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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!"

May 3, 2010

Chase Trip Day Nine (May 2) Summary [13 images]

High-based storm & lightning near Grainfield, Kansas

(rest of images at the bottom of this post)

I was not expecting much on this day given dewpoint temperatures in the mid to upper 30s across much of western and central Kansas, however there were going to be storms based simply on the notion that temperatures in the mid levels…500 to 700mb… were still very cold.  500mb temperatures were going to be around -22 to -23C.  The problem was that there wasn’t much of a focus for initiation to zero in and target on for chasing.  Where was the best storm to photograph going to end up being?  The environment looked equal just about everywhere from southwest Kansas into south-central Nebraska.  I decided to use the RUC model as my guide as it was showing a corridor of southeast winds with a little bit better moisture… say mid 40s dewpoints… advecting back into west-central Kansas around Ness City perhaps.  As it turned out, these winds never really materialized, and winds were quite light everywhere.  The first storms developed farther north… north of Hill City, and this is where I was led.  I made it to Hill City and eventually Norton, going after some briefly strong storms just into Nebraska near Alma.  By the time I reached North I drove east to get into better position of these, but as I was doing this, those storms eventually waned with a bunch of other scattered weak convection developing to my southeast, south and southwest.  Where to now?  There was no need to be this far northeast when I could be a bit closer to home to photograph essentially the same convection.  So I headed back southwest.  I followed Hwy 9 west-southwest to Hwy 23 north of Hoxie as this areas was convecting better than any other, so I thought what the heck, I’ll just get closer to this stuff.  I went south to Hoxie and eventually Grainfield when the “storm of the day” for me came into view to my southwest.

I wanted to get into a decent position for this cell, so I drove south on an unpaved county road southwest of Grainfield.  I stumbled upon my shooting location of choice.  A farm field with old corn stalks and an old barn making for a fantastic foreground subject.  I used this old barn to my advantage — it certainly made the shoot!  I set the D200 up with the lightning trigger and let ‘er go to work while I roamed around with the D3 to get some compositions of this old barn and the storm.  I managed to get a few cloud-to-ground images from this storm with the barn off to the right.  I think these compositions with the storm, lightning, and old barn work best as 2:1 crops in post-processing, which is what you’ll see in the album of images from this shoot.  One of the frames even has me in the shot, which actually kinda works in a way for perspective!  I felt pretty satisified with this and decided not to get greedy and begin my way back home.  I went south on Hwy 23 to Gove only to find that it was closed south of Gove.  I was forced to turn around and head back to I-70, but the next storm that developed in the cluster was producing some decent lightning frequency, so I gave it one more attempt to photograph just northeast of Grainfield this time along Hwy 23.  I was at this location for probably 15 or 20 minutes before the lightning activity waned.  At that time I decided to finally head on back to Dodge.  This was exactly the kind of shoot I was hoping for, but honestly wasn’t expecting.  I think one or two of the images from this day are Portfolio-worthy.

Begin:  Dodge City, KS (home)
End: Dodge City, KS (home)
Day Nine Mileage: 431 mi.
Trip Mileage: 4085 mi.

13 images from this day’s shoot:

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