Day 2 - Chasing the Sun

20 May 2012

We started the day in our lovely little motel in Weatherford, Texas. The sun was shining and a free breakfast in the company of the friendly toothless waffle-making cleaner, being friendly while making the odd jibe at the ads on the tele made us feel very much like we were back in the mid west. After a surprisingly good coffee (it tasted a bit like coffee, normally we just term it "Brownwater") we set course for Walmart for our statutory breakfast acquisitions and to find somewhere to buy a load more data for our internet connection. Today had two key factors. Firstly there weren't any significant weather prospects, and secondly there was an annular eclipse happening at sunset in North West Texas. This was a prospect that had prompted our choice of dates to arrive in the US, and where to fly to. An annular eclipse is when the moon goes over the sun entirely, but due to being slightly further from the Earth, it doesn't fully cover the sun. Yes, despite what those who love the coincidence about the moon being exactly the right size to cause an eclipse, that's a very human observation, it's not very exact at all!We headed up from Weatherford to a town called Lubbock, stopping at a number of Walmarts on the way, as the first had fed us, but not our data card. We were now out of data from our trial run so were struggling to find out where Walmarts were to be found! We finally found one and charged up with $80 worth of data to see us through our 3 weeks. (Yes I can imagine this sounds like too much detail but I'll come back to it...)From Lubbock we headed to a more remote to a village called Sundown, where our friends Paul and Helen (from the UK storm chaser fraternity) were planning to set up. As we got to the area and started looking for somewhere to watch the eclipse from we ended up on the road behind them, so met up and chose a place to watch with them. It was not only great to see them, but they were much better equipped than us and even had a spare pair of glasses you can look at the sun through...which we were lacking. We had a good catch up and watched the sun wend its way into position. Right on time (those astronomers are clever folk) the moon started to eat away at the sun.The only problem, and no - the irony was not lost on us, was a big cloud that seemed determined to get in front of the sun, and sink towards the horizon at around the same rate as the sun was.After watching for what felt like an eternity, as the sun and cloud vied for position, we realised that we needed to make a break for it in the cars and get around the clouds in question to get a good view. In something quite reminiscent of a storm chase we hooned it down the road trying urgently to get around the clouds before the key phase of the eclipse - full anularity at sunset - was reached.After about 10 minutes driving, with moments left to spare, we reached a good spot. In my urgency to get out of the car I managed to trash the internet card while working on getting out of the car too quickly. We managed to put that little catastrophe to one side and get on with some shots of what was an amazing moment. An eclipse is always going to be amazing, whether total or annular, but one at sunset has something particularly special about it...

After this amazing sunset we headed off a little north to start on our way towards our next expected chase location - some 2 days hence - and to find a Verizon shop to get a new data card from. And some new data...having used about 50c worth of our $80 we'd bought 6 hours previous!We found a good Walmart to sleep in, a couple of hours north, and made camp ready for what we expected to be a day of driving north tomorrow.

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Sun May 2012

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Sun May 2012

< < Day 3 - First Chase; land of the enchanted      :      Day 1 - 2012 begins > >

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