2003 Chase Summaries

May 9 - June 1:    Trip One 

Brian A. Morganti

MAY 9:    Fri – Day 1 – Departure Day: 

My plan on this day of departure was once again to get as far west as possible for the first night’s lodging.  I left home at 1:00 PM EDT with 29,166 miles on the odometer and traveled 636 miles to Cloverdale, IN for the night.  There was a slight chance of supercells in Ohio today, but I was much more interested in tomorrow’s potential for tornadoes in SW IA/NW MO.  However, I was able to film a bit of lightning and enjoy a severe warned storm just to the south of Cloverdale upon my arrival near midnight.

 MAY 10:    Sat – Day 2 – Northern Missouri Tornadoes:

Today looked like the last day for the recent rash of tornadoes, in what had been a very active period for parts of MO and eastern KS.  I posted a chase target to CFDG of Macon, MO in north central MO and headed west.  Along the way I encountered severe storms that were moving east along I-70.  One particularly dark and nasty storm produced torrential rain and a 65 MPH wind gust near Marshall, IL.  The following is my CFDG post and summary from the early morning of May 10th.

Awfully quiet this morning after last night’s big event in OKC.

Large area of convection currently moving eastward through IL along with a thin line of storms trailing back thru central MO.  VIS SAT shows a clear area moving into west central MO.  Strong southerly SFC winds are pumping 70+ Dp’s into SW MO as of 14:16 UTC analysis.  RUC 21z shows the best mixing ratio’s (14 – 16 g kg) will be transported northward and located in NC/NE MO east of the deepening SFC low.  Bunkers Storm motion indicates storm motion will be ENE at 50 – 55 knots by 00Z 5/11...yikes!  Exit of LFQ of 250mb jet, good difluence at H5, and strong LLJ all point to NE MO by 21Z.

Preliminary target is Macon, MO

What a day!  Two tornadoes and plenty of chase action made a most memorable first day of my 2003 chase vacation.

I left Cloverdale, IN this morning targeting Macon, MO, and data downloads continued to confirm that northern MO would be the place to be for tornadic supercells by 21Z.  Along the way I traveled thru a couple of TOR warned storms near Marshall, IL, the last one being as dark as any storm I have ever witnessed!  That storm exhibited a large bowl shape lowering to my south as I exited I-70 at highway 40 where I recorded wind gusts to 65 mph.  By the time I reached the IL/MO border good insolation was occurring with 78/71 readings.  A data stop near Troy, MO revealed that convection had initiated in NW MO and was moving NE as expected.  I continued NW on 61 to Hannibal with the plan to head west on 36 toward Macon.  By the time I reached Hannibal, there were three supercells to my west, one just north of highway 36 to the SW of Kirksville, one SW of Macon, and another SW of Moberly, all moving to the NE.  A decision would need to be made at Monroe City...continue west on 36 or drop SW on 24 towards Moberly. 

One last look at radar convinced me to continue west on highway 36 and hopefully intercept the hook of the storm SW of Macon as it crossed highway 36 in front of me.  It was around this time that I got a call from Bill Reid who was blasting east on highway 36 west of Macon thinking of a similar intercept, so we decided to meet near the intersection of 36/63 in Macon...but it never happened.  I had to blast east about 3 miles before I got to Macon as the core rapidly approached from the WSW.  I made a U-turn just as I was being blasted by the core and soon caught up to Bill and the Tempest Gang doing the same thing...I never even saw them pass me!


We intercepted the first tornado at 4:26 CDT with this storm near the town of Clarence.  Dust whirls carrying clumps of debris became evident below a distinct cone shaped funnel about a mile or so north of the highway.  We made a futile attempt to intercept another tornado with this storm as we jogged north on highway 15, but soon returned south after the “southern” storm.  We headed east again on 36 and exited at the Monroe City overpass just as the “hook” part of the storm was to our immediate west as the sirens sounded in Monroe City.  Wet RFD winds quickly began rocking our vehicles and we had to move east fast.  As soon as we cleared the rain, I could see a poorly contrasted white cone in front of the dark core back to my NNW.  That soon dissipated, but a new cone shaped lowering came into view to just to our north.  We no sooner pulled off the road when a large dust whirl took shape only a couple hundred yards to our north, the time was 6:45 CDT.  We filmed the tornado as it changed from a white cone to a stovepipe and then a truncated cone.  We followed the storm east and were able to witness a few more glimpses of the tornado as it progressively moved off to the NE.  The storm to the north of “our” storm was the one that produced the large wedge shaped tornado near Canton, MO.  Our happy group celebrated with a steak dinner at Clappers Steak House and Tavern in Shelbina, Missouri.  525 miles logged.


