2001 Chase Summaries

May 11 - May 29:  Trip One

Brian A. Morganti

MAY 11:    Fri - Day 1 - Travel Day:

Terry Fisher and I left Bernville at 1322 EDT with a goal to reach Indianapolis, IN for our first nights lodging.  That is where the “dreaded” decision would need to be made Saturday morning to either head NW via I-74 for what may be a slight risk of severe in Iowa or SW via I-70 to the southern Plains in order to be near OKC for my  commitment as tour driver with Tempest Tours starting on Tuesday, May 15th.  After intercepting a few weak, but gusty, storms in eastern Ohio we made our destination to Indianapolis by 2345 PM CDT with 622 miles behind us.

NOTE:  Tempest Tours is new storm chasing tour company founded by Martin Lisius, president of TESSA (Texas Severe Storms Association) and owner of Prairie Pictures, which produces severe weather productions.  My friend and chase partner William T. Reid who was serving as Tempest Tours tour director and lead forecaster hired me.  Terry Fisher (from Lancaster County, PA) would be among the first six tourists to traverse Tornado Alley with this new tour group, and I would be their first tour driver!

 MAY 12:    Sat - Day 2  - Travel Day:     

The decision was made – head to the southern Plains.  I abandoned plan A, which was to head for the Sioux City, IA since there did not appear to be sufficient moisture for the development of severe storms in that area.  Besides, I wanted to attend the annual Stormtrack picnic at Tim Marshall’s house in Flower Mound, TX on Sunday since this would be their final picnic and I had never had the opportunity to attend one in the past.  We drove a total of 830 miles to El Reno, OK without the slightest possibility of seeing any storms! 

 MAY 13:    Sun – Day 3 - ST Picnic Day:    

We drove from the Oklahoma City area to Flower Mound, TX in order to share an afternoon of fun, food, and plenty of storm chaser video at what was billed to be the final Stormtrack picnic ever.  Stormtrack is the name of a bi-monthly magazine geared for the hard-core Plains chaser and severe storm aficionado.  The magazine will end later this year, but articles will still be available at their on-line web site.  There were dozens of highly outfitted chase vehicles lining the streets in this normally quiet community—I’m certain much to the dismay of the neighbors.  All had a great time and the videos were still running when I left around 2130 CDT.  We drove to Ardmore, OK for the night with only 308 miles logged.


MAY 14:    Mon – Day 4 - Visitation Day:          

I arranged a lunch meeting with Bob Conzemius who is studying for his doctorate in meteorology at OU in Norman, OK.  Bob is also assigned to the DOW (Doppler on Wheels) team that studies the formation of tornadoes with a goal for better understanding, thus faster warnings.  We had the opportunity to visit the DOW “barn” and get a close up look at these trucks and the equipment used in these studies.  We finished up the day back in OKC (Oklahoma City) and watched a few weak storms on radar well to our west in the TX Panhandle.  No storms encountered today—280 miles logged. 

May 15:    Tue – Day 5 - Orientation Day:      

Today was the orientation day for the six Tempest Tourists who would be arriving in OKC by 1500 CDT.  We would chase if any storms are within range, but none formed.  Tomorrow would be the first official chase day.  All the tourists arrived; there were two from CA, one from WV, one from KY, one from PA, and one that endured an 18 hour flight all the way from Sweden in order to experience the storms in the Great Plains of the United States.  We would also have Lance, a reporter from WBAP news talk radio in Dallas, following us for a couple of days for a special feature he was working on about Storm Chasing tours in Tornado Alley. 

May 16:    Wed – Day 6  (TT Day 1) Funnel East of Fairbury, NE:   

Today was the first chase of the season for me, which also happened to coincide with my first day as “driver” for Tempest Tours.  We headed north from OKC targeting an area along the KS/NE border somewhere east of a McCook to Hill City line.  There were a few anemic looking towers going up to our south while we were traveling west along RT 36 as we approached Smith County in KS around 1330 PM CDT.  We decided to have lunch before things got too hectic at a place called the Lyon’s Den in Smith Center, KS along RT 36.  Only one waitress (Karen), but the food was great, the prices were cheap and the service was unbelievably fast!

