Another successful chase day for us in the Texas Panhandle. We started the day in Norman, OK and headed west down the I-40 into the Texas Panhandle. It wasn’t long before this particular storm went up and we were hot on it’s tail from the get go. Aside from some amazing storm structure, we were also treated to a classic tornado (albeit from a few miles away) and another *possible* large tornado that was wrapped in rain near the town of Stinnett. Sirens were wailing the entire time in Stinnett so folks there were aware of the danger. All in all a great chase day…hope you enjoy the video!
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On May 19th, 2010 we witnessed two tornadoes near the town of Stillwater, OK. The first tornado touched down while we still about 5 miles away, but we could see the debris swirl on the ground. The second tornado touched down as we approached the town on Stillwater. We pulled off the road right as it was forming about 1/2 mile away. The funnel never fully condensed all the way to the ground, but a debris swirl was very evident at the surface. After that, we were treated to some amazing storm structure and a few close calls with very large hail!! The road network didn’t really cooperate with us today and we found ourselves in some pretty hairy situations. Most notable was when we had to make a quick decision on whether to take an east road which would most likely turn to dirt (but would get us out of the direct path of the approaching core faster), or shoot south and punch through the hook. We chose the hook since getting stuck on a muddy dirt road would have been very bad to say the least. Problem was, the storm wrapped back up as we were punching through the hook and the next thing I knew, we were slamming on the brakes and pulling off the road due to intense RFD screaming across the road! Actually, there was some talk that night that the outer circulation of a tornado passed right in front of us, but this wasn’t confirmed. A house just off the road from where we pulled off started losing it’s shingles and a piece of their overhang. It was a scary moment for us but thankfully we got out of there all right.
Hope you enjoy the video! Thanks for watching
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Lightning striking over an open field near McCook, NE in June of 2007. I didn’t notice the horses grazing in the field until I viewed back the series of photos later that evening. This particular shot was my favorite of the bunch.
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This image was taken by me on I-70 in Central Kansas on June 26th, 1999. The amazing display of sun rays shooting everywhere only lasted about 30 seconds, but thankfully I was ready with camera in hand. Definitely one of my favorite shots.
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This day literally came at the end of our trip to Tornado Alley. And what a way to end it! Dave Lewison, Mark Robinson and I were chasing near Beatrice, NE earlier this day, and we were on an amazing supercell thunderstorm that did in fact produce a tornado. We briefly witnessed this tornado but as the storm began to weaken, our attention soon turned to the storms that were firing west of us…I mean WAY west of us near Grand Island. A decision had to be made, do we pursue the storms in our area, in the hopes that another one would take shape, or perhaps the storm that we were on would re-intensify and possibly produce a tornado again….or do we haul it to the Grand Island storm. Thankfully we made the decision to head to Grand Island!
We skirted the Kansas/Nebraska state line until we hit our north road option which would take us right to I-80 in the town of York, NE. We arrived in York around 6 or 630pm if memory serves me right and immediately got on the 80 heading west towards Grand Island. The storm was right in front of us and it looked amazing! The anvil was spreading out right on top of us, and the updraft base was visible in the distance. At this point we were still a good 50 miles from the storm, and reports began to come in that it had already produced a tornado. We were just hoping that it would still have some left for us by the time we got there. Thankfully the speed limit on I-80 was 75mph, we made good time and arrived near the town of Alda, NE right as the storm was really getting it’s act together! A few tornadoes had already been sighted by other chasers before we had arrived, but from the looks of it, our storm was not done quite yet.
We set up our cameras and shot video as a wall cloud took shape literally right on top of us! The clouds were spinning like a top and at this point we felt that we had to readjust our position a litter further east down Route 34. At one point we could see that a funnel was beginning to take shape right on the southern suburbs of Grand Island and we were hoping that it would wait just a little longer before planting itself, as there were many homes and businesses that would have been right in it’s path! I believe at this location there was a brief touchdown, but thankfully it lifted and caused only minor damage to some trees.