MAY 11:    Sun – Day 3 – Travel Day:

There was no chance of storms anywhere on the plains today, so we decided to make the long drive from Macon, MO southward to OKC.  This would be the last day for Bill’s T2 and it I would soon need to prepare for T3.  489 miles logged.

MAY 12:    Mon – Day 4 – Preparation Day:

No potential for chasing today. We used the time to clean up and prepare the van for T3.  Actually, the extra time came in handy since I once again needed to switch over my laptop/cell phone set-up from my truck due to technical problems.

MAY 13:    Tue – Day 5 – TT Orientation & Bust Chase:

A Busy day greeting the 10 T3 guests and a German Film Crew which would be traveling with us for a couple of days.  A few storms formed along an outflow boundary by late afternoon to our north in NE OK.  It looked like this activity would propagate westward into NC OK, so we took the guests on a “shakedown” chase north to I-35 and 412.  The cap won, so we had dinner at a nearby Pizza Hut with Cloud 9 Tours.  190 miles.

MAY 14:    Wed – Day 6 – (TT Day 1) North Texas Bust:

Today was another day with good potential in north TX.   A few counties in north TX (NW of DFW) were primed for explosive thunderstorm development by late afternoon/early evening, but again it never happen because of the stupid cap.  I joined up with Tempest’s private tour, Martin, and another film crew from Dallas.  More interviews, fake drive bys and set-ups, but no storms.  Tonight's lodging will be at the Super 8 (another new one) in CDS (Childress, TX).  421 miles logged.

MAY 15:    Thu – Day 7 – (TT Day 2) – TX PH Day with Big Potential!

We vectored into position near Tulia (south of Amarillo) by early afternoon from our previous nights stay in Childress, TX.  Our group met up with Bill Reid, his group, and Martin Lisius and we were all in agreement to head a little further northwest and wait for things to unfold.  We sat on FM1058 west of Hereford in 40 mph screaming southerly winds transporting plenty of annoying dust to the NW.  I didn’t like the dust and I didn’t like the soft look to the sheared over clouds...the “look” just wasn’t right.  We had been monitoring storms on radar that had initiated well to our NW that were located west of Dalhart, TX...about 90 – 100 miles away from our location.  These were too far away and not moving in a favorable position to our location, besides we were in an excellent position just to the north of the DL bulge with screaming southeasterlies...the stage was set for things to explode soon, we were certain! 

A few weak showers formed to our west as we began to watch the storms to our north continue to look better on radar.  One in particular looked like it was about to tornado, and it DID!  We started hearing reports of “tornadoes” on the ground near Stratford, TX moving NE into the OK Panhandle.  Blake called Jim Leonard who screamed in the phone “we got two tornadoes on the ground”!  There was no way we were going to blast nearly two hours north and catch this stuff, besides, this had to be just the beginning of the show, didn’t it!?  We started our eastward trek in an attempt to position ourselves in the best location for supercell development ahead of the DL.  It was getting late (after 7PM) when we finally started to see some healthy cloud structure.  Somewhere near Clarendon along highway 287 we noticed an explosive updraft tower overhead thru a hole in the lower cloud deck.  Finally, we had our target storm!  We got pelted with a few quarter size hail stones as we blasted south on 287 to Hedley and then north on 273 for an intercept of the updraft base as it crossed 273 moving to the northeast.  We stopped along 273 for some decent structure shots of the tilted updraft towers and a somewhat lowered base that had the potential to produce a tornado. 