About an hour later there was a severe warning on a storm off to our southwest in Sheridan County KS that was putting down 1- ¼” hail near Hoxie.  We plotted an intercept course turning south on RT 183 in Phillipsburg.  There was a nice circular anvil for awhile, but it was rather evident that this storm was loosing it’s punch.  We soon stopped to better asses the situation and Bill noticed right away that we were already in north winds—and, the area back to our northeast showed a well defined line of broken Accas and developing Tcu, no doubt the result of convergence along the boundary.  Back to RT 36 and east we must go!

During the next stop we spotted a distant (60-70 miles) rapidly developing tower on the northeast horizon.  A minute or so later a Pileus cloud developed.  The rock hard towers were easy to spot even at that distance, so we now had a clearly defined target storm!  Martin could not find any radar reflectivity when we first spotted this updraft, but a return phone call 15 minutes later indicated the explosive nature of this cell—and that it was moving slowly eastward.  We all had an incredible view of this storm for the next hour on our approach.  It had just about everything, large circular anvil in the distance, with closer rock hard updraft towers on the western flank that soon pushed out a nice back sheared anvil with inverted knuckling! 


We finally got a good look at the base between RT 81 and Fairbury, NE.  It looked rather high based and without much organization.  We could see the back edge of the rain shaft (no rain foot) that exhibited occasional hail shafts off to our north. We stopped to get a better look and shoot some footage just east of Fairbury.  There was almost continuous thunder for a while, but not much visible lightning.  All of a sudden we had quite a surprise when a narrow “shear” funnel snaked about a fourth of the way down from the ragged southwestern edge of the updraft base.


I zoomed in as much as I could while hand holding the camera (no time for getting the tripod) and could find some evidence of rotation.  Bill and I decided that maybe we had just better go and grab our tripods—and of course that killed it for sure!  The funnel showed us a brief, but distinct, rope stage until only a small piece of the funnel remained before that too quickly evaporated.  The time was about 1846 CDT.  We had a few more looks at a rather unusual looking V-shaped updraft “appendage” that persisted below the updraft base as we approached Beatrice around 1900 CDT.  The show was over, but what a great looking storm to start the season for all of us!   We logged a total of 745 miles for TT’s first official chase day and spent the night in Salina, KS.

May 17:    Thu – Day 7 - (TT Day 2) Pretty Plainview Sunset:      

Bill Reid, Tempest Tours, and myself left Salina KS late Thursday morning with an initial target around Woodward, OK.  A couple of hours later we were headed straight south towards a large cell with a huge blow off anvil that had just gone severe over Major County in NW OK.  We could have easily intercepted the base of this storm just east of Waynoka, but this thing started to die fast.  We didn’t want to waste time now—it was only around 1330 CDT and conditions looked much more favorable to our southwest from about Hollis, OK to Lubbock, (LBB) TX.   We could see clearing skies off to our distant south as we crossed a wind shift line somewhere around Taloga, OK and it felt great to be back in 68-70 degree dp’s and experience winds coming in from the south. 

Another data stop in Weatherford, OK confirmed we were still on target, and that some cells were initiating to our west and southwest in the TX Panhandle.  We headed west on I-40 and were soon passed by several other chasers including Keith Brown--the DOW trucks had gone by while we were getting gas in Weatherford.  We could see another large blow off anvil to our west but soon learned that this one was already dead.  However, a much more potent tower well off to our SW near LBB (Lubbock, TX) came into view with a nice back sheared anvil and a decent size dome on top.  This one had the best structure of the day by far!  Radar also indicated some newer development hidden from our view behind this CB, so we figured these would be the dominant cells by the time we could approach the base. 

