Friday, June 08, 2007

Day 13 June 7, 2007

Today was our last day to chase tornadoes. A high risk had been issued for Wisconsin and a moderate risk for parts of Minnesota. Ron seemed a bit iffy on this setup... the winds were howling at a good speed, which would be problematic later on.

We headed east on interstate 90 through Minnesota. There were strong surface winds blowing dust in fields. I noticed a boundary to the east, with storms in the distance. Another boundary was to our northwest with a developing line of TCU. Tornado watch #358 had been issued for the storms that were ahead of us. There was just one problem. We had to haul east quickly to be able to get caught up with these fast movers. They were traveling at a good 50 mph northeast. Ron said he never liked high risks because of the strong winds and fast moving storms, but we were going to try intercepting the new storms to our southeast over Wisconsin. It was going to be tricky.

We then received reports of a tornado on the ground from the north storm south of interstate 90 at 4:10. Two hours later, the NWS said the risk area was under a Particularly Dangerous Situation. There was a tornado warning issued for south of Madison, Wisconsin. When going through the La Crosse area, I was really hoping the terrain would not be hilly like this area was... it'd be very dangerous to chase tornadoes with all the large hills and trees! Surprisingly, traffic was not terrible for it being a work day around the dinner hour. We received another tornado report. This time it was a quarter of a mile wide, located near Summers and that there was significant damage done to buildings. Tornado watch #360 was then issued, effective until midnight. We took interstate 39 south. Another report came in at 6:20. This time it was 4 inch hail, although I am not sure where it was.

We saw darkening skies to our south and couldn't make out any structure. Storms east of the Mississippi river are quite different compared to the ones west of the Mississippi. We the encountered a bit of rain at 6:40. A few minutes later, I saw what looked like a lowering. It looked like a developing wall cloud, and it must have had weak rotation in it judging by the looks of the clouds. We got off the interstate and found a back road. We parked near a cornfield to watch what it was doing. Dave got out of Ron's car and said to me that it was falling apart. Dang it, not two days in a row! By now, the wall cloud wasn't really much of a wall cloud anymore... it looked like crap.

Ron managed to get wifi and checked the RUC models for updates. It looked like the show was pretty much over. High risk my butt! We headed to Janesville for a Mexican dinner and stayed at a Hampton Inn for the night. Tomorrow we are departing in the morning to head home.

Day 12 June 6, 2007

Scott and I were in the van... then we saw it - a funnel was coming down in the distance. A beautiful white cone! Debris, we have debris! This tornado looked like a good one. I grabbed the video camera... but wait. How come it wouldn't record? I try again to get it working, but failed. Then the phone rang.

I jumped out of bed, somewhat shaking. It was my wake up call. I got dressed and headed downstairs. Today was shaping up to be a big day... was it going to be our grand finale of the trip? Only Mother Nature knew, but things were shaping up nicely. The only issue was the inversion layer. It was pretty strong, but we figured if the storms were to start firing, it could be potentially a busy day. The SPC had issued a moderate risk for parts of Nebraska and South Dakota. There was a hatched area for a chance of F2 to F5 tornadoes. I had downloaded models the night before and I was pretty pleased with the setup so far. And so was Ron. We were to head towards Murdo, South Dakota today.

On our way through Nebraska, we popped in to the Nebraska National Forest Park. It was quite pretty and reminded me of camping back home. There was a tower that you could climb to get a great view of the area but it was locked off. While taking our pictures, Ron was looking at the models deciding where to go. A warm front was making its way through the central plains and that would help bring the much needed moisture into the region for the system to come together. The backing winds were quite good today... they were screaming from the southeast.

We continued on our way to Ainsworth to grab a bite at Subway at 2 pm. Ron and I then went to find wifi to get updates on on the models. Our favourable area would be near Murdo. There was great flow, the helicity was supportive of tornadic supercells, and there was a dryline bulge near the area. A tornado watch was issued.

We headed slightly west to Valentine. When we neared Bassett, we looked for a tornado damage path that Mike heard about from the May 5th storms. We encountered buffeting crosswinds and dust was being kicked up by the strong winds. We got onto highway 7 north of town. I saw some tree damage and empty areas where homes used to be, with only tornado cellars left. We went west on highway 183 and saw a house damaged, including more tree damage.

