Wild Kansas Skies-June 3,2015

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As our storm chase vacation continues, we set up shop in Oakley, KS; located in far NW Kansas, not far from Colby.

Due to time constraints for our vacation, I choose to not take us into Colorado, but still hunt across the potentially ripe northwest Kansas region.

By day’s end, we savor the sweet wildness of some of the best Kansas has to offer.

After an afternoon of our relaxing,  getting more road food, etc. , the very first thunderhead of our region pops up to my distant southeast around 6 pm.  At first,  though it almost immediately appears like a tight cauliflower, it only slowly grows.

I keenly eye this celestial anomaly, and after about 10 minutes, it rapidly swells heavenward.  There is no other significant thunderhead anywhere to be seen in our sky, except a cluster of growing cumulus to our distant northwest, beneath the anvil of a far away thunderstorm in Colorado.

Due to the swiftly blossoming nature of this storm and its location in deeper moisture along a old thunderstorm outflow boundary, I choose this one over the cluster off to my distant northwest.

To intercept this storm means a significant drive away from our base, like about 100 miles.

To our advantage, the now exploding cloud mass remains essentially stationary, so despite it being a long shot of about 50 miles east then 50 miles south, we have a pretty good chance of intercepting this storm while it’s in its peak.

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This scene beckons us shortly after we turn south down KS 283 at WaKeeney. The still-exploding towers call out to us and invites us to join them.

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About 30 miles closer, and gaining fast…What magnificence!

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Now from about 20 miles away, a magnificent storm swept panorama opens up before us!

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Looking deep into the heart of our supercell…

This storm, while producing no tornadoes, does offer us magnificent skies with wall clouds and funnels:



This second photo shows a wall cloud or potential tornado cloud developing, sucking air from the earth and practically scraping the ground.


This is the tail end of a rope-like horizontal funnel which spins and curls up within the cloud mass.


Here is a crop of the previous photo, showing better detail of the funnel, just before it dissipates.


This wall cloud wraps up, and reveals a possible funnel cloud at the left side of the precipitation curtain. Occasional delightful lightning bolts leap earthward as well.Funnel4

This pair of funnels beckons from the nearby southern sky.

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A new thunderhead tower builds majestically into the main body of the thunderstorm cell. This photo looks straight up.

Then, as dusk arises and deepens, occasional lightning streaks with great beauty across the now weakening cell off to our southeast.

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(C) 2015, Stephen Eric Levine; All Rights Reserved.

Facebook page: Stephen Levine, Author and Photographer.

Awesome Storm Chase Vacation!


Hartley, Texas; June 1st. Up to two bolts per second envelop our car! Beyond awesome! Words can’t describe the awe, wonder and joy of this storm chase communion with God’s magnificence.

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Storm center traveling from Clayton N.M. Reaches Dalhart, TX and magnificently regenerates. Earlier that evening, we enjoy a marvelous intercept about 25 miles southwest of Clayton.


Yours truly, framed by Clayton NM. thunderstorm line.

Chase Objective -Day 1:

On Sunday, May 31st, we take the long drive from the Dallas area to Amarillo, TX for positioning.

Our vacation time is limited to just the upcoming few days, due to work and financial commitments. Our goal is to see the most magnificent show God has to offer us in our region, and safely, within the geographic spaces best accessible for our time frame.

Day #1’s target is the far NW Panhandle of Texas, or far NE New Mexico.

Already by 12:30 p.m., thunderstorms have fired east of the mountain range across New Mexico, and rear their lovely heads across the distant western horizon.

Two potential areas look hopeful – the earlier described zone, or a zone around Tucumcari, NM.  Spirit sends us north.

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After a few rather tiring hours driving northward through the Panhandle, this distant thunderhead presents itself to us. Radar shows it to be  in N.E. New Mexico.  This thunderhead becomes our intercepted storm.


As we draw closer to the thunderstorm complex, I admire the beauty of the landscape below. One of the thunderhead anvils above reminds me of a camel.


What joy it is to behold the beauty of God’s creation out here!



We leave the Clayton storm as it weakens, and begin our journey to find a motel for the night.

As we move into the Texas Panhandle, the weakening Clayton complex finds itself new life and regenerates magnificently, producing breath taking skies and a thrilling lightning show.

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Blossoming back into power and magnificence – Hartley, TX

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A wall cloud starts to form, and occasional areas of cloud begin to rotate. A special tingly feeling arises in my chest, as the outside chance of a tornado presents itself before us. Lightning bolts streak across sky to the right of this dark mass.

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A  hail core mixed with very heavy rain develops swiftly within this system, and it’s now time to bail out of Hartley, since so many of the streets are built concave, where any gathering rainfall will swiftly flood the roads.

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It appears that this system is trying very hard to produce a twister. This is about as low as things get. None-the-less; very dramatic!


The outflow boundary continues to blossom out ahead of us.

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A profoundly spectacular lightning show accompanies our journey; as bolt after bolt – often a few at a time, envelops the sky and our car. What a thrilling rush!!!!!





A powerful “rainfoot” opens up before us.


Swiftly it expands and intensifies, right up ahead of us! A one on one rendezvous awaits our driving pleasure 🙂

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We drive through a nearly blinding torrent of huge raindrops and hail up to dime sized.


Radar of our journey


Magnificent thunderhead and rain feet off to our north.Mammatus1-inetAt our destination, Dumas, TX, a stunning mammatus sky greets us!

And gifts us with a breath taking sunset, as storm line dissipates with the fading of daylight:

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Awe, wonder and deep gratitude for the gift of seeing all this today fills my heart as night time arises and sleep beckons to me. Day #1 of our storm chase vacation has been a wonderful success.

(C) 2015, Stephen Eric Levine, All Rights Reserved.