Once again we succeeded to kill off the dominant cell (which was severe with half dollar size hail) immediately upon our arrival, but the one that was hiding back to its SW was exhibiting a rather sculpted updraft tower.  It gave us a good show as the setting sun began to light up its main updraft tower just as we approached the town of Plainview, TX.  We decided to stop and set up our camera equipment about a mile west of Plainview for an incredible show.  There were multiple towering cumulus clouds framing the setting sun.  These towers were set aglow in reds and oranges with beautiful orange ribbons in fanned out rays.  These rays disappeared directly overhead, only to reappear back to our east adding just a tinge of color to a nice dark gray bulbous mammatus field.  At the same time the sky was electrified to our south with an occasional blue anvil crawler.  We then continued west on RT 70 after sunset to intercept a decent looking cell that was becoming more electrified.  We enjoyed the light show just west of Earth, where we finally called it a day—the second in a row that we witnessed some very pretty convection.  Miles logged:  640


May 18:    Fri – Day 8 (TT Day 3) - The Capulin Volcano Chase:     

What a fantastic chase day we had!  This is another one of those days that targeting the axis of a Theta-E ridge pays off.   I've attached Bill Reid's excellent chase summary below (it's okay since he attached my last two summaries to his e-mail :-)).  I'm now in Dalhart, TX (NE TX Panhandle) and it's almost 2:00 AM (again)..I need to get some rest, the next couple of days are going
to be busy..Sunday could be significant! 

"Tempest Tours had a really fun chase today!

We stopped at Gandy's in Tulia for data around 2:30 p.m., and noted that the best surface moisture and CAPE were directed towards the region where TX/OK/NM and CO all come together.  The latest radar scan showed a small cell just west of Clayton, NM.  This seemed to be in just about the right spot, and we could easily see the cell from Tulia after leaving the Gandy's restaurant.   It was about 150 miles to the north-northwest.

The cell slowly died as we (including Bary Nusz!) approached it from Dumas and Dalhart, but a new tower was going up a little farther west, near the Union/Colfax county border.  This new storm quickly developed very near Capulin, which is west of Des Moines in Union County.  A severe tstorm warning was issued just as we came up on it from the southeast.  The Capulin Volcano was just east of the updraft base!  East winds were blowing into the rain-free updraft base, and a light precip core was east of the base.  There was little or no rotation apparent.  Another developing cell merged into the first cell from the southwest, the entire complex intensified, and CG activity quickly increased.  We were chased east a little as rain fell on us near Capulin, and we stopped in the rain and pea-to-dime-sized hail.  Here we were treated to several nearby CG strikes and wonderful thunder crashes!  Brian caught a very close CG strike on video, right next to the volcano.  The cell was practically stationary, and we decided to try to get out of the precip.  We went southeast of Des Moines a ways and had a pretty view of the low sun light hitting the back of the updraft base.  One of the tourists, Robin Mack, asked "Is my hair standing on end?"  We all rushed back into the van.  I even felt a slight tingly feeling on my head.

We changed our minds and decided to head back NW and west of Des Moines, where the light of the sun on the storm was a wonderful yellow hue.  Again we plowed through the hail core, and an inch of hail covering the pavement for a few miles.  On the west edge of the precip area, at the Capulin Volcano Natl Monument road turnout, we had a spectacular view of the updraft tower to the southeast.  It featured a bell-shaped flange for a little while, and lightning flickered in the bluish-gray precip core to the east.   As dusk settled in, the cell weakened considerably and surged off towards the east.  All in all, I'd have to say that this was my best chase ever at elevations between 6500 and 7000 feet, while within several miles of a volcano.  Miles logged:  Appx 400"


May 19:    Sat – Day 9 (TT Day 4) - Mud Messy Chase Day:      

When I got up this morning I noticed a few storm cells initiating in Sherman County TX to the east of our previous nights stay in Dalhart, TX.  By late morning these storms had a severe warning. And then a tornado warning (radar indicated).  Bill Reid, myself, and Tempest Tours decided we might as well have a look at this stuff since we had some extra time before we needed to be in our target area further to our south and east.  We soon abandoned this plan however, due to the storm being imbedded in a large cloud shield and poor visibility due to fog.  The TOR was soon canceled.