We continued to follow this storm north to I-40 along with plenty of other chasers having the same thoughts.  We finally let it go east of McLean while watching it attempt to produce a tornado to our was now dark.  We checked into our motel about 15 minutes later a little further east in Shamrock, TX, concerned about the severe line of storms that would be slamming us shortly.  I was rather concerned with the incredible 45 to 50 mph screaming inflow coming in from the SE and that there might be a tornadic supercell imbedded in the line of storms. 

I turned on the TV to find a local radar image and saw that a menacing looking supercell was located out ahead of the line exhibiting a very pronounced hook echo, it’s direction of movement to the ENE would bring any tornado uncomfortably close to Shamrock.  I didn’t like it!  I called Martin and said I think we should round everyone up and get the hell out of there fast...if we waited it might be too late!  He agreed and we frantically began to round up the 10 guests along with my two drivers.  We told everyone to meet us at the lobby “right now” and don’t bring anything.  I alerted Bill and suggested he get his six guests and do the same.  We blasted south on 83 thru Shamrock as the tornado sirens began to wail...all eyes were glued to our west.  Sam Barricklow helped keep us informed on the position of any probable tornado.  The damage reports started coming in from along I-40 just to our west (vehicles overturned, damage in McLean, etc).  Martin still had his laptop hooked up to GPS and data, so we could easily navigate to a safe position relative to any tornado.  We stopped about 8 miles south of town amid quite a few other chasers to watch power flashes back to our north and the lights go out in Shamrock.  We were experiencing some of the strongest inflow any of us had ever experienced (50 mph sustained at times), which was launching huge amounts of dust into the air, making it difficult to see the tornado to our north!

We went back to the Shamrock Inn, glad to see that everything was still intact.  The tornado caused damage along I-40 from Mclean to Twitty just a mile or so to the north of the motel in Shamrock.  375 miles logged.

MAY 16:    Fri – Day 8 – (TT Day 3) – Travel Day:

We spent the day traveling from Shamrock, TX to AIA (Alliance, NE) in order to be in position for what looked to be a couple active days in the NE PH region. 602 miles.

MAY 17:    Sat – Day 9 – (TT Day 4) – Nebraska PH Storms:

Friday night we stayed in AIA looking to play the quasi-stationary NE/SW oriented boundary that looked to be hanging around the NE Panhandle region for the next couple of days.  I liked the corner of NW NE for the best surface convergence just east of the low in WY in the proximity of the frontal boundary.  I was hoping that the boundary would move a tad north as better insolation got under way, but that was not to be.  Overcast conditions and light fog persisted in the Chadron area, and the “clear” skies beckoned further south near BFF.  We could see a distinct line of agitated Cu just north of BFF as we traveled south on highway 29.  We hooked up with Bill Reid and crew at the entrance to the Scottsbluff Ntl Mon and decided to head east ahead of an area of developing convection off to our north and west. 

There were a couple of semi-decent looking cells imbedded in the convection to our north just west of Alliance, so we targeted these storms for the time being as we headed north on highway 385.  While fueling up in AIA, it just didn’t make much sense to blast north after these “not so exciting” storms, but to instead continue north along highway 87 in hopes of intercepting some developing cells that might strengthen in the line of grunge off to our west.  Just north of “Carhenge” we could see a few gray towers begin to go vertical under the mammatus filled anvils off to our west. 


We pulled off the road to film the evolution of these developing storm towers and the very pronounced gray/white mammatus field overhead.  Brown dust kicked up by the outflow filled the area from cloud base to ground level just to our north, while a gray dust foot approached from the WSW...ala SW KS 5-27-01.  It was soon time to throw the cameras and tripods in the vans and blast south and east.  Lots of blowing dust and tumbleweeds along the way made for lots of fun.  At one point while heading east on highway 2, the van in front of us was hit by a neat gustnado/tumbleweednado...very cool! 

We continued to head east hoping for a nice light show ahead of what might be an intensifying line of storms, but the line stayed rather disorganized and weakly electrified relative to our position.  Lodging: Thedford, NE  Miles logged:  383

MAY 18:    Sun – Day 10 – (TT Day 5) – NE CO Linear Storm Junkus:

I was hoping to find at least one pretty supercell in the upslope regime episode set-up yesterday (Sunday) in the extreme northeast CO/southwest NE area.  What we found, however, could be best described as “linear junkus letdownus”!  

