After checking data early Monday morning, I decided to go to an area of severe storm potential in northern Louisiana. The strong cold front that had passed through Oklahoma was about to enter eastern Texas and northern Louisiana. There was warm moist air from the south and storms would develop along the front. More severe storms were predicted to form ahead of the front. The chase territory is very poor (winding roads, trees) and the risk was marginal. Since the cold front and changes in the upper atmosphere were predicted to eliminate the possibility of storms for the rest of the week, I decided to go for it. I only knew of a couple of other chasers who also planned to chase May 21 including Jason Persoff who was targeting eastern Texas. I left McAlester, Oklahoma and drove south. It was cool (low 60's) and overcast along with a brisk northerly wind. I checked data in Texarkana and targeted the area just south of Shreveport, Louisiana. Just north of Shreveport, I crossed the front and was in sunny weather with a temperature in the low 80's and a south easterly wind. I arrived in Ringgold, a small town to the south east of Shreveport and waited. The whole area was placed under a severe thunderstorm watch.To the north east, I could barely see a storm. I checked radar at the Ringgold library. That storm was isolated and moving east toward Shreveport. I intercepted it from the southeast via roads near Lake Bistineau (passing trees covered in Spanish Moss) (1V) and saw a ragged base and frequent lightning. There was also some pea sized hail. The storm was not that impressive but there was a severe warning by the National Weather Service. I followed it for a while until it appeared to be losing strength. The front was approaching and chasing any of the other storms would be too difficult. I called off the chase early and drove back to Norman, Oklahoma. There was an outbreak of tornadoes, but they were in Michigan and surrounding areas. I was very tired and planned to remain at the Guest Inn in Norman for a day of rest.
After much needed sleep, I spent the morning reviewing weather data and checking equipment. There was no possibility of severe weather for the next couple of days. This would be a relaxing day, though I still planned to do some non-storm photography. I had lunch with fellow chasers Dave Lewison and Chris Kridler before visiting the Oklahoma City Stockyards. On Mondays and Tuesdays, cattle are brought in from Oklahoma ranches and auctioned. I was a bit late and there were only a few cows (3V) left in the acres of holding pens.(2V) I watched the auction (4V) and spent time talking with some ranchers about the cattle business. The day ended with a visit to the large National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center with informative exhibits on both both real and movie cowboys, indians and ranch life. I photographed Variegated Fritillaries and other butterflies in their gardens. That evening I watched Shrek and had dinner with a large group of chasers including Chris Kridler, Dave Lewison, Keith Brown, Shane Adams, Jason Persoff, George Kourounis and members of Pioneer Productions. It was a great dinner with old friends and meeting new ones.
Photo by Dave Lewison
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