I saw an old gentleman approach Scott. Scott asked him if he was the guy who was inside the tractor when the tornado hit, and if he minded sharing his story. The windows exploded and he had glass bits in the side of his face. He then mentioned a van. "It rolled three times.", he said. Luckily it was unoccupied at the time. I said to him that he was very lucky. He invited us to check out his property and take pictures if we wanted. Tornado damage is something I don't particularly like to see, but it seems to be a part of life here in tornado alley. People get used to it. I walked around and saw vehicles with entire windows blown out. The van that rolled three times looked pretty banged up as well. The house was quite badly damaged... it looked like it would be pointless to try and fix it up. A good part of the roof was ripped off and thrown behind the house onto the lawn. Chunks of insulation was strewn across the property. It was pretty unbelievable to see all this. We shook his hand and thanked him for allowing us to have a look around.

We continued west. At 4:40, I noticed an anvil off in the distance. I was guessing the storm was located near our target. Scott mentioned that the winds were so strong that it was cutting into the anvil and making lines. I also spotted a couple of transverse rolls off to our north.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for northwest Cherry county at 5:15. It had weak rotation and it was capable of producing winds in access of 70 mph. Ron said that it was 60,000 feet tall, and it could have 2 to 3 inch hail on the ground. The shear was also increasing. We reached Valentine to get more updates, and then headed north on highway 83. It was time to intercept.

Once we reached Murdo, we went west on interstate 90. Ron said that there were a couple of rotation couplets. I saw some transverse rolls being tilted into the updraft by the helicity. It was pretty neat to see, and it was a good sign. We then saw a beautiful shelf cloud at 6:30. As we were taking pictures, a sheriff had pulled up to get info on the storms. We then continued west. A tornado warning had been issued. We encountered strong winds from the shelf cloud. Scott then saw a white tractor trailer get blown over on its side and landed in the centre median. The sherriff that approached us was there to assist the truck driver. We also saw the DOW truck and the Tornado Intercept Vehicle heading east.

Ron led us on a dirt road going north to do a big loop around. Ben pointed out a very distant wall cloud but it was hard to see because of the hills. We finally made it back on interstate 90 eastbound. Other than the shelf cloud and distant wall cloud, this storm wasn't doing much. It now looked like it was becoming more outflow dominant. We did a turn around and headed west a little bit again to see if we could get behind the storm. We turned around once again to go east and stopped at a gas station. Ron said the storm was falling apart. Not good at all. We ditched the storm and decided to head east to Mitchell for the night.

Heading east on interstate 90, we saw developing storms along the outflow boundary shoot up. The anvil appeared to be backshearing. I went on the radio and said to Ron that I think we should check it out. I then happened to put my hand on my neck and felt something. It was a tick! Luckily I was able to get it off and there was no bite mark or blood, and it was easy to remove and intact. That just made me paranoid for the rest of the evening. I must have picked it up when we were viewing the tornado damage since there were tall grasses and horses nearby. Gross!

We pulled up into a gas station to check things out. Ron didn't seem to be confident in these storms and I could see the disappointment in his eyes. I know he really tried his hardest today but there was nothing we could do about the lack of an outbreak. We hung around for a little bit and watched the towers build. Ron said we can continue east and see what happens. We neared Mitchell and Ron updated us. The storms that were building had poofed on radar. Dang! We ate at Ruby Tuesday's in Mitchell and went to a Best Western for the night. I was pretty worried about the tick because I never had one before, so I did a Google search on tick bites. I realized I was safe afterall from the diseases. But from now on, I'll never walk in tall grasses again! After that, I then found out there was approx. a half hour long tornado just west of where we were. Oh well, it wasn't like we were tornadoless on this trip anyways. It was like the video camera in my dream was a symbol of the setup that didn't quite come together to make that outbreak we were expecting.

Tomorrow we are to head due east for a high risk setup near Wisconsin. This would be our last chance to get tornadoes.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

tornado vid caps

Here are a couple of tornado video captures I grabbed off my video from June 3rd near Odessa, Texas.

