2002 Chase Summaries

May 21 - June 10: 

Brian A. Morganti

MAY 21:     Tue – Day 1 -  Travel Day:   

I left Bernville, PA at 1515 EDT with 11,217 miles on the odometer with plans to reach Kansas by the following afternoon.  The set up was similar to that of 1999, with a slight risk of severe storms throughout the central part of the state.  This time, however, I planned to be there in time to chase the storms.  That would mean getting a room for only four hours sleep instead of the usual eight.  After driving nearly 23 hours, I missed the Stockton tornado in 1999 by only 3 hours, and I wasn’t about to make the same mistake.  My short and chilly stay on this night (temp’s in the 30’s) would be in Richmond, IN, a total of 522 miles from home.

MAY 22:     Wed – Day 2 -  “Sheriffnado” in Osborne County Kansas!  

Well, at least the first day of my chase vacation was not a bust, and I even got to witness my first Sheriffnado!

I left PA Tuesday afternoon with a target area in mind somewhere west or south of SLN.  ETA showed the best upper level support, surface convergence, and CAPE would occur just to the west of a CNK to McPherson line.  After nearly 24 hours on the road, I was glad to see an MCD issued, which was quickly followed by a SEV WW for a portion of NC KS.  Around 5:30 pm CDT radar indicated a weak line of storms had initiated ahead of the DL from SC NE stretching southwestward to near Hill City.  There didn't seem to be much back building to this line (CAP?), so I felt I could intercept the NE moving tail end storm somewhere along Highway 24 in Mitchell or Osborne County.  A very pronounced Anvil came into view near Beloit just as a SEV was issued for a storm to my NW. 


I was beginning to see the anvils from the stuff off to my SW when I noticed a funnel shaped lowering partially hidden by the trees on the SEV warned storm to my NW.  I remember thinking that this could easily be mistaken for a tornado....and not 10 seconds later a TOR warning was put out for this storm based on a "law enforcement sighting"!  At 7:04 PM CDT I filmed a couple of interesting funnel shape lowerings  that reached almost to the ground while I was at the intersection of highway 24 and 281 just north of the town of Osborne.  I later headed back east and got caught between the TOR warned storm that was now to my north and a rapidly developing HP to my SSW.  After encountering some small hail and torrential rain I managed to get on the SE side of the tail end storm south of Osborne, but other than a few more interesting lowerings there was little to get excited about.


All in all not a bad first day.  I stayed at the Super 8 in RSL for the night with the rest of the Tempest Tour Gang.

MAY 23:    Thu – Day 3 –TX - Lipscomb County  Spin Ups & The Pampa Beast: 

We needed to decide on one of two target regions today.  Either the NE TX PH/W-OK area near the triple point or further to the south west of CDS in an area of higher CAPE.  During the early afternoon we (Bill Reid, Blake Naftel, the Tempest gang and myself) hung out for a while downloading data at the intersection of RT 270/412 & 283 just south of Laverne.  We were leaning toward our southern target area, but we could also see a line of bubbling Cu just to the south, and closer to our northern target region.  Either way, we needed to get moving south.

We needed to meet Martin Lisius and Herbert Fiala a few miles to our south and then make a decision.  Some weak radar returns were beginning to show up in Ochiltree and Roberts County just to our west in the TX PH.  The decision was made, head west into Lipscomb County after a rapidly developing Cb to our NW.  We stopped to watch the development of this cell a few miles west of Higgins.  We had a clear view of the base to our NW below some building flanking line towers.  The storm was starting to get organized, and we needed to get north closer to the base. 


Just north of  Lipscomb we exited west onto a gravel road for a photo op.  Rotation was becoming quite evident in a wall cloud to our NNW.  At 5:04 PM the first tightly wound dark spin up became visible below this area of rotation and lasted for about 30 seconds.  Within a minute or so another one formed a little further to the east of the first spin up.  The dust whirls were highly contrasted, but never came close to visibly connecting with the rotation above.  A couple more of these spin ups occurred after Matt Crowther, John Moore, and company arrived on the scene.


