I opted to chase this day since it looked pretty good and I was already in Hays KS from the day before. My initial thought was to intercept the returning deeper moisture, around the Perryton area. Not wanting to be too far west, I chose to drive straight south, get data, then position as needed. The last data I'd have via cell phone would be Coldwater KS. This sort of sucked. As I was there, I knew I needed to get south, but just how far and how far west was still up in the air. I move further south to Buffalo Oklahoma where I found some wifi data. Not long after I was there, a return appeared on radar to my south, southwest of Woodward. I waited a couple scans, then being impatient I dropped south to check it out. It of course vanished as I did so. Needing data again I had to drive to Woodward, where I found it a challenge to quickly find working wifi. The Days Inn wifi gave me half a radar image before stopping. Next stop was in town a ways, at the McDonalds....which was secured! I didn't want, nor have time, to go in and grab a burger or pop so I could get some. So I drove further east into the city and found some. There I saw the MD for the north central areas of the TX panhandle. It was pretty obvious on satellite the area that was likely to go. Trouble was it was a line orientated sw to ne, drifting north and I did not want to be too far west. So I drive back towards where I came, but drive west towards May Oklahoma instead of north to Buffalo. I could see something towering to my sw, and soon it was anviling. Yay, I stumbled onto the first storm and was only seeing one other car with chasers. I watched it, largely alone, for about 30 minutes. The above image is that storm from a spot west of May.
It soon became severe warned, as it gained a beavertail and tail cloud. Not much longer and it was tornado warned. It's funny how after a while, you can almost tell right away how much of a chance a storm has at becoming a big tornado producer. It looked like it had some hope, but it seemed a bit small, and just had that somewhat "cold" look to it.
I moved north of May a few miles and parked, still no chasers around. Then the rfd cut in and the wall cloud began to rotate pretty good. It was like a switch was thrown on with the chasers in the area. I looked south and saw the train of vehicles now coming north.
The problem was this storm would cut across this highway before one was up to the next e-w option. With all the chasers in the area now, and that happening, the situation became highly annoying. I quickly became sick of the growing circus and turned south, letting it go. I feared what I'd be missing, but at the same time, it did seem like it was just "too cold". I'm pretty sure I was the first one to leave it though, and it did haunt me a bit, especially given the fact I had no data. I usually hate leaving things, and with everyone still on it, I feared all the images I'd see later of the big tornado I missed.
I talked with Randy Chamberlain a few times, getting some radar udates from him. It didn't sound very promising to the sw, but I didn't have any real choice. So I dropped south. He was away from the internet for a while, so I gave Steve Peterson a call and got a couple more radar updates from him. I'm thankful to both of them for the updates. I do not miss the days of chasing with zero data, this is for sure.
A problem I'd have, other than no data to look at, was my gas was getting lower and I was in the worst location for that. I kept wanting to go west, but I knew I'd waste gas if I had to move back east and move again. For a good while I was going by just warning info over the radio. The one warning was for southern Lipscomb county. I believe this was before I called Steve and after I'd last talked to Randy. It said the tornado warning was for the southern portion of the county, so I dropped south. As I drifted west they said the warning was cancelled and that the storm moved out of the county! I was like, I'm in southern Lipscomb and can't even see the storm to my west...with a ne movement, how the hell does it move out of southern Lipscomb! Wouldn't they have to warn northern Lipscomb too, for that to happen? I was just thinking, you are of no help. By the way, boy do I pitty some of those radio guys that take calls all night. ROFL. WOW. Here's one quote, "So, how large is the hail", he asks the caller. The lady says, "Ummmm, oh, ummm, I don't know,......the size of hail". I'm serious. Then some funny sounding older guy would call in to let them know it was still raining. His voice was priceless. I heard him call them 3 times. It was just so comical to listen to that station all night. Then there was the guy betting his check this 5 mile long wall cloud would produce a tornado. 5 miles long eh. I should have called in and said I'd take him up on that.
Anyway, I move west more and can finally see the storm.....and the billion chasers now on it. By the way, I didn't see any chasers driving badly or doing anything stupid and I saw tons of them. I did note 2 media chasers driving like crazies though. The thought that came to mind was, they must have a loved one in there, dying, and they are looking for a hospital.
