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Chase Trip 2009 Pays Off Big in Nebraska.


After 2+ weeks of fast paced chasing, fun and frustration – our hard work finally paid off. We had seen many great storms, had several “peeks” at short lived tornados and many good laughs along the way. Yet overall our storms had not been visually cooperative. 2009 has been a tough year for Chasers.

We started our day early, heading out of Kearney NE. There was a moderate risk forecast for SE Neb. and NE KS. The frustration mounted quickly as Tornadic storms fired early in KS. We found ourselves in a Datahole. Thanks AT&T. No Radar, Sat or updates for us. Not even a cell call. And with so much Precip we couldn’t even go visual. We were chasing blind.

We pretty much decided the day was a lost cause. So we moved north to Highway 80 to get cell reception. Low and behold some CU we beginning to pop in West Central NE. We managed to intercept the storm just as it began a brief tornado several miles west of Grand Island. We worked it for several hours and just before 9:30 pm it twisted big time just west of Aurora.

This event is highly documented. There are dozens of videos on Youtube, Including ours. Pics and Video don’t do it justice. It’s the closest I’ve ever been. And probably the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen. Certainly a highlight of my 9 years chasing.


More Dues Paid in South West Kansas


On June 14 we intercepted at storm forming near Richfield in SW KS. What began as an impressive little storm soon became a frustrating, rain-wrapped chase target. A delayed road selection put us behind the storm and we spent several hours fighting the precip core as we struggled to get in front of it. When the storm appeared to die on Radar we broke off the chase and landed in Dodge City. Watching the TV news in a local restaurant, the storm soon regrouped and tornadoed…

June 15 began with a brief visit to the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City… Highly recommended. Then we were off chasing a pair of storms in the neighborhood that eventually became a line of high-precip gusters. These storms were impressive at their inception and they did Tornado briefly. But we weren’t in position to see them.

Towards the end of the Chase Warren decided to beak off and head home. Ending his season for the year. Joel and I continued into Pratt.

June 16 would be a transition day. Laundry, Breakfast and a leisurely migration to Kearney Nebraska.


Two Steps Behind and a Whole Lot of Hail.


One of the more frustrating chase days of the season. We started our day in La Junta and made our way east to Lamar where we waited for storms to fire near Pueblo and move towards us. A good idea turned bas as we ended up doubling back toward Las Animas when the storms failed to gain strength and speed.

A series of poor judgments had us switching back and forth between two storms. When one of them became dominant we were too far behind to catch up. Construction south of Lamar didn’t help either when the storm grew into a High Precip monster moving into Kansas.

We slowed down to let the Hail Core pass near the Comanche Grasslands. Then traveled on to Guymon OK for the next day’s setup.


Several Days in Colorado. Storms of all sizes.


June 10th we headed back towards SW Kansas and Colorado. In pursuit of extremely marginal possibilities. Joel and I broke from Warren in Kansas and moved north into eastern CO. This proved to be a mistake as we missed the best show in town (SW KS). We landed Once again, in Burlington.

June 11 began with a lot of promise. After a hearty meal at the VFW we started our chase in Limon CO and jumped on the early T-warned storms in the foothills. A long pursuit ended in a “mushed-out” mess. Typical for this season. But day wasn’t over as an isolated cell developed in the south near Pueblo.

By the time we arrived near Rocky Ford, there were a pair of competing storms. Both produced alternate lowerings in what seemed like a “tug-of-war.” A couple of hours and several (many?) miles down the road the cells merged into a very dynamic storm near Las Animas – where a funnel clipped the tree tops above us while pelting us with horizontal hail. The situation became far too chaotic (dangerous) for us to shoot stills or video. Unfortunately we came away empty handed and somewhat shaken from this event. But it was one of the most exciting and challenging chases I’ve had in years.

The following day Warren and I relaxed at the hotel in La Junta as Joel pursued modest storms firing off of the foothills. Setting out with low expectations he again came back empty handed and we retired early with a promising forecast for the next day.


Once again, June 9th Magic in Kansas.


We left North Platte on Monday the 7th working south and east into KS. Conditions were favorable in a large area including NE, IA, KS and MO. We chose central KS. Capping crushed everyones hopes. It was a large bust.

Tueday the 8th we trekked back to CO seeking up slope action and were again disappointed. Worked a skimpy little storm near Limon and settled in there for the night.

6/9 magic worked it’s charm again as we stabbed down into south Central KS. After a long drive we set in Pratt and waited for a tower to fire. It finally broke open just west of Dodge City. Gorgeous storm gave us hours of fun. It never produced the nasty for us. But it had amazing structure. Very photogenic.


Another Chase in South West Nebraska


We started the day slowly, expecting to travel east towards Iowa. After lingering in the hotel, pouring over data, we eventually started east down I-80 only to be discouraged by a strong cap. Seeing the V-2 team choosing a west option was all it took for us to re-assess and double back to the west.

A nice storm shot up in the Sand hills drawing the V-2 team into deployment. But we chose to continue down I-80 all the way back to Ogallala. Several hours later a pair of storms developed in NE CO and moved into our region on SW NE.

Nearing sundown we found a beautiful vantage point in Paxton NE and watched the tail end storm develop. We captured some rotation as it tried to spin up. Never produced a full tornado, But it was a dramatic sight and a beautiful storm. All in all a great chase day.


Big Day for V-2. Not a Bad Day For us Either.


The day began with optimism and high hopes as we headed north from Burlington, CO to Julesburg, CO. We we’re anticipating the possiblity of multiple tornadic storms and chose the southern play area to wait for pops. Found an abandoned Texaco station in Chappel, NE and hung out for several hours watching the storms in WY on radar. When our target failed to produce we stabbed west in I-80. A little late for “the show.”

Happy that Vortex 2 scored big, and disappointed that we did not, we had all but given up on the day. While lounging in Sydney NE and making plans for day 2, a local tower went “severe” and suddenly we had another game for the day.

Pursued this storm for several hours and while it didn’t have what it took to do the business, it did present some interesting structure and stoked our appetite for days ahead. We’re here to chase.


Living up or Down to Low Expectations


The trip began with relaxed travel. A long day for both Joel and I. We settled in in Omaha late Teusday Evening (the 2nd) and spent our fist day on the road as a transition day which was just fine as it gave us a chance visit. We both skipped our chase trip last year so we had a lot to catch up on. We stabbed west and landed in North Platte NE. setting up for Today’s forecast. With low expectations that this would be a rocking prelude to more severe weather this coming weekend.

The day lived up (or down) to our low expectations. We moved into north east CO and met up with Warren at Fort Morgan in the early afternoon. Had a great time visiting as we sat and watched storms from Denver to Cheyanne try to get going, but they all seemed to die a slow death and pissed out before they could gain any lift. Just not enough juice.

We eventually chose a promising tower that was struggling to dominate an earlier storm near Limon CO. A beautiful evening chase that amounted to… a nice drive. The storm died out and we landed in Burlington. Well fed and modestly glowing, we’re in a great position for chasing tomorrow. With much higher expectations for better hunting in the days ahead.

A Musical Offering to the Weather Gods.

Preparing for my chase trip and inspired by DZ. The Plains locked in a lousy pattern and the season grinding to a frustrating halt before I even get there – I decided to appease the weather gods with a musical offering… We’ll need all the mojo we can get.

Killing time now as I’ve pushed my trip back yet again (confident it was a wise decision), I’m using this time to experiment with a new Blog format for ’09… If all goes well I’ll be including video in future posts…

C U in OZ!

  • 05-28-09

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