Storm Chasing 2012 Page 2

The next day needed to be pretty incredible to follow such an amazing day, after looking at the forecast in the morning it looked like the day had all the potential for another amazing day. We haded North West out of Oklahoma City towards Woodward where we would stop for lunch, for most of the drive the cloud was increasing and by the time we stopped we had a thick layer of low level cloud in our target area, it was at this point I felt there was a good chance our day would be over.

 After lunch we headed into Texas to see if we could find a better chase target, before long storms had started to fire to our South in a tornado watch area. We soon caught up with some of the northern most storms but could see they were quickly going down hill as they moved East. We got distracted by a crappy looking cell and headed West for a while only to turn back round and return to our South road. By this point two very impressive looking storms had developed near Childress but were too far to catch before dark. We soon gave up and headed for a hotel in Childress where the storms were now drifting off into the distance.

It is always hard to take when a day with so much potential turns out with nothing but an early night at a hotel, but that is the real life of storm chasing. You can’t get them all.

I saw that the distant storm was about to put on a nice mammatus display so me and my friend Steve headed out to a near by rail road to watch the beautiful skies and grab some pictures. I soon felt much better and felt the day had no longer been a waste, you don’t always need crazy storms to have a great day, I just need to hang out with nature.

Southern Texas would be the target for our next day and would need a long drive for us to reach our target area near the Davis Mountains, I didn’t have huge hopes for this day but it turned out to be one of the best days of the whole trip. We hung out near Peacos in the afternoon near an old mechanics yard before heading towards some towering cumulus near Balmorhea, we soon had a very young storm developing directly over head.

 

The storm was looking wonderful with the Davis Mountains sitting beneath the dark base. We followed the storm into the mountains and decided to sample some hail, radar was showing hail stones a little over an inch but we soon learned that was not the case. As we drove through the mountains the hail got bigger and bigger until we were being hit by hail stones over 2.5 inches. We found a large tree to pull under before we lost a window and had a chance to search the grass for large stones, we found a few around 2.5 inches and one giant hail stone at 2.75 inches.

It was nearly sunset and the storm was slowly losing strength so we decided to hang back in hopes for some colours as the sun set. We were not disappointed.

We were now on our last day chasing storms and had a 400+ mile drive North to the Texas Panhandle for a slight rist of storms. After a very long drive we managed to find a nice looking super cell storm.

The storm looked quite nice for about an hour but soon started to go down hill and had us heading South for a chance at some other storms in the area.  We had a brief storm to try for some lightning at sunset but the storms were not going to give us a good show although there was a beautiful sunset.

We headed to Vera Texas for our last night before heading back to Oklahoma City the next morning. We stopped at Dairy Queen for dinner before we headed to our rooms for the night. As we ate dinner I could see the lightning had picked up dramatically so my plan was to dump my bags in the room and head out with the camera. I walked south under the highway and found a nice spot to try for some lightning with a storm moving away to my south.

My camera was aimed south at this storm but I was soon being distracted by very frequent lightning to the distant North West, there was a storm approaching so I soon gave up on the first storm in hopes to capture something from the new storm. As the storm got closer it started to reveal some of the most incredible structure I have seen, it had a huge shelf cloud rolling towards town with constant lightning lighting up the storm from within. There were some very interesting lowering on the Southern end of the base that I kept a very close eye on.

I had been out watching the storms for nearly an hour when I decided it was getting a little close so I packed up to head for the hotel. Just as I did the wind became very strong and had me running for the hotel.

I was back in the hotel before the rain came so took shelter inside as the storm rolled directly over Vega. As the storm got closer the lightning was totally insane, the most incredible display I had ever seen. One huge bolt knocked out the power in town which made getting one last shot a little easier. I was able to stand under the hotel entrance canopy when the rain had mostly stopped to watch the lightning. Some of the lightning covered the sky as far as my eyes could see, even my super wide lens would only capture part of the show. It was an incredible night and the perfect way to end my storm chasing trip. I look forward to my next one already.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away,
once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.”
John Muir