June 12, 2010


Initial Target: Boise City, OK
Departure: Tribune, KS 8:00 am CDT
Arrival: Perryton, TX 12:00 am CDT
Intercepts: Morse, TX
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Wall Cloud
Miles: 407


Triple Point/Stationary Front setup in the TX/OK Panhandles. Targeted quasi triple point in the Oklahoma panhandle for early initiation of weakly capped airmass. Intercepted tornado warned supercell near Sunray, TX noting HP/outflow dominant structure. Followed storm as it blew up into huge linear looking line with dramatic shelf cloud. Met up with Jesse Risley and Tom Williams and caravanned, until calling it a chase and stopping for dinner in Perryton, TX. New storm reorganized with hook and tornado warning, so went back out after dinner at dusk. Saw HP structure and amazing CG display before calling it a chase well after dark.

Crew and Equipment:

Solo chase but caravanned with Jesse Risley and Tom Williams later on.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Kyocera data card and router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V.




Saturday was my fourth continuous chase day on the Great Plains. The setup looks like another rather marginal day for tornadoes, but definitely looked like it would have some supercell action across the panhandles where a stationary front was draped. I targeted Boise City, OK in the OK panhandle for early to mid afternoon initiation of supercells in a weakly capped environment.

This is where I had spent the night in the van. A desolate looking field near Tribune, KS. Its super flat here and not a tree in sight. It was a great place for star gazing the night before, and it was rather surreal being out there under the huge sky and balmy weather. This morning though, under grey misting skies, the brown and grey fields were rather drab and depressing.

I made my way south to Boise City, OK stopping for lunch at the Dairy Queen. Vortex 2 also decided to setup camp in town and the restaurant was overwhelmed. I had time though and was able to get some food and chat with some of the students in the group. "You're in the right place," was the reply when I asked them about their target while I thought, "Oh am I? Are you sure you guys are?"

Storms started to fire in the Texas panhandle to my south so I hurriedly finished up lunch and booked it south. I made a quick gas stop before making my intercept. Coming in from the north I core punched the storm west of Sunray and hit some hail up to about one inch. I was spared the wrath of the storm though as Bart Comstock ran into some five inch hail on the back end that actually punched through his windshield leaving a gaping hole. Emerging out in front of the storm I had what I thought was a nice wall cloud coming into view, but as soon as I got out in front of it, it appeared to be gusting out in a big high precipitation gust front. The supercell looked like it was done before I could even chase it.
Moving east a little and watching the rear flank of the storm bow out into a huge HP mess:
I shot some time lapse of the gust front and rear flanking core moving along and was soon joined by about a bunch of other chasers including Bart Comstock, Jesse Risley, Tom Williams, Kendra Reed, Kris Hair, David Reimer, and Ric Burney. Most of them I had only met online so it was great to finally meet them in person.
The mudpuppy and some of the other chaser vehicles behind:
Kendra,. Kris, and Jesse:

Jesse and I decided to caravan for the rest of the chase. We headed northeast. A rather linear looking line was now forming at this point with some embedded rotation. Visually on the ground there wasn't much to go off though so we just drifted along with the best looking cells in the line.

We stopped to get some shots of an approaching shelf cloud and were joined by even more chasers.
The northern end of an approaching shelf cloud:
We let the shelf pass right over head and were swallowed by the Whale's Mouth:
Storms on the line were still tornado warned, but with our prospects not looking too good we decided to get east of the line a few miles and shoot another approach of the shelf cloud. Out ahead of the line we bumped into chasers Shane Adams and Bridget Geughan. As the shelf fanned out away from the storms it too started to fall apart. We decided to call it a chase and headed into Perryton, TX for some BBQ at "Money's." The storm caught up with us and we got some half inch hail while we were inside the restaurant. While we were eating ribs and brisket we got word that there was a supercell that had organized and a tornado was being streamed live on the internet. We were dismayed that we had blown off the chase and were now missing the show while we shoved our faces.
We finished up dinner quickly and decided to head back out west and catch back up with the storms. We later found out that the tornado report was false, so actually hadn't missed anything. We clipped the core of one storm while heading west to a more promising prospect that was tornado warned. At about dusk some high precipitation supercell structure came into view and we stopped to let the storm approach. There was a fantastic amount of cloud to ground lightning, some of the best I've ever seen. Jesse and Tom stayed in the car and I braved the lightning, setting my camera up for some long exposures to capture it. This is one of my best lightning shots, notice how it illuminates the ground where it hits:
Using a fence post as a tripod I was able to get some awesome shots of the lightning. Its really stupid to be outdoors in this kind of lightning, especially to be hanging on a fence that could easily carry the current of a ground strike, but the lightning was still well to my west so I took my chances.
Here the bolts light up the shelfy looking lowering on the storm:
Several more good bolts:

We moved east a bit to keep ahead of the storm and watched as a rather ragged looking wall cloud or at least some inflow tails started to condense, while the lightning continued.

Shelfy looking lowering with the rear flanking core behind it, and a bolt of lightning reflecting on the roof of Jesse's car:
Jesse and Tom decided to call it a night and started heading for a hotel room they had booked up in Liberal, KS as they were heading home the next day. I went back west a bit to the same fence post I was using earlier for a tripod and tried to get some more lightning shots. I got a few but the bolts weren't as good as they were earlier. After awhile I too decided to call it a chase. I found a quiet spot just south of Perryton to spend the night in the van. It was along a river on some winding dirt ranch roads. The storms to the north were training and causing flash flooding. My spot seemed high enough up from the river, but I was still worried that the storms might drift south and flash flood the area I was in washing me away. They stayed north, however, and I was able to get a decent night's sleep.




This was a fun chase. I intercepted a rather messy and linear looking supercell, but got some nice shelf timelapses and the best lightning stills I've ever taken. Jesse caught a brief spin-up on the storm before I was able to intercept, but I'm not too bummed about missing it. It was about the only tornado reported in the region. It was fun meeting up with all the chasers I had chatted with online as well as caravanning with Jesse and Tom and getting some local BBQ for dinner.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Don't give up on the storms if you're spending all day out on the chase, or at least watch the radar while you eat dinner.