RSS

Tag Archives: photography

Chase Log: May 18, 2017 – Waynoka, OK

High risk. Two words that can invoke a variety of emotions depending on how you feel about storms. For a storm chaser, there is some excitement involved, but also a realization that a high risk day means a difficult chase. The SPC categorical risks are not purely based on storm strength. Storm coverage is a big factor as well, and in order for a storm system to warrant a high risk, there is typically a large area of storm coverage expected.

From a chasing perspective, this can mean difficulty in picking a target area, and then even more difficulty in picking a storm when 100 of them fire up at once!

After much debate between three potential targets, I settled on Woodward, OK. Further north along the warm front I figured would be too messy. Further south on the dryline I was unsure if the tornadic potential was as high (this was also outside of the high risk area).

As I sat in Woodward, storms had initiated in SW Oklahoma, and began producing tornadoes. Dang. Maybe I should have gone down there! It’s closer to home! It wouldn’t be long before initiation happened in my target area, however.

The problem was, as storms initiated, they were a mess. I had met up with my buddy Spencer, who I had met on that glorious Dodge City chase last year, prior to initiation, so we formed a 2-vehicle convoy, if you will. We went southwest out of Woodward to get on one of the first storms, but when we got to it, it was less than impressive. We followed it back up to Woodward where Spencer needed to fill up (Dude! Fill up BEFORE storms fire!). Looking at that storm, it was getting interference from additional rain to the south, and at that time I was thinking we should let it go, and in hindsight, that’s what we should have done. Instead we followed it a little ways north of Woodward before deciding it was junk, and we should bail to the tornado-warned storm to the south that was actually isolated.

In order to get in this storm’s path, we had to head straight east on 412. It seemed to take forever to get there, as it always does when you wish you were on a storm 10 minutes ago! It’s frustrating to watch tornado reports come in when you’re still 30 miles out!

Nonetheless, we caught up to it at Hwy 281. I was losing faith in it at this time, however, as it was becoming weaker with each radar scan. I thought we’d be too late. It would require a core punch to take a look at the meso, but with that weak reflectivity, I didn’t even hesitate.

Funny thing happened as I turned south on 281, as a Lexus driving north flashed their headlights at me. I’m thinking, “Yeah, I know there’s a tornado, that’s why I’m going this way!”

I came through the core and saw a rotating wall cloud to my southwest. Still looked promising! It developed a few funnels, then actually became a bit ragged. I thought it would cross the road, but it began taking on more of a northerly direction. I followed it back north, watching more funnels form, and then dissipate. This thing still had something left!

At one point I thought I might be getting into a developing circulation, as wind really picked up out of the south. I believe it was actually just RFD that was intensifying… a good sign.

As I got back to 412, an inflow tail had formed, and a more solid and tight rotating wall cloud was on the western end of it. It was clear at that point that a tornado was imminent! Only one problem from my position… a huge canyon! And lots of traffic! I got slowed down right as the tornado formed, and actually could not see it when it was at its most photogenic point.

Anyway, once I made it to the clearing, it was quite a sight to see! It was no more than 2 miles off the road, just paralleling it to the north! The condensation funnel lifted, but the tornado was still down, ripping trees out of the ground and tossing them like twigs. It was the perfect tornado, as no structures that I know of were affected. It was in the middle of nowhere, or actually in an oil field, I believe. Not a populated area, anyway.

Here’s a video still and a couple photos:

DSC_5590-3

DSC_5591

DSC_5592

A funnel cloud persisted after this, but I believe there was no ground contact. A new area of rotation began forming to the east, but it did not produce another tornado that I know of. I lost contact with the storm for a while due to the road network, and by the time I caught back up it was evident that outflow had taken over, and it was done.

At that point I figured the environment had been wiped out, so even though more storms had popped to the west, I decided to call it a chase and head for OKC to get a steak! There was another storm that went through the same spot where I had stopped that was tornado-warned, but it did not produce.

On the way to OKC I witnessed a spectacular sunset!

DSC_5612

DSC_5699-HDR

DSC_5717-Pano

As I approached OKC I got another treat with incredible lightning contacting radio towers in Edmond! Since I was driving, and wanted to get to Outback before they closed, I did not get any pictures of this.

All in all, I was satisfied that I had gotten a tornado out of that mess of a day, and ended the chase with some great skies. At the same time, I was disappointed that I hadn’t bailed on the Woodward junk earlier, and seen the other two incredible tornadoes that storm had produced in Seiling and Chester. Lessons for next time, I suppose.

Here’s my video:

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Chase Logs

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chase Log: 4/15/17 Protection, KS

Even with the mesoscale accident that produced 7 tornadoes in Dimmitt, TX the day before, I was not overly confident in the setup on this day, especially in terms of tornado potential. Upper level winds were marginal, at 30-35 kts at 500mb. I really like to see at least 40, and preferably 45 kts for better tornado potential. Dewpoints were also meager at barely 60 degrees. However, CAPE was adequate, and the HRRR consistently depicted storms firing west of Woodward, OK a few hours before sunset. I had just hoped this chase would provide some good time lapse footage and structure shots.

I left Carrollton at 10 am and headed to Woodward to meet up with Jacob Terrell. We had interacted on Facebook for several years, but had to actually meet in person, so it was good to finally meet and chase some storms together!

The first couple towers that fired were just not able to get going. What appeared to be the dominant cell made three attempts, and then died. We had made it out west to Shattuck, OK where we watched that cell die, and to the south of that there was absolutely nothing. There were some agitated Cu to the north, so we re-positioned north. As we were moving these storms started to look a bit more beefy than that previous storm that had died, but they still were struggling to really become supercells.

I lost Jacob at that point as I got to Buffalo, OK on the back end of another dying storm. At this time, however, there was a good looking tower going up to the north, which had a much better looking base on it. This storm’s base was large and flat, as opposed to the others that were very small. At this point it was nothing on radar, but it looked more promising, so I continued north of Buffalo to watch it.

DSC_1868

I sat here on this dirt road, where the aroma of cow manure filled the air, shooting a time lapse of the storm as it got going. If nothing else, it was visually nice, with an updraft that looked like blooming cauliflower swirling skyward.

DSC_2031

Photo opportunities would prove to be plentiful on this day, and prior to leaving this spot I turned to my west and was treated to this spectacular view.

DSC_2242

I moved north and found another spot to time lapse a little closer, as I didn’t want this storm moving too far away during the sequence. It had a really nice, flat base on it at this time, but it was quite elevated, so I was not expecting any tornadoes to develop from it.

DSC_2243

As the sun set, the show really started near Protection, KS. The other junk clouds began dissipating, making way for the lone supercell to stand out on its own with the last remaining sunlight giving it a brilliant glow. Even the cows came over to watch it. Or maybe they were watching me. Maybe they thought I had food. I’m not sure.

DSC_2730

DSC_2880-HDR

I was too close to get all the way to the top of the anvil, even shooting vertically on a panorama, but I was at least able to shoot the storm from end-to-end using this method.

DSC_2859-HDR-Pano

And that right there, ladies & gentlemen, made the 6 hour drive worth it! I had gotten exactly what I was looking for on this day! Then as icing on the cake, I was able to capture what I believe was the ONLY CG strike out of the rear-end of this storm!

DSC_3296

Even though the storm was losing intensity at this time, it was still stunning to watch!

DSC_3366

Overall very pleased with the photos I came away with from this storm! I wondered for a while if we would even get anything worth photographing as those storms just kept struggling, but finally this beauty emerged! I definitely consider this a successful chase, even with a lack of tornadoes!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2017 in Chase Logs

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,