Around 1330 CDT we downloaded data in Tulia, where we had drying west winds and breaks in the cloud cover.  We could see the towers through those breaks off to our east from a well-established line of on going convection.  We made a brief stop further to our east along RT 86 just east of Silverton, TX and could see at least three distinct bases and one decent tower briefly thru an
opening in the low clouds.  Visual clues in Turkey, TX where not any better, but radar indicated a couple of cells starting to show promise, again to our east.  Somewhere around Cee Vee we could see our "target storm" ahead of us.  We soon had a look at a well-defined rain free base tilting into the downdraft region to our northeast.  The only negative was that the base was rather stretched out in linear fashion.  In order to get closer to our storm we had to plot a course thru CDS (Childress, TX) where the streets were flooded and barely passable. 

We exited the core around Kirkland and were treated to an eerie under the base view, but we knew this thing was now outflow dominant. Our plan was to now get south of this outflow, unfortunately our chase day ended while taking a shortcut on a dirt road (the heavy rain band was just a tad faster than our chase vehicles).  Bill may want to elaborate on this part of the summary...I'm heading to bed; Sunday looks to be another busy day. 319 Miles.


"Brian M. was kind enough to leave the mud ball in my hands! 

Tempest Tours was on a good storm by about 4 p.m. Saturday, near Cee Vee (in Cottle County, I think).  As Brian noted, the base was large but somewhat linear.  This area seemed to be on the boundary between very humid air to the south and southeast, drier air and west winds to the west, and cool air with easterly winds behind the outflow boundary to the north.
Apparently we were near a triple point. 

We were on the west side of the cell, with no east-road option once we reached the intersection, 15 miles south of Childress.  (Sorry, I don't recall the route numbers!)  The storm was moving NE, so we went north into Childress, and got into very heavy rain and strong outflow winds.  We had to go through ALL of Childress, and most of the intersections were flooded.

Towards Goodlett, on 287, we broke out of the precip, and were beneath the large and black updraft base again.  It was a little surprising that we had no hail, and that the storm was not more severe.  Martin Lisius, the president of Tempest Tours, was watching the same storm southwest of Goodlett, and was eager to meet up with the Tempest group.  One mile before reaching Goodlett (and a paved road which went south), Martin had us (via cell phone) jump on an unpaved road so that we could quickly reach his location, which was along 104 southwest of Goodlett.  He guided us WESTWARD one mile to get on another dirt road which went south three miles to 104, where he was.  I advised him that rain was not very far away, and that it was possible that we might have problems if the road got wet.  Martin was insistent that we continue.  Bary Nusz was following us in his Chevy Tahoe.  Our one-mile westward jog was the killer, as rain began to fall as we turned south.  The road wasn't bad at first, but after a mile it became very slick.  Brian (our driver) made it through the first slick stretch, then there was a short section that was okay, and then a second slick stretch offered zero traction whatsoever.  We slowly slid into a shallow ditch along the left side of the road.  The rear left tire was the only tire not on the road.  Bary became stuck, too.  The tires just spun, as if we were on black ice. 

I called Martin on the cell phone.  He was one mile to the south, on the pavement of 104.  He said that he would come get us out.  About 100 yards to the south, we could see Martin approach.  He got stuck.

So, it was raining, and we had three stuck vehicles on a muddy road.  Fortunately, we were in no danger weather-wise.  I called AAA, but the closest business which could offer help was out of Wichita Falls, about 90 minutes away.  Martin called Quanah police, only 7 miles to the east.  They contacted a wrecker in Quanah, and, about 90 minutes after we became stuck,
the wrecker arrived.  We were on Sparkman Road, and two of the three Quanah Boys in the wrecker were named Sparkman.  One by one they pulled each vehicle southward along the slick road and onto 104.  Fortunately, the rain had ended by now.  I got it all on video, but I don't know if Martin will want it these segments on the Tempest highlight reel!  It was amazing that
the wrecker (and its six tires) was able to manage the muddy road.

The delay caused us to miss an impressive storm which trekked south of Wichita Falls towards dusk, but it did not produce any tornadoes.  We had dinner and found rooms in Vernon.  Later today there is a good chance of severe storms in the jungles near and east of I-35 from about Gainesville, TX,  to OKC."