I will update my blog from Wednesday on Thursday... I seem to have forgotten the notes in the van and I am too tired to go get them nor remember what I wrote lol.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Day 11 June 5, 2007

Today was a travel day, so there wasn't much to write about. We left Clovis, New Mexico around 9 am and departed northward to North Platte, Nebraska to get near position for Wednesday's setup. In fact, the next few days looked interesting. On our way through Amarillo, we stopped at the Big Texan gift shop once more. Ron had bought a bright coloured orange foam cowboy that was 4 times the size of his head and wore it in Pizza Hut in Dumas. He sure looked pretty funny.

We went through the town of Hooker, Oklahoma once again as well. We went inside a small gift shop to get a couple of little souvenirs, then continued north. Sandra, Pam and I sat in the van and watched three movies... Fast and the Furious, Twister (which I haven't seen in 10 years) and Sam I Am. That really passed the time. In Colby, Kansas, we ate at a Montana Mike's. I had some salmon and grilled shrimp with sweet potato with a Fat Tire beer. I really needed that meal... I felt so re-energized afterwards.

Once it got dark out, Ron's antenna was glowing green at the top. Scott and Ron joked about turning down the voltage on the ham radio equipment. I wasn't quite sure what they were talking about, but apparently Mike and Dave had purchased a little LED antenna light back in Roswell to surprise Ron. Scott dubbed Ron the "Electric Cowboy".

Of course while going through north Kansas, I noticed infrequent lightning way off in the distance that must have been hundreds of miles away to the west. Lee thought the beer was getting to my head because she didn't believe me, but I only had one, I swear! We stayed at a Comfort Inn in breezy North Platte overnight.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Day 10 June 4, 2007

The day started off with a phone call. It was Lee who wanted to know if I wanted to go eat breakfast with them. I had a half hour to get ready... I was really trying hard to wake up this morning. It felt like I've partied all night minus the headache. Before bed that evening, I checked the SPC reports for June 2 and our tornado was listed. It said was on the county line of Ector and Winkler counties crossing highway 302 and lasted for one minute around a quarter to five. That sounded about right to me! We went to go eat at Norma's Cafe. Nice little place with good food and great salsa! I had to purchase two 16 ounce containers because that stuff was so good. After lunch we came back to the hotel. I decided to check out the SPC outlooks page and lo and behold... a moderate risk was already issued for Wednesday! I know this is early but I've heard chasers on a forum say they were impressed by the setup so far and that we would possibly be looking at a potential severe weather outbreak.

Before checking out of the hotel, we paid our dinner bill from last night. I didn't want to leave it unpaid because the waiter would have to pay for it if we didn't. Besides, it wasn't the waiter's fault that the service/food was a little less to be desired. On our way out, an old gentleman walked by and asked if we chased the tornado yesterday. He said he was on his roof and saw it take a house and then he went for cover. I should have asked him if he knew anyone got hurt. Of course, that was the last thing I wanted.

Today, Ron wanted to head just down the highway for the target. On our way, Ron mentioned to Pam and I that the funnel cloud we saw the other day half way to the ground was confirmed as a tornado. Apparently someone else had saw the entire thing and mentioned the funnel was half way down but had debris underneath. With our poor vantage point, there was no way for us to see the debris swirl on the ground. I guess this brings our tornado count on this trip up to two.

The skies were clear and we didn't have to go very far today, so we had time to kill. Ron wanted to see if we could find the damage path from yesterday's tornado. Ron and Sandra really tried to find a road that led to the county line from the highway but there was none. We finally took an exit and went north and then east a little bit. We finally got to a road that was right on the county line, but trying to find this damage path was pretty tough... there were lots of low trees and bushes. Obviously finding damage from the air is a much more efficient way. After an unsuccessful attempt, Ron and I thought it was best that we use this day as a travel day to start heading north for Wednesday's setup. The crew agreed on a quick trip to Roswell, New Mexico.

Ron booked our hotel rooms at a Hampton Inn in Clovis. On our way to Roswell, a couple storms had popped up on radar and they would have brief rotation couplets. It seemed these storms were pulsing; they would lose their rotation couplet and regain it again several times. They were headed south-southeast this time towards Roswell. well now isn't that convenient? Just outside of Roswell, we noted a bunch of precip cores. This storm was just going to snuff itself out by raining where the inflow was supposed to be.

