Storm Chasing Oklahoma

The chase started in Elk City, Oklahoma and ended in Goodland, Kansas.   I left Clinton, Oklahoma on May 30th and and drove west to Elk City.  Arriving in Elk City before noon, I decided I needed a day off before the next leg of the journey so I booked a room and relaxed all day.  I was extremely tired of fast food, beating myself up always trying to figure out where the next gas station was located, and of course driving.  Most of the day was spent in the motel room watching HBO, but I managed to load up on a healthy food option, buy a Garmin GPS unit for navigation, and get some quality sleep.   The next day I drove to Kansas and I was pretty stoked Drones and I made it to the the state line.  We were on our way to Kansas Toto and I was feeling pretty damn good about the next leg of the chase.

31 May 2015: during a storm chasing trip to the Plains.
31 May 2015: Celebrating on the Kansas/Oklahoma state line during a storm chasing trip to the midwest.

 

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had forecasted eastern Colorado, western Kansas, and a small portion of southwest Nebraska as having a slight risk for tornadoes.  Okay so it was only 2%, but so far the 2% days seem to produce some interesting weather to photograph.  I decided to head northwest to Goodland, Kansas.  Goodland appeared on the map to be a good area to stage and wait for storms to develop.  If storms initiate in Nebraska or in Colorado, I would be able to get to them quickly.  The ingredients for a supercell were present, the target was picked, and I was off to Goodland to experience some weather.

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2015 May 31: NOAA Storm Prediction Center Convective Outlook showing a 2 % probability of a tornado in western Kansas.

 

I arrived in Goodland.   I felt good about the target, the timing, and the location.  Under my breathe I mumbled “perfect timing” as I watched a supercell forming off the horizon.  I decided I would casually drive north to gain a better vantage point of the baby supercell.  Driving towards the supercell I decided to commit to the storm and I kept on driving.  After all, it was the only show in town and the timing was perfect.

31 May 2015: A supercell begins to form near Goodland, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015: A supercell near Goodland, Kansas.

 

The supercell started to get bigger in the windshield so I pulled off to the side of the road, grabbed the cameras, and started shooting.

31 May 2015: during a storm chasing trip to the Plains.
31 May 2015: A supercell approaches a grain elevator in Goodland, Kansas.

 

The supercell approached a grain elevator and for several minutes it danced around the elevator winding up, spooling up, and I thought at any minute a funnel cloud would drop from the base.

31 May 2015: during a storm chasing trip to the Plains.
31 May 2015: A supercell approaches a grain elevator in Goodland, Kansas.

 

Clouds darted quickly inward toward the supercell and I was mesmerized by its power and the graceful swirling dance across the plains.  It was beautiful.

31 May 2015: A supercell begins to form near Goodland, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015: A supercell approaches a grain elevator in Goodland, Kansas.

 

No funnel cloud appeared and the supercell eventually dissipated.  I drove south to Sharon Springs to intercept a new supercell rolling in off the Colorado plains.  Approaching Sharon Springs, the sky became dark and I could see a shelf cloud approaching from the west.   This too was eye candy.  I parked and watched as the shelf cloud got closer.  Eventually it rolled right over the top of me and it was incredible.

31 May 2015: A general look at a supercell near Sharon Springs, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015: A supercell in Sharon Springs, Kansas.
31 May 2015: A general look at a supercell near Sharon Springs, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015:  A shelf cloud approaches Sharon Springs, Kansas.

 

I chased the storm east and through the sounds of thunder I kept hearing a moo.  I pointed the camera to take a photo of the shelf cloud and realized a large group of cows were all looking at me and mooing as if to say “Yo homie, give us some food.”

31 May 2015: A general look at a supercell near Sharon Springs, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015:  A group of cows gather near a shelf cloud in Sharon Springs, Kansas.

 

The sun was setting and the day of chasing was coming to a close.  I drove back to Goodland, Kansas riding high on a wave of good emotion and thinking about a friend who passed away two days earlier.  The visual candy was good for my soul and I looked to the sky and said thank you to my dear friend.

31 May 2015: A general look at a supercell near Sharon Springs, Kansas during a storm chasing trip to The Great Plains.
31 May 2015: The sun begins to set as a shelf cloud rolls across the plains in Sharon Springs, Kansas.

 

 

 

Post Chase Data

Elk City, Oklahoma to Goodland, Kansas = 393 miles

Total Chase Miles:  1,994 miles

 

May 30, 2015

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May 31, 2015

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