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New Videos & Photographs!

So I managed to get all the photos and edited video up. I've now included several more albums including tornadoes and beautiful sunsets as well as the solar eclipse. To see them visit the photography page here:

Severe Weather Diaries - Photography

I also uploaded two videos to my Youtube channel including the tornado video from May 19. I will be adding them to my video channel but the slow internet is making it a painful process. To watch the videos visit here:

May 18 - NW Kansas and SW Nebraska - Storms

May 19 - South-Central Kansas - Tornadoes & Landspouts

Thanks everyone!

Chase Day 6 - South Dakota & Friends (May 22)

So today was the long haul from Kansas to South Dakota. We began our trip north early this morning. The most favourable tornado conditions were way up in North Dakota near the Canadian border with Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We decided against that because (1) way too far to drive and (2) would put us waaaay out of position for tomorrow.

We finally met up with Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison in Prescho, South Dakota. It was great to finally see them again! We chased a few cells that went up just north of our position towards Pierre, South Dakota. The storms were very high based and held little promise at this point. While assessing data in Pierre, our friends Chris Kridler and Daniel Shaw showed up! So our giant convoy (or conga line) on chasers was together. We headed on a cell that was splitting just south of our position. On the way there, Chris comes over the radio and asks, "Am I missing an antenna?!"

Sure enough she was - but how did it happen? A pheasant flew into Chris' vehicle, bounced off it, hit her antenna and ripped it off and the bird essentially exploded on impact. Daniel was driving behind Chris as saw the whole thing. The best part? He got it all on video! Check it out below ...


So after that, we continued on the storm and saw a brief shear funnel. After that it all began to die off. So we headed back to Valentine, Nebraska where we're staying for the night.

The photos and videos are in the process of uploading, I will post links to it as soon as they're finished. 

Chase Day 5 - Why Did We Leave?! (May 21)

We woke up in Clovis, New Mexico and had a big decision to make ... Do we chase today or haul it north for tomorrow? There was potential from what we saw for storms but it was fairly marginal. We made our way to Amarillo, Texas and had lunch at The Big Texan. After that we headed to Dalheart, Texas and waited for storms to initiate. Storms began to fire up along the boundary but fizzle out. By 6:00pm we decided that we had to get going north or else we won't make the target on Tuesday.

Our friend Jason said he was too exhausted to make the drive north tonight so he said he's going to head back to Amarillo to spend the night and if there's storms he'll see what he sees. Well we continued north and pulled over to take pictures of a beautiful sunset. As we did, Jason called and said he's looking at a beautiful supercell right where we were earlier. Then he called back and said he saw it - he saw a tornado. We looked at the radar image and wow was there ever rotation. The gate-to-gate shear was 114 knots! We haven't seen any images of the tornado yet, hopefully when we meet back up with Jason he'll have some to show us.

We all had that sinking, terrible feeling of, "Why did we leave?!" but we all made a concious decision that we had to get north to back our target. We're glad Jason was able to see it though!

So tonight we're on our way to Oakley, Kansas to spend the night. Then tomorrow we drive north to northern Nebraska / southern South Dakota to get to our target and meet up with Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison.

The internet has been horrible so I hope I can get more pictures and video up tonight. We'll see what time we get into the hotel by. I'm posting from the car.

Also, one year ago today we witnessed the Ada, Oklahoma tornado after enjoying an afternoon at Rocky's annual chaser picnic.

Chase Day 4 - Solar Eclipse (May 20)

So we woke up in Wichita, Kansas really with not much intention of chasing, the chance of storms was marginal. We ate breakfast and were about to leave Wichita when we hear some of our chase friends on the radio, also in Wichita (they stayed at a different hotel than us). Bill Hark, Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh were all on the radio and said they were headed to New Mexico to watch the total solar eclipse. We said we were going to pass because that was a looooong haul to New Mexico. Jason then began to lay it on thick saying, "Oh but you can say you got engaged, saw tornadoes, large hail, lightning AND a solar eclipse!"

So ... we were convinced. We joined up with them and headed on our journey to Clovis, New Mexico to chase the solar eclipse. Solar eclipse chasing is somewhat counter intuitive to storm chasing:

  • you don't want there to be clouds
  • you're trying to get out from under the clouds
  • you have a set time as to WHEN the phenomenon is going to occur
  • you just have to get yourself there at the time and you're guarenteed a show

We heard that you needed a grade 14 welder's lens or solar eclipse lens to view the eclipse. We stopped at a local hardware store and of course were sold out of the grade 14 so we purchased the grade 5 and 9 welder's lens.

So we're near Hereford, Texas and the time of the eclipse-start is getting closer and closer. So we had to get out of the cumulus field to see the eclipse. We managed to get out of the cloud just as the eclipse was started. We pulled over and watched - well, watched as best we could. We took a few photos which I will post as soon as I get a good internet connection. It was beautiful to watch and I'm glad we made the trip. After the eclipse we continued on to Clovis, New Mexico ... I must say the smell in that town was something awful. It had the same aroma as the rhino exhibit at the zoo.

We're spending the night on the "wrong side of the tracks" in Clovis but the Econo Lodge is actually really nice.

Goodnight from Clovis, New Mexico!

Chase Day 3 - Tornadoes, Hail & Diamonds? (May 19)

What a day! So I'll explain the title ...

We started the day in Hays, Kansas and were incredibly indecision. We couldn't decide whether to head north or south. We poured over model data, surface observations and satellite. What we noticed is that the model output was not jiving at all with the morning soundings and hodographs. Basically this proved to us we could not go off just model data, something wasn't making sense. The models were undoing the helicty as well. The one model that ended up varifying was the HRRR. So we went with Brad's southern target and headed to Great Bend, Kansas.

We hung out in Great Bend until we saw the cumulus clouds building so we headed down the road to get a better view. The storm essentially exploded into a large, high based supercell. It went from agitated cumulus to full-blown supercell in about 15 minutes. We met up with Cloud 9 tours, Bill Hark and Robert Balogh. We wew pulled off watching some high based rotation when ... WHAM ... we started get hail and it was getting big FAST. We had to book it off the small side road and onto the main highway very fast. By the time we got from our "pulled over" position to the highway (about 200 yards), the hail had gone from quarter size to just larger than golfball and those impact were hard. We had several impacts to the hail gaurds which held up nicely. No damage was done to the vehicle either. We managed to get out of the hail and follow the storm stair stepping it south.

As we were doing so the storm was spinning off funnels and landspouts and gustnadoes. We pulled off and there it formed, our first tornado! We were pulled off filming when Brad handed the camera to Simon and said, "Simon, can you film us for a second?" so I thought he wanted a shot of us in front of the tornado. And then he got down on one knee ... and proposed! I said yes! So the witness to our proposal was Simon and some random local who wanted to know if it was ok to go into the town. This was all right near Kingman, Kansas.

Unfortunately the bliss couldn't last long as we had to keep heading south as the hail kept catching up with us. We saw two more tornadoes form off the same mesocyclone as we were stair stepping. Then we pulled off right near a wind farm and that's when the big one formed. It was a beautiful tornado and we got to shoot it for a while. 

Here are some of the photos from today:

So we headed back to Wichita, Kansas for the night and had to play "dodge the storms and hail" on the way home while also playing "try to answer phone calls and texts from happy family and friends while in really bad cell phone reception area". In the meantime I'm going to work really hard to get photos up tonight. There's no way I'll get the video edited tonight since it's already 1:15am.

Goodnight from Wichita, Kansas!