Birthday Chase 2018

30 May 2018

30th of May is my birthday every...single...year (except when it was on 13th but we don't talk about that failed experiment). This year hadn’t quite managed the dizzy heights of a birthday moderate risk, as seems to happen a lot, however the gradual upgrade from a Marginal setup 2 days out, to a Slight the day before then Enhanced on the day was a positive progression.

The storms were due to fire along the rockies from northern New Mexico into south and central Colorado. We hedged our bets until the far west of the Oklahoma panhandle, where we decided to take the southern road to find some convection off the Raton Mesa area. It wasn’t long before some cells were firing off the hills and given their placement within view of the roads we thought we might be in luck. We headed towards what looked to be some impressive convection with a relatively low-to-the-ground base. That is until we headed over a brow into the expanse of plains below, which is a beautiful sight but does change your perspective on the storms a bit. Rather than being close to the ground you can see, they are far above the ground a long way away. Still they looked pretty good for a while so we grabbed some shots and chatted with some other chasers who were out and about.

Early Storm

Us And Storm

Sometimes it’s nice meeting new random chasers. Other times it’s pretty hard work. This was one of the latter types of meeting, where they (mostly he) seemed to want to talk, about his opinions and life and chase career without having any capacity to listen about anything other than where we are from. We are generally careful to keep our weather opinions to ourselves unless asked; I don’t think this guy would have stopped telling us unless asked very specifically. Probably with a gag. This isn’t that uncommon but when what your being told is both extremely basic and also wrong it’s a bit boring. Fortunately it didn’t go on too long before we had a good excuse to carry on with the storms as they progressed east.

As the storms entered areas with more moisture in the atmosphere the were reinvigorated and began to gain some structure. They transitioned very quickly into outflow dominant storms as they progressed into Texas. We bumped into our friends Paul and Helen on the southern flank of the storm and, given last time we didn’t stop to talk to them we got smashed up by hail, it seemed the right thing to do to stop this time.


We caught up with them for a few minutes as the storm gathered pace then all set off to in our various directions to capture what we could. The storm took on some interesting characteristics. Particularly interesting was just how windy it was getting. This is a feature of any high precipitation storm, however a number of factors can influence the speed and persistence of the wind. In the case of this storm there were areas pushing out 90mph winds. This can be pretty hectic for drivers (several overturned trucks reported) and for the locals that experience it. We were held up a couple of times letting particular bursts of wind play out ahead of us before we pushed on.


We followed the storm for a time, finishing up trying to get some lightning shots while trying to stand still in what were some reasonably strong winds - probably in the 40mph region. Enough to make it hard to open / close car doors or to stand still with a camera.


Bo Storm 1

Bo Storm 2

We then headed back north a bit to begin our journey in that direction (the next day would be a travel day up to Nebraska). The starter for dinner was a hail core passing over us - we kept the motel door open and tried to fend off the ice as it occasionally bounced through. Not enough to do any further damage to the Rogue but enough to be noisy and entertaining.


All topped off with a birthday meal of some vegan steaks we found to try, which were excellent, along with some classic sides of beans and broccoli, and some wine kindly gifted by Mark and Holly and carried all this way by Cambo, thanks guys - rounded off a good chase day nicely!


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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Wed May 2018

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Wed May 2018

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