We drove a little further down Route 34 and then finally it planted itself right behind us! It started as some debris getting kicked up on the ground, and it kept dancing back and fourth across the road as it was strengthening. But it wasn’t long before this tornado grew in size and now it was a large, dark, ominous dust bowl heading right in our direction. We felt confident that we could keep ahead of it, and I have to say, with all the chasers that were on the road that day, everyone played nice and at least from my perspective, there were no accidents. The next 15 minutes or so were spent filming, and relocating further down the road as the tornado would get close. We finished off the day back in York, NE where we got ourselves rooms, and had a well deserved steak dinner and a rum and coke (or two) at a local Applebee’s. One of my top 10 chase days for sure.
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The Storm Prediction Center had a high risk out for tornadoes and severe weather in general on May 10th and it pretty much verified. We stayed in Blackwell, OK the night before and we couldn’t have picked a better location. Storms went up just to our west and the first storm we intercepted near the town of Nash quickly produced a tornado. The first tornado was a slender elephant trunk which had trouble condensing all the way to the ground. However, the debris swirl on the ground was a sure sign that it was a full touch down. Once it lifted we knew that we had to reposition due to the extremly fast storm motions. Storms were moving around 55 mph!! We adjusted our location and could see what was now a wedge in the making taking shape right behind our vehicles! We jumped out and the first thing I saw was this amazing Merry-Go-Round meso rotating practically right above us, a awe inspiring sight indeed. I shot about 30 seconds of video before having to get back into the car to adjust our position yet again. We continued down the road and attempted another intercept, but the storm was moving too fast for us to catch it. We opted for a more southern storm but that storm proved too hard to intercept as well. Overall though a successful day of chasing!
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A collection of my best nature, tornado & severe weather photographs taken between 1999-2009
Sunset at Monument Rocks near Oakley, KS- June 2007. Looking through the “key hole”
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This is a new edit I have put together and it also includes video shot by Dave Lewison who was with me for this unforgettable chase. I can’t believe it’s been almost five years now. Some of the video has never been seen before up until now.
After some debate, we settled on riding Katrina out at the Hancock Bank parking garage located on 14th street in Downtown Gulfport, MS. Actually, fellow chasers George Kourounis and Mark Robinson were the ones to actually scout this place out first while Dave and I were still en route. It turned out that this parking garage was the perfect shelter for us. Gulfport was destroyed by Katrina and this video details the incredible events of August 29th, 2005….from the pre-storm environment to the full force of Katrina, to the aftermath. We had no idea at the time how bad this storm was going to be. Our hearts still go out to all those affected by this devastating storm.
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We started the day in Fort Scott, KS where we agreed that our target area for that day would be somewhere in either south central Nebraska, or north central Kansas. We headed out around 10am and much to our surprise, Chris Kridler (who was set to fly out that afternoon) decided to hang around one more day and chase with us! A great surprise and well worth it in the end. We headed up route 69 in extreme eastern Kansas and while cruising along, we had a 2002 or 2003 Black Camaro pass us on the shoulder moving at around 120 mph, no I’m not kidding…lol, and right after that a cop car went flying by. It was a high speed chase!! WOW, I’ve never seen that before. Anyway, back to the chase. We arrived in Beatrice, NE around 3pm and spoke with Charles Edwards of Cloud 9 Tours. We discussed the days target and Charles informed us that there were some cells going up in Kansas to our southwest…maybe about 85 miles away. At this point however I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited due to the fact that they looked pretty linear and I figured that was it for the day…we’re going to have a raging squall line.
Well, it didn’t work out that way. The line never fully formed, or I should say…never unzipped all the way down into southern Kansas. Instead the storms just kept rebuilding over the same area. We decided to head down that way and investigate. Basically there were three storms we were interested in towards the southern end of this line. We investigated the northern storm first and that one looked okay, but a bit too high based for our liking. Still though, we managed some great photo ops before deciding to move on to the middle storm. That storm was located near the town of Jewell, KS. Jewell had actually been hit by an EF3 tornado just two weeks before, so it was a sight to see a supercell and wall cloud in the background with the still fresh tornado damage in the foreground. After about 30 minutes of grabbing video and stills from that location (and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes) we decided to investigate the southern most cell. This cell had now become dominant and WOW….what an amazing storm this was!!! As we got closer we could see the classic UFO/Mothership appearance this storm had. I was in awe and couldn’t wait to get closer and we all felt that this storm had the best shot at producing a tornado. We passed the town of Cawker City, KS (where the world’s largest ball of twine is located) and then through the town of Downs, KS where by now..the base of the supercell was clearly visible. We decided to pull off at the intersection of route 281. We could hear the hail roar from this storm and knew that we had to proceed with caution. We shot video for a while and the entire time we could see the base rotating and the wall cloud which was now visible to our west had a classic look to it.
