May 19, 2012 Boyer Chute NWR, Ft Calhoun Nebraska Severe Winds

This wound up damn fun. I didn't really chase this day because it didn't look great. Looked mostly cold fronty and moisture was a bit of an issue. Of course a mini-tornado outbreak happens in southern KS, where even if I did chase I wouldn't have wound up. But anyway, I thought I'd chase the new desert squall line op 9 miles from home, as hopefully a line of storms moved in. I drive there fearing the little crapper cells ahead of the line raining on things before the line got there. Sure enough, one fires south of Omaha and makes a direct hit on me and the desert before the line gets there. This turns the nice dry desert into messy wet sand that wouldn't blow as easily. It was annoying enough I leave here before the line arrives. But on the way out I see the shelf cloud and it was pretty low. I thought, well may as well go back in.

The thing was never impressive looking. It's already passing over my head in the above shot. The rock quarry is out there to the nw. I soon see white dust in the air. Soon after that I saw lots of dust going up, which was pretty telling giving how it had just rained on it all. Thought, damn this might be windy. Soon I started to lose car tail lights out there in it.

I'm out by this field a ways from my car shooting it. I kept saying, stay a bit longer and run for the car at the last minute, since lightning wasn't a real threat, just the wind coming. I start the run as the wind is ramping up. I had taken my keys out of my pocket so I'd be ready to get in the car and go. I'm running fast as can be with my gear and there go my keys, flying through the air behind me. I of course didn't see them go or where they went. I was like, oh crap. Turned around and focused best I could as I need to find them fast. Found them quickly and finished the run lol.

I get in my car, wind really hammering and fumble to the video camera in there. I start it and it says something like, "card protected can't record". I didn't know what it was telling me at first and thought, ok just find that menu option to switch it back to internal memory. It's not a simple thing to find, especially on a video camera you've used chasing a total of 1 time. Find it and thank god it was now ready to go.

I shoot video out my window towards where I'd just ran from. It's so messed up the wind was digging through the wet sand to get the dry stuff going. It was darker out now, plus I'm shooting through dark tinted windows...hence bad video noise.

For some reason I decided I wanted out of there. I keep sarcastically saying on video right now, "I'm really eager to drive through these trees right now." I try to hurry through the trees, when I get stopped at a downed one. It's all sand in here off the road. Wet sand now. I wanted nothing to do with driving off the road. Especially as some of it slopes over quickly too.

I'm now doing a 9 point turn in a massive hurry before the trees started to fall on me.

I get back to an opening and stop, wet sand still being lifted.

I get out of my car to shoot video from the down wind side. I flag down this suv to say there was a tree on the road ahead and so it wasn't really worth driving into the trees at the moment, just to get stuck as they continue to fall over. They are just braking here and actually stop next to those trees. Someone gets out of the passenger side and I yell that at them. I kinda doubt they heard me over the wind noise. They get in and continue on. Their suv apparently drove around that one tree as they weren't in there later. More trees would fall behind them.

Blowing hard. Trees could be seen going over on the end of this group right now.

Here is a gif animation of another tree down there going over.

Same moment as the one going over in that gif this one goes over right behind me.

Two cars come by as it is trying to let up and I tell them about the trees. I flip around behind them and 6 or so guys get out and are removing what they can, even as it started to hail on them lol. I was like, hell this works, I'll just film you working from my car. After they break some branches so they can drive around on the wet sand, the one guy can be seen slipping on the stuff face first.

My turn.

This one wasn't so bad now, was more worried about getting stuck in the wet sand.

We come to the original tree that stopped me. They both eventually get through. I should have drove up to them when they were going over it, as once I got up there it was clear to me they were likely standing on the end of that to hold it down while they drove over it. I thought, what is going to happen to my car if it can even get over this. You couldn't go right any further as the ground sloped. It just sucked looking at the right side of this tree top, as it stuck so far up in the air. I'm driving a low to the ground Mitsubishi Eclipse here too. I wish I wasn't on the phone during this one, as I didn't shoot video driving over/through it. As you drove over it that big branch was going over the windshield.

Fun times though! Much more fun than I had expected out of these storms. It's always far more windy down there in the open flat plains of this area. I'd imagine the winds were pushing 80 mph. Hard to know though. Report of a barn roof blown off close to here. I can't even imagine how bad it would have looked here had that first crapper storm not tracked over the new desert. For reference of what I'm talking about on the "new desert": http://stormandsky.com/2012aftertheflood.html I have new stuff from this area of the desert stuff to add soon. As bad as it looks here with 40-50 mph gusts on windy days when the desert is dry, I can only imagine just how nasty this would have looked without the first storm raining on it before the line. My legs were getting pasted/caked with wet sand just from it blowing under my car as I kneeled next to it recording the wind.