Like the day before, overcast conditions held tough until mid afternoon over all but the western NE PH and parts of northeast CO.  Yuma to Brush and points northward had cleared out and was located in an area of good moisture convergence by 21Z.  An MD was in effect for our target region which was followed by a SEV box as we were downloading data near Eckley, CO, although visible SAT imagery wasn’t all that exciting.   While traveling west on highway 34 we decided to target a line of growing CU to our north.  The towers continued to percolate as we traveled north from Akron on highway 63, but it was apparent this was not going to be the show we were hoping for.  Radar indicated a few other weak linear looking storms initiated to our west and southwest, but these didn’t look all that exciting either.  The best show occurred as we were heading north toward Iliff as the dark cloud shadow angled toward a bright green sunlit grass field to our north.  A shelf cloud was trying to form, but dark flat bases with this storm as well as the others further west was the order of the day.  There were a few nice CG’s, but these were few and far between.  Overall, a disappointing day, considering the potential it had.  Lodging in Sterling, CO after 446 miles logged.


MAY 19:    Mon – Day 11 – (TT Day 6) – Travel Day:

There was a chance for a couple of severe storms south of OKC, but not a high enough risk to warrant an early morning rise followed by an all day marathon run south.  We drove from Sterling, CO to Elk City, OK…a distance of 558 miles.  There was a report of one “surprise storm” with nice structure south of Ardmore, OK. 

MAY 20:     Tue – Day 12 – (TT Day 7) – Scenic Day:

No storms to chase, so we spent the day visiting Palo-Duro Canyon, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and finished the day by enjoying a big meal at the Big Texan with most every other chaser on the planet.  Tom Bean (a guest) bid farewell from the AMA airport.


MAY 21:     Wed – Day 13 – (TT Day 8) – The Scenic Tour Continues!

“Tempest Scenic Tours” headed NW into CO with just slightly more than a zero chance of seeing a storm late in the day.  We visited the Mt Capulin Volcano Ntl Monument in extreme NE NM.  Everyone had fun either walking around the rim of the volcano or down into the crater.  We got bored waiting for the volcano to erupt, so we decided to head further east and north towards our “target” area for Thursday.  We took some pretty sunset pictures just north of Lamar, CO...then finished up the day eating Chinese food.  Everyone was well fed and happy, but anxious to see storms.  Today (5-22) we’re hoping for some isolated pretty convection somewhere along the central CO/KS border.  If not, we’re sure to find a good eating spot!  378 miles logged.


MAY 22:    Thu – Day 14 – (TT Day 9) – Struggling Storms:

On Thursday 5-22 we left Lamar, CO around noon after tending to various chores that included a temporary repair to the van door/fender damaged by the inflow on 5-15.  We liked the area near GLD or a tad west into extreme NE CO for our initial target, but abandoned the idea a few miles south in Sharon Springs, KS when we learned of northeasterly winds in Goodland.  We drifted south to Tribune and kept our eye on an area of towering Cu just to our south, as well as a few decent updraft attempts just to our WNW.  One semi-decent updraft tower formed to our ESE, so we decided to head east in hopes this might develop into something, since things were drying out fast just to our west.  As we watched this updraft struggle and die, a “real” storm initiated well off to our NE near Hill City, KS.  In desperation we blasted east hoping to intercept this or some developing cells a little closer to our NNE.  Actually, these storms were rather pathetic on radar (and visually).  Even more pathetic was the fact that there were plenty of desperate chasers starved to see convection targeting this lone storm.  We called off the chase just north of Dighton.  We contented ourselves for the second evening in a row taking pretty sunset pictures. 589 desperate miles logged. Lodging:  Garden City, KS.


