Storm Chase May 22, 2012: Cancelled storm chase and landscape photography



With the rest of the group, I was ready to depart at the miserable time of 7:00AM in Oakley, Kansas. There was the possibility of severe storms including tornadoes in the Dakotas and that meant a very long travel day. The best combination of upper level and surface winds along with moisture was in northern North Dakota near the Canadian border. This was already obvious the previous day but reaching that target was too difficult. There was an alternative target in south-central South Dakota. I almost considered not going, but I hated to miss the possibility of more tornadoes, and I like the scenery in northern Nebraska. We were meeting other chaser friends, Dave Lewison, an engineer from upstate New York and Scott McPartland, a videographer from Queens in Presho, South Dakota along Interstate 90. They had just driven there from New York. I was looking forward to chasing with Scott and Dave, and also seeing Chris Kridler who had recently driven in from Florida. The drive north was long, but I enjoyed watching the rolling Sand Hills of Nebraska. I continued to check data, and the South Dakota target was appearing less interesting. I also had to consider next day's target of along the Kansas-Nebraska border. By 3:00 PM, near Winner, South Dakota, I was able to see more weather data and possibilities for tornadic supercells had decreased. I also didn't like the appearance of the sky. I finally decided to bail on the chase and head south. One usually shouldn't end a chase before dark but in this case, I also had to consider the drive back south. I was tired and also didn't feel like driving miles in the dark through deer infested fields. We were only about 30 miles from our target meeting area, and I caught some grief for taking off even though chaser etiquette dictates that it is always permissible to leave if your forecast differs from the rest of a caravan of chasers. Everyone else wanted to continue this play to the end. I figured that eventually storms would form, and we would be obligated to chase them until dark as they moved further away to the northeast and also away from the following day's target.

I headed south for the long drive to Kearney, Nebraska and arrived while it was still light. I had a nice barbecue dinner and some time to relax, wash clothes and check forecast data for the following day. I was hoping my friends would find some nice storms. As I expected, there were some mushy storms that never did much and eventually croaked. There were a couple of tornadoes in far North Dakota by the Canadian border. I really enjoyed my drive south. Although I enjoy hanging out with my friends, it is very relaxing to be alone driving these open roads and having the ability to stop whenever there is something interesting to explore or photograph.

Sand Hills in Nebraska
I love the open road!

Sandhills in Nebraska.

Abandoned house to explore.

Abandoned building.

Not a good road
for chasing storms.

Go to May 23, 2012

Return to May 21, 2012: The agony of defeat

All images Copyright 2012 William T. Hark