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Posted on 8:37am Monday 18th May 2009
I am not entirely sure where I have been and how many towns , motels or states we have been too. I know living out of one case for over three weeks is a nightmare. The US government have not helped this trip by putting millions into Vortex 2 they have 100s of vehicles following all the storms.
Posted on 11:10pm Monday 20th October 2008
It has been a quiet few days on the plains. There have been one or two storms but nothing worth getting excited about. There has been more chatter about the Atlantic storms which have battered the west coast of Scotland. The strange thing is I don't want that type of storm, it only makes work for me. So the lull gives me time to organise for my 2009 trip.
Posted on 10:34pm Monday 13th October 2008
You can get tornadoes any time of the year, however there is an increase during tornado season. Tornado season April, May and June. The peak being mid May, well in theory at least. The last few years have not entirely fallen in line with those expectations. The tour groups generally go from the last week in April through to first week in June. During the spring, warm moist air starts to invade the plains. This clashes with the cold dry air coming down from the north. The result is huge monster storms.
Posted on 9:34pm Sunday 12th October 2008
Whilst you can get storms in a variety of places and we do get more tornadoes per square mile in the UK than in the USA. The best place to go to be in with a chance is America. The Great Plains to be precise. Located to the east of the Rockies in the mid west is an area known as "Tornado Alley" Some of the states situated to the centre of Tornado Alley are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska. I generally make my starting point Oklahoma City. Our chases take us to all of these states and most of the surrounding states. From as far north as Montana, down to within a few miles of the Mexican border in Texas.
Posted on 9:34pm Friday 10th October 2008
To be a free bird and go where the weather goes. To witness one of natures most awesome displays of power. When we arrive on the plains we only ever know where we set off from, after that we go where the storms go. The open road, the warm spring winds blowing across the wheatfields of Kansas. To stand and watch the dust devils as they develop a life of their own on the Texas Panhandle. To see the storms in all their majesty as the initiate on the Rockies and drift onto the High Plains. To end up in a different town every night or to drive through the night following a spectacular lightning show. I think I know why I chase storms.
Posted on 10:44pm Thursday 9th October 2008
Why not have a go. There are quite a few organised storm chasing tour groups who work out on the Great Plains of America. However if you don't want to learn American you can always go out with a UK tour group. There are 4 ten day trips starting 27th May. The tours start an finish in Dallas, Texas. If you want more information about these trips drop me a line.
Posted on 10:59pm Wednesday 8th October 2008
Chase trip 2009 is being planned as I type. Next year I have been enlisted to assist a storm chase tour group. Tour one in van one working the Baron system to locate to storm with the most potential. For the second tour I will be driving van tour. For further information watch this space.
Posted on 7:30pm Sunday 1st June 2008
Nearly missed trans-Atlantic flight Oklahoma to Chicago flight delayed for over 3 hours DUE TO STORMS , Can I complain? I would say not. Anyway it seems that my decision not to go with the team up to Nebraska was a good one. They encountered a large tornado and had both vehicles totalled. I would never had made my flight home.
Posted on 6:57am Friday 30th May 2008
I decided not to head up to Nebraska with the team, because I would have had to drive 600 miles at least to get back to the airport for my flight. The tornado outbreak that was on the cards transpired and they all got caught by 120 mph flying debris in a gas station. All shook up and both vans damaged. I would have then had to drive all night , if my car wasn't too damaged. I went to try and catch what was local. I went up to Dodge City, Kansas and then over to Liberal, Kansas to intercept some storms coming in from Texas. Unfortunately they fizzled out as they came into the drier air. Nice sunsets though. I fly home tomorrow so will post some of the tornado shots when I get home.
Posted on 7:11am Wednesday 28th May 2008
We set off the day in Great Bend, Kansas and waited around Coldwater, Kansas. It wasn't long before cells started to pop up and one very close to our location. It merged with another one to our northwest and we latched onto that cell. It tried and tried to form a tornado and so we stuck with it. Some times sailing a lttle close to the wind. We nearly came a little close in Pratt as the storm turned day into night. The tornado sirens were sounding as we sat in the town. Part of the tornado past by where we sat. We raced east to find a lot of damage caused by the tornado, on trees and farming equipment. We set off to a motel in Wachita , Kansas. This found us having to punch the core on a large storm. We were pounded by 2-3" hail and had to find some cover. As we drove along I had to put my coat over the car window in case we gor hit side on. I have to report that the car has got lots of dents in the bonnet and roof. I found out today that Dave Ewoldt had ditched his new rental car and that he had to have a rental van to take the ITV camera man out in.
Posted on 3:20pm Tuesday 27th May 2008
We sat all day in Greensburg 12 months ago and decided to move away south to intercept the storms. That evening a tornado one and a half mile wide completely flattened that town, killing 19 and making 1200 people homeless. We called back through there yesterday and the team went quiet. Although there is some rebuilding. The town is desolate full of empty streets. As far as I can gather most of the towns people did not have insurance. Sites where people lived, gew up, laughed and played now go to ruin. Cellars where some people would have been huddled together on that night lay exposed.