In Roswell, there was only one street that had alien themed shops and attractions. There were UFO "signs" that looked like a UFO had crashed into the building, a McDonald's play area windows were shaped in that of a UFO... there were weird alien signs and paintings everywhere. Even the street lamps were not regular lamps... the lights were an alien head at the top of the posts. Most shops were closed but we found one and got ourselves a tee shirt. The gang then watched as the storm came into Roswell. A nearby heavy precip core made for some interesting pictures and there were some good lightning strikes. The storm lost its rotation and it was just dumping itself out.

On the way into Clovis, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The storm that was over Roswell was dissipating and had a few lightning strikes. A small partial rainbow formed and the sun casted a pink/orange hue on the clouds and precip. It was by no means anything severe, but it was sure pretty.

Tomorrow we are headed north towards South Dakota or Nebraska for Wednesday. It was going to be one long haul tomorrow... we plan to get close to the target as possible.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Day 9 June 3, 2007

Our crew had a good lunch at IHOP and did some shopping in Lubbock and headed south towards Odessa for today's target. It was a nice and easy day with little travelling. We were expecting today to be similar to the storms from the other night, with the cap breaking later in the day.

As we were heading further south, we saw darkening skies off to the southwest around 2 pm. I noted a couple of inflow bands, one coming from the east and the other coming from the north. Baron had detected 2 inch hail and the updrafts were increasing. There were quite a few CGs and some positive strikes as well. Sandra had noted that the temperature dropped 6 degrees a half hour later. We had crossed a boundary.

Behind this little storm was a larger supercell that had popped up on radar around a quarter after four on the New Mexico/Texas state border and was due east. A tornado warning had been issued. We went through Odessa and took highway 302 westward. We saw the Tornado Intercept Vehicle once again on this trip, parked on an overpass. A wall cloud appeared just west of town. Ron noted that this storm had become a right mover... oh boy! Things were going to get interesting. We actually had trouble finding a good viewing spot to get ourselves in position. A bunch of desert trees were in the way. Trying to watch a wall cloud with tornado potential through all that was quite frustrating. About 10 minutes later, we parked at a good viewing spot. At around a quarter to five, all of a sudden we saw it... a wedge shaped tornado! Holy crickey! I've never seen one this big before so this was definitely new to me. According to Ron, this was approx 20 km away from where we were, so the tornado must have been almost three quarters of a mile wide. We got reports on the radio that a sherriff had reported a tornado on the storm. Wow... okay so we weren't seeing things afterall! The tornado went from a wedge shape to a stovepipe and then fizzled out a couple minutes later. I was really glad that it hit somewhere in the middle of nowhere on a county line and not right in town.

After all that excitement, we continued a little more east to get some structure shots. Wow what beautiful undercut wall cloud structure. There was actually blue colours in the undercut area! We watched this for a good several minutes as it came towards us and got great imagery. Since the core in behind was coming this way, we decided to head south, closer to town, to get into a bit of hail. We stopped on the side of the highway and watched in amusement as one inch stones pounded the vehicles and accumulated on the ground in some spots. The road was pretty much covered in the stuff before the rain came.

After that, we decided we were pretty pleased with what we caught today and headed to our hotel in Odessa. We had a beer and steak dinner at the restaurant located in the hotel but the overall quality was somewhat mediocre. Half of the steaks were not cooked right and they weren't as tender and lean as other steaks we've had several days ago. Plus it took forever to get our food and our tickets. The place wasn't even busy. We managed to get a free drink on the house for the poor steak quality and then waited and waited for our tickets. Dave went up twice asking for our tickets, but somehow the manager couldn't figure it out. After waiting too long, we gave up and left. Okay so today wasn't bad afterall... a tornado and free dinner!

Tomorrow it looks like we are headed right down the highway not too far from here. I must say that Ron's uncanny when it comes to predicting storms right down to a highway.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Day 8 June 2, 2007

We left Wichita Falls around noon after eating a good brunch at Denny's. We were going to head southwest around the Lubbock area today. I really liked the southeast backing winds this time. Today could turn out to be something more decent than yesterday. SPC had issued a 5% tornado risk area for the caprock. Supercells were likely with possibly a few tornadoes, but they could evolve into a bow echo later in the day from the upslope flow. Surface based CAPE was close to 4000 J/kg with a lifted index of -8.

