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Texas Hill Country & Storm-Chasing

Part 16:  Western Oklahoma

 

After Saturday's excitement Sunday was more of a rest, as we targeted a storm in western Oklahoma that looked promising but ultimately just looked nastier than it really was (and this is where I can see that the radar comes in handy: looking at all that ugly scud and wall clouds would have made me nervous, but according to the radar it had lost its punch...).  We got a terrific lightning show, however, and the place was still full of chasers, which really reminded me of what happens when a rare bird shows up somewhere: it's a zoo! 

 

Roger, Gene, and Bill watch the scud rise...

     

This storm produced some impressive lightning!

          

Left:  This wall cloud looks ominous, but it was harmless...  Center:  Mammatus clouds  Right:  "Scud funnel"

It turned out to be surprisingly birdy (and it was fun chatting with Gene at breakfast about the Painted Buntings he gets at his feeders!): we would stop periodically to watch the developing storm, and stepping away from the noise of the vans allowed one to hear the cacophony of birdsong, even in mid-afternoon!  Some of the highlights included Dickcissel, Cassin's and Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobwhites, Turkeys, Great Crested Flycatcher (kind of west of their range, I thought, but they do occur there...), and what surprisingly turned out to be a new trip bird: Northern Flicker!  On a "Decision Stop" (where we pull over so the guys can confer and decide which direction to chase), a pair of Mississippi Kites glided around that even caught Alister’s attention, a gorgeous Bullock's Oriole flew in, and a displaying Mockingbird that I didn't pay too much attention to put on a show, but Lisa wanted to see it!  (Their reputation precedes them across the Pond, I guess...) Later we heard about a tornado back up in Woodward, and someone glibly quipped, "We shoulda stayed at the hotel!" J

"Decision Stop" to give our fearless leaders some time to analyze the current data and plan our attack...

 

L-R: Bill S., "Little Roger", me, Barry, Bill K., and Lisa

Enjoying a non-tornadic storm out in the boonies

 

Bill charms a cop out of citing us all for blocking the road…

     

Rupert and Roger set up their cameras while Alister provides some extra "wind effect" for the benefit of the Japanese photographer!

 

This shot with Della and Bill illustrates a common severe storm phenomena: bright sunlight to the east and black clouds to the west! 

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