Posted on 3:47pm Monday 26th May 2008
Got up to find that there were two target areas , one in the great lakes 200 miles north east or 300 miles south west. As the target area for Monday was to be south, that is where we headed. The storms in the great lakes produced killer tornadoes, they were F4, and stayed on the ground for some time.
Posted on 2:55pm Saturday 24th May 2008
Again what a day. Hard to put into words really. Every storm that we chased had a tornado with it, but also a sting in the tail because they became imbedded within the storm itself. The day started safely, well apart from Paul falling into a ditch full of cactus. He is still pulling them out of his arms & hands.
Posted on 4:01pm Thursday 22nd May 2008
Good job Dave had the presence of mind to book last nights room in adavance because we got the last two rooms in town. Today could well be another Greensburg day and every chaser out on the plains is in this area. The chances for tornadoes today are being put at 100% With the potential for a nocturnal tornado. Lets hope the warning has gone out and that people pay attention to TV and radio. Today is my last day with Dave. I am sure he take some lasting memories away with him, because he likes our sitcoms but had never seen "Only Fools & Horses" Whislt driving the hundreds of miles he has been logged on to Youtube watching the various highlights. He has been crying with laughter. The ITV arrived in town last night in preparation to start filming him from Saturday. So from tomorrow I join the UK chasers.
Posted on 2:07pm Thursday 22nd May 2008
Had a really good chase day, it had a little bit of everything. We found an elevated view point on the plains near Kimball, Colorado. We then just sat and waited for storms to initiate. One or two developed north of us in Wyoming, we let them go but shortly after that they started to develop south of us. We set off to intercept them. They were huges storms and were putting out golf ball size hail and strong winds. At one point the dust being blown reached 100s feet into the air. We had some hairy moments on the dirt tracks and with the tumble weeds, some of the large tumble weeds traveling at 30-40 mph towards you can damage your car so we had to swerved constanly to prevent being hit. We saw the funniest thing ever, two large dogs out in the fields chasing the tumbleweeds. We then arrived a point where we could get look at the storm structure. It at that time had a good structure and was putting out some regular lightning bolts.
Posted on 5:23am Wednesday 21st May 2008
Well we have left Okarche , Oklahoma and have relocated to the high plains. We are in eastern Colorado. In place for tomorrows chase , which is still promising to be a good day. We met lots of interesting people along the way.
Posted on 3:16pm Monday 19th May 2008
The holiday part of the trip is drawing to an end. It has been said that few Oklahomans have seen so many sunny calm days in May. Well all that is coming to an end. Todays temps will reach 97F but from tomorrow things are going to get a little hairy. A major storm system is moving down into the plains, from the north west. Most of the pro chasers say that they have never seen such an intense weather pattern coming onto the plains in May. There may well be a large tornado outbreak Wednesday or Thursday. A closed low pressure will draw the necessary unstable air right up as far as Wyoming. Wyoming is about 6000 ft above sea level. This means that when the storms start to develop they will certainly become supercells. There will be enough of what it takes to produce torndoes. The system could cause storms to develop for days, through till Sunday.
Posted on 4:49pm Sunday 18th May 2008
Once a year during chase season, all those chasers out on the plains meet up at Rockie's place. Just outside Oklahoma City. They meet to eat, watch each others highlights and chat about their most recent near death experiences.
Posted on 6:23pm Friday 16th May 2008
Nice weather if you like warm sunshine. I took a visit around town (Okarche) The town is really like a small village and everyone knows each other. Mainly German catholics. Very old town (in US terms) Oldest bar in the state Eischen's Bar
Posted on 9:49pm Sunday 9th March 2008
yes 66 days to go before I fly out for the states. My plans have changed as I will be spending my first week with Dave Ewoldt. A major league storm chaser. Storm chasers version of the horse whisperer, he can read a storm like no other. Dave Ewoldt
Posted on 10:11pm Thursday 3rd January 2008
10pm 4th May Greensburg, Kansas. A nocturnal tornado hit the town of Greensburg killing 19 people in total, 10 people in the town average age was 65. We had sat on the edge of town all afternoon waiting for the storms to develop as predicted. We sat and chatted with other chasers like the Outlaw Chasers see photo http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2218/2167229852_e49e74f07f_m.jpg
Posted on 9:48pm Wednesday 5th December 2007
If you ever get to visit Oklahoma City there are a wide variety of places to visit. As a stormchaser site seeing is not an activity that you chose to get involved in. However there are down days and if you are not travelling to a target area I can recommend a couple places to visit in Oklahoma City. The Alfred P Murrah Federal Building the site of a terrorist bombing in 1995 800 injured and 168 people killed. 19 of those killed were children. The site has been turned into a memorial with a large sguare arch at each end. They are called the "Gates of Time" on each arch is a time. The first gate says 9.01am the time the bomb (5,000 lbs of explosive)went off and the other is 9.03am and in those seconds 968 were killed or injured. In between the gates is a reflecting pool and at the end of the pool 168 seats each to represent a person killed in the blast. The seats have glass bases which gives an impression that they are floating. The saddest part are the small glass seats which show the children that were killed. Next to the memorial is a statue of Jesus weeping, weeping for those lives lost. It is a sad place to visit but a timeless reminder of what destruction one or two people can cause. Of the three people involved in placing the bomb, one is on witness protection, the second is serving 161 concecutive life terms and the ring leader Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001. A sad end to sad story.
