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Tire Debris, Stray Dogs and Iowa Libraries

Well ... we should be home by now but that's not the case. At around 1:30am last night we came across a pulled over big rig but little did we know why he was pulled over. Turned out one of his tires exploded all over the interstate and no flares or pylons were put in the road to indicate it. We tried to avoid the pieces but there was too much and we managed to get a flat tire. So in the middle of the night, pitch black, big rigs screaming down the interstate, a squall line with rain and lightning headed our way, we frantically tried to change the tire. Thank goodness we brought emergency car kits (I recommend you ALWAYS have one). We had reflective pylons and flashlights. While the men changed the tire to the spare (which unfortunately was just a donut and not an actual tire), we made sure cars and trucks moved over a lane so as not o endanger us. The flashlights were useful in signalling the vehicles to move over and they did. We were about half hour outside of Des Moines so I guess it could have been worse. We managed to get the tire on before any rain or lightning got to us. 

Our only option was to make our way slowly to Des Moines (can't go too fast on a spare tire), spend the night and wait til morning for a tire place to be open. We got in the car and slowly started heading for Des Moines when we're forced to slam on our brakes AGAIN. Two stray dogs were making there way down the interstate lanes. We avoided them, thank goodness. Ok so continuing our trek again. We finally get to Des Moines and spend the night. This morning we head to Walmart but they don't have the size we need. At least there were a few more close by tire places and we managed to get to a Sears Auto. The tire was not repairable so we had to buy a new one. 

Awaiting repairs we're currently sitting in a library in Des Moines. As soon as everything is done we'll be heading home. We probably won't make it in until early Wednesday morning if we're lucky. What did we learn? If you see a big rig pulled over be aware of tire debris! Also, ALWAYS have an emergency kit in your car!

Eleventh Chase Day and Trek Home

Today was our last chase day and we decided to go for it. We chased around central Nebraska and to say it was windy would be an understatement! We knew today would be a tricky day. Based on model data and hodographs the cells would go up, begin rotating then quickly form into a squall line. Sure enough that's what happened. Not to mention the road network in central Nebraska is AWFUL. We ventured a little further north where a cell had just passed and came across baseball to softball size hail on the road - as well as a few smashed cars. We couldn't follow the storms north because they kept crossing the road at the same point thus we would have to drive through *falling* baseball to softball size hail - no thanks!

As the storms began to form into a squall line they looked so dramatic and made for some great video and photography. It was getting late and time for us to go. We said goodbye to our chase friends and began the trek back to Toronto. But not before nature had a treat in store: just as we were continuing down the road we managed to see a brief landspout tornado form off the edge of the squall line! And now we continue home ...

Tenth Chase Day: Decapitated Updraft

We made the looong trip to Nebraska. All hope felt lost and then we saw it: building towers! We got on the most impressive storm and it was really looking good. Great structure, strong updraft ... and then it happened ... The cap built back in a literally detached the updraft from the base! And it fizzled out ... So sad. This all occurred near Raymond, Nebraska.

We drove to Columbus, Nebraska and spent the night. Our chase is slowly coming to a close ...

Ninth Chase Day: Driving in Circles

Another frustrating chase day. Started off in Woodward, Oklahoma and decided to head to Colorado to catch some upslope induced supercells. We get part of the way there and decide that the weather isn't shaping up properly so we abandon that target and head for the secondary target along the Oklahoma-Kansas border. We travel through and notice a little cell going up near Kingfisher. We decide to head south a little to see what it does. Well ... It died. The cell got choked off by the capping mixing back in and died. So we decided to head north of Wichita to spend the night.

In the end we drove 890 km (550 miles) to get from Woodward, Oklahoma to north of Wichita, Kansas which on a direct route would have been 430 km (270 miles). Ahhh the life of a storm chaser.

Tomorrow we have two targets and will soon be looking at the newer model runs. We're interested in central Kansas or eastern Nebraska. We'll make the decision in the morning.

Here's hoping we get a few more storms before we start heading home to Canada.

Eight Chase Day: NSSL/SPC/OU Building, BBQ-Bust and Luxury 

That's frustrating! So we knew there were some issues today and if storms did go up they would be supercells with the possibility of tornadoes. We had time in the morning and a friend of ours was kind enough to arrange a tour of NOAA's National Weather Service / Storm Prediction Center / National Severe Storms Laboratories / Oklahoma University building on the OU campus. Can I saw ... WOW! This is a meteorologists / atmospheric scientists dreams! The building houses some of the most brilliant atmospheric scientists and meteorologists in the world and combines the meteorology students into that. To learn in an environment like that would be a dream. It was a stunning building with an observatory room on the top with a 360 view of Norman, Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. This building was under a tornado warning earlier this week with the tornado outbreak and people were evacuated into the storm shelters. The students work directly with some of the most brilliant meteorology minds in the world. What a fantastic learning environment.

After the tour we went to this random BBQ place and it was delicious! We hung out there for a few hours until we realized that's it ... no storms today. We've headed to Woodward, Oklahoma and are finishing our trip west tomorrow. We've been thinking possibly Colorado but will reassess in the morning with newer model data. Either way we've come far enough west to not have to travel too far. So the only hotel available in Woodward was the Hampton Inn. Now Woodward is a small, unassuming town but this hotel is fantastic! Probably the most gorgeous hotels you can stay in while on the Plains. Let's say one of the last nights here we'll be spending in luxury. So I'm going to get some sleep because we have to be up earlier. I'll upload pictures as well.