Field Notes

April 8, 2015 Severe Weather in SE Kansas, sort of

10:11 pm – I traveled a little over 300 miles chasing 3 storms.  None of the three really produced much, but it was nice to get out and into nature.

I started in Coffeyville, chasing 2 cells into Parsons.  Then back south and west for several miles to meet up with the 3rd storm – the one I really thought would produce.

It didn’t.


The cap that was in place prevented storm growth.

Then south through Osage county.  Nice drive, crappy cellular connection.

I’m not too disappointed, though.  It’s still early in the season.

Next time.

I did shoot a few pictures along the way.  To view the photo album, click here.

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12:00 pm – We’re now looking at a moderate risk for tornadoes.  I’m loading gear.

Today's updated outlook.  Moderate risk for tornadoes.  (NWS, 12:00 pm)

Today’s updated outlook. Moderate risk for tornadoes. (NWS, 12:00 pm)

6:24 am  – I’ve been looking at the forecast and models for today and there’s an “Enhanced” risk of storms today…onset is likely this afternoon.  The potential for storms will continue through the night into the morning hours.

Currently the front is on the Kansas/Oklahoma state line and the dry line is in far west Oklahoma.  But, those positions will change through the day.  And, with highs today in the mid 80s and dew points in the mid 60s, the potential for severe storms is pretty high.  However, some capping could inhibit storm development.

I think the key factor will be the dryline.  Dryline positioning in relation to the front and improved low level jet stream will be the factors to watch.  If those come together, the potential for tornadic supercells will increase.

Overall, this is worth keeping an eye on through today as the forecasts are updated.

Outlook for today (NWS, 6:39 AM)

Outlook for today (NWS, 6:39 AM)


Storms and tornadoes move through Oklahoma

I wasn’t going to chase today.  My plan was to watch it on radar and relax.  Right after I posted the first tornado warning at 5:21 PM, all hell broke loose.  A tornado was reported on the ground near Westport moving to the east, towards Tulsa.

I jumped in the truck without my chase gear (mistake) and headed north.  I stopped at I-244 when radar showed the storm cell tracking east along the highway.  It was 5:34pm.

I had to move south a couple of times to get out of the path.  One short stop was at 11th and Garnett.  Still not far enough south.  My next stop was at Garnett and I-44 at the QT.  My last stop was on 41st street, west of Garnett.  7 miles from the starting point.

The tornadic part of the storm had moved to the east, towards Catoosa, Claremore and Inola.

I headed home at 6:45 pm.  An intense hour for sure.

Once home, I began getting reports of major damage in Sand Springs, and the heartbreaking news of injuries and a fatality.  That’s the one thing I hate to hear.

Lessons learned?  Might be a couple.

  • Get the gear ready.  It’s not too early.
  • Check camera settings.
  • Check time on camera (spring forward, right?).
  • Have the right lens on the camera.
  • Charge the batteries.  (duh).
  • Shoot some video.
  • Don’t chase in Tulsa during rush hour.  (brilliant).

Besides the pictures I posted to my Twitter account, I shot these along the way.

It was a short chase – April 13, 2014

I really hadn’t planned to chase today, but when the storms started lining up in a watch box, I couldn’t resist.

20140413-1536-radarI tossed minimal gear in the truck and headed north.  About 28 miles north of Tulsa, I stopped in Ramona about the time the squall line moved in.

20140413-E-1024-004It wasn’t a storm that would typically produce a tornado, but it was spitting hail and winds were gusting.

20140413-E-1024-006When I got home and processed the few images I’d taken, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d caught a bolt of lightning in one of them.  It was an unexpected surprise.  I also realized how close I was to the bolt.  I shot this picture with a 50mm lens.

20140413-E-1024-001I only drove about 90 miles, round trip.  Not bad for the first run of the season.