May 18, 2023

Dumas, Texas.

People ask me why I chase storms. I have always been fascinated by storms and have wanted to chase them, and more importantly, experience them, since I was a young boy.

There are four distinct storms in my childhood that kicked this interest into high gear. One of these storms came into our small town around noon and darkened the area like it was midnight. We were trying to drive home but the wind and the lightning and the rain made it impossible for my mother to drive and we had to ride the storm out on the side of the road. I watched trees bend and lightning flash and all sorts of water wash over the car and it was awesome.

One summer night my sister and I were sleeping on the living room floor (because it was cooler than our bedrooms) and a very strong thunderstorm blew through in the middle of the night. This storm holds two memories for me; it was the first time I’d seen a large maple tree get blown over by a thunderstorm and our cat Waldo came home in the middle of that storm after a two week absence.

Anyways, onto the present day.

I settled in Dumas, Texas this afternoon and immediately headed south toward the building storms coming in from Dalhart. After navigating Texas roads through construction, I made my way to north of Amarillo, where a supercell was forming and showing promise of a tornado. I was watching other storm chasers on their YouTube feeds and monitoring radar; so I had a decent idea of where to position myself.

I found a good spot just north of Amarillo, where there were dozens of storm chasers.

I ended up following this supercell for a few hours, finally ending up just west of Panhandle, Texas. There I got to meet storm chaser from Tornado Titans Raychel Sanner. We had a nice chat. I also saw Reed Timmer and Dominator Fore along US Route 60. The storm had very impressive lightning and wind and for a few moments, ping pong sized hail (no damage to the rental car). At one point I was a little too close for the action, so I repositioned myself and watched it for as long as I could until it just got too dark.

This was the drive home.

I am now in my hotel room, enjoying some Moët my husband packed for me, in the event that I had a good chase day.

I was concerned this trip was going to be a bust in the storm chasing department, but this was an awesome experience and more intense than last year’s chase up in Nebraska.

I’m a very happy geek tonight.

Guymon, Oklahoma.

I am stopped in a Walmart parking lot in Guymon, Oklahoma. I’m way out in the parking lot away from other vehicles but the WiFi connection is still quite good. Walmart has been a good friend on this trip in that it’s a convenient place to stop for a bathroom break and get some steps in by doing some laps around the store. I also pick up supplies here (drinks, chips, etc) because it’s cheaper than the convenience stores. I know, ten years ago I was writing about how I don’t like Walmart because of what they’ve done to too many small towns, but now they’re pretty much guaranteed in a small town and I’m not as feisty as I used to be.

I checked out the forecast this morning and for the first time in five days it’s actually talking about tornadoes. It’s not likely to happen but it’s not completely ruled out, so I’ll take it.

From the hazardous weather outlook

And now with pictures!

I’ve already booked a room in Dumas, Texas, with the intention of that location being in the center of the forecast circle.

After chasing the storms last night in Liberal, Kansas, I got settled into the hotel room for the night when an impressive storm came through. Winds were around 35 MPH and there was a few minutes of pea sized hail making a bunch of racket against the hotel room windows. Luckily, no damage to the rental car (though I am FULLY insured this year). This Buick Enclave they upgraded me to is enjoyable and roomy. I wouldn’t want to see it banged up. I tend to be conservative when chasing storms; I’m not going to drive into the middle of a hail core, let alone a funnel cloud. I like watching from a safe distance.

My mother has been checking on me this week as she worries about her oldest, even though I’m in my mid 50s. My husband knows I’ll be safe and responsible and just tells me to have fun.