We stayed on the south side of the storm and followed it east on a gravel road for several miles.  We witnessed lots of rising scud and even a clear air vorticity funnel at one point, but no more spin ups.  Base rotation once again became strong somewhere south of Follett along FM1454, but the show was soon over and we left the storm go about 7:00 PM.  We then headed south after a somewhat isolated cell to our SW in southern Hutchinson County which soon had a SEV near Borger.  We finally caught up to the southern edge of the base just after sunset to the west of Pampa.  What a beast!  There was a screaming SSE inflow feeding this almost continuous lightning producer.  Too bad it was getting dark since the storm was beginning to exhibit some nice mid level banding and structure.  We enjoyed an intense light show for about an hour before calling it a night.

A very entertaining chase day which ended in the fully booked Best Western in Pampa.  It seemed half the chasers on the planet were staying there, while we probably saw most of the other half get turned away by the desk clerk.

MAY 24:      FRI – Day 4 – Western OK Supercells

The Tempest Group and myself left Pampa as the surging cold front blasted through just after lunch.  We initially targeted Wheeler, TX, but along the way numerous data downloads told us we would need to go further east.  The north winds finally abated about half way between Mobeetie, TX and Wheeler...AND, I recorded an almost instantaneous temperature increase at the wind shift line from 77 to 85!
Ahhh, bliss.

We met Curt Kaplan and his son at the intersection of 152/592, then continued east over the OK border to assess things further.  We watched a line of towering CU bubbling up nearly overhead, and could see the backsheared anvil of the severe storm well off to our south near CDS.  Now it was time to decide, do we head NE for the better shear, or to the south into the better CAPE?  We chose the later and headed toward Sayre, staying just ahead of the NE moving line of storms that had recently developed to our SW.  We just started east when we noticed a decent looking cell exploding a bit north of the line back to our west.  We headed north just east of Elk City, OK to route 6 and then jogged east about a mile to a high point looking west.  We had a nice view of the base and a few powerful CG's to our NW, but the line of storms to the south was beginning to connect with our
storm, ending the show all too soon.  Time to blast east again.


After a few more data downloads and visual stops we again needed to make a decision.  Our storms to the west had lost their appeal, but we could see new storms developing to our NE near Ponca City near the cold front.  We could also see on radar that a semi-isolated cell was looking better to our SSW in the broken line of storms that stretched all the way down to ABI. Since this storm would be an easy intercept, we chose the later.  After we cleared the anvil rain from the first storm to our south, we could see the updraft tower of our target storm, which was spitting out nice CG's every 30 seconds or so.  We drove west on 152 near Cordell which led us right to the center of some very impressive structure.  We heard the report of the earlier tornado with this storm, but it soon became apparent this would not happen again.

We intercepted our last storm further south again west of Gotebo, OK.  Again we drove right up to the base of some very photogenic structure along Highway 9.  We thought for sure this would be the one since the next storm to it's south was at least 25 miles away.  We could see some rotation and impressive lowerings in the base just to our west.  The biggest problem
was the storm was ingesting re-cycled 68/65 air.  Dang, we thought sure we would get a least one photogenic tornado this day. 


We settled for a very pretty mammatus show at sunset just to the north of Hobart.  Ended the day in OKC with 326 miles logged.


MAY 25:         Sat – Day 5 – Preparation Day:  

No storms today, and that was a good thing since I would need all day to get ready for my stint as the Tour Director for Tour # 3 with Tempest Tours.  I spent the day in OKC switching over my gear to the TT Van, getting the Van cleaned up, oil changed, etc.  Some guests had already arrived, and I would need to spend some time with my drivers (Dean & Kinney) as well.

MAY 26:         Sun – Day 6 –TT Orientation Day Chase:  

Dean Cosgrove, Kinney Adams, and myself decided to take the new Tempest Tours guests on a "shake down" chase to NW OK from our base in OKC.  We would need to return to OKC, so this was the closest best target area we could reasonable reach.  Dean and I also liked the moisture convergence and decent SE surface flow occurring in this region.

We headed up 270 to Seiling and then west on 60 to Vici targeting storms initiating to our west and northwest in the TX and OK PH.  We soon found ourselves dead center in an MCD followed quickly by a SEV watch box...great!  Just east of Vici we started to see the makings of a nice mammatus field taking shape below the anvils to our west.  The entire sky soon filled with multiple pockets of dark gray and very bulbous mammatus...the guests were in awe!  We traveled a little further west to just west of Arnett to a high spot where we had a good view of the multiple bases on the western horizon.  Interesting lowerings abounded, as the bases and rain shafts began to get colored by the setting sun...but the CG's and anvil crawlers soon took over the show.  Pretty pink and bizarre shaped CG's slashed the western sky while anvil crawlers began doing their dance to our SW.