May 20:     Sun – Day 10 (TT Day 5) - The Ada Tornado:  

Here's our report from May 20th...Bill typed this up while I was driving. We had another great day, The Weather Channel is interested in our footage, but I don't know if we'll have the time.


"Martin Lisius, Brian Morganti and I led the Tempest Tours group into the jungles east of Ardmore on Sunday, and we caught the tornadic supercell which went up in southwest Pontotoc County and moved eastward through Coal County.  We had an exceptional view of the tornado/slender funnel cloud southwest of Ada, and later on of the large funnel cloud near Stonewall. We were unable to confirm with 100 percent certainty that the Ada "tornado" produced circulation on the ground, but the slender funnel was a good 3/4 of the way from wall-cloud base to the ground. Extended chase account version follows:

We began the day in Vernon, TX, and decided to kind of split the difference between the dry line south into Texas and the moderate risk area covering much of central and eastern OK.  When surface winds in north Texas began backing to the SW and WSW, and when cumulus clouds began to bubble to the north and northeast, we left Jolly, TX, and drove into southern OK. Decent storm towers were building to our east as we approached Ardmore, and soon we had a target storm to our northeast, near Roff, in southwest Pontotoc County.  We measured dew points of about 72F just east of Ardmore, and winds were southerly.  Martin checked the SPC site online, which showed that the best and strongest supercell potential was around the Ardmore to McAlester area.   So, though we knew of big nasty supercells near Ponca City and Oklahoma City, we thought that our new cell near Roff would be just as super, if not more so.  I should add that SPC had much of central and eastern OK in a PDS tornado box beginning at 3:30 p.m. We struggled to keep up with the Roff cell. 

A terrible detour around Sulphur on 177 cost us about ten minutes.  The cell was severe-warned, but appeared rather soft, mushy, and leaned-over as it sailed northeastward up the Chickasaw Turnpike and past Ada.  About 5 miles beyond Ada, on Highway 1, the tree situation worsened and the cell remained rather unimpressive. Fortunately, a new storm tower was exploding to our WSW, back near Roff and the southwest corner of Pontotoc County.  This was a very easy intercept: several miles back to Ada and south a ways to get in front of the updraft base.  The time was about 7:30 p.m.  Just as we jumped onto U.S. Highway 377/State Route 99 from Highway 3, on the southeast side of Ada, Martin spotted a tornado on the ground to the WSW.

This funnel was steeply angled to the ground, wide at the top, narrow at the bottom, rather brief, and approximately six miles distant.  The subsequent lull in tornadic activity allowed us to move south a couple of miles-----out of some light rain and directly east of the updraft base. The storm was heading eastward, directly towards our location, about halfway between Ada and Fittstown.  At our new filming site a good lowering formed, and a slender funnel cloud snaked earthward along the side of the wall cloud.  This one lasted a couple of minutes, and the condensation funnel came tantalizingly close to the ground----perhaps 80 percent of the way down from the updraft base.  Funnel No. 2 dissipated, but soon another very slender funnel was doing just about the same thing.  It also tried hard to touch down, but could not quite make it.  The backlighting was excellent during this time, but light rain pestered us.  It appeared that a new cell that was just southwest of us was causing the unwelcome rain.


The area of rotation seemed to weaken as it moved closely to our northwest, perhaps because of the influence of the new development to its southwest. We scampered south and east through Harden City, and a new, larger wall cloud took shape to our north.  An impressive and well-backlit wall cloud...or should I call it a very large funnel cloud??!!... loomed just east of Stonewall.  It looked to be about halfway to the ground, but again we never saw any effects on the ground.  We followed the storm into Coal County, but it seemed to become a little more linear and HP-ish as it moved north of Coalgate. We set up tripods north of Cairo, hoping for a nice lightning show as the cell moved away at dusk, but lightning was practically absent, and the storm weakened.


