May 17, 2015: Down Day in Norman, Oklahoma



chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.


After a couple of days of long drives, I decided to rest on Sunday in Norman, Oklahoma. I met up with several of my friends at lunch, and we chatted for awhile before they decided to leave for possible storms in southwestern Oklahoma. I often chase with them but decided to hang back and relax today rather than go after the remote possibility of storms. They were planning on chasing marginal storms on the next day while I planned on using the day for relaxed travel to get in position for better storms. We all planned on meeting back up on Tuesday somewhere in west Texas. In the image below: Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland from New York, Stephen Barabas, and Jaclyn Whittal, Mark Robinson, Michel Millaire from The Weather Network, and Brad and Dayna Rousseau and Matt Grinter who are chasing on their own. Jason Persoff will also head to west Texas on Tuesday. Chris Kridler, had car issues thanks to a big deer and was still dealing with them in Nebraska. She hoped to be able to chase in west Texas on Tuesday. After everyone left, I worked on my equipment and enjoyed watching Mad Max: Fury Road.

Indian Paintbrush

Chasing crew, see text for names


May 18, 2015: Down Day, Norman, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas

After reviewing the forecast data, I decided to blow off a very weak potential target in the Pecos area of Southwest Texas near New Mexico. I had been down there on multiple occasions during low probability days without much success. My friends, who were already near Abilene, decided to go after that target area. Still tired, I planned on leisurely drive to Amarillo and then be ready to chase on May 19, a day with higher probabilities of severe storms. I headed west on I-40, occasionally stopping to look for interesting things to photograph. Due to heavy rains, the usually brown landscape was verdant. I stopped near Sayre, Oklahoma to photograph one of the many fields of gorgeous wildflowers. Also in Sayre, I found a little dive Mexican restaurant (El Charro) for lunch. It was on the old Route 66 and seemed popular with locals of Mexican descent. I stopped again in the almost ghost town of Conway and photographed some abandoned buildings. After some drives on nearby roads, I came across a group of ranchers getting ready to herd cattle onto a truck. This seemed interesting, and I asked them for permission to shoot photos and observe. That was fine with them as long as I stayed out of the way and avoid the electric fence. I walked back to the car to get the camera and move the car away from the truck loading zone. As I walked back on the shoulder of the road, I stepped on a loose area of grass over mud by a small dip. My leg gave way, and I twisted around, partially pulled by the momentum of the heavy camera on my neck. I wrenched my neck and fell forward into very sticky mud. The end of a long and expensive lens stuck into the mud along with my hands. Ughh. I went back to the car and attempted a cleanup. Luckily, I had a UV filter as a lens protector. It was damaged but the lens seemed fine. I returned and enjoyed watching the ranchers round up the cattle for pickup in trucks. My pictures weren’t the best but watching the round up was fun. After the cows were picked up, the ranchers literally rode toward the sunset on their horses. My route to the main road was now blocked by equipment, and I took an alternate route along a grid of dirt roads, occasionally doing a car slalom across muddy areas. I will avoid these roads during an actual storm chase. Back in Amarillo, I checked into my hotel and then went out to get a new lens filter and to eat dinner at The Big Texan. Steak, of course. The night ended with laundry, checking weather data and carefully cleaning a muddy camera.

Panorama of wildflowers, near Sayre, OK (click for large version)


Wildflowers, near Sayre, OK

Wildflowers, near Sayre, OK

Public tornado shelter, Sayre OK

Green fields of west Texas

Sphinx moth, Texas welcome center, I-40

Tiger moth, Texas welcome center

Wildflowers, Texas welcome center

Conway, Texas, old car

Conway, Texas

Conway, Texas

Cattle roundup




Always use a UV filter to
protect an expensive lens

South of Conway, Texas

Cowboy band at the Big Texan
playing Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash

I found this tarantula on
my hotel in Amarillo

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All images Copyright 2015 William T. Hark