We soon had to head back east as the outflow and  CG's closed in, and we found another photo op on the east side of Arnett.  While we were filming an even better CG and anvil crawler show a SEV warning came over the PA system for our storm.  We filmed a few more awesome CG's and crawlers while enjoying the deep rumbles of thunder before calling it quits. The guests were very content and pleased.  They had seen their first severe storm on the plains within a couple hours of their arrival with only 339 chase miles logged!

MAY 27:     Mon (MD) - Day 7 -  (TT Day 1) - TX PH - Crosby County Beauty!: 

Today we led the Tempest Tour group on a guided tour of Supercells in the central TX PH from Armstrong County south to Crosby County. Our original target was somewhere west of CDS, possibly as far west as Plainview.  We cut south on Highway 70 just as the first storms developed directly to our west around 2:30 PM, and quickly intercepted the first SEV warned storm coming out of Armstrong County. 

We had a clear view to the SW of a nicely developed wall cloud with funnel shapes below.  The orange backlighting below the storm base offered excellent contrast while viewing the storm from Rt 287 near Ashtola.  We again went south on 70 to get in front of this storm, but it soon weakened as a better looking storm on radar beckoned to our SSW in Swisher County.

We set up for another photo op just south of Brice and watched a very skinny LP pulse up and down for over 30 minutes to our WNW.  The sculpted gray and white updraft tower tilted well off to the east of a tight bowl shape base...very nice!  Unfortunately, the storm died a horrible death as the entire storm began evaporating from the base up. The best stuff was now the tail end storms to our SW to the east of LBB.


Our final storm intercept was made in NE Dickens CO on a SEV warned storm to our SW in Crosby County.  This was one of the prettiest LP's I have ever seen featuring a gorgeous bell shaped updraft, colorful striations, and a menacing wall cloud.  Scud clouds danced wildly below the wall cloud as the RFD winds kicked up a dust plume announcing that a tornado was imminent.  It never happened, but the structure of this beauty made the day for everyone. The best of this storm was over, but we had fun staying in front of this storm to just south of Spur.  After 3 or 4 flash/bang bolts at our final film stop, we called it a day.  We Stayed in ABI for the night after 478 chase miles were logged.


MAY 28:     Tue – Day 8 -  (TT Day 2) Pecos County Supercell:

Another long day.  The Tempest gang, Bill Reid, Curt Kaplan, and myself left ABI by 1:00 PM targeting a region somewhere along an obvious OFB that stretched west to east across Ector, Midland, and Glasscock County.  We wanted to get a little south of this boundary for an intercept on any SE moving severe cells.  A data stop at the Sterling City Library (a nice friendly place) told us we needed to get further west soon.  A line of enhanced Cu was evident just ahead of the DL from southern Winkler County south to the Glass Mountains.

Highway 158 west was the best option and we soon could see turkey towers bubbling up and then evaporating from the bottom up.  Further west and south crisp anvils became visible.  Wx-Tap radar was indicating a couple of strong cells in southern Ector County, another strong cell 25 miles further south, and one more cell south of the Rio Grande.  We cut south on 349 from I-20,
then west on 1787 in order to connect with 385 south.  This would put us right in the path of storm number one (which now had a severe warning) in extreme SE Ector County. The storm was looking pretty lame by the time we arrived at 385, and the best looking cell was now to our south in central Crane County, and it was barely moving.  I was watching this cell as an alternative in the event storm number one pooped out. The plan worked and we now had our new target storm.  One problem, the storm was now heading south, not SE, and was also expanding in size with a healthy core threatening to cut off our south road option.  We barely made it to McCamey in front of the core.  We then went south on 1901 to stay in front of this now SEV warned cell.  By the time we got to Bakersfield, the storm was TOR warned.