I don't know why the first Roff cell had such a hard time, as it was a tail-end Charlie.  However, perhaps its effects aided the tornado formation on the second Roff cell, which trekked eastward on a path just south of the previous one.  Miles logged = 419"

May 21:    Mon – Day 11 (TT Day 6) - Non Chase Day Visit to NWS FTW:  

The entire Plains region would be completely shut down from any storm activity for at least a couple of days, or more!  Today (Monday) the Tempest Tour gang visited the FTW (Ft Worth, TX) NWS office for a tour arranged by Martin Lisius.  After that we began our trek westward.  Tonight we would stay in MAF (Midland-Odessa), TX.  Tomorrow we would continue further west, possibly to visit Carlsbad Caverns or White Sands, NM.  We felt the first moisture return would occur in this area from the GOM (Gulf Of Mexico) by mid/late week.  The southern Plains would continue under a NW flow aloft, with a SE low level and surface flow (known as upslope flow) from the Gulf. These patterns can be very good for severe storms coming off the High Plains . It was a long shot, but it was all we could shoot. 

The highlight of the day occurred at dinner while dining at Joe Allens BBQ in Abilene, TX, which was one of the recommendations from the TESSA guide.   The place wasn’t much to look it, but it sported a fantastic menu of ribs and steaks with all the trimmings.  The food was great and the prices were very reasonable.  Joe kept a sharp eye on things too!  460 miles.

May 22:    Tue – Day 12 (TT Day 7) - Dust Devil Festival:  

This was the second non-chase day in a row, AND we lost one tourist! RJ decided to visit his brother in CO since the pattern looked rather slow for the next couple of days.  We visited the Midland Petroleum museum in the morning.  I didn't take my camera for the outdoor equipment tour since I was there before.  What a mistake!  This caused me to miss the most fantastic white tube dust devil any of us had ever seen.  This thing was huge and extended hundreds of feet into the clear blue sky!  Countless more dust devils were encountered on our trek northward to Amarillo.  We ate at the Big Texan and later went to Bary Nusz’s house along with Matt Crowther and Betsy Abrahms for a mini video festival.  Miles logged – 350

May 23:     Wed – Day 13 (TT Day 8) - Eastern OK Thunder Bust:     

Well, we got suckered into SC OK anyway.  Bill and I both agreed that if this had been are last shot of chasing with the tourists, we would have gone for a somewhat marginal area of severe storms in SC or Eastern OK.  A call from Martin as we were on our way for the Edwards Plateau region (which held a small promise of supercells, if everything went just right) prompted us to head for OK anyway.  The SPC had issued a MCD (Mesoscale Convective Discussion) for a region I had looked at closely earlier in the we thought lets give it a try.  We followed an area of agitated cumulus clouds along a windshift line for a couple of hours...right up until sunset, but nothing happened.  Well, except a couple of severe storms well off to our east that were elevated (high bases) and racing along at nearly 50 MPH. We had a semi-decent photo op at sunset near Rt 7 and I-35 in the Arbuckle Mountain region of SC OK.  The storms waited until after dark.


We spent the night in Arlington, TX (Dallas-Ft Worth area) in a Baymont Hotel (Martin lives and runs his business from near there)--in fact it's right across the street from Six Flags and the Convention Center.  We had some problems with some of the vans wiring and communication equipment, I think we fixed most of it, but Martin wanted to make sure in the morning.  Thursday we woke up early and tried to pick a forecast target, possibly somewhere around Austin - San Angelo or further west. So far we had had 5 excellent chase days in a row, then 2 days with absolutely no storms to chase, and 1 day (today) with only a poor chase potential at best.  I hoped the next two days would be good ones for the tourists to remember.  We're even starting to all watch for "cow's circling" a sure sign that there will be big storms--according to Terry, aka "BUG MAN", since he has now been permanently assigned to windshield cleaning duty by all of us (and he loves it!).  Miles logged:  410

May 24:    Thu – Day 14 (TT Day 9) - South to the Border Chase! 

Today was the 6th day out of 9 that Bill Reid, Tempest Tours and myself found ourselves photographing storms that featured either a SEV or TOR warning.  The storms we found today in Real and Edwards County TX were simply spectacular! After getting a late start Thursday morning in Arlington, TX we headed down I-35 thinking initiation of storms looked likely in a triangle bounded by Junction to Fredericksburg to Hondo...and back to Junction. 