I think we were in for one lucky day today. Sandra was sitting in the front passenger seat in the van and she had her window rolled down. All of a sudden, a bird crapped in the window right on Sandra's lower lip and I even got a bit on me - I was sitting in the middle seat! Scott said we were in for a really good day. Gross but I guess this was a sign of really good things to come!

We decided to have a break in Lubbock. The cap was still holding. Some TCU's would try to go up but would hit the inversion layer and get ripped apart. We grabbed something to eat while Ron went to download models. We stayed there for about an hour or so then Ron said we should go get our rooms and wait. I was really curious what was happening just to our north... I could see an anvil. I checked radar and there was a storm that was trying to go supercellular to the north about two counties away. After several scans, this thing was trying to organize itself. It also had pretty good hail from it and it was slowly moving to the east-southeast. I decided to tell Scott about this storm. Him and Lee just had a swim in the pool, while Sandra was working out on a treadmill. All of a sudden, Ron came in and said to pack up our things. We were going to intercept this storm since it was the only one out there. YAY! I must say I don't think we've ever departed so quickly yet on this trip before. We left at 7:30 and gased up quickly. We headed north towards Hale and Lamb counties.

The anvil was beautiful with its overshooting top. It just kept backbuilding. The edges of the anvil would go soft and then knuckle out again. At a quarter after eight, there was also a great flanking line, with the sun setting in behind and a corkscrewing updraft. What a great looking vault region! It made for great images. When we neared the storm we got reports of a tornado 5 miles east of Sunnyside... we were not very far from this at all, but I think we were several minutes too late to see the tornado. Ron said the core of this supercell was 10 miles wide, and it was moving 17 mph southeast. Ten minutes later, we saw a wall cloud forming near the flanking line. It was so neat to see with the sunset in behind. When we went through the town of Earth, we saw another wall cloud forming. We now had two areas to watch. A small light coloured funnel cloud came out of the new wall cloud, but didn't last long.

We continued to get more west. We then cut south a little bit. Baron had picked up two rotation couplets. We were keeping our eye on the second wall cloud when I spotted a funnel cloud going halfway to the ground! I really thought this was gonna be it. We went up the road a little bit and stopped to get images, but the funnel cloud had dissipated by then. I couldn't tell if there was a debris swirl underneath it, but it sure looked pretty good. It started to rain and we continued southward again and then east. We stopped once more to get some pictures. Then it started to rain, so we headed east and then south once again. The rear flank downdraft had opened up and dust started to get kicked up. We drove through the thick dust.

We would get ahead of the precip core a little bit, pull over and get some quick lightning images, but it wouldn't be long before we could hear the hail approaching. Dave had got pinged right on his upper lip by a hail stone. Ron came on the radio and said that a hook echo was starting to form. We got ahead of the hail again and stopped for lightning pictures once more. I got one really cool looking image this time. In the photo there was a tilted updraft that looked like it was corkscrewing slightly. A tornado warning had been put out for Lubbock and vicinity by now. The hail once again caught up to us and we went due southeast towards Lubbock. The storm started to weaken so we went for a quick dinner at McDonald's since nothing else was opened. It sounded like we would be basing out of Lubbock for at least another day.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Day 7 June 1, 2007

Today marks the halfway point of our trip. As we were going through Liberal, Kansas to get ready to depart south, we happened to spot the Tornado Intercept Vehicle and a couple of Project ROTATE vehicles parked at a motel. We decided to have a closer look at this interesting piece of metal on wheels. Let's just say that I would never be caught dead riding in that thing... but I do give credit to the guy who drove this TIV all the way from California!

We were to head south into the Texas panhandle today, just south of Lubbock, possibly on the New Mexico state line. There was a large tornado risk area for today according to the SPC. I never did get a chance to download models last night to see what was cooking for today because we pulled in late and I was pretty tired, but Ron was going to download anyways.

