High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

September 29, 2007

Storm chase Sat, Sept 29th

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 3:19 pm

Target Benkleman, NE.  I am typing this afternoon from my target area in Benkleman, NE.  I failed to post a brief forecast, so I’ll do that now.  I decided to chase today after it appeared that decent severe threat may extend farther south than anticipated yesterday.  I had originally thought I would chase farther north after staying the night somewhere after yesterday’s chase, however since yesterday’s chase was rather close to home, I decided to semi-blow off today and just head back to Dodge after the chase.  I left Dodge City this morning around 10:30 or so and arrived here in Benkleman around 3pm.  There is a dryline extending north-south through this area and all the models suggest fairly vigorous convective development late this afternoon and this evening.  So I await here in Benkleman under mostly cloudy skies with a large band of cirrostratus clouds over this area.  Surface temperatures, however, have now warmed into the upper 80s here, so the clouds are of very little impact on heating.  We’ll see what happens, there’s a very nice, strong system centered over the Great Salt Lake region this afternoon, and strong lift will continue to spread east interacting with the warm/moist sector (where I am at!) anytime now. 

Sept 28th chase, brief summary/photos

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 9:26 am

Yesterday was a successful chase in western Kansas.  It took awhile for storms to become organized into supercell structures, but I finally intercepted an HP supercell north of Scott State Lake north of Scott City and followed it east as it began to get dark towards the Healy area.  After dark, another brief supercell formed between Dighton and Scott City, and I had some fairly nice success in photographing lightning illuminated structure with this storm (the last photo shown of the 3 below).  I’ll write a little more detailed account later, but right now, I need to get ready for today’s chase. 



September 28, 2007

Storm chase Fri, Sept 28

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 10:42 am

Target: Eastern/Northeastern CO to far western Kansas.   There is a fairly strong subtropical jet streak moving towards the High Plains today.  This morning, there were lower to even mid 60s dewpoints advecting northward from western Oklahoma and the eastern Texas Panhandle.  A dryline will set up this afternoon along the KS-CO border area northward to western Nebraska.  By this evening, widely scattered storms are expected to break out along this dryline.  The question is where to target for the best location on the dryline.  I think I will head up towards the Goodland area and perhaps re-evaluate from there, leaving around noon or so perhaps.  Both the RUC and NAM are breaking out convective precip along the dryline farther south on the edge of the good upper flow, so I will have to watch out for that possibility as well.  I will probably chase Saturday, too, farther north in Nebraska… thus I may stay the night in Colby or McCook or something… it will be a seat-of-the-pants operation, as it usually is with storm chasing :)

September 20, 2007

Chase Acct: September 19 (Western KS)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 10:07 am

Well, not a whole lot to report really from this chase.  My original target was west-central KS somewhere south of Goodland.  I left Dodge City around 11:30am and drove towards Garden City where I rested a little bit at the US-83/US-50 truck stop just north of town (I just came off midnight shifts, so I was kind of tired).  After snoozing in the parking lot for about 45 minutes, it came to about 1:30 or so, and I headed up towards Scott City where I grabbed some lunch.  I noted at this time that there was some convective development to my south, but it looked rather elevated to me, and there was quite a bit of mid level moisture involved, so I didn’t put a whole lot of stock into this and figured it wouldn’t amount to much.  After I got finished with lunch, a storm had exploded south of me between Garden City and Dodge City — go figure.  This storm did indeed look supercellular briefly on radar, but I figured I was too far away and by the time I got back down there, it wouldn’t be as good on radar… I figured the best that storm would offer would be short-lived.  So I continued on my plan as I expected more storms to develop farther northwest in my area.  By mid-afternoon, I thought the best area at the nose of mid-60s dewpoints and southeast winds…at the nose of the good warming as well…was pushing up into Sharon Springs area, so I decided to head west from Scott City.  Well, by this time, storms were indeed rapidly developing just south of Scott City, so I didn’t go very far west before turning back around.

The best storm of the day on this chase would be this storm that developed right near Scott City which moved north-northeast through Gove County.  I core-punched this north of Scott City, receiving no better than pea to 1/2 inch diameter hail along US83 near Lake Scott State Park.  Eventually, I got north of this precipitation area and finally in view of a nice updraft to my immediate northeast.  Looking at radar, this storm appeared to have anti-cyclonic shear to it…and based on its movement due north, I certainly believe that to be the case.  According to the forecast wind profile hodograph, cyclonic supercells were expected to more more east-northeast or almost due east.  A long east to west axis of updrafts were noted extending from primary storm updraft to my northeast through north through northwest.  I did observed a number of small, brief dusty-spinups as it appeared there was a nebulous convergence line in the area (there was a fine-line on radar).  None of these spin-ups were what I would call "rapidly rotating" though.  At roughly 4:05pm, I did observe a healthier looking dust-spinup to my northeast beneath the main updraft.  There was also a bit of a kink, or a notch, in the updraft base to also support this dust spinup.  It could be argued that this was a brief, weak tornadic spin-up, but the rotation at cloud base was never really all that strong.  I never thought this would be anything significant, and in less than a minute or two, this circulation was gone.  It was quite interesting, however, at the time, and did get some decent photos looking northeast from Hwy 83 near the Monument Rocks Landmark.

Eventually, this storm would weaken, and an outflow surge of southeast winds would blow out from this storm through the remainder of my target area over the next couple of hours through the Russell Springs and Oakley areas…then points west from there…effectively killing off any additional threat for supercell storms in this area, which I found dissapointing.  I got up towards Oakley and drove around a little bit trying to figure out what my next move would be (it was still before 5pm!), but it didn’t take long to realize that the rest of the photogenic storm day was shot, and I headed back home.  I got back to Dodge City just before 8pm or so.  Below are a couple of photos:



September 19, 2007

Storm chase Sept 19

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 10:44 am

Target area NW KS.  Well, today is a chase day.  A warm front will be moving north through western Kansas this afternoon with fairly good dewpoints in the mid 60s present.  Low level and deep layer wind shear will support supercells today, especially the farther north you go into northwest Kansas.  The plan is to "ride the front" north until convection initiates, probably around the I-70 corridor, or at least that’s the idea.  I’ll be leaving around 11:30am or so, taking a leisurely drive up towards Oakley/Colby, grab lunch, catch a shut-eye (I just came off midnight shifts), and re-evaluate the situation.  I’ll put the front page into "chase mode" by early afternoon.

September 13, 2007

A storm chaser passes on

Filed under: Editorial,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 7:21 pm

Eric Nguyen, 29The entire storm chasing community was shocked last week to learn that Eric had become extremely ill following unknown circumstances surrounding the attempt to take his life due to apparent major clinical depression.  We all learned of his dire condition late last week through a good friend of Eric’s (Amos Magliocco), who also is a popular storm chaser amongst the community.  Eric passed on on Sunday, September 9th, and the entire storm chasing community is quite shocked and extremely saddened.  We don’t really like to "classify" storm chasers amongst the community, but we all know who the "elite" were.  Eric was certainly one of the elite.  He had a gift to forecast storms and an even more special gift to get to the right spots to achieve some of the best storm photography the world has known, even at his young age.  While I did not personally know Eric very well, I have certainly met him a couple times, the most memorable time being at the 2002 Storm Chaser Convention in Denver — it was an extremely windy weekend with like blowing dust and tumbleweeds everywhere around the DIA Holiday Inn..  I forget who was all out there in that parking lot where there were just piles and piles of tumbleweeds of which we kicked and threw and mangled.  I remember distinctly taking a picture of Eric holding one of the tumbleweeds in the air in this all-serious demeanor like we were at war with the tumbleweeds.  Unfortunately, this photo, along with many others of family and friends I had around 2000-2002 were lost — nowhere to be found, after the CD they were on became corrupt… you can thank my very poor job of backing up stuff in my college days.  At any rate, I think Eric will always be remembered through one special photograph he took in 2004 — a photograph that made the Smithsonian Magazine.  There are two storm chasers whose work I admire the most, and I take with me when I am out photographing storms myself — that is Eric and Mike Hollingshead.  I know Mike quite a bit better than Eric since Mike and I have exchanged more e-mails and instant messages about photography over the years.  I have chased many of the same storms as Eric Nguyen — most notably in recent years:

Eric did an incredible job of maintaining superb website showing his collection of storm photography work.  I know I checked it often for updates, if nothing more than to make me more jealous of his photography skills!  His website is preserved so everyone can enjoy his storm chasing accounts and incredible imagery:


Memorial StormTrack Thread 


Powered by WordPress