First chase of the storm season

06 May 2014

This year we arrived in the states for 26th April after 6 months backpacking around South America. With our flights home booked for 20th June this would leave us nearly 8 weeks for storm chasing. There were storms, indeed fairly bad ones, the day after we landed, but these were out of our reach and the setup was a punishing one; the storms hit populated areas and even that aside, the chase territory would not have been good. After that the weather moved on east, still stormily but somewhat less damaging, and eventually headed out to sea, leaving a more summer-like weather pattern in its wake. Given the good weather we took the opportunity to visit a few national parks and spend the time getting set up for when the storms did arrive.

Preparations included getting some new kit. Most notably, Cammie’s new Nikon D610 and Nikkor 14-24mm lense. It’s a great bit of kit and we’ve been having fun doing a few tests.

Today was to be the most marginal setup out of what appeared to be 3 days of bad weather coming in. The three days would likely see the worst weather at their tail end, however we were very ready and were willing to chase basically any potential for some storms! The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had split their forecast into 2 main sections plus one area that warranted simply a small area being drawn on their map indicating thunderstorms might happen, but no mention of it in the actual forecast. Think of it like a treasure map, but in addition to the gold it has the location of some standard supermarket crockery noted down. We decided to try and head for this crockery. Although this was clearly not a setup that was going to set the world alight, it had the makings of a worthwhile chase, not to mention that it left us in the right area for the next day!

We started the day in Amarillo, Texas and headed straight for Wichita Falls where we found a park to have some lunch and wait for the storms to fire. After a couple of hours, some running round the park, an ice cream and some tinkering with cameras, we finally saw what we’d been waiting for since the end of our last chase trip: some storm clouds were rising. We immediately set off to try and get involved as quickly as we could. The inevitable uncertainties, particularly those you get earlier in a chase trip, can cause plenty of indecision. Surely enough we changed our mind about where we needed to be a couple of times, but eventually we found our storms. They were fairly easy going (discrete and slow moving) so with a little time available to us we found somewhere to stop and take some photos and enjoy the evening light. These storms were never going to do much more than produce some rain, hail and lightning, but we were still very happy to be in their presence.

Sunset Stormy Weather Photo With Tree

 

Nice Trees Sunset Weather

Far too many pictures later, as our first storm dissipated, we headed down the road to intercept the next one along. We got another nice view of sunset with it and even managed to “core punch” it, though with this particular storm that was more like taking a walk in the rain rather than the usual skimming tornadoes in a washing machine.

Baron Core Hit

Stormy Weather And Our Car

As we decided to call it a day and head to our chosen town for the night we found ourselves with one last beautiful view of the storm from the road. Fantastic structure that we always miss seeing in between seasons!

Car Plus Storm Weather Photo

 

Storm Near Jacksboro TX

It may have been a tame chase overall, but the first one of the year always benefits from plenty of pent up hunger for some storms so we found ourselves very happy as we arrived in Jacksboro for the night. Fortunately with 2 beers left over from 2 days previous to celebrate the first chase of the year...fortunately because we were in a “dry county”. A strange religious based continuation of prohibition employed by some states in the south - mostly in Texas. We now have a map of these to ensure we don’t get caught out again!

 Prohibitionmap - via wikipedia

(Red: 'full' prohibition, yellow partial. Source: wikipedia)

SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Tue May 2014

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Tue May 2014

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