While on the way down, we saw numerous fields flooded out by a previous storm system that went through several days ago. A lot of rain must have fallen here because the puddles were still pretty big and almost look like small lakes. When we got closer to Amarillo, we saw two small storms, one to the west and another to the southeast. Mammatus could be seen under the anvil of the western storm, while an interesting inflow band on the southeastern storm grew fatter and eventually attached itself to the base of the storm. Since I was riding with Sandra in Ron's car, I decided to check the Baron to see what was cooking. These appeared to be small supercells with no rotation couplets. When we arrived in Amarillo, we went to eat a buffet lunch at a place called Furr's. For under eight bucks you definitely cannot go wrong. The food was delicious.

We swapped seats once again and continued our trek south of Amarillo towards Lubbock. We took highway 114 just east of Lubbock. The storm that was to our southeast now had 4 rotation couplets on it according to the Baron and that it was moving 20 mph southeast. Ron said. A tornado warning had been issued. We were going to intercept it because this was all that was available at this time. As we got closer, we saw a nice hail shaft and hailbow. The hail shaft actually had quite a foot on it, indicating the strong outflow winds. From this vantage point, it looked like there was low level moisture being fed into the storm updrafts. We headed towards Abilene, and went through a rain/hail core that had poor visibility. In Aspermont, we gased up and had a quick restroom break, then continued on highway 283.

By this point, the storm didn't look very good at all... there was a lot of outflow from the hail core, and that was cutting off the much needed inflow to this storm. The bases had clear breaks in them. Crap. At one point, after heckling this "great big storm of Texas", scud tried to gather and form a wall cloud. I saw a brief skinny pointy funnel cloud come out of it, but that was all that it amounted to. We pulled off the highway to take some pictures. It looked like a small shelf cloud was pushing its way through over us, and off in the distance to the south I was watching a pretty good piece of scud rise up and attach itself to the base of the storm. It then started to rain, and we continued on highway 277.

At around 7:30 pm we punched the core of the storm... it wasn't a real threat since the biggest hail was past us. Flash flood warnings had been issued. I could see why... the area was already saturated and there was decent ponding on the roadways. On the way north, we stopped two times for mammatus pictures shortly after 8 pm. On the way into Wichita Falls, we were treated to a cool lightning display. We had a nice steak dinner and are staying at a Best Western in Wichita Falls.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Day 6 May 31, 2007

In the morning, Ron, Sandra and I went to do some laundry and ate a decent breakfast in Amarillo. Sandra and I decided to go to Wall Mart so I could get a good pair of polarizing sunglasses. We didn't leave Amarillo until closer to noon. Today, our target was going to be near southwest Kansas. A dryline bulge was setting up in that area and the SPC issued a moderate risk.

When the first storm went up, the first tornado watch was issued. We saw nice TCU building up in the west, each one in a different stage. And further north of these cells, a larger "nuke" could be seen off in the distance. All of these growing storms were bubbling. It was pretty clear we had good lift today. A second tornado watch was issued for the Oklahoma panhandle for the upcoming storms. "Be afraid, be very afraid."

Going through Oklahoma, we went by a town called Cactus. It was obvious this small town got hit by a tornado a while back this season. We decided to take a drive in just down the road a little bit to see what all got damaged. Houses suffered structural damage, and had X marks spray painted on the front doors to indicate that the house was searched for people. A metal fence in front of one house was even bent. Trees were twisted, car windows were busted out, and a children's dome jungle gym was practically squashed. It's one of those sights that make you realize the true power of tornadoes, even if they are small.

We then went through the town of Hooker. This place had a "nice" welcome sign... "Home of the Horny Toads".

When we arrived closer to the storms which was over far eastern Colorado near Burton, it didn't look like much at first, but we could tell something was up... the anvil's edges were getting crisper looking and I saw signs of inflow. The road we took to getting near the storm was an interesting one... there were tons of pheasants everywhere. One almost hit the van's windshield. It looked like it was only a foot away, but it zig zagged itself out of the way. "HOLY COW DID YOU SEE THAT?!". Scott seemed to be pretty excited about that encounter. A little while later down the road, there was a small bird on the road and we were coming for it. It flew up in time, but the bird happened to fly in the wrong direction... in the windshield. SMACK! Thank goodness it didn't get wound up in the antennas and that no bird brains covered the windshield. Apparently there were even rabbits. Man this place was a zoo.