MAY 23:    Fri – Day 15 – (TT Day 10 Last) – Marginally Severe Storms:

Friday 5-23 was the last chase day for Tempest Tour 2.  We left Garden City with the hopes of finding some convection on our circuitous course back to OKC.  We paid homage to the tin man south of Laverne before we blasted west after the big cell that formed over the volcano fields west of Boise City.  We could clearly see the anvil by the time we reached Guymon, and figured we could easily intercept this slow eastward moving cell in the Boise City area.  Unfortunately the cell weakened dramatically upon our arrival...I’m not certain why, since it was moving into an area of higher CAPE and strong SE flow.  We blasted by plenty of other chasers watching this dying cell at the intersection of 412/287 as we continued south on 287 towards the pulsing/linear cells heading into the AMA area.  We were treated to a few pretty towers just north of the 335 loop, but no CG’s and no hail.  We intercepted the back end of the northern most cell with a SEV moving eastward into southwestern Carson County.  We tailed the back edge of this cell for awhile, then blasted thru the core which was crawling along I-40 at a mere 15 mph. 

The cell pulsed as it entered Gray County, as we filmed some interesting base structure and increasing CG activity back to our west.  At Shamrock, we shot south on highway 83 for a last gasp lightning photo op a few miles south of town.  We were able to capture a few decent CG’s and CC’s before the storm finally croaked.  Not a spectacular chase day by any means, but we needed to take what ever we could get in this lousy pattern...and the guests seemed pleased to finally be pursuing storms rather than scenics.  666 miles logged.

MAY 24:    Sat – Day 16 – Gray County TX Severe Storm:

Another tough day for pin-pointing a chase target.  After saying good-bye to the T2 guests and helping ready things for the next group, Nancy and I departed OKC favoring the SW OK to CDS area for some late day storm initiation.  I also considered heading for AMA, but thought CDS would put me closer to where I wanted to be for Sunday.  I had been watching a linear storm to my northeast that was located near Pampa as we approached Childress and thought, what the heck...I may as well head north on 62/83 for a “light show” near dusk.  It was located on the south side of a bunch of junky storms and there was no competition to it’s south, so I figured it might just have a shot a getting better organized.  Just as I was ready to head north, I noticed that the latest radar scan (around 6:45 CDT) had turned the storm from linear looking to something much more rounded AND was beginning to exhibit an inflow notch.  The next scan showed a small hook right over Hoover.   A TV report indicated that a brief tornado may have occurred near Hoover, and AMA issued a TOR warning just after 7 PM CDT.  I really wasn’t expecting to be blasting after a tornadic cell today!

At Shamrock we cut west on I-40 and viewed some decent base structure off to our northwest as several close CG’s blasted the ground just to the north of the interstate.  Several chasers were parked on the north side of I-40 watching some suspicious lowerings off to their north near Groom as we exited north onto highway 294.  Radar and visuals indicated the storm was lining out again, but another small inflow notch appeared near the SW tip of this SW moving storm near Panhandle, TX.  Looking west a nice inflow tail stretched out to the SSW above a barely visible setting sun.  We briefly watched the lightning illuminating the ragged base structure to our north, but soon had to head back south and east as we began to get blasted by some heavy rain and strong outflow winds. I wish we could have been there for the earlier show, but I’m not complaining.

MAY 25:     Sun – Day 17 – Messy Storms near Orla, TX:

My first guess target town for today was Kermit, TX.  CAPE and 500mb winds were adequate, easterly surface flow towards the Delaware/Davis mountains, and a theta-E ridge pointing northwestward into SE NM pretty much set the stage for late day thunderstorm initiation in that region. Also, I figured Kermit offered plenty of N/S and E/W road options for an intercept later.  A MD was issued by the time we arrived in Kermit and a few storms had developed over the Davis mountains.  Since these storms were moving eastward at 15 mph, I decided to head south to FST and plan my intercept from there.  Along the way a SEV box was issued for a good part of SE NM and SW TX.  When I reached FST, one of the storms had become SEV and was moving eastward across highway 67 to the northeast of Alpine.

I thought briefly about going south on highway 385, but knew I would never beat the core down to highway 90.  There were a couple of weak storms just to my west exhibiting some rain shafts and CG's, but there was strong convection developing well back to my NW near Carlsbad, NM.