Right as we decided to reposition a bit further east a funnel became visible and about a mile down the road, we pulled back over and set up our cameras in anticipation…this was it!! The wall cloud was now just to our north and spinning like a top!! After about a minute of shooting video we could see that a tiny pencil like funnel was forming and before long, it touched down and we had a tornado!! It was brief and small, but it was a tornado none the less and needless to say….we were all very excited! We decided to follow this storm after the sun set since it still had an amazing radar presentation on it, but it did not go on to produce another tornado. Well, not any that we saw at least..but there were some ominous funnel like clouds that we witnessed right at twilight. An amazing day overall and a nice way to end our 2008 spot chase! We started the long drive back to Colby, KS where we set up for the night…got about 4 hours of sleep and then drove back to Denver to catch our flight home. Wheew!!! What a trip!!
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Dave Lewison and I intercepting this supercell near Edson, KS right at sunset on the evening of May 23rd, 2010. Amazing storm structure, being backlit by the setting sun, and some lightning thrown in for good measure. Nice way to end the day…Enjoy!
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Wow, I can’t believe that this was over 5 years ago already! Definitely one of my top chase days of all time. Many people just think of the Attica tornado hitting the house on the east side of town when I talk about this chase, but in reality we saw several tornadoes that day!
The first tornado was near the town of Sharon, KS. This video starts off with that tornado. It was a beautiful elephant trunk which at first was low contrast, but the contrast got better as the tornado began picking up the red dust that was in the field. The second tornado was the Attica tornado. This tornado formed just to the south of town, and just south of Route 160 which was the road we were on. As it moved northwest, it hit one house on the east side of town, and thankfully…the two occupants inside escaped unharmed. If this tornado would have formed just a little further to the west, it would have hit the town directly, thankfully this did not happen. The Attica tornado was rated by the old scale, and it was given an F2 rating.
The third tornado we witnessed was a little further east on Route 160 in Harper County. This tornado also formed south of the road and we filmed it for quite a while before deciding to head further east to stay out of the approaching core. We believe that it was this third tornado that ended up becoming the F4 that hit a house in the town of Harper, KS right around night fall. Thankfully once again, there were no serious injuries. Oh yeah, we also had a satellite tornado form right on the road in front of us that day too, lol. So all in all, that makes 4 tornadoes that we witnessed that day! Definitely a chase day to remember.
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This was the most intense hail storm that I have witnessed in many years of chasing out on the plains. Considering the fact that we weren’t even planning on chasing this day, it was quite a surprise as well. We were documenting some of the damage left in the wake of the Norman, OK tornado of May 10th when this cell popped up on radar. It started looking good so we decided to go after it and boy are we glad we did! The overall tornado potential was pretty low with this storm so we decided to go for the hail instead.
We intercepted the hail core in the town of Forest Park where we found shelter under a small chapel overhang. Our Canadian chaser friends pulled fully under this overhang, but Dave and I only put the front part of my Xterra under this overhang since our hail guards would protect the vehicle. However, our windshield hail guard might not have taken all the weight of the hail that did end up falling so it was a good move putting at least the front part of my truck under the overhang.
It was only moments later that the hail began to fall and wow was it intense! Mostly ping pong to golf ball size hail fell but there were a few larger stones mixed in there, and tons of it ended up falling over the 11 minute barrage! So much so that it looked like it had snowed!
Unfortunately there was a nest of small birds in a nearby tree that suffered incredibly during this storm. Many were killed and that was tough to watch happen.
Overall there were many reports of damage around the OKC Metro area on this day, a day I’ll remember for sure!
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