As we neared the storms, it was clear this thing was trying to organize itself. A lowering what looked like a developing wall cloud could be seen. We decided to intercept this storm that was located south of Stanton, Oklahoma. We saw the DOW truck and some mobile mesonet vehicles parked near a bend in the road (I think this was Project ROTATE). As we went down a dirt road (only do this when it's dry!) to get closer to the action, we saw nice low hanging mammatus clouds. All of a sudden, Ron then points out a possible landspout descending from the base. The Baron was now picking up rotation couplets on this storm. Several minutes later, the wall cloud started to get more organized. Then we saw it... a fairly decent sized funnel cloud! I grabbed the video camera and started taking video of it. We managed to pull off to the side of the road and get some images. Talk about some nice swirling action going on underneath the wall cloud! Unfortunately it was raining, and we couldn't stay too long so we had to head further south. It looked like this storm was taking breathers a few times... the wall cloud would really get together but then loosen up slightly. We managed to stop again for photo ops but had to get in the vehicles once more. We were playing tag with this storm, and didn't want to end up in the rain where we couldn't see this possible tornadogenesis. Several nice positive lightning strikes added to the scene. There was also chaser convergence. I couldn't believe the amount of chasers on one single road, although apparently there have been way worse cases other times. Lots of chasers were interested in this cyclic supercell, but everyone did really well traffic-wise.

Unfortunately we had to cut through the core of the storm to get south of it... that was the only road option we had. It got really hairy in there... there was plenty of nickel sized hail making loud banging noises on the van and lots of rain. We couldn't see around us at all! We finally managed to pull ourselves out of this mess. By now, a new wall cloud had formed near some really tiny town. We pulled off the road to take some images, and we could hear tornado sirens blaring loudly in the background. This wall cloud was REALLY spinning but it didn't drop a tornado! The motion alone was incredible. We were glad we got on this road in time because apparently some cops had closed access to the road we were on. We then saw another wall cloud forming to our north. We decided to head east at 7:20 pm. We cut through the core once again and were getting 1.5 inch hail. The wall cloud to our north was starting to fall apart, and there was a new one developing straight ahead of us. We stopped for a bit to get more pictures.

We got a road to take us south to get to the backside of this storm. We had to cut through the hail/rain core once more. We pulled to the side of the road to wait out the core and buffering winds for a bit. We were getting half inch hail. Scott went on the radio and said to Ron "Laura just volunteered to get a hail sample". Ok so Scott likes to volunteer me... I thought, I had half inch hail at home a few times so this would be no problem. So what did I do? I opened the door, stepped outside, got parts of my back pinged with one inch hail, grabbed two stones and went back inside the van. I showed them to Pam and Lee and they were amazed. The biggest stones were about one inch big.

We finally got out of the precip core. We saw another developing wall cloud with the rear flank starting to open itself up again. There was a brief funnel cloud at 7:42 pm, and a beaver tail was feeding into the wall cloud. The wall cloud was also sucking up moisture into it from the field at a good speed, but it started to break apart once more. There was also a nice glowing green precip core. It looked like at this stage of the game that there was a lack of inflow and backing southeast winds.

Continuing eastward, there was another smaller wall cloud that formed (surprise, surprise), although the rear flank was still trying to open itself up. Another brief funnel cloud protruded from the base slightly. Scott then noticed a column of brown colour underneath. A partial rainbow appeared. After all of these brief stops, a pile of dirt was building up inside my shoes and I had to go to the bathroom. We encountered the precip core again and finally got a road that headed south.

We encountered yet another developing wall cloud at 8:30. This storm was really trying hard to put something down! Ron noted that it was now trying to form a hook echo. A funnel cloud was trying to form, but just couldn't get its act together. We were now northwest of Guymon. We headed eastward once again. The storm was going through cyclic phases. Sometimes the rotation would look good and other times it appeared as if it was taking a breather.

The sun was setting now, and that meant it was going to get dark soon and storm would start to lose it's energy. Ron decided to call off the chase for the night and look for hotel rooms in Guymon. Unfortunately with the threat of tornadoes, a lot of people who were traveling in the area wanted to get bunkered down at the hotels. We couldn't find a room, so we managed to book something over in Liberal, Kansas. On our way to Liberal, we were treated to a great lightning display. We grabbed something quick to eat at McDonald's and are staying at a Super 8. Tomorrow it looks like we are headed to New Mexico.