It's a rough chase year when you have to stick chase accounts together. About how much I think of either of these. But I drove my butt off on these two chases, so I'm making an account. Not crazy far, just hard fast chases. This first one is near Alma Nebraska September 6, ending southeast of Smith Center KS. I watch this storm finally explode from further east and move west to intercept it. As I'm driving north on this gravel road I see a flicker and fast boom. Real close anvil bolt. Then no more of those as I sat here and watched the storm to my west.
Can see how that ball of heavy precip has impacted and is sending out a rainfoot to the left/south of the core.
As the storm closes in, I flip the car around to go back south and then east and to my surprise the field RIGHT behind me was on fire. That one close bolt as I drove north evidently started this. By the time of this shot you can see the storm's outflow is pushing the fire back south now, as the smoke lifts north over the cool outflow air yet.
The storm's strong rfd winds turned this fire south so hard. Pretty soon there was a couple mile long line of smoke hugging the ground. I needed to get east though.
A good while later, on some gravel road north of Smith Center KS. The thing had hope just before this and was trying again. It just had really intense outflow though, always blasting underneath it. The one place I stopped I was pretty darn sure this one tree was going to come flying into my window.
Cool scene as I head east out of Smith Center. I'm about to pull over and look back west. Thing was, the storm was moving rather quickly and it also just had a new updraft go up ahead of it, which was now taking over. That didn't help in getting ahead of things quickly enough.
Pulled over shooting back west at a really cool scene, but rapidly losing it in the core dropping south over me.
Wedge of wind driven rain plowing south, about to kill my view.
After moving again this was the view to the west. There was a cooler looking period as I was driving south. It had two spiral bands of rain in the air curling around the updraft. Pretty cool at that point.
You could tell it was in a die down phase now. Lighting was amazing however.
Year of the sunflower. The things were everywhere this year. Not a bad chase day. Still waiting on one to sorta help make up for a crappy 2012.
October 13, 2013 Great Bend KS area chase below.
At least I didn't make the plunge further down into sw OK or TX I guess. It was a minor consideration as I left home early enough to. Instead I waited west of Wichita, then moved a bit more west and a hair north so I was ne of Dodge City. Got in the middle of the cluster of convection as it fired, which wasn't a great plan given speeds. I end up east of Great Bend and hit a one lane road construction stop. Great. Flip around and take a paved deal north instead. That made it halfway to highway 4 paved before going to kinda crap. It had been rained on earlier and likely with the lead storm I was at least trying to stay within a shot of, incase I needed to be. There were some jet black tire tracks on the thing from someone else. Didn't look good if it got very wet now. I make highway 4 and go east, only to see a new storm pop up where I had been to the southwest and right away the thing went tornado warned. Woohoo, race back south, then have to take gravel west to avoid that construction zone. I thought I had gone far enough west I could drop back south to the highway west of the construction zone stop. I see a train of cars going west as I go south. I thought, surely that is them out of the zone. I get to the highway and there's a sign saying wait for a the pilot car. Noooooo. I was close enough when I saw the train of cars going west that I figured I could just go for it and catch back up with them. Punched it and did just that. It was a bit nerve racking at first, since there was a small incline and I couldn't see how far out they were. Knew we had to be close to where it started. Thought worst that would happen is I'd have to pull off the highway and just look like a jackass if the pilot car was already coming back. That wasn't very likely though given where I could see them as I dropped south before.
I was on it while it was still tornado warned and it didn't look at all like a tornado producer. Was still on it after that as they issue another new tornado warning for it. It wasn't till that 2nd warning was cancelled did the thing ever start to look interesting. That is where this starts off image-wise above. The crappy part was, once it got to my location, I'd have to take those same crap roads to avoid that same one lane construction area again. Felt like dejavu. All the while these weren't slow moving storms but moving damn fast.
I lead it and find it looked pretty good now. The above image I'm northeast of it, in its path using a 14mm lens on a full frame camera.
The thing was flying and pretty much overhead. I had made it through that gravel area and back to highway 4 I believe. Going east now. It was messed up how far I'd have to hold this out the passenger window and not get the door frame. 14mm full frame is silly wide. But I kept thinking, damn this thing is going to produce back in there now. So had to get some shots somehow. No time to stop with this thing.
Not being able to see what was happening as I flew east, with it moving up right behind me, I thought, open the sunroof and shoot backwards lol.
Or hold it back out the window and try that way too. When no cars were around obviously.
Well, time to use gravel again and go north. Joy. That looks a lot like a funnel back in there but it's really not. More like a slanted cloud that isn't overly attached to anything. In very saturated air it doesn't take much to get look-a-like features. Can often tell by just how smooth one edge happens to be while the other not so much.
More roads scaring me. Least I will touch them now, as before with the Mustang I learned not to lol. Last several years you'd just about never find me on a gravel road with rain around. So often they don't stay in the same shape as where you got on them. I've gotten a lot more brave again, having front wheel drive back(for the first time in 10 years). Basically if the storm seems to have a chance, I will now chance the roads again. It was pretty stupid with a storm moving this fast though, to try and be pacing it on these. But I was managing.
There is that same feature. I'm again trying to stop to get a couple shots but it's already on me and running over me again fast.
Crop from the above shot of that feature which looks a lot on the ground. I wouldn't call it a tornado however. You can simply get such formations that are on or damn near on the ground and them not be tornadoes. Funny all the interesting times of this storm were after the tornado warnings were done.
Going east and my road goes stupid. There wasn't a single rock on this one now. You'd be stuck fast if this got rained on with you on it. There was enough time from the morning rain till now it was ok'ish. I didn't feel great flying east on it though. If the storm doesn't seem to have potential, I'd just stop and try to find another road, letting that storm chase go and hope for another. If it seems to have hope and I wind up with this for an option, I'll surely take it. It won't be long till I find myself stuck again. I haven't been stuck since about 2005, because I got scared off the damn things by getting stuck like 3 times. Having front wheel drive again to me feels like someone going from front wheel drive to a monster truck.
The storm dies and I go rainbow chasing a bit, west of Salina. Had a nice full double rainbow before this but I got greedy when I saw the windmill farm. Those were just so much further from me than I was thinking. Had a stupid cloud to the west that by going more north for the windmills, would block my sun too much.
There was this area west of Salina that had crazy fall colors. I couldn't find a good view, then wound up in this park. The thing was the setting sun and orange bouncing off these anvils above, simply made the fall colors in that area look even more insane. Too bad I didn't have more time to look for good views of it all, as this really isn't that.
I see some geese over in that water, so I walk over there to try and include them in the shot. But they start coming after me. I was so sure that lead one was going to pursue me into my car and attack me in there, that I hurried up and put my video camera on my window. I was like, dude what the hell, you didn't have to come to me. He'd hiss and come at me lol. We were soon all buds though.
This is all 14mm full frame. I could reach from where I'm shooting this and touch his head. He was none too happy either, you can see he's hissing with his tongue out. I think they were hungry and people feed them something here.
Much more relaxed now. When I left for this chase I saw a skunk within the first 5 miles. I kept thinking all day, that's a sign I'm getting skunked on this chase. Goosed is probably more appropriate.