Cyclone Road


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GRLevel3 with Spotter Network is distracting as hell. Trying to put down a few words today but I keep checking to see if any of my friends are having success with the storms in northern Kansas and eastern Nebraska. I've shifted far enough out of chase mode that I don't feel badly that I'm not up there, but the radar tugs at my attention. Good luck to the chasers up north!

Monday, June 09, 2008

My chase season ended last week. I'm sure 2008 will be the high water mark of my chase "career" with twenty-five reportable chases (more that were forgettable and won't be documented), ~17,000 miles traveled over four months, and more supercell thunderstorms than in any two seasons put together. Plenty of cool phenomena as well, including tornadoes of every shape and size, cyclic supercells, Dodge City haboobs, lightning and everything else.

I don't count tornadoes anymore because no two chasers count tornadoes the same way and it only creates controversy. Even my closest friends and I disagree on the "count" moments after a chase. And what does it get us anyway? Some will say this means I didn't see many tornadoes this year. Not quite. What it means is I don't care to argue anymore about how many tornadoes can dance on the head of a pin. I'll spend the rest of the summer posting images and updating reports and, if people find those enjoyable, that's good enough for me. I shot over 1000 exposures this spring. It was a great year for photography.

Far more importantly, I chased with a great group of people almost every day, and this year it was more important than ever, I think, because of our friend Eric, who was absent from the road but not a single day from our thoughts or the funny stories we told on the radio. So to Bob Fritchie, Rachael Sigler, Scott Eubanks, Scott Currens, Scott Blair, Derek Deroche, Katie Burtis, Steve Vanderburg, Dave Fick, Paul Stofer, Rob Hall, Al Pietrycha, and others who weren't able to chase but who were with us in spirit, thanks for being great friends and chase companions.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This entry is to help me remember details later when I compose full(er) chase logs.

On June 4, we chased into southwestern Nebraska when the Kansas triple point failed to produce. We initiall chased a storm bound for Kearney, bailed on that for another cell to the west, and found a tor-warned storm near Maywood which emerged from the rain with jaw-dropping, Hollingshead-esque structure. Lucky for me I shot about half this twisting updraft at ISO 1600, so my images should be nice and grainy. Neat Image here I come. I realized the error and corrected in time to shoot some at 100. We'll see. After that we bailed west for the McCook storm, long tor-warned and isolated, which produced golf ball hail for me and baseballs for Deroche, Blair, and Burtis, who sampled the cores of both storms. Most remarkable about the second storm was the insane lightning barrage as it moved through the Nebraska night: a fusillade of cloud-to-cloud, interior and exterior strobing, anvil zits, and multi-forked positive cloud to ground strokes that continued more than an hour. The frequency and duration was astounding; this was the most electrified storm I've ever seen. I shot almost 100 exposures and was pleased with how many of them looked in the preview window.

The next day, June 5, was a high risk bustola in central Kansas. Started in Salina and headed toward Great Bend in time to see the first storm gust out, and repeated that pattern for several storms down the line. Among the day's highlights was a tornado siren wailing to life about thirty feet outside the dining room of Souper Salad in Wichita, Kansas, scaring us back into our cars to check radar. Though we knew the storms all day had shown almost no threat of tornadoes, a siren that nearly splits your eardrums open delivers an instant surge of fear, though as chasers we hear these things all the time. This one was brand new, electronic, and nearly on top of us. Ouch. No, the storm never came close to tornadogenesis. Best shot of the day was supercell #3 southwest of Hutchinson (sp?), a temporary meso and wallcloud I shot (on ISO 100!!) with a field of golden wheat in the foreground. It was such a beautiful scene that I knew a tornado was impossible. I never get tornadoes in those sorts of perfect settings. Then I drove through rain and wind back home.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Looks like a boundary is drifting north, currently located from north of MHK to just north of SLN and sloping southwestward toward GDB and DDC where it disappears under higher clouds. Most easily visible on satellite but I caught a glimpse of it on DDC 88D several scans ago. I don't know if it's surface based or if it intends to participate in today's festivities, but it's another reason I'm looking wsw (currently in SLN) at the HYS to Ness City area for later. I like the co-location of shear and instability with a midlevel punch moving in late, perhaps the final ingredient for initiation along the DL. So many possible areas for convection today you can almost play your favorite environment and not simply where you think storms will occur.

I'll keep my options open as long as possible and stay along I-70 until more compelling evidence arrives.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

On my way north to Salina tonight I encountered a gust front near Billings, Oklahoma that offered an unexpected photography chance. Prior to this deeply grooved and textured shelf structure, I observed a well-defined updraft base and lowering for thirty minutes as I made my way up Interstate 35. No rotation that I could see.

Monday, June 02, 2008

On Friday the 30th we chased a small group of miniature LP-type, nonsevere storms when I crested a hill overlooking a farmstead. The sun and rain and haze combined for a diffuse scene that was breathtaking in person. I slammed on the brakes and backed up in the road, warning my friends behind me over the radio, and shot a few stills. They didn't turn out as dynamic as the image I recall, but I've worked hard on this exposure because it was so amazing at the time.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I'm home. Not by choice, but by an ironclad commitment. Missed a fair chase today up north as a result and will miss a better one tomorrow. Yet there's more coming, including a grand finale---if the models verify---toward the middle/end of next week.

2008 is completely out of scale. Holy cow.

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