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Oklahoma Adventure

The Second Colby Chase

After I got laundry and field food all that taken care of (plus finding a car wash to get the salt spray off Jip), I headed up to Kansas and tried to contact Roger to get some idea of where the target area was gonna be, but couldn't get through (I love cell phones...)  I at least got ahold of David, and he felt strongly that they were probably gonna meet around Hayes, so I headed that direction and kept trying to call Roger. I finally got through to him, and he told me to head for Colby again (this time to the Comfort Inn), and he was happy to make a reservation for me seeing as I wasn’t gonna be getting in there till close to eight myself! This time his wife Karen came along, as well as Tim, and they shared the driving.

After breakfast the next morning we piled in the van and headed for Great Bend, where the models showed a much better chance at tornadic supercells (or at least supercells) than the last system had. And indeed things started looking promising: we got to the target area in plenty of time, and things started popping pretty early! We ran into other chasers as well, and they were headed to the north towards Grand Bend where surprisingly the radar was showing tornado warnings already! Looking at the cells from our vantage point, they didn’t look like tornadic cells, so we shrugged it off and headed south; Roger was on the phone with David, who encouraged him to stay put as he really felt the action was going to be in the south. And we did indeed have some action: towers were shooting up all around us, but the shear was so powerful that they just couldn’t hold their own. Along the line some amateur storm-chasers hooked on to us; they kept their distance, but we got tickled watching them watch us for their cues and pile in their cars whenever we made a move (they had to literally shove this one rather heavy kid into the hatchback)! Karen spotted a couple of mid-level funnels, and this one funnel was probably the most awesome-looking one I had ever seen: it looked connected to a flat cloud that was actually closer to the ground!  If that one had touched down, it would have been a monster right close to the road! But unfortunately they all dissipated rather quickly, and the latter one was the only one Roger was able to photograph. We had a little hail as well and some beautiful rainbows, and some low-level rotation that looked promising, but for the most part they just kept feeding each other and nothing major really developed, despite all the " tornado warnings" being issued right where we were (come to find out their definition of "warning" was simply that there was a severe thunderstorm capable of producing tornadoes lurking about). But the killer was the disclosure of a bona fide tornado that touched down north of us near Russell, that actually crossed the highway!

   

                        Tim, Karen, and Roger next to the "Geek-Mobile"            Tim shows off his newest

                                                                                                                            "souvenir T-shirt"

            

Roger and Tim shoot the storms as they develop

Interesting cloud formations...

 

                            

                        Wavy clouds, caused by high wind speeds above the                         Horseshoe vortex

                                        cloud cover (if I recall correctly…)   

                   

                   "Tiger stripes" next to a developing cumulus;                         The proverbial silver lining

                   no one really knew what was causing those...   

       

We pass through a little town where the local blacksmith has way too much time on his hands...

                     

                    Roger confers with his business partner David                   Tim studies the storms as towers

                    Gold, who advises us to sit tight based on the                             explode all around us!

                            data; "That place is gonna explode!"   

             

       A small mid-level funnel               Karen spots another mid-        The most bizarre phenomena we

       appears and dissipates just         level funnel, which like the      encountered was this "reverse funnel"

       as quickly                                       previous one, didn’t last           that appeared to be attached to a cloud

                                                               long...                                         lower than itself! (The photo on the right

                                                                                                                   was doctored to remove the window

                                                                                                                   reflections…)

  

                     

                   This storm rotated ominously, but didn’t                     The storm produces only marble-sized hail,

                                        wanna "funnel"...                                      to the consternation of the guys! ("You can

                                                                                                             do better than that!" they said to the storm…)

       

We "punch the core" in order to get on the "better" side of the storm, while Roger films the mess as we drive through

            

                    We got a beautiful full rainbow out of it, anyway!                "Cheer up, honey—we’ll get the big one

                                                                                                                                                 next time!"

 

Roger was also monitoring the situation in Denver: they were having yet another blizzard, worse than the first one, and discovered to his chagrin that they closed all the roads home, including I-70! They were gonna try and go around the storm, but thankfully I talked them into staying at Colby, and thankfully the Comfort Inn did still have rooms (they closed the freeway right there at Colby), so after I paid Roger I hugged everyone goodnight, and he told me the next system would probably be coming through next Thursday in the same area (thrills—I was hoping for something in the Texas Panhandle…).

Oh, and how could I forget?! On the way back to Colby, a couple of long-tailed birds "flooped" across the road in front of us, and I couldn’t believe it: my beloved magpies finally showed up, in Kansas of all places! Even Roger didn’t think he’d ever seen any in the state! (I said that was almost as good as a tornado, but not quite! J

But the Lord was merciful in His perfect way: after looking out the