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May 2011

23 May 2011 Storm Chase (Pt. 1 of 2) – Summary and videos

After debating between a PA and southern VA target, Jason and I decided to head south towards the better instability. While several tornadoes were reported in PA, the day was not a disappointment as we caught multiple funnel clouds and a possible tornado on video.

We started the trip stuck in traffic. After heading out from home just after 1:00pm, we got on I-495 and had just gotten on the American Legion Memorial Bridge when traffic halted in front of us. Apparently, there was a serious accident just before the exit to I-395, and the accident basically blocked all of the lanes. We were on the bridge for over an hour until emergency crews re-opened one lane (not even a lane… just on the right-most part of the pavement) and we got through just before the real rush hour traffic hit the southern end of D.C. around 3:00pm. We made good time getting down past Richmond into SE Virginia.

After watching storms initialize in SE Virginia (as we were arriving into the area), we could see more storms popping up along a SW-NE oriented boundary (the short wave?) stretching down into NE North Carolina as the afternoon was coming to a close. We headed into North Carolina and tracked a storm for nearly two hours while it kept up a wall cloud and tried to produce tornadoes here and there. We can’t really know for sure whether or not we got tornadoes on camera since the terrain blocked us from seeing any possible ground circulation, but there were a few times where we thought it was pretty darn close.

I might make a clip video later, but Jason already accomplished that with a lot of similar footage, so I might just be lazy and go for the screen grabs instead. The first video is my continuous footage of the rotating wall cloud and funnel cloud(s)/possible tornado. Jason’s video takes us through most of the exciting part of the chase, with a nice funnel cloud starting around 8:21 on the video (shortly after I stopped filming to get our location to report the funnel cloud). These parts of the chase took place about 2-3 miles WNW of Ahoskie, NC along Rt. 561.

You can skip past the little FBI Copyright Warning screen in the beginning of his video…

It’s quiet… too quiet

May 2011 has been very quiet in terms of tornadoes…

Very few people have had success while chasing in the Plains this year… it’s truly been one of the worst years for Plains storm chasing. April had a lot of tornadoes, but most of them occurred in the Southeast outside of prime chasing territory.


Been too exhausted this week to get image/video processing done, and I have two weekend shifts this weekend… maybe I’ll get around to it on Sunday?

5/8/11 Storm Pictures

Needed a bit more rest than I thought, heh. Pictures and video will slowly be rolling in as I process stuff.

Meanwhile, below is a distance shot of the SD supercell that produced a tornado before we got to it on 5/8/11. The sun was setting, and the overshooting top actually cast a shadow on the higher clouds.

More pictures coming…

A day of rest, followed by video/picture editing

Recharging the battery today, but tomorrow I’ll get on posting pictures and video that I got during the last two weeks.

The 98% forecast for at least one tornado I made for Wednesday was a bit fool-hardy, but I was feeling pretty good after hitting the tornadic cell in South Dakota two days prior. Had storms formed along the dryline in Kansas, I’m confident we would have bagged a tornado. Just about everyone busted on Wednesday, so I’m not particularly disappointed. We still did pretty darn good given the circumstances during the chasecation, and I did enjoy visiting the Plains for the first time. I got to see a lot of TX, OK, KS, NE and SD along with driving and/or chasing in MD, VA, TN, AR, MO, IL, IN, OH, WV and PA. 15 states… not bad.

Now I get to wait for tornadoes to come back to the East Coast… looks like I might be waiting for awhile.

Chasecation Day 13 – Going home

It’s a long trek back to Maryland, but we’re going to make the ~900 mile trip from St. Clair, Missouri today no matter how long it takes. We decided to check out some storms in Missouri, and we saw tons of lightning, nickel-sized hail and strong winds. The storms formed into a MCS and made driving to the hotel quite interesting last night.

Time to go home and get some rest.

Chasecation Day 12 – Tails Between our Legs

Yesterday was a complete and total bust for everyone… including us, the SPC, and about 100+ chasers that spent the day waiting for something that didn’t happen. The midday convection maintained itself in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and actually got re-invigorated during the afternoon as it slowly crept eastward. Those storms killed the return flow of moisture and instability to the dryline, so the atmosphere was not able to recover enough behind the midday storms to produce what was supposed to be a tornado outbreak in central Kansas and Oklahoma. Instead, we watched in horror as yet another promising Cu field failed to produce.

On top of that, the car is having issues, making it nearly impossible to drive. It could/should be an easy fix, as it appears that a $20 part is all we need to get the car running smoothly again. The problem is, being an older Subaru, the part we need is in Wichita, and we’re not in Wichita. If the problem extends beyond this failed part, it’s basically time to head home (though we’re close to heading home anyway, now it’s just a question if we come back in the Subaru or in a rental).

11 days and 0 tornadoes, though we were within a half-mile of a tornado that mocked us under the cover of darkness. Despite all the hardships, I can’t wait for May 2012 to roll around so I can get back out here and do it right.

Chasecation Day 11 – The Day of Reckoning

Well folks, today is the day. It’s what we’ve been waiting for the whole trip. There is a fairly significant chance for tornadoes today in Kansas and Oklahoma, and we’ve positioned ourselves quite well for the possibility of two or more intercepts as two rounds of storms, one in the early afternoon and one in the early evening, are expected in central Kansas.

Anticipation is high as we make the morning forecast, which will determine where we want to set up for the two rounds of storms. We’ll likely stick to Kansas today, but northern Oklahoma’s also in the picture.

Here’s the breakdown of my odds that I made up for seeing…

One tornado: 98%
Two tornadoes: 60%
Three tornadoes: 20%
Four or more tornadoes: 5%

Let’s see what verifies!