Visible SAT imagery showed plenty of clear air to the south of the Carlsbad storms, so this became my new target storm.  Besides, at least I would be able to see the updraft structure during my approach. Fortunately, these storms were moving slowly and highway 285 led a direct path to where I wanted to be.  North of Pecos two new updraft towers came into view to the SSW of the Carlsbad storm.  Radar indicated the Carlsbad storm had developed an inflow notch, and the newest storm to the SW was beginning to do the same.  I was soon able to see below the stout tower of the southern most storm located about 15 miles to my west.  An RFB had developed on the south side of a dark rain core and a pronounced wall cloud was beginning to form.  I pulled over to take a closer look from 285 about half way between Pecos and Orla.  The wall cloud kept trying to organize as I filmed, but I could not determine rotation at that distance.  While I was filming, several chase vehicles blasted south on 285, but I have no idea what they were after!?  I was connected almost continuously to Wx-Tap radar and the next storm south was that big linear beast about 100 miles to my south in Pecos County...and there were no roads to take you to the storm I was filming to my west!

I soon targeted the next storm to my NW, since I could easily intercept from road 652 west of Orla.  I stopped to film the approaching blue/green core to my west and some dust plumes being kicked up beneath the dark cloud bases to my south.  I soon had to retreat back east as I got pelted by large rain drops and cold outflow winds.  A nicely sculpted grayish/white updraft tower was exploding just to my east over Orla and soon exhibited a rain shaft and some CG's.  Nancy and I sat just east of Orla to film this feature as well as the approaching gust front to our west.  Radar indicated that an almost continuous line of storms had developed, so we knew the time for escape had passed.  The heaviest core was imbedded in the line just to our north...the remnants of the earlier storm over Carlsbad.  We encountered plenty of torrential rain and road flooding near the 652/128 intersection, but fortunately only small hail.  Soon after passing the Mississippi State team parked along the road, we cut east on 128.  There was a small orange glow between the rain shafts back to our west, so we parked to see what would become of this.  Soon, a ghostly image of the sun appeared as brilliant blue CG's and CC's danced in the dark skies nearby!  We had to navigate around plenty of open range cattle and flooded roadways on our way up to Hobbs for the night, but some breath taking long lived crawler/CG displays made the effort well worthwhile.  Given today's set-up, I don't think I could have asked for much more.


MAY 26:    Mon – Day 18 – Pretty Updrafts near Raton, NM:

On Monday we headed north from Hobbs, NM towards a target region somewhere east of the front range in east central CO.  Isolated severe was possible, but rotating storms would be brief and short lived.  Near Raton, NM and just west of the volcano fields, we stopped to photograph and time-lapse several large TCu developing into Cb’s above the rolling plains to our east and south.  To our west we could observe CG’s as storms began moving SSE off the mountains. 


We enjoyed this show for well over an hour!  Stronger cells were now forming in our target region east of COS (Colorado Springs), so we began our northward trek once again.  Bill Reid and T3 managed to get thru the core of the strongest cell and briefly observe an impressive wall cloud...but no tornado, even though a brief one was reported.  We approached this storm from the south and  traveled under the anvil for quite some time before taking a photo op of the sun setting below the anvil canopy south of LIC (Limon, CO).  The storm produced a few CG’s, but was essentially dead at that point.

MAY 27:    Tue – Day 19 – Weak Storms & Farmstead near Chadron, NE:

On Tuesday we continued north to our new target area somewhere in extreme NE CO or the SW NE Panhandle.  After gulping down a Runza burger in Sydney,NE (next to the big Cabela’s store) it looked like the best bet was to continue north towards AIA (Alliance) or CDR (Chadron) where better moisture convergence and CAPE was occurring.  We caught up to Bill and T3 near Crawford, NE while some towers were struggling off to our north and west.  The one to our north was located over the Black Hills in SD, but the one to our west was much closer, and there were new towers forming to it’s west.  We decided to go west and stopped at the Ft. Robinson overlook for a 360 degree view of the sky.  The best storm was just to our west and had developed a rain shaft.  Thunder was heard shortly thereafter.  We filmed this for awhile then blasted west on highway 20 to get closer to the base, even though we weren't expecting much beyond small hail and lightning.  The storm translated to the south of the highway and offered a great opportunity for time-lapse.  Strong flanking line updrafts kept developing on the western side of the storm as the fibrous anvil and older updrafts drifted off to the east.  We later drifted a little further south in pursuit, but the storm had already offered it’s best. We did however find a fantastic abandoned farmstead south of Crawford in which to use our “abondoned” storm as a fine backdrop!  We finished up the day just west of CDR filming a pretty updraft tower above a tight black oval shaped base.  396mi.


