3 vehicles and a nearly nada

15 May 2015

Today marked the end of our 4 day quiet period where we had to rely on other frivolities the Plains has to offer such as the opportunity to stay in a plush hotel for a while, complete with bar downstairs, gym and indoor swimming pool WITH slide for a bargain deal of $55 a night, being a weekday in the middle of nowhere! However, although this may sound like massive fun, we were in desperate need of some rumbly clouds and it looked like today might deliver.

We started in Sterling, Colorado and with another new car as our old egg-starer had to be replaced due to the flatty from past. So we were now in Eggy Mark II the flashy blue monster from Utah! Although with an oil change needed in 3000 miles, it's probably going to be a short lived romance.

Storm Car 3

We headed north of Sterling into the Nebraska panhandle as moisture looked a bit better further north as it was pulled up and around the dryline by a deepening surface low pressure in north-east Colorado. Some convection from the previous evening had apparently overturned much of the lower levels, drying them out further south and this was noticeable on the morning analysis. We drove up to Sidney, Nebraska on the I80 and soon spied the Dominator filling up at the same gassy as us. A good sign we thought and I got a photo.

Storm Dominator

Having only taken 2 photos so far today, both of cars, I wondered what my third photo would be. Then we saw a Waky lookalike (Waky being our campervan back in the UK). So I took a photo of this too before we moved on, hoping that the photos from here on would have us pointing up at the sky a little more.

Storm Chasing Waky

In Sidney we watched as a couple of cells sidled past. Seeming somewhat elevated they didn't have us too excited but we decided to stick with them anyway. Just as well because 10 minutes on and the southernmost storm became tornado warned. Although it still looked a little high up and unorganised. We got a few pics.

Outside Sidney

Rotating Cell

First Tornado Warned Cell2

First Tornado Warned Cell3

We headed on a bit further and bumped into a mate Willoughby Owen who lives in Darwin and is out here for the next month chasing with a mate. It was good to see a friendly face and we watched the storm for a bit together before we all moved at the sight of it starting to wrap up again. Unfortunately it was still very elevated which was apparent when the only funnel it could produce, albeit a very nice one, was still miles above the ground.


We stayed with it as it swirled scud up into its base, above a field of cows and still further through flooded Bridgeport, a town always in our heart as it was where we saw our first supercell storm back in 2010.

After Funnel1

Storm Flood

We went a little further north but it wasn't long before we retreated as it was starting to dissipate and looked good neither by radar nor by eye. So we headed back south, down roads of rainy hail in an attempt to get ourselves onto another cell coming up from the south. The road we opted for was only chosen after much deliberation. It had to be timed perfectly in order to get underneath the cell now crossing it but leave us the chance to get far enough east to not get caught up in the next approaching cell from the south which was far bigger and had some very heavy rain and large hail in it. We timed it perfectly and the road took us straight underneath the cell. Unfortunately semi-heavy rain kept us from being able to get out to photograph it but I got a few car pics of the wall cloud and at one point it seemed to have quite a distinctive funnel.

Last Tornado Cell

Unfortunately though we then had to let this one go shortly afterwards as its path led up to the aptly named sandhills where all that awaits you are a lot of sandy hills with very little in the way of views or a good internet connection, making chasing somewhat challenging. The storms further to our west were starting to line out and with daylight dwindling this pretty much marked the end of our chase day. It was a little frustrating, as a number of tornados and some great structure had been sighted on other cells, and as it always seems to be the way, some not that far from where our day had started, in Colorado where there was apparently no moisture! So what have we learnt today then? Well, perhaps rather than trying our luck at this whole forecasting malarkey, we should just sit pretty in Colorado and wait for some magic to happen!

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Fri May 2015

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Fri May 2015

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