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May 2012

Chasecation 2012 Day 8 – Down day in Amarillo, TX

We’re spending the day in Amarillo, TX after a failed chase yesterday. It’s nice to not be on the move for the first time in eight days. I’ll be working on processing video from the Piedmont, OK tornado from 5/29 and will post it on Facebook and Twitter later today.

Today is a good day to get laundry done and get the oil changed, so we’re doing exactly that.

Chasecation 2012 Day 7 – Looking for Tornado #7+

We find ourselves in western Oklahoma again today for what appears to be the best setup we’ve seen since the start of the chasecation. The target is not terribly clear-cut, which will keep chasers a bit more separated today.

Yesterday gave us tornado #6 near Piedmont, OK. Not the best imagery from that one, but at least it was still during the day:

Chasecation 2012 Day 6 – Can a brother get a down day?

Today is the sixth day in a row of chasing… heading out of Wichita Falls, TX to get to Alva, OK around mid-afternoon. From there we will decide if we need to head north, east or stay put.

The storms were indeed bigger in Texas yesterday as a cluster of storms formed and almost trapped us in hail. We got pinged by some pea/dime-sized hail because there was no internet for awhile and we could not easily identify the exact location and extent of the hail. What the storms lacked in tornadoes they made up in lightning, which was very prolific throughout the chase. The lightning even started a couple of fires, which likely got put out by the rain as it moved across the area. All in all, yesterday exceeded expectations as we were just looking for some structure to shoot, and got the great lightning as a bonus.

Today the focus shifts back to tornadoes. The internet connection will likely be spotty throughout the chase, but with our GPS software and Jason’s chase experience we’ll be able to get through whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

Here is a picture of one of the two storms we were on yesterday southwest of Wichita Falls. This was the more eastern cell, facing east.

Chasecation 2012 Day 5 – Everything is bigger in Texas

Yesterday’s play along the cold front did not pan out along the southern parts of the line. The storms were okay, but they did not want to get any solid low-level rotation going.

Today, we are heading into northern Texas to play the dryline, and we will stay around the northern TX/western OK/western KS area tomorrow and Wednesday as low tornado probabilities continue. Low-level speed shear will be a big hindrance, but plenty of CAPE and rotation is available for tornadoes.

We’re planning on getting some big storms over the next few days, so structure shots will be the main focus until it looks like we could get tornadoes to form.

Keep up with me on my twitter account: @MADUSWX …most of my pictures end up on there, which I’ve been meaning to get onto the site but will probably just wait until the chasecation is over to get everything processed.

Chasecation 2012 Day 4 – Ready for more

We’re sitting in south-central Nebraska awaiting storms along the dryline. Yesterday was a bust, but we could/should get some nice pics/video out of today.

We met up with Amos Magliocco for lunch and Chris Collura joined up before heading to our exact target. Tony Laubaugh saw the gathering and decided to join us as well.

Let’s get some storms!

Chasecation 2012 Day 3 – Two storms, five tornadoes

Last night went gangbusters for us as the southern cell in a line of three storms near the dryline ended up producing several tornadoes, four of which we saw (more probably formed but were obscured by the rain wrapping around the circulation). Unfortunately for me, the tornadoes formed after sunset and I did not get great quality video of them, but Jason and Ian took many pictures with their DSLR cameras so we didn’t miss a beat with these tornadoes. We stayed out quite late watching the storm as it produced tornadoes through the evening, and finally called off the chase around 11pm.

We actually started the chase a little behind, leaving Waterloo IA around 10am with an initial target of Salina, KS, which would get us in the area for chasing. Once we saw the dryline was definitely the play of the day, we hit I-70 and eventually got off to head to Great Bend. The first cell of the day fired as we exited I-70, and that cell did end up producing, but we kept working southwest and then hit up a west road towards La Crosse. The second cell started to get interesting, so we watched that for a bit, and that cell appeared to have produced a brief tornado that we caught on film (will have to process that video later).

The third cell was maturing as the second (middle) cell produced the brief tornado, and we waffled a bit between the two storms before committing to the third, southernmost cell southwest of La Crosse. This storm had nice structure through the early evening, and we watched it for well over an hour as daylight started to fade. It kept reorganizing, but was fairly high-based and did not want to do much. Nearing sunset, a prolific wall cloud took shape and had fantastic updrafts, and as it got darker the LCLs dropped and the storm began producing tornado after tornado.

And now, some pictures!

The maturing southern cell:

The wall cloud that formed near sunset:

One of the tornadoes that we saw just before it went completely dark a couple miles northwest of La Crosse, KS:

Today we are heading north into Nebraska to play near the warm front. The road network gets pretty bad in some areas, so we will try to stay a bit east of the bad areas.

Chasecation 2012 Day 2 – Racing towards Kansas

After catching a severe storm in Iowa yesterday, we are driving southeast towards central Kansas where we hope to catch storms near the triple-point of the warm front and dryline. For now, we are heading towards Salina, KS, but our target will likely change as we hit early evening and start to see the storms go up.

Here is a still from my GoPro HD Hero2 from yesterday’s severe storm:

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