This telephone hung on the bathroom in last night’s hotel room. I immediately sensed a disturbance in the force.
The “0” button does not have “OPER”, because operator services are a thing of the past. Mom as an operator for New York Telephone before I was born. She was the one that taught us to not scream at the nice lady asking, “number, please” before completing our call to Grandma City.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear a dial tone when I picked up the receiver. It was generated by the in-house PBX system, but it was a dial tone nonetheless.
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 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.
I drove from Colby to Liberal, Kansas today. It was a pleasant drive. As mentioned before, I like the high plains, a lot.
I made a stop in Garden City and parked the car in the downtown area. I took the opportunity and today’s relatively short drive to walk around and stretch my legs. I found a small lunch counter type place for lunch. The folks were very pleasant.
Once getting to my hotel here in Liberal, I noticed storms building to the south along the Oklahoma-Texas border, so I drove down there to get some snapshots and follow along with Mother Nature. Nothing went too severe, but there were some pretty impressive cloud to ground lightning displays that I enjoyed. The forecast for tomorrow shows more storm activity before a dry weekend. The timing works out.
There’s a part of me that wants to say this trip has been a dud when it comes to storm chasing, and it pretty much has, but I’ve seen some beautiful country, met some nice people, and sorted some things out in my head.
Most importantly, I’ve been relaxed.
I’ll probably get home to Tucson late on Saturday. We’ll see what Mother Nature does over the next 48 hours before I start heading for the desert.
The Storm Prediction Center forecast showed a chance of storms along the Colorado-Kansas border this evening. So, I got up and got myself organized and drove from Independence to Colby, Kansas.
If you look at a standard map of the United States, generally you’ll find the left side of the map is brown and the right side is green.
Personally I prefer the brown side. Obviously I love the desert. I enjoy the mountains. And I really dig the high plains. Driving across Kansas, the transition from the “green side” to the “brown side” is evident along US 160 when a driver westbound climbs atop a ridge around Grenola. It’s west of Hutchinson when it’s evident that you’ve fully made that transition, but you really start to see it when you climb that ridge.
A few storms organized along the Colorado-Kansas border as predicted earlier in the day; they were small in nature and small in number.
I followed the approach of this storm as I drove north of Colby along K-25. I stopped for a moment to get a lightning shot, but Mother Nature is still a bit fickle, and all I got was this little bolt in the left hand corner of this shot from the little storm that could.
Along the way I stopped in Great Bend, Kansas to walk the downtown area and stretch my legs. Folks were very pleasant to the person they didn’t recognize and several people said hello. That’s nice.
Tomorrow I’ll head down toward the panhandles as severe weather is predicted for tomorrow night and especially Thursday afternoon and evening.
I appreciate that Mother Nature is starting to get her act together for this trip.
Mother Nature is still taking a break from her typical May ways in this part of the country. I ended up chasing a few rain showers and downpours. The clouds were impressive, but there wasn’t much in the way of wind, lightning, or rotation today. The next two days will be sunny skies, with the forecast looking like Mother Nature may get feisty in the western have of my designated chase area starting Wednesday night.
My brain has always been intrigued by networks and more importantly, all things connected. Ever since I was a very young boy I have been interested in power lines. As a kid I could tell where a photo was taken in Upstate New York by any power lines that may have been present in the photo, in that I could tell if the power lines were in the territories of Niagara Mohawk, NYSEG, or Rochester Gas and Electric. I wasn’t really interested in electricity as much as I was fascinated by the poles, towers, pylons, and high tension wires criss-crossing our nation.
I’ve been taking some photos of high voltage pylons I’ve found interesting during this trip. It’s a good thing my parents did give me access to a camera back in the film days of the 70s and 80s; the film processing costs to get through rolls of power lines would have been very expensive!
I’m settled in for the night in Independence, Kansas. The Microtel here is like every other Microtel I’ve been to. The person at the front desk was pleasant, the room layout is as expected, and the amenities are clean. I drove through this Historic Downtown a couple of times and it looks quite interesting. I’ve been stopping at small towns as I made my way from Oklahoma northward into Kansas. Tomorrow I’ll start heading northwest with plans on getting to the Oklahoma panhandle by Wednesday afternoon. I don’t mind taking my time. I’m finding it relaxing, I’m discovering all sorts of conversations and viewpoints on the radio, and I’m enjoying the landscape.
US Route 62 and I were very well acquainted today.
I followed US Route 62 from Lubbock, Texas to Lawton, Oklahoma today. Rural Texas is an interesting drive. I would jump off the main road and roam the nearby “downtown” or business districts when the opportunity arose. As it is Sunday the busy places in these area were the churches.
Storms are a bit scarce on this trip. I noticed some storms starting to kick up in Northeast Oklahoma, so in Lawton I jumped on the turnpike and made my way around Oklahoma City to Muskogee. I’ve seen some flashes of lightning this evening but that’s about it.
I did find a couple of interesting portals/tunnels under the railroad tracks in Childress, Texas. I drove through them in each direction because I could. At first I thought Apple Maps was routing me through a drainage culvert but they’re really the street.
Once I got settled in Muskogee I went to a nearby restaurant and sat at the bar. I ordered a bowl of chili and they asked “do you have Fritos with that?”
Storms will continue to be scarce for the next couple of days. I might start heading home on Tuesday, taking my time and exploring all back roads back to Tucson. I might go by way of Kansas or something.
While my primary focus of this trip is storm chasing, if Mother Nature isn’t cooperative, there’s still plenty of other things to see. I’ll have to hope she feels a bit more spicy during Monsoon Season this year back home or something.
So today I drove from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Lubbock, Texas. Storms have been scattered and mostly heavy rain for these parts. I have not seen lightning yet, let alone anything resembling a tornado.
I drove from El Paso to south of Lubbock along US Route 62. The speed limit is 75 in Texas and 70 in New Mexico. I crossed time zone lines and state lines several times. I just figured out what time it is.
Tonight I went out for a beer and a bite to eat.
The first place didn’t have food, so I found another place that did have food. That’s the photo in the entry from about an hour ago. The small live music feature (they weren’t really a band) sang some familiar songs in an unfamiliar way. The female vocalist bought me a shot of Jameson because I knew “Melt With You” was originally done by Modern English. Well, of course it was, I aced Gen X music studies.
I promptly choked on the Jameson, flushed it through my sinuses, and decided to call it a night.
Just a guy with a husband. We've been together 27 years and he still makes me see fireworks on a daily basis. Tech Guy. Open Data. Hackerish. Aviation Geek. Private Pilot. Storm Chaser. Weird? Eccentric!