The above image is the tornado warned storm in southern Lipscomb county(moved out of the county my ass). You could see a line of convection feeding nw into the main updraft area. That was pretty sweet to watch, even though it wasn't viewable like that for very long.
I moved a bit further west to look closer and saw it was extremely grungy and green looking. The news chopper flying along that gust front was fairly surreal. I only wish I had stopped sooner and saw that, and had put the zoom lens on.
Surrounded by the tons of chasers again, I moved back east for structure. I knew the only area offering much for structure would be more to the northeast of this location, looking back sw.
I tried to get north ahead of it, but it was closing the gap off on me, and I didn't think I'd have much time to see the structure. It also didn't look all that great...and....my gas issue was growing by doing this. My only option now was to blast south to Canadian and fill up, then intercept the biggest beast of the day, which was now exiting the Stinnett TX area.
This was taken at the gas station on the ne side of Canadian. The mammatus streaming east off all the convection in the area.
There aren't a lot of road options around this area to go west on, and they kept saying they were closing the highway north to Perryton. I decided to take this ranch road west for a while and just shoot the scene and the far off supercell as it approached.
Much like I love the areas of western NE, I love this area of the TX panhandle. The terrain just looks very cool out there. Wide angle photography never does it any justice. The humidity and haze added to the scene.
This is now looking west from my spot nw of Canadian. You can see where the supercell is on the right side of the shot, and the well defined mammatus in its anvil. For the longest time I didn't see a soul. I absolutely love finding areas like that and watching a nice storm, far from home.
It's actually pretty dark during this shot. I noticed the mammatus were looking more intense so I ISO'd up to bring them out.
Much like the night before, the lightning was brilliant, with extremely frequent, short crawlers.
I'm just now able to start seeing some of the structure of the beast.
The shot above is now looking more to the north. The storm looked pretty cold and shelfy now. I thought it wasn't far from being finished, but evidently this is the storm that produces a tornado in....guess where....Lipscomb county. It moved up behind where the one had gone through earlier. It was now 10:30 and I needed to find a room, so I dropped back into Canadian....to find they had no rooms left. That sucks! While I was looking around that town for a room is when that tornado happens, just northeast a bit.
It really did suck that main motel in Canadian was all booked up. It sucked because there really was no driving north now, with these training storms flooding areas that way. I wasn't thrilled about the drive to Woodward, ahead of these storms(or in them), since there was nothing for data out there. So I checked off those two options. It was now either Pampa or Shamrock, both drives further from home...yuck. I chose Shamrock. I was highly tired by this point, after little sleep the night before and all this driving. I roll into town and the first motel I stop at.....booked solid. I drive further south, south of I40 and the next motel....booked solid! Aaarrrrghh. I'm all for sleeping in cheap cheap motels and that was now the plan(hell it had been the plan). If I found anything open, I'd get a room there. I saw a sign for some "Texan Motel" on the west side of town. I drove that way and saw it, a real dump. When I say dump.....I mean.....a serious dump. I figured it'd be ok though, as most cheaper motels aren't that bad inside. So I walk into the office and about fall over from the heat and stench. This guy comes out, barely even acknowledging I'm standing in front of him. I can't think of any word he even said, other than the price maybe. Did I mention it smelled nasty in there?
So I get the key and drive around. I go to the room and open the door. Good lord. I walked in, looked around, tired as hell and said......"oh hell no". I've never seen such a dump. It was mostly the bed, sheets and pillow that scared me. It just looked amazingly soiled and dirty. It was a no brainer from the moment I walked in. I'm going to drive through the rest of town and find another room...which I did. I didn't bother trying to get my money back from this one, I just figured, I'll check out of them both in the morning lol....which I did. I found my second room for the night at an Econo Lodge further east. It felt a little odd having two rooms. The Econo Lodge was leaps and bounds nicer and only $50. The one I had just left was $30, but if I had to price it according to niceness in relation to the Econo Lodge and its price....I'd say it should have been 75 cents. I've slept in a lot of different motels now, and I've never once gotten anything better than a super 8, and had many lesser motels. I've never seen anything as bad as that place was. The front seat of my Mustang had a lot more to offer. Several of us stayed at a Camelot Inn in Amarillo one year, that we cracked on for years to come. This made that place look like the White House.