Chasing Down a Supercell

When it’s May you chase.  During the week of May 22, 2016, a southward dip in the jet stream occurred in the West near Colorado, with favorable thermodynamics advecting northwards and setting the potential for a tornado outbreak. In the early afternoon of May 22, 2016, an Enhanced Risk was issued by the Storm Prediction Center for extreme southwestern Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and northern Texas.  Numerous tornadoes touched down along the dryline that evening, with the strongest tornadoes touching down in Texas.        

Las Vegas Storm Chase

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 13: Lightning explodes over the city of Las Vegas, Nevada September 13, 2017.  Vegas during the monsoon season is an exciting time for us.  It is constantly filled with the anticipation of severe weather and the preparation of our equipment to pursuit lightning.  Storm chasing in and around Vegas is an incredibly rewarding experience when Mother Nature puts her bad behavior on display for the whole Vegas valley to see.  Sure there are those little storms out there on the Plains, meh, but when it…

Kansas Storm Chase

DEXTER, KANSAS – MAY 31, 2017:  The sun sets May 31, 2017, after a day of storm chasing severe weather near Dexter, Kansas. (Photo by Marc Sanchez) Kansas.  I love storm chasing in Kansas.  It was in Kansas I saw an epic F3/F4 tornado near Dodge City on May 24, 2016.    Like most of my storm chasing adventures on the plains, this day was memorable.  After a long day of chasing severe weather near Dexter, Kansas I found myself parked on this old dirt road watching the sunset.  The…

Storm Chase Dodge City, Kansas

May 24, 2016 was an epic day storm chasing on the plains. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had forecasted an enhanced risk for the day and I was ready for another epic day of chasing.  I was in Shamrock, Texas and it seemed like an eternity waiting for the latest forecast model.  I sat and waited, drove around, fueled up, looked at the SPC website, checked the mesoanalysis page, and chatted on messenger in an attempt to figure out where the target area was going to be for the afternoon.…

Storm Chase Four States

The convective outlook for the day called for an enhanced risk and the main reason I decided to make the overnight drive from North Dakota to Wyoming. It was a long night of driving through some terrible weather and I was tired, worn down, and zombie-like as I pulled into the outskirts of North Platte, Nebraska.  Parked on the side of the road with one eye open, I tried to watch the sunrise but my eyes felt like heavy weights were attached to the lids and I easily fell right…

Storm Chase The Dakotas

The day started in Rapid City, South Dakota and ended 36 hours later in Denver, Colorado.  It was a tough chase day but well worth the lack of sleep and the 1,033 miles of driving.  If I had to remember one thing about this chase day that stood out in my mind, it was my night in Rapid City.  The bed at the Inn and Suites where I had stayed the night was so comfortable.  The morning arrived too quick and the ritual of looking at maps, looking at the…

Storm Chase South Dakota

I had an early morning departure to get to the target area in time.  The target was 647 miles away and after spending the night in a terrible motel, it was not difficult waking up early and getting on the road.  Holy smokes, wrap me in plastic, break out the lysol, spray and pray.  The motel room was bad, but I was tired and needed a place to sleep other than the front seat of Drones.  At this point I had traveled 1,994 miles and I was still on a cloud…

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…

Storm Chase Oklahoma

I thought I would get an early start and head for Dallas Forth Worth to see a friend.  Checking the weather it seemed like the target area was going to be northeast Oklahoma.  I decided to scrap driving south to Dallas and head for Oklahoma.  Storms were predicted in northeast Oklahoma and I wanted to be in position before storms initiated in the afternoon.  I spent most of the morning trying to figure out some work related issues back in Las Vegas and it was super frustrating.  On the road to…

Storm Chase Texas

The chase started in Shamrock, Texas and at the end of the day, I would find myself seeing a supercell and getting pummeled by hail, rain, and wind.  I had mixed feelings about what had occurred the day before when I missed a tornado in Canadian, Texas.   I kept thinking about my choice to stay on I-40 direct to Shamrock then north to Canadian.  There was an alternate route but I chose not to take it.  I kept thinking if I would have taken the alternate route, I would have seen…

Storm Chase Canadian Texas

Departing Albuquerque, New Mexico I had a sense of missing Vegas.  The chase rig began to cut out like it was running out of fuel and I wondered if I was really going to make the trip.  The thought of ending the chase before it really started tugged away in my mind.  I was two states away and trying to figure out my next move really consumed my thoughts.  I decided to stop and take a break in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  I refueled the chase rig, grabbed a cup of coffee,…

Storm Chase To Target Area

691 miles and a couple states away, the speedometer landed on 213,915 when I stopped for the night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Earlier in the day near Ash Fork, Arizona the chase rig started to cut out like it was running out of fuel.  I thought I might be headed back to Vegas.  I stopped in for fuel  then back on the road.  Flagstaff was the trigger point.  If all was well in Flagstaff with the chase rig, I would continue on the road to New Mexico.  I suspect a…

Storm Shots I July 2009

  2009 JULY 22:  Monsoon moisture fueled an outbreak of severe thunderstorms that produced high winds and extremely dangerous cloud to ground lightning in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Storm Shots August 2014

We were all sitting around watching a marathon of Dexter on TV when I noticed some thunderstorm activity in the area north of Vegas.  At 11:30 p.m. I decided to jump in the chase rig and head for the desert initially going for the Indian Springs area.   I drove towards Indian Springs and found a place to reassess the storm versus my position.   Arriving near Corn Creek south of Indian Springs, I decided it wasn’t the only show in town and I needed to head over on the other side of the…

Storm Shots July 2014

July 07:2014: Upon returning from Sunday’s chase I noticed the underside of the chase vehicle was coated in oil. I decided it was best to work on locating the source of the oil leak and fix it because there would be more days of chasing ahead.  As I was tearing down the engine looking for the leak, I kept noticing the sky getting darker. The winds began to kick up and the air the air smelled like rain. Wrenching along on the engine, I kept seeing flashes of lightning out…