We crossed  the wind shift line somewhere just north of Austin (I believe) and were pleased to be getting dp readings in the high 60's and southeasterly winds.  At this point the decision was made to head further south to SAT (San Antonio) before heading westbound.  We wanted to be certain we would be able to have storms coming to us, rather than playing "catch-up". We were just on the west side of SAT when we received a call from Martin Lisius that storms had initiated about 60 - 80 miles to our west.  I believe one cell was near Junction at that time (around 5:40 PM).  A few minutes later we could see the distant anvils from these storms as we blasted west (NW) on I-10, but new convection was rapidly organizing between the distant anvils and us.  In less than 20 minutes one small, but intense updraft displayed a nice anvil and began developing a mammatus field.  It was time to get off I-10, and head south and west in order to stay to the southeast of this developing storm.  I believe we
exited on RT 16 (Kerrville).

More bases came into view from storms that were apparently back building to the NW as we entered Real County.  We had an almost a continuous show to the NW as storm bases tended to organize nicely from time to time, some with a nice RFB to their SW and developing rain shafts to the north with imbedded CG's.  As we drove thru the town of Rocksprings in Edwards County the tornado sirens were sounding while some of the curious inhabitants were milling about looking up at the sky.  We were not able to pick up NWS radio at this time, but later learned that there was a TVS with this storm.  We were able to see very little rotation in the cloud base, but there were signs of a clear slot trying to take shape from our film point just west of town.  We continued on 377 enjoying some of the most colorfully lit storm bases, rain curtains, and CG's that I have ever seen, definitely calendar material.  Unfortunately, the trees and hilltops only allowed us a rare unobstructed glimpse of this spectacle, and the expanding rain core was fast on our heels.  We were able to make one last photo stop near Carta Valley just as the base structure developed a semi-circular multi-tiered shelf cloud look which took on a pretty orange/pink glow to our west and a dark blue/gray color with intense bluish white CG's to our NE.  It was at this time (8:04) that another TVS was issued for this cell. We were all flying around like gnats trying to capture it all on film before the gust front blasted was wild!


We finished up the chase along RT 277 near Loma Alta filming a few anvil crawlers...what a fun chase, AND my most southern chase ever!  We stayed in Del Rio for the night and looked forward to more action to our NW on Friday.  Miles logged at 514. 


May 25:    Fri - Day 15 (TT Day 10 – Final)  Edwards Plateau Bustola:  

We hung around the area from Ozona, TX to Eldorado, TX for hours waiting for storms to form along the convergence boundary.  We were right where we should have been, but the storms never initiated.  The risk of severe looked good, but there just was not enough moisture until after dark.  We met up with Dave Fogel and crew,  Amos Magliocco, and a bunch of other chasers, so at least we didn’t bust alone!  We had to get the tourists back to the base hotel in OKC, which meant we had a long drive with nothing to show for it.  We arrived back at the base hotel at 4:30 AM totally exhausted.  540 miles logged.


May 26:    Sat - Day 16 (TT Day 11 – Bonus) - Chase to Post—Texas:  

Today (Saturday) Bill Reid & I along with a few hold-outs from the Tempest Tour group decided to head west from OKC in hopes of actually seeing some storms, unlike the big bustola near Eldorado, TX on Friday.  We were initially thinking somewhere around CDS (Childress, TX), but a data stop near Texola around 1330 CDT convinced us we needed to move a little further west.  A few miles west on I-40 we could clearly see a persistent updraft tower to our SSW.  This appeared to be the only game in town so we exited south near McClean (Rt 273 I believe) and had a great view of this storm as a large anvil quickly formed followed by several stair stepped flanking line towers back to the west.

We stopped briefly to study this storm near Silverton and to ascertain if there was anything else really going on...there wasn't.  We got a call from Steve Sponsler (around 1830 PM) who was near Floydada and to the south of this storm, we weren't really that impressed at this point but felt the potential was still there as the storm moved into deeper moisture further to the east.  We were also getting reports of another storm going severe further to our SW near LBB that might have an even better potential (I believe this is the one that was later reported to have produced a tornado).

