CHASE BLOGS

USA STORM CHASE 2011

MAY 19 2011

The SPC had issued a slight risk for severe weather in our area today although the tornado risk was twice as high as yesterday at 10%.
We headed out towards the Greensburg area, The SPC upgraded the risk to a moderate for our area and things looked really good, and storms began to fire. We moved north to intercept the first few cells but they would moving faster than anticipated at 50-55 knots and after experiencing some small hail in the core they were too fast to keep up with. We abandonded them and headed back south to intercept new storms firing up along the dry line.
The storms were weak and disorganised though, and died before they really got severe. However towards sunset were intercepted some cell near Dodge City, that produced some nice structure. A nice end to the day.

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MAY 18 2011

There was quite a lot of potential for today, decent CAPE values of 2500 as the moisture lacking from the plains since last week finally swept back in.
We headed back to Oklahoma and targeted Watonga where we would wait for the storms to initiate. All the ingredients were there but the capping inversion was obviously stronger than the models had indicated as we eventually was treated to the storm chasers nightmare "blue sky bust"
We eventually gave up and headed to Wichita, KS to get into position for tomorrows chase.



MAY 17 2011

I'm not sure if today qualifies as a chase bust as the potential was so low. Anyway we headed to SE Colorado as the morning models indicated that that was the area if anywhere where something may happen. The dew points were lower there than in NW Texas but we hoped the higher terrain may work in our favour. nope... nothing happened!, and we called off the chase quite quickly before heading to Woodward OK to position for tomorrow. The potential for severe weather looks better as we head through the week, fingers crossed!.

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MAY 16 2011

This was just a relocation day to move south into Texas, now our eighth State in this years chase.
Hopefully the low level moisture should return in the next few days to make the end of our chase potentially more interesting.
Anyway we headed to Amarillo and the Big Texan, where after failing to see anyone manage to eat their 72oz steak, It finally happened as a guy from Vermont polished it off with 9 mins to spare of the allotted one hour.
Tomorrow will hopefully be a chase day, but our target is unknown yet. Let's see what the models say tomorrow.




MAY 15 2011

Today was a relocation day, as we start to head south to wait for the storm potential to increase next week. We decided to head back to our chase base in Norman, OK and take the time to just chill out after a lot of days on the road. We have covered 7 States so far on this years chase, so it was nice to just unwind.
It also meant that I was able to visit my favourite place of Italian cuisine out here in the Plains. The Olive Garden.

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MAY 14 2011

Today was another of our dreaded down days. Fortunately though the pattern is looking better as we head into next week.
We decided to head to the Cosmosphere and Space Center, where they were showing Sean Casey's IMAX movie "Tornado Alley". It was nice to finally get the chance to see it as I wonder whether they will ever show it in the UK. We also watched the "Hubble" movie too which was spectacular. The museum is awesome with the original Apollo 13 command module on show there too.

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MAY 13 2011

There were no storms predicted anywhere near our range today as they had moved way over to the east. So we decided to head back into Kansas to begin the wait for the next wave of severe weather to fire up next week. We took in some of the local sights on route, and I captured a nice sunset after we had booked a motel in Hutchinson for the night.

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MAY 12 2011

Today was a long and tough chase day, but somewhat rewarding. We had to head out really early to continue east into Missouri where our chase area was expected to be. We arrived in our target area around 15:00 as the storms began to fire. However the moisture looked better to our NW back in SW Nebraska. We had to make a sharp decision quick, we decided that that had better potential so we blasted out to reach our new target in time. We knew it was 3 hours away but we did not expect the new storms to fire there before then.
We arrived as towers began going up, and we quickly got on a cell just N of Lincoln It looked great on radar and we were in perfect position. It started to split and we were on the right moving cell. However it was still turning into a real HP mess. We stayed on it and let the hail core hit us. The stones were bigger than yesterday at around golf ball size, and there was a lot of inter cloud lightning in it. It soon became too outflow dominent though, and as darkness fell we called off the chase, and booked up in Lincoln.

There were a few brief tornadoes reported on the storm but a least two were by law enforcement. so we quickly disregarded those! gotta love sheriffnadoes!.

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MAY 11 2011


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We had high hopes initially for the chase today. A moderate risk was forecast by the SPC overnight with a 10% risk of tornadoes in SW Kansas/ N Oklahoma.
The risk had dropped to a slight though by the 1630z this morning, but the target area had shrunk somewhat, however the tornado risk remained the same. There was CAPE of around 2000 and the cap was not so strong so we knew storms would fire today but what would they produce?.
Our initial target was around Kinsley KS but we soon realised we would have to shift further west into Colorado as storms began to fire.

When attempting to intercept one just north of Burlington Co, we took a dirt road (big mistake) and got stuck in the mud, fortunately one of our other vehicles pulled us out real quick and we got on a supercell that had nice structure and soon produced hail of pea to nickel sized stones for a good 10 mins as the core hit us. Our cell showed a nice radar hook several times and we thought it may yet produce. Unfortunately though there were too many storms competing for energy and they became to disorganised to produce a tornado.
We stayed with the storm until it began to die before the long drive east back through Kansas to get into position for tomorrows chase. We eventually got to Hays KS really late.



MAY 10 2011

Today was a relocation day in order to be in position for the storms tomorrow in Kansas and Oklahoma, so we took a leisurely drive down to Great Bend, KS.
On the way down we witnessed a nice sunset just outside Hays.

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MAY 9 2011

Today there was a marginal risk for severe weather in N Nebraska / South Dakota, so we headed to Murdo, SD to wait for storms to fire up. Again the capping inversion was strong but today the cape was not so good.
There we hooked up with many other chasers including Reed Timmer and the TVN crew, and waited..and waited but the storms refused to fire. Pretty frustrating 2 days running but the chase trip has only just begun so there should be plenty of opportunities ahead.
We eventually called the chase off and headed south back into Nebraska, and booked a motel in Valentine.

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MAY 8 2011

This was a long and frustrating chase day. Our chase area was in N Nebraska so that meant a really early start in order to blast north to get there for initiation.
We headed out at 8am and managed to reach Nebraska in good time. A lot of ingredients were in place, with 4000 CAPE values but our issue was the strong cap that was stopping storm initiation.
We waited and waited but the cap refused to break, we headed north slightly towards O'Neil where it looked to be slightly weaker but to no avail. We ended the day with a bust.
We booked a motel and headed to the local Pizza Hut where we met up with a lot of other chasers including Tim Samaras and the Twistex team and our UK chase friend Vicky Redwood.



MAY 7 2011

We have arrived in Oklahoma after out little jaunt across the pond via Chicago. Pretty tired now as it's 2.30 am UK time. We will be heading to Nebraska tomorrow as there is decent potential there, so that means an early start in order to blast north to get there for storm initiation. I am not sure yet our exact target area so we will fine tune that tomorrow before we hit the road.