Posted on 10:30pm Thursday 22nd November 2007
Have you ever wanted to go chase a tornado? Well you can. There are groups that provide organised tornado chasing trips. Mostly based on Oklahoma, they collect you from the airport and for two weeks they transport you around the plains in air conditioned comfort. I have listed one or two below and have provided a link, just click on the name of the tour group.
Posted on 11:42am Tuesday 29th May 2007
It has probably been our best trip yet. I have to say that it has left me exhausted, as I guess 23 days living on the road and driving 9000 miles in sometimes dangerous circumstances might do. Not to mention the jet lag. The things that we have been fortunate to experience most people will never get to see. The magnificence of a gigantic super cell out on the plains over Kansas is hard to put into words but in one day alone we saw over five of these monsters of the plains. Not to mention the four tornadoes. We were lucky on our first day because we moved south of Greensburg before it was hit by a 2 mile wide tornado. We had spent all afternoon in the town and would have probably found a place to shelter and film from. Having seen the damage, there would have been no shelter. We have since crossed paths with victims of that night. 1600 Greensburg townsfolk are placed in motels in towns close by. Two policeman stayed at the same hotel as us in Colorado, they were on their way to collect new police cars in Wyoming, all the cars in the town had been destroyed. One chaser was upset because earlier in the afternoon he stopped to help a family whose car had broken down. He gave them a lift into Greensburgh, where they booked into a hotel. That hotel was flattened!.
Posted on 11:41am Saturday 26th May 2007
"Well, I woke up Friday morning with no way to hold my head which didn't hurt and the beer I had for breakfast tasted good so I had one for desert." (C&W song) A late night caused me to be the victim of my own complacency and I missed my plane from Oklahoma City. This placed me into one of the most stressful situations of the trip. I had to take a chance and go on stand-by for a seat on the 12.15pm flight to Chicago. This on a bank holiday week-end was something of a lottery, if I didn't get on this plane I would miss my trans-Atlantic flight. So I sat glued to the stand-by screen to see my position on the list. It was never stationary, if person with an AA advantage card came to check in I went lower down the list. if someone became impatient and went for another airline I went up the list. My dilemma started to dawn on me if i didn't get on the 12.15pm flight I wouldn't make Chicago in time for the trans-Atlantic flight. The options additional hotel, would I be charged for another flight across the Atlantic tomorrow all started to worry me. My hopes were lifted when my name went fro the stand-by list onto a cleared list but put on a downer when the AA rep said no one was on the cleared list, so sit down and we will call you if you are. Not one to give up I went back and stood in front of her desk. My name was clearly on that cleared list and if there was a spare seat on that plane my bottom would be on it. She looked at me and said she hadn't forgotten me, which was good. I stood my ground as she started to call people to board the plane. The plane now virtually full, I looked at her with sorrowful eyes as she said "Thomas Lynch?" and produced a ticket which I gratefully accepted. I could have kissed her as I ran for the plane. I got the last seat and was not in any frame of mind to give up that seat. The plane was small and only had seating for 54 people but the pilot put his foot down and got us to Chicago in time for me to catch my plane home.
Posted on 11:41am Friday 25th May 2007
Yesterday was pretty much a cooling down day. We meandered our way from Woodward Ok to Oklahoma City. I have to say it was a cold unpleasant journey because of our missing window. The plastic made it impossible to see anything coming from the left (the important side for the driver) and so we left it off. The cold front which caused the storms on Wednesday had passed through and the temperature had dropped over 30F. We all had our hats, coats and the van heating on. We booked in a motel near the airport and started to de-rigg and clean out the van. Apart from the missing drivers window we had also gained a dent in the bonnet because another chaser we met in Woodward decided to leap onto our van, like Spider man. I think he had consumed too much wine. The van had done well and the service light had come on I guess that is down to us doing 9000 miles. In the evening we met our local stormchaser friend (Dave Ewoldt). A nice lad and a bit of a Crocodile Dundee of stormchasing, he lives by the seats of his pants and I can say chasing with him takes a lot of courage. You either stick with him or drop off , nothing can be gained by that. He understands storms inside out. He knows what makes them tick. He can see inside the heart of a storm. He can also chew tobacco and eat his dinner at the same time, quite an art.