Anyway, we knew we were on the wrong side of the storm and time was running out, so after another hour or so of pursuit it was time to end the chase. Prior to that, however, we were given several photogenic views of this storms northwestern updraft towers and later its western flank main updraft tower, complete with a pure white hail core that exhibited a bright hailbow and nearby rainbow simultaneously at one point!  We also drove through one area with red/orange blowing dust below the blue sky to our south and the white updraft towers to our east, which was rather dramatic.  We then lingered just South of Post until after Sunset enjoying the ever changing colors of the departing storm towers and extensive mammatus field, very pretty!  Miles 450.


May 27:    Sun – Day 17  Final Day – The SW Kansas Haboob:  

When I went to bed last night I had a pretty good idea that I would be chasing in SW Kansas on Sunday.  I could not find anything to change that notion when I checked data after I woke up (SW KS had a Moderate Risk for severe issued by the SPC), or later still at a data stop in Perryton, TX.   I thought storms may initiate on a Ulysses to Hugoton line by 4:00 PM, so I drifted around in Seward County to the east of this area between 3:30 and 4:00.  It was at that time that I heard the first severe warnings for storms firing to my north in NW Finney County.  I contemplated intercepting these 30 MPH SE moving storms, but decided to hold my ground and stick with my initial plan, especially since the north storms would likely line out quickly.

Right on cue, a decent looking tower went up to my west in Stevens County. On my approach I could see that this storm was rather high based, and was showing signs of splitting.  The left split soon shot northward and died. The right split moved
ESE slowly and had an explosive updraft tower leading up to an extremely elongated anvil being blown off well to the SE. Unfortunately, the base was very disorganized and remained quite high. After about 40 minutes, I abandoned this cell and headed NE on RT 56 to just north of Moscow, KS.  It was at this location that I saw the most incredible outflow beast I have ever witnessed!  To my SW I could see a very pronounced dust foot under a blue sky that was racing well ahead of the shelf cloud.
The other end of the gust front was directly opposite to my NE and exhibited a light brown dust foot that extended almost to the base of the turbulent shelf cloud.  I barely got my cameras back in the truck before being blasted by blinding dust and gusts to 61
MPH.  For over 10 minutes I experienced sustained winds between 43 and 56 MPH.


After the show was over and all that dust cleared out I could see a new and massive updraft tower back to my SW where I had just come from..."where DID that come from"!  I blasted back south on RT 56 and sure enough, a severe warning was issued for this storm which was now located in Morton County, near Rolla.  It looked real promising for a while, but just like it's earlier
cousin, the base was very high.  By the time I got west of Hugoton, this storm was history and all that was left was the line of storms to my South and East moving into the OK PH.  All in all it was a fun chase and I got to experience something I had not seen before, but it was not the isolated rotating storm I was hoping to find.  Ended the chase day (and chase vacation) in Great Bend, KS.  Miles logged:  495.


May 28:    Mon – Day 18 (Memorial Day) - Travel Day:  

Traveled from Great Bend, KS to Richmond, IN from 0830 CDT to 2330 EDT for a total of 803 miles.  This was painful since I was turning my back on a slight risk of severe for the western TX Panhandle region.

May 29:    Tue – Day 19  Final Travel Day:  

Traveled from Richmond, IN to home from about 0800 EDT to 1700 EDT for a total of 497 miles.  This was even more painful since this was an even better day in the TX Panhandle, which produced some of the most photogenic storms that were ever witnessed, as claimed by experienced chasers with 10 or more years under their belt!

As usual, the pattern for the southern and central Plains looks to be excellent for the next 7 to 10 days!!!

Some Interesting Details:

 Total Miles Logged w/Tempest Tours:              4797

Total Miles Logged on my Own:                       4285

Total Miles Logged for Trip One:                      9082


Average Miles per Day:                                      478


Total Days on the Road:                                      19

Total Days in Chase Mode:                                  10

Total Days Severe Storms Intercepted:                   8         (6 with Tempest Tours)


Earliest to Bed:                                                 1:00 AM

Latest to Bed:                                                   4:30 AM

Average Time out of Bed:                                  8:15 AM


Highest Gas Price Paid:                        $1.89 per gallon in Ohio