There must be something about Tuesdays in December…this is the third in a row that I feel compelled to post something about chasing.
This post actually has nothing to do with Virginia chasing. Instead it is a brief recap of tornadoes I’ve seen out west during the Hokie Stormchases I’ve assisted with. From 2011-2015 we struggled to find tornadoes but managed to see at least one per year.(Of course the chase I didn’t go with the Hokies – 2016 – was the epic Dodge City Kansas multiple tornado day.)
On May 22nd 2011 we were in Iowa when this tornado touched down near Marengo:
We were surprised by this one as (a) this was early in the afternoon and (b) the wall cloud had cycled down and didn’t look promising when we pulled away from it. However it obviously cycled back up and we were forced to view the tornado in less-than-perfect lighting and through moderate rainfall (hence the highly edited photo above).
The first 2012 trip came during a quiet period but the second trip was much better. On May 29th we jumped on a cell as it went up northwest of Oklahoma City. We followed until it got too close to the urban jungle and pulled off the storm even though it was continuing to produce funnels. Meanwhile more storms fired to our northwest and one chased us south through El Reno. We stopped after dark south of Union City to watch this tornado backlit by strobing lightning:
The next year – 2013 – the first trip was in Oklahoma the day of the May 20th Moore tornado but we deliberately bypassed the urban corridor again and were on another storm south of OKC. On the second trip we chased northeast of Guthrie on May 30th and watched this funnel drop (it was a confirmed tornado but we didn’t see the ground circulation):
We actually saw the El Reno storm the next day but didn’t chase it due to its proximity to and trajectory toward the OKC metro. (That’s a safety theme of ours.)
In 2014 we actually witnessed two tornadoes on the sole trip that year. This one we saw in eastern Wyoming on May 20th as a visible funnel aloft with a ground circulation underneath:
Later that trip we were south of Big Springs Texas on Memorial Day (5/26) and saw this tornado from ~12 miles east. It was confirmed by other chasers closer to the storm.
And then during the first 2015 trip we witnessed the Canadian TX tornado on May 27th, literally our last possible day to chase on that trip. We wanted to be closer than this but timing and the available road network forced us to settle for this view. It was cool enough, tho’, as we saw the entire life cycle from beginning to rope out.
And I am happy for the students who witnessed the 2016 Dodge City events even though I wasn’t there. I just hope the first time chasers on that trip realize how fortunate they actually were to chase that storm with its multiple tornadoes!