April 9, 2017


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Emporia, KS
Springfield, IL 8:00 AM 4/9/2017
Lebo, KS 6:00 PM 4/9/2017
0 mph


Low CAPE dryline setup in eastern KS. Car stalled before arriving at target requiring tow. Spent night in Lebo, KS after storms failed to initialize entirely. Car restarted next morning, but stalling issue unresolved.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony FDR-AX100.




Sunday, April 9, was a super low probability, low CAPE dryline setup over the eastern Plains and upper Midwest. Chances were not good for seeing a tornado, or even catching a substantial storm. However, it was a weekend, I hadn't bene to the Plains in months, and I was itching to get out of the house. Just taking a roadtrip to the Plains and back would make this chase a success. But I wound up not even being able to do that without mishap.

Dead Subaru
4 miles SSE of Melvern, KS
4:05 PM
I left Springfield in the morning, low on fuel, and topped off 20 miles down the highway in western Illinois. Then I did a long burn on 36 across northern Missouri and into Kansas. I stopped in Ottawa, KS for lunch before getting back on the road. The fuel light went on and the car indicated 50 miles of range to empty so I planned on taking the next exit for gas. I didn't make it. Just like the first time it happened the previous month, while in cruise on the highway, the engine suddenly revved and I rapidly lost speed and power, as if the car had been shifted into neutral or a low gear and was engine braking. The engine sputtered out and I coasted over to the shoulder. I tried cranking several times, but the car would not restart.

5:28 PM
I was able to get a tow out of a Lebo, KS which was just a few miles down the highway to the west. The driver towed me into the next exit and dropped the car off at a truck stop service station.

6:03 PM
The service station was already closed so it would have to wait until morning to be looked at. I got a room at the mom and pop motel that was conventiently located across the street.

6:07 PM

6:34 PM
Thanks to Kansas' archaic liquor laws, I couldn't even drown my sorrows. So I sat around for a nice, quiet evening doing pretty much nothing.

Evening Stroll
7 miles W of Waverly, KS
8:54 PM
The dryline failed to initialize entirely so at least I wound up not missing any storms or tornadoes. I went for a moonlit walk under clear skies and played around my camera phone's long exposure settings.
The following morning, the mechanic started by putting two gallons of gas in the car. It started right up as if nothing had happened, which is exactly what happened when my car stalled the previous month. I started up the next morning just fine. The mechanic then concluded that I had simply run it out of gas and that I shouldn't trust the indicated range gauge on the dash. Gee, aren't I dumb? I took the car across the street to the gas station and topped it off. Only 11 gallons went into the car. It holds almost 16 gallons total. So with the two the mechanic had added, there were at least two gallons in the car when it stalled. It wasn't simply out of gas.

Once I got it home, I brought the car back to the dealership in Springfield. I was starting to see a pattern and suspect there might be something wrong with the fuel system. The mechanics ran a couple checks, said it was fine, and kicked it out the door again without a diagnosis.


Another failed chase due to a stalled Subaru. At least I hadn't missed any storm action. The tow, trip, and wasted time weren't cheap, however.

Lessons Learned

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