cells didn't get super-cellular with rotation in the end, so we took some photos then left the storms West of Witchita Falls. We then headed East to Ardmore, OK, where we stayed the night. Some storms passed over during the night, not particularly electrically active though lots of rain.

    One of the highlights of the day, apart from some good storm structure photos, was seeing a tarantula walking across a track we had parked on, made us jump at first, then we got fascinated and took photos of it. It was only a small one aswell!

    post-1052-1179855411_thumb.jpg

    Day 11

    Thursday 10th May

    There was a SLGT risk over Southern TX, but it was too far (around 400 miles) for us to bother going to, particularly as we need to be back in DFW area on friday for the 5pm flight home. However, still there was the chance of some scattered t-storms over much of TX and OK for the afternoon. We decided to visit Lake Murray just SE of Ardmore, we had a game of crazy golf followed by a game of pool.

    post-1052-1179855649_thumb.jpg-yours truely -NW forecaster takes on the team ...

    Later in the afternoon, the cloud bubbled up to the West and cells appeared on the radar so we drove West of Ardmore to investigate, they were non-severe pulse thunderstorms which lasted no more than half an hour, so we decided not to bother chasing anything and headed South to Decatur (again!) saw decent convection South of town and took some photos, then booked in at the Comfort Inn.

    post-1052-1179855498_thumb.jpg

    Day 12

    Friday 11th May

    Well, it was time to bid farewell to Ian and Paul at DFW airport in the afternoon, evening flights beckoned to take us home. Saw some great Cb towers over Oklahoma from the aeroplane, pitty I didn’t get the camera out of the luggage hold.

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    Posted
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey

    Once again great reading and brilliant pics. It must have been very sobering going through Greensburg.

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
    Once again great reading and brilliant pics. It must have been very sobering going through Greensburg.

    Thanks. Yes it went pretty quiet in the car as we saw Greensburg in the distance with a mass of TV and emergency crews , national guard etc, milling around on the Western entrance road, and also seeing the satellite damage along the road we were on.

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    Posted
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire

    Two excellent accounts Nick :) .

    The pics of the small LP supercells in the first account are amazing. The clouds don't look 'big enough' to be single cell storms, let alone supercells.

    One question ; what is 'a sheriffnado' as reported in Day 9?

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    Posted
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey
    Thanks. Yes it went pretty quiet in the car as we saw Greensburg in the distance with a mass of TV and emergency crews , national guard etc, milling around on the Western entrance road, and also seeing the satellite damage along the road we were on.

    I bet!

    I know my heart sunk when I saw it on the TV!

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
    Two excellent accounts Nick :) .

    The pics of the small LP supercells in the first account are amazing. The clouds don't look 'big enough' to be single cell storms, let alone supercells.

    One question ; what is 'a sheriffnado' as reported in Day 9?

    Hi Andy, local police sheriffs in the Mid-west are often spotters aswell (not all trained), and in storm chasing circles they are often known to report funnel clouds or even scud as tornadoes to the weather service- hence 'Sheriffnadoes'!

    On day 9 we were following the storm over Throckmorton, a tornado was reported near Throckmortonon on the wx radio, but other than a possible lowering that could be classed a funnel, there were no tornadoes we saw.

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    Posted
  • Location: Bedfordshire/Herts border 40m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, crisp, calm and sunny
  • Location: Bedfordshire/Herts border 40m asl

    Thank you Nick. Facinating read and the photos really do give a sense of the awesome power in those storms.

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