MAY 28:    Wed – Day 20 – Back to the Scenics:

The lousy pattern continued, so we headed to the CO mountains searching for either orographic storms or geographic scenics.  Lodging in Estes Park, CO.

MAY 29:     Thu – Day 21 – Rocky Mountain Ntl Park:

We spent the day enjoying the beautiful scenery in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.  The roads had just been opened and there were plenty of places where the snow piles towered over our heads along the roadway.  We filmed a few critters (moose, antelope, elk) as well as a few weak, but pretty convective towers before heading to Ft Morgan for the night.


MAY 30:         Fri – Day 22 – Morgan County CO Severe Storms:

When we left Fort Morgan Friday morning I told Nancy not to be surprised if we ended up following a storm right back past our hotel later in the day...and that’s exactly what happened!  Initially I was hoping to intercept storms moving southeastward that would initiate at the nose of the Theta-e ridge pointing NW into SE WY.  We were just east of Cheyenne, WY when the first storms developed to our west around 2:30 MDT.  Two isolated storms off to our NW quickly anviled and died, but the one to our immediate west looked good for awhile with a nice lowered circular base.  I soon gave up on this storm however, for others to my south that would be moving into the axis of greatest instability across extreme northeast CO. 

Heading south on highway 85 between Nunn and Pierce we encountered 1” deep hail covering the road and we could see several white hail shafts just off to our east.  We then headed east at Greeley on highway 34 and watched an impressive gray tower bubble above a dark base just to the NE of Kersey.  At the same time there was another storm intensifying just off to our SE.  While we were heading east of 34 trying to get ahead of these two storms, the storm to our south began to develop a very nice laminar updraft base on the north side of the precipitation core.  We stopped to film this dark gray/green structure somewhere west of Wiggins as the base tightened and lowered on its western flank.  As we continued east along I-76 a large menacing wall cloud was observed to our south along with several funnel shaped lowerings.  Our final film stop was made south of I-76 near Brush where I recorded an 84 MPH wind gust as we were being overtaken by the core.  We then continued east on 34 where we encountered the “bolt zone”.  I thought for sure the next CG would strike our vehicle!  We were finally able to get in front of these storms between Akron and Yuma and stopped to film lightning back to our west.  These films sessions never lasted very long as we were soon overtaken by gusty winds and rain.  The best show occurred just south of Wray as a strong cell approached from our west.  We were given a brief window of about 4 minutes to film some incredible highly branched CG’s just off to our west.  What a great way to finish off my 2003 chase vacation!  447 miles logged.


JUNE 1:    Sat – Day 23 – Travel Home Day:

I decided it would be wise to take two days to get home, rather than the 24 hour plus marathon run I had made last year at the end of a Bust Day.  In hind-sight, I would have stayed since a beautiful highly sculpted and isolated supercell occurred late in the day in the NE PH…complete with a brief tornado!  We stayed in Terra Haute, IN after 833 miles.

JUNE 2:    Sun – Day 24 – Return Home Day:

Arrived home around 7:30 PM EDT after logging 658 uneventful miles.

Interesting Factoids from 2003:

Total Miles Logged w/Tempest Tours:               4611

Total Miles Logged on my own:                        6402

Total Miles Logged Trip One:                         11,013

Average Miles per Day:                                      459

Total Days on the Road:                                      24

Total Days in Chase Mode:                                  13  (7 w/Tempest T2)

Severe Storm Intercept Days:                                 7  (3 w/Tempest T2)

Tornadoes Intercepted:                      2 - northern MO on the 10th


Average Time to Bed:                        2:00 AM


Gas Prices Paid:                                 Ranged from $1.39 to $1.65

                                                         With average of $1.55