Two active days of difficult chasing…netted on mini-supercell north of Salina (and north of the big, nearly stationary cell near salina that produced a tornado we couldn’t reach). The bottom photo shows this storm. The top photo shows a tornado-warned segment of an intense line of storms in the TX Panhandle and westernmost OK area. It is interesting in that the structure of the storm showed more of a wall cloud-like structure in the distance, not unlike many HP storms we have seen. Storms lined out today, minimizing the tornado threat but ramping up widespread wind damage potential. Managed to catch an awesome shelf cloud with a bowing line of storms in the TX Panhandle and western OK.
A few photos shot by Trevor White on our crew. The first two show the storm near Hayes KS as the wall cloud crosses very close to our location.
The photos below come from Wichita KS, as the tornadic supercell roars toward the western edge of town. Note the ground-scraping wall cloud in the photo below. Inflow winds were screaming inward toward this feature. We were forced to bail off of this storm as we began to become pinned in between the storm and the outskirts of Wichita. The bottom photo shows the precipitation core that is being wrapped around the mesocyclone, as it moves eastbound toward us.
Our day in Oklahoma was busy, with the funnel pictured below and the dark wall cloud located west of Purcell OK early in our day.
The cell east of Waco was the anchor cell in the system, and continued to be the most impressive storm in the region. Wall clouds, green coloration, and spectacular shelf clouds highlighted this storm. Here, the menacing shelf cloud approaches the roadside as we stop to observe it on the rural roads of Texas. The bottom photo shows the storm closing the gap at an intersection of roads in a small town southeast of Waco.
Will be posting additional photos here. -Dave
A number of tough days in a row, and gearing up for another. Intercepted a number of different supercells over a couple oaf days in Kansas, including the storm below near Hayes…multiple wall clouds and funnels, but no obvious touchdown.
Sunday was spent in southeast Kansas, and we intercepted a tornadic cell near Clearwater/Wichita, and additional cells to the east.
Monday put us in Oklahoma, just south of the Oklahoma City area. We were on the cell south of Moore, which produced the powerful tornado that moved through the populated area. What tempting to intercept storms in more urban areas is simply too frustrating and dangerous, with traffic stop and go traffic and congestion on the roadways. We spent several hours working around storms producing wall clouds and funnel clouds, but poor visibility prevented definitive tornado sightings. The Moore storm serves as a reality check on the power of these storms.
Resting in Salina Kansas tonight after a couple of tough days. A long first day drive put us in Conway Arkansas on Tuesday night. We had our eye on north Texas for a number of days as a first chase target, and our forecast certainly proved accurate. On our drive westward out of Arkansas, we ran into thunderstorm cells east of Oklahoma City. Any potential route down I-35 south into Texas was blocked or slowed by extensive coverage of hail-producing thunderstorms, so our only option was a route southwestward through Lawton OK and Wichita Falls TX. We rolled through some storms, and cruised past some nice structure on the backside of the thunderstorms. Nearing the Red River we noticed a particularly well-defined cell and opted to veer off course to play tag with it for awhile. The base of the storm continued to organize and produced a nice wall cloud with a distinct funnel under it. Due to hills and trees, we could not determine whether any tornadic circulation reached the ground under the funnel. The shot by Trevor White below shows the wall cloud and funnel.
As this storm moved into an area where the road network became poor, we continued southward across the Red River into Texas. The location of the dryline became obvious over time as clouds to the west became moisture starved, while robust development continued to the east of our route south of Wichita Falls into Wise county. We targeted a cell that was the southernmost cell at the time in a loose line of relatively discrete storms. Winding roads an trees obscured the low-level view of the storm at times, but we pressed onward, continually trying to maneuver around the storm. Several times the storm appeared to produce possible tornadoes under the wall clouds, but we weren’t able to confirm it with terrain and poor contrast under the storm. Below is another shot taken by Trevor White, our photographer, of the storm as it approaches the town of Alford in Wise County TX. A tornado was reported with this storm shortly after this photo was taken.
We were able to position ourselves very close to the rotating updraft at dusk, and observed rapidly rising and rotating cloud tags under the cell. If we had other travel options southward this day that would have saved some time, we may have targeted the storm further south that produced the Hood County tornado this day. Will post more as time permits. Setting up for a multi-day chase period coming up. -Dave
Under 20 days until the first crew departs for the plains. A packing list will be sent shortly, and you should begin preparations soon as time will fly toward May 14. Here is a photo from a past trip to stoke the fire (wall cloud at Union City OK in 2012). -Dave
I have been juggling a number of different tasks lately, but am finally getting around to posting the crew members for the severe storms field course/research this spring & summer. This is the time of the year when I slowly begin to wean myself from winter’s grip and begin looking forward to spring, and of course the storms that come with it. Looking forward each year also means looking back, and I cannot escape the thoughts of past trips and their members, the vast majority of which still keep in touch even though the roadways in their lives perhaps don’t stretch through the Great Plains anymore.
Those that join me for multiple years generate the memories that resist fading, like photos that have been protected from the harsh rays of the sun. Each and every trip holds special memories, and not all are from storms. Quiet times in wide open spaces round out each and every trip for me. Spectacular sunsets and distant nighttime lightning shows hold tenaciously in my subconscious as well. The entire experience, from the plains environment, its people, and its storms, draws me back. Each and every year I feel fortunate knowing that new experiences await me upon my return. Each year I get to share them with a new supporting cast, and each year I’m glad my roadway still stretches to the wide open space of the Plains.
Welcome to the Great Plains “class” of 2013, I’m looking forward to our time out there.
The initial meeting for the 2013 storm chase is set for 7:00pm in 136 McBryde Hall on the Virginia Tech campus. This is a mandatory meeting for anyone interested in joining the 2013 trip to the Great Plains. If you cannot attend, contact me to make other arrangements. Everyone that has joined us in the past knows how quickly our departure will approach from this point onward, so it is important that we roll through this in short order. We hope to have the 2013 crew finalized in the next couple of weeks. Some of the crew will grab a quick bite to eat at Mike’s Grill on Main Street at 5:30pm and then walk over to McBryde. Join us if you can. Severe season is approaching, it’s nearly time to rock-n-roll. -Dave