We only had two options, one was to head west on I-10 which would quickly put us into the southward advancing core - or - head a tad east on I-10 and cut south on 2886.  This was really the only option and would give us plenty of time to play with this long lived and intensifying cell.  The radar signature was rather weird at this point.  It looked like a backward flying eagle with the V pointed to the SE..which is exactly where all the good juice was coming from.  A couple of photo stops revealed rich low level moisture was feeding a beaver's tail feeding the storm from the SE.  We had plenty of great views of the ever changing structure off to our west which often exhibited a bell shaped updraft nosing to the south.  It never really looked like it was going to tornado, but the structure was fantastic at times. 


At 2400 we cut SW in front of the storm.  At this time I glanced in the side view mirror...what a chaser caravan this storm had attracted, it looked like every known chaser in the western hemisphere had been drawn to this beast.  In fact, the last radar scan I looked at indicated it was THE storm of the day for TX!  We called it quits on 285 north about 50 miles south of FST.  I figured we would have a nice front lit structure view when we got north of the storm, but "oh my god"...what a beauty!!!  The powerful updraft towers ranged from white to gray, blue, purple, yellow, and pink, with a spectacular CG thrown in from time to time for good measure.  We lingered till long after dusk filming lightning in the form of "bulbers", multi-stroke CG's, CC's, and probably a couple of CA's.  For those structure freaks that were there, you know what I mean.  We lodged in FST for the night dog a-- tired, but content!  Three great days for the Tempest Tour folks, one day in a SEV watch box, and two in a TOR watch box plus plenty of great structure.  389 miles logged.


MAY 29:     Wed - Day 9 -  (TT Day 3):  Fort Stockton to Big Bend Scenics:

Wednesday we took the Tempest Tours Gang south from FST down to the Big Bend Ntl Park.  We met with Al Moller a couple of times along the way, who inspired us all with his knowledge concerning the interaction of the local geography and weather. 

We were hoping for a photogenic supercell to go along with the fantastic scenery in the park, but only a few weak and short lived storms materialized.  However, the natural beauty of the area seemed to fill everyone's photographic needs for the day.  We did catch the back end of another weak complex of storms back near FST and briefly intercepted a SEV warned storm after dark, so the day was not without storms.  363 miles traveled.


MAY 30:    Thu – Day 10 -  (TT Day 4)  The “Tumbleweednado” Chase:

Thursday was a travel day north in order to get in position for the weekend. We quickly went into "chase mode" when the gang spotted a very large dust devil near Tulia, TX.  A quick intercept was plotted with GPS along a nearby dirt road...but "where'd it go"!  Suddenly it reappeared on the other side of the road as a large "tumbleweednado", then wrapped up into another large and tightly wrapped dust whirl with the dust tube extending a few hundred feet in the air.  What a blast!!  We next plotted a course to the Big Texan and to celebrate with the traditional steak dinner :-).  Total miles today: 508

MAY 31:     Fri – Day 11 -  (TT Day 5)  Positioning Day:

Friday (today) was another travel day north.  We were also hoping for a little late day activity in the SW NE region, but things never came together.  We stayed in Ogallala for the night with hopes of scoring on Saturday in NW NE/NE WY.  349 miles logged.


JUN 1:     Sat – Day 12 -  (TT Day 6)  North Moving Storms in SW Nebraska:

Today the Tempest tour gang targeted extreme NW NE into EC WY, mainly north of Route 20 from CDR to Lusk.  I wanted to stay as close to the Theta-E ridge axis and best upper level support as possible.  I also liked the strong easterly surface flow into this region that would aid in moisture advection and the low level shear.  We hung out just north of Lusk until early afternoon frustrated by the junkus anvil debris drifting eastward off the Laramie range.  We watched a severe warned cell on radar well off to our NW, but decided to stick with our target region a bit longer.  Even though a SEV watch box was issued for our area, I didn't feel very good about it and started thinking about heading further south and east ahead of the LP system near the Tri-State area of NE/CO/WY. An MCD followed quickly by a SEV watch box was issued further to my east in NE, which was I needed to get moving.

We headed south on Highway 85 and passed Tim Samaras going north just south of Lusk.  Hmmm...did I miss something.  We watched some turkey towers blow up to our east and croak.  I kept connected to Wx-Tap and figured we would be able to intercept developing storms east of  BFF that would be moving ENE into extreme SE WY and SW NE.  I was surprised when we connected with the north edge of these storms between Torrington and Morrill.  It appeared at least two or three cells were merging to our south and a neat shelf like cloud connected two of the storms directly to our south.  This cloud had a somewhat laminar appearance with imbedded areas of light green and an eerie orange dusty glow between the cloud base and the ground.  Numerous beaded CG's stabbed through this colorful area.  We tried to get east of this developing line and managed to do so in BFF.  Incredible CG's and booming thunder claps were occurring couldn't help but get something on video, just point the camera and wait a few seconds and BAM! This was especially effective when we were stopped at traffic lights.


I couldn't see any point in trying to get in front (the north side) of this scary looking northward moving line, nor position myself in back of it for that matter.  I then found a couple of new discreet cells on radar further to our SE lined up N-S in eastern Cheyenne County.  The best looking one was just NE of Sidney and it was another NNE moving cell.  What was going on here?  Was it the "dry punch" coming in from the SW or were the storms feeding into some "backwards" inflow coming in from the NE?  Either way, it looked like we would intercept the core of the first storm in Lisco on Highway 26 mid-way between BFF and Ogallala.  Again, the CG's were intense and heavily beaded in appearance.  We cut through the core with caution and then stopped for a photo op (from inside the vehicles) near Oshkosh.  This was one of the most remarkable CG displays I have ever witnessed.  Once again we had very long and wavy CG's that very slowly ended as segmented beads, some of these were like nothing I've ever seen, especially so close. Dean Cosgrove commented that it was among his top five displays ever!  As an extra bonus, Dean's van was facing back east (opposite of ours) and he captured some sort of "shear funnel" highly contrasted by the IC lightning.

Two SEV watch boxes and two SEV warned storms ended the two day "storm draught" for the guests.  We ended up back in Ogallala for the night (Saturday evening) after logging 465 miles for the day.

JUN 2:     Sun – Day 13 (TT Day 7)  Northeast Nebraska Bust:

On Sunday (6/2) we drove across NE from Ogallala to Norfolk expecting to see tornadic supercells.   The day held big promise…that is if the ETA's progged 15 C 700 mb CAP could be broken.  It couldn't and we hung out with Martin Lisius, Bill Reid, Keith Brown and others near sunset under some flat and boring cloud that grabbed everyone's attention.  357 miles logged.

JUN 3:     Mon – Day 14 -  (TT Day 8) “ Colorado or Bust”:

Bust it was!  I targeted an area in extreme west central Kansas and into the plains of eastern CO that had a high potential to produce very photogenic supercells by late afternoon.  On Monday (6/3) Martin felt we had a day filled with the potential for tornadic storms in NC KS...IF the CAP could be broken.  It couldn't, and the only towers we saw were firmly planted in the soil around CNK.  We made a futile attempt at the end of the day trying to intercept convective development in SW KS near DDC.”  465 miles that produced nothing!

While studying data during the late afternoon at the local library in Concordia, KS I could see the opportunity we lost.  Satellite imagery indicated there were several fully developed and isolated supercells hanging out in eastern CO.  The pain…the pain.

JUN 4:     Tue – Day 15 -  (TT Day 9)  TX Panhandle Supercells:

After two bust days, the Tempest gang was ready to see some real storms, and they were not disappointed! Today (6/4) we left DDC targeting an area from PVW to Littlefield to Levelland.  An easy pick with all the ingredients coming together over the C/S PH...a deepening low NW of LBB, DL along the TX/NM border, strong divergent flow at 250 mb, a speed max at 500 mb, good SE and easterly SFC flow bringing in good moisture.  We just needed to watch SFC and SAT data and stay ahead of the CF near the triple point.  We encountered a big messy storm on our way south as we entered Hale County on I-27.  We needed to get to the south end of this elongated NE/SW convection but would need to navigate around lane closures due to flooding and stalled vehicles near Hale Center.  Fortunately, the main core had passed just to our east.  We could see a big vertical CB to our NW near Clovis and a highly sheared LP just to our west.  The linear stuff weakened and separated from the main core to our ENE that rapidly intensified as it moved into Floyd County. 

We headed east on highway 54 from Abernathy and watched new development just off to our SSW.  There was no way we were going to catch the big messy HP beast to our NE near Matador since it was moving away from us a 30 MPH.  We opted to get
in front the storm to our SSW which was looking better all the time.  We stopped to watch the show to our west a couple of times near Petersburg,  I believe this is were Bill Reid and Keith Brown joined us for the rest of the chase fun.  The base took on a nice circular look with a flanged area to the north that led up to a vault region filled with a nice green color.  We marveled at the structure as this storm was moving slowly and giving us plenty of time to take photos and time lapse video.  The storm began to
weaken as it moved off to our NE and we set our sights on new storms forming in the warmer air to our south and east.


We went a little past Dickens and realized there was just too much competition and nothing was really standing out as a target storm.  I took another look at radar and found that a likely supercell had just formed back to our west in Hockley County.  After a needed stop in Dickens for gas and a brisket sandwich (hey... you just can't go thru Dickens without a roast beef sandwich!)
we had an easy intercept back to our west via highway 82.  We were treated along the way to absolutely beautiful views of yet another dark and sculpted bell shaped updraft.  This one had dark tilted towers billowing off to our NE contrasted by a brightly lit main updraft tower.  At the same time an anvil and inverted cumulus clouds from a storm to our SW loomed with  a patch of blue sky in between. 

We had a great photo op just north of highway 82 somewhere between Lorenzo and Idalou.  The circular cloud base nearly extended from horizon to horizon in front of a couple of large flared shaped lowerings.  The massive updraft towers were blue/gray and green...what a beauty!  The center of the storm was dry and revealed  a golden/orange sky below to our west.  This was punctuated by a few nice CG's and highly contrasted dust plumes that rose back up to the cloud base level.  Precip began to fill in from the north and south edges of the storm, but it looked like we had plenty of time to go a bit north than east...WRONG!   Suddenly the storm intensified and filled in with heavy rain and a few large hail stones began to bang onto our vehicles.  It looked safer south, so we turned around and went back south to highway 82, then blasted east to the first available covered protection to wait things out.


Flooded roads and a decent light show keep us entertained on our way north
to PVW for the night.   541 miles logged today.

JUN 5:     Wed - Day 16 -  (TT Day 10)  Final Tour Day:

The guests elected to ignore the slight risk of severe today, which would have required a marathon all night drive back to OKC by late evening.  The guests were satisfied, and welcomed a relaxing day and drive back to the base city prior to their departure back home.  326 easy miles driven back to Oklahoma City from Plainview, Texas.

JUN 6:     Thu – Day 17 – Nebraska (Surprise) Severe:

I finished my duties as TD for Tempest Tour's # 3 today and decided to head north to NE  by day's end, and (hopefully) be in a good position for Friday.  On Wednesday, we blew off the slight risk of SEV in the Stockton Plateau since the guests needed to be back to our base city in OKC by THU morning. Everyone was well satisfied with the awesome show near LBB on Tuesday, and I didn't want to spoil their final day with a possible bust and l-o-n-g drive.

I really didn't look at any data for today since I would be leaving late and just wanted to make it to York, NE by dark.  What a pleasant surprise when I saw the remains of a few weak storms being illuminated by the setting sun just to the north of CNK.  While I was shooting slides and video of this pretty scene, new convection began bubbling up just to my north, rain shafts appeared, and the CG's began.  I decided to head a bit north of Belleville near the NE/KS border and set up for lightning photography.  Along the way I was surprised to learn that the broken line of storms I was witnessing had a SEV for 70 MPH reported winds and possible large hail.  I enjoyed the light show while driving around on gravel roads well off the beaten path.  There were some very nice CG's, but mostly IC lightning...of course, most of which escaped my lens.  But it was nice to just slow things down a bit and idle in the middle of a quiet landscape enjoying the sights, sounds, and even the aroma of the thunderstorm environment.   Hmm...maybe I should try not to look at data more often.  403 miles logged.


JUN 7:     Fri – Day 18 – Nebraska Storm Fest:

I reached my target area near Yankton, SD by early afternoon, but was disappointed to find the area socked in with lots of mid level clouds.  SAT images indicated the clouds stretched from SE SD to near SW NE along the frontal boundary.  I was tempted to head back to the clear skies to my south, but I liked the higher CAPE and moisture pooling right where I was. An MCD was soon followed by a SEV watch box that included parts of SE SD and NE NE.  I was sitting at a high point near Crofton when one of the first SEV warnings was issued for a storm just to my west in Knox County. I was able to film some rain shafts & CG's as this storm moved off to my NW...but overall the storm was a dud and the SEV was soon cancelled. There were now a couple of decent looking storms on radar showing up in Holt county to my west, so I plotted an intercept course somewhere along highway 14 south into Antelope County.

Along the way a new SEV watch box was issued for most of central NE, and one of the storms in Holt CO near Chambers now had a SEV warning. I had to stop along highway 14 when the core blocked my path further south, but it didn't matter, the SEV was cancelled.  However, this did give me the opportunity to film some great looking Cb towers exploding to my east.


Another radar download indicated storms where initiating further and further west in central and NC NE.  I spent the next couple of hours driving through or near high based storms on my way west towards Valentine.  It was fun filming the approaching storm, then stop further west and capture the brightly lit towers back to my east.  One storm really got cranking when I was shooting slides and video back to my east near Atkinson.  Nice colorful towers leading up to a circular anvil and mammatus, all set off by a small herd of cows that gathered in the immediate foreground.  I thanked them for adding a sense of scale…then headed west again. From Ainsworth to Valentine I was treated to one of the best displays of Anvil Zits I've ever seen...almost continuous activity.  I stayed in VTN for the night...probably along with a lot of other chasers thinking the same thoughts concerning Saturday.


PS:  It was nice to meet Rocky Rascovich and Randy Zipser this morning who were staying in the same Super 8 hotel in York, NE!

JUN 8:       Sat – Day 19 -  SE Montana Chase:

Over 500 miles were driven today with not much to show for the effort...sheesh. The area a bit north and west from Belle Fourche, SD looked like the place to be..yesserie, a big day with big promise!

I didn't like the persistent cirrus canopy as I drifted NW on route 212 out of Belle Fourche.  NWS radio indicated storms had initiated in Campbell CO, WY to my SW and I could see a dark blob in that direction as I approached Alzada, MT.  Soon after, I was able to outline the base and some structure on the southern flank of the developing storm.  As I neared Hammond, I took a couple of photo ops.  The storm looked like it was getting it's act together and it had a nice flared base.  Also, the updraft tower was looking stronger with time.  I decided to cut north and east on a gravel road (277) at Hammond in hopes of staying with this storm since it was the only game in town for the moment.  While I was parked at this intersection a small caravan of chasers, including Matt Crowther, Jon Davies, Rocky R and Randy Z, Silver Lining Tours, Matt and Brian from RAP, and others had the same idea.  I've never seen that many chasers in MT before, but when there is only one storm and one road option this really isn't a big surprise.


I drove north to Baker and found a couple of storms off to my west in Custer County that had a SEV, but visually they were not very appealing and were quite linear in nature.  It was now getting dark and I figured I may as well cut my losses and start heading east.  I found a decent room at the Mirror Lake Lodge in Hettinger, ND.  I managed to salvage at least part of the day after I got settled in by heading 10 miles west of town to film and enjoy a rather prolific light show.  The structure illuminated by the lightning was by far the best I'd seen all day!


JUN 9:     Sun – Day 20  North Dakota Bust:

This day really hurt.  I was betting on the promise of what could be a really BIG day…maybe even one with strong to violent tornadoes somewhere in central ND.  I had already stayed two days longer than I was supposed to, and would have to pay the price with another one of my marathon drives straight home at the end of a long and tiring chase day.   The CAP held and once again squelched any chance of storms.  I ate a burger along with the new Tempest Tour group (their first day), then mentally prepared myself the best I could for the long and boring drive home.  It was nearly 10 PM local time and it was just getting dark.

JUN 10:    Mon – Day 21 Blast Home Day:

The entire day (and previous night) was spent driving towards home.  I finally arrived back in Berks County shortly before 2 AM Tuesday morning (June 11) after a grueling 27 hour,  1656 mile marathon drive.  Not my record, but who’s counting…it’s a price I was willing to pay in order to squeeze out just one more chase day, or two!

Interesting Details:

Total Miles Logged w/Tempest Tours:              4622

Total Miles Logged on my Own:                       5389

Total Miles Logged:                                       10,011

Average Miles per Day:                                     476

Total Days on the Road:                                      21

Total Days in Chase Mode:                                 16

Total Days Severe Storms Intercepted:                12  (6 w/Tempest Tour #3)

Average Time to bed:                                       2:00 AM

Highest Gas Price Paid:                        $1.46 Belle Fourche, SD