Storm Chases-2008 – May 2014

 

Following are the drama, action, thrill and joy of my various chases and storm intercepts.

Please feel free to comment.

Chase into Magnificent Skies and Breath Taking Lightning

April 21st, 2014 :  70 miles Round Trip

Synopsis:

A cold front oozes through our neighborhood far north of Dallas. Though cloud bottoms look nice and charcoal against deep blue, their fluffy white tops look meager.

My wife and I do a drum jam in our back yard, and both of us affirm as we drum, these paltry clouds will blossom big and strong. Sure enough as the line presses into our nearby southern sky, blossoming begins.

The chase is on!

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 This photo taken as our chase begins and we head out for blossoming cumulus cloud, driving south.
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We continue southward into the blossoming line, and towering cumulus begin to graduate to thunderhead status with awesome beauty!

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Setting sun  drops below blossoming cloud bank which now becomes a developing line of thunderstorms. My spirit sings and my mind is focused on the hunt, while my heart fills with joy and freedom of active pursuit.

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We turn east towards Rockwall, and behold marvelous cloud layers with thickening rain curtains towards the distance.  Bolt of lightning over horizon serves to tantalize me!

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Setting Sun contrasting against intensifying thunderstorm line.

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As we continue east, setting sun casts beautiful rouge to storm clouds

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We now turn south, towards Terrell. What delight to see the thickening and deepening rain curtains. Frequent lightning pulses through clouds, especially off to the southeast, which is where I want to take us!

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Looking southeast, deep into heart of storm. Constant lightning flutters within, like strobe lights. Greenish tinge suggests potential hail. My adrenaline intensifies as thrill fills my entire being. It’s a thrill of unknown destiny, coming closer to our target, and feeling/seeing the yet intensifying power of what lies before us!

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We drive through a blinding wall of rain and small hailstones. It’s very difficult to see ahead, and as hail stones grow a bit bigger, I pull us over to take in the sky scape. This photo shows the departing precipitation wall, above which lightning pulses play about.

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Back in pursuit of storm heart, we continue southeast; through nearly blinding rain, small hail and continuous vivid lightning flickers. Despite the extra effort it takes to drive under these conditions, thrill and awe fills my heart. Successful intercept accomplished!!

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As heaviest rain presses eastward, a breath taking lightning show unfolds before us. This photo freezes just a second of time, illuminated by lightning strobbing forth. Looking south, as rain wall silhouette arcs across left of photo.

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One of the top five most spectacular lightning shows I’ve seen in my entire life unfolds before us. My wife exclaims “I never knew lightning could do something like this!”  At least four discharges per second dart across sky, some of them frenetically crisscrossing one another! Meanwhile, not one drop of rain falls anywhere near our neighborhood!

Storm Chase-McKinney and Denton Texas, April 3rd 2014

Synopsis:

A weather boundary hangs along Texas State Route 380, just west of McKinney. Our job is to go after the storms, while staying safe. A tornado watch has been called for this area, and as we depart, baseball sized hail is already pounding parts of Denton.  A five hour chase adventure commences.

Magnificent, awe-inspiring and luscious untamed skies greet us as we savor the wilds between 5 and 9 p.m.

My wife joins me and we take off first for McKinney around 4:15 p.m.to intercept the storm which had brought huge hail to Denton, some 30 miles west. The stratgey is to get up close to but not inside the storm to look at structure and intake the energy.

Following are photos of this part of the intercept with more to follow:

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Thunderhead beckons and calls to me from afar as we begin the chase.

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Coming closer to the storm; one could feel the intense energy within it, even from this distance of 45 miles away.

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Magnificent towers blossom into the rear of the storm. Photo looking N.W.

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Getting closer.. now just south of Allen TX.

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Breath taking beauty as the storm continues to expand.

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We are now about 8 miles south of it’s heart and approaching at good pace. I feel such joy, awe and excitement fill my heart! What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to chase this!

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McKinney, TX.. Looking north, with hail core (up to golf ball sized) just a few miles to my north. There is a “severe” warning on this storm for the hail, so we stay safely south and watch where storm outflow meets inflowing winds.

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We watch carefully for a potential development of wall cloud.

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We see no cloud rotation, though brief funnel like protrusions develop and dissipate at lower right corner of the cloud bank.

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Here is the storm pushing east out of McKinney.

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As it continues onward, cloud towers continue to swiftly build into the heavens, indicating vigorous energy. There is currently a tornado watch for our area till 9 p.m.

Eyes turn toward the west and Denton radar. A linear type storm swiftly expands and begins wrapping up, prompting a tornado warning for Denton.  A nice hook echo appears on radar as well.

Time to venture west on TX 380 towards Denton. The radar also shows a significant hail core, with potentially large stones. Once again, our objective is to get close enough to see the action, while staying out of potentially damaging hail.

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This view west of McKinney reveals the great thunderhead. The anvil top points to the southeast, while clouds at lower levels move northeast. Nice torque…

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About 10 miles west of McKinney, we approach the huge towers looming majestically before us. Once again excitement and awe fills my heart, as well as studied focus upon the radar and best position for us to move into.

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We are now midway between the two cities, with the storm just a few miles to our west.

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A lowering appears to our northwest, near the town of Prosper, TX. Cars begin to pull over to watch.

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This is a more distant shot of the lowering.

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A distinct wall cloud swiftly develops.

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The wall cloud begins rotating. At this point, I place a call into the National Weather Service to report it.

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It turns to a classy funnel, then the storm changes character to outflow dominant and the funnel eventually blends into an arc cloud.

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The sky splits with storm cells moving both north and south of my location. This photo looks south as the storm continues to blossom and precipitation begins tumbling earthward. Quite a dramatic scene indeed.

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A beautiful sky moves overhead, of towering cumulus silhouetted against clear blueness, with white of thunderhead anvil departing towards the east.

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Departing thunderhead offers heavenly beauty.

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Eyes turn westward as a new thunderstorm blossoms and intensifies over Denton.

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A majestic view as the next storm approaches us. Green hue begins tinging the clouds.

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The dramatic sky reminds me of west Texas chases, with its vastness. Occasional lightning bolts leap between earth and sky over horizon, while flickers wink at us within clouds overhead.

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The clouds turn even more dramatic as precipitation core approaches us, occasional lightning plays about and greenish of likely hail increasingly seizes the sky.

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Last of sunset turns sky pink off to the southwest.

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Rain and some hail descends upon us, and radar reveals large hail area approaching. So I turn west to find the nearest turn around road. This is the view off to our west, with greenish tinging throughout everything. In addition as you see, visibility is quite low and strong winds begin to arise as well, adding heart pumping adrenaline and drama to the chase. As we continue west towards the turn around, hail increases and gets larger.

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This is our view as we drive back east towards McKinney. I’m going 34 mph, and near zero visibility envelops my car with windshield wipers going full blast. Torrential rain plus hail up to dime sized; a few stones even bigger clicking and clacking upon the car. This follows us 15 miles back to McKinney, where eventually hail up to nickel size falls and vivid lightning flashes illuminate the darkness. A wild and exciting night ensues!

About an hour after we return home, a magnificent lightning show unfolds across the southeastern sky.

Here are some screen shots taken from my smart phone video:

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