Note: All photos get SUPER HUGE (850px wide) in a new window when you click 'em.
Yesterday's chase was what I'd call "sweet-ass-mamba-jamba". It was totally a long shot, and I ended up catching a really, really beautiful storm. My friend Darren Addy and I left out of Kearney at around 18Z and dropped south via Holdrege to Hays, Kansas. There we got gas and leeched wifi off of Days Inn. (BTW, if you're looking for a data stop, Hays has a ton of open wifi. I mean, seriously, you could probably hold a LAN party in the parking lot of Days Inn.) Anyway, I was feeling a little better about the day as I saw on the surface obs that Tds of 60 were starting to pump their way up into eastern KS. The SW flow wasn't helping things much were we where, though, and the Tds hovered in the mid 50's. Upper level winds were still mediocre at best accordin to the profilers, but, hey, it was almost May... I had hope. :) Eventually the dryline initiated to our south down by KDDC. The storms looked pretty boring on radar, though I now realize that that was an illusion due to the very high bases of the storms and that we were only using tilt 1 to view returns. (Why that didn't occur to me until later, I dunno!) The Tds down there weren't too impressive, either, not that they were much better up where we were. I stayed north, as there was no way to get that far south quickly and because I still had my fingers crossed that something would initialize near the now warm front. It was tough not to go rabbiting south, because I've been burned more than a few times by waiting too long to get a move on.
It got to around 22:30Z or so and I noticed that the Tds in Hays were actually dropping -- they were now in the mid 40s. Not a good sign for where we were; I guess the dry air was mixing in. But on the sat shot, it appeared that a field of cu were starting to form about 40 miles to our east, so we hit the great east-west interstate that is I-70 and drove east. We came upon the cu field about 30 minutes later. A small area had become congested, and it literally began initiating as we drove under it. I pulled over at a reststop north of Ellsworth and had a ham sandwhich with Darren while we watched it go nuclear just to our west-northwest.
(not nuclear yet, but you can see the tower peeking out beneath the crud below)
Darren demonstrates the Socratic Method of eating a ham sandwich.
There is nothing cooler than watching a vault form overhead and hearing a storm's first rumble of lightning! Eventually we decided to go east, as the storm was starting to slide just to our north. So we west east on I-70. Along the way, we passed Amos & crew. There was a black 'stang in my rearview, too, so I'm wondering if Mike wasn't in the hunt. Amos got off on the same exit we did. Turns out that was probably one of the best places to witness storm development in central Kansas -- right off the exit was a flat field about 3 miles long with an easy place to pull off and park. Park we did, and wow, did the cell put on a show. Oddly, the storm did not produce much of a radar signature for a very long time -- it was almost invisible to radar. At least on tilt one. ;) Later I realized why I wasn't getting radar returns -- the base of the storm was above the tilt-1 beam. Doh. After a bit, the storm dumped it's core and split. This was interesting to watch, as I didn't understand what was happening at the time. I've seen right splits on radar and know what they mean, but I've never actually been able to watch one with my own eyes as it happened. Amos filled me in. Anyway, the right-mover started moving back to the southeast, which put us in pretty much the best position possible to watch it. The inflow was a good 25 or 30mph. Eventually, to the surprise of pretty much everyone, the darn thing formed an RFD and demonstrated a very obvious meso and wicked-looking wall cloud.
It really turned into a mothership of a storm -- check out the striations at right! I have a new respect for really high-based storms. Around sunset, this storm was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I mean, I put it up there with the Grand Canyon and redheads. The color and depth on this storm was amazing.
From the Amos crew (if you don't want your picture posted, just lemme know! :))
The streaks are actually raindrops that the flash illuminated. I think. If you look close, you can see a small funnel waaaay up in the meso.
Eventually, we repositioned one exit east on the interstate. What a beautiful, beautiful storm.
Props to Amos for his headlights, which makes this photo better IMO. I was a bit frightened when I took this, as I was on top of a freakin' hill with a metal tripod while zeus zots were falling all over the place.
Darren actually has some hilarious and cool video of us coming up to the top of a hill behind Amos, ominous as all heck, when suddenly a parade of tumbleweeds blows by. Lol. The storm never put down a tube, but who cares?! This was the best storm I've seen in a while -- truely spectacular in it's beauty.
Darren and Ryan give this supercell two thumbs up!
Anyway, great chase. Hope I didn't bug Amos too much, as we followed them around a bit without asking after we converged the first time. Thought I'd give my navigator a break and let him shoot some video instead. ;)
Wow, is it only April?!
Man, I got a lotta inquiries on this one! I wasn't planning on selling anything when I posted this. :) I'll try to contact those interested by email, but after a quick 8x10 quality control check (I had one printed at a local lab today to ensure that it was sharp and looked good as a print), I can sell the "storm7" photo (the vertical one with the lightning bolt) to anyone interested. The prices are as follows:
8x12 or 8x10 (your pick): $35
10x15 or 11x14 (your pick) : $50
16x24 or 16x20 (your pick): $100
I print photos of this type on metallic pearlecent paper, which, in past experiences, has made colors look incredible. Note that 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20 will have borders on them (white lines on the left and right hand sides of the photo or the top and the bottom of the photo, depending of if it's a vertical or a horizontal photograph), whereas 8x12, 10x15, and 16x24 will not. However it's harder to find frames and mattes for 8x12, 10x15, and 16x24 prints. I can't gauruntee that the 16x24 prints will be super sharp -- the resolution gets down to around 160dpi at that size. However, what makes the photos cool are more the colors and tones anyway, so it'll probably look really good even if it's a bit soft.
Hit me with an email at digicana at gmail dot com if you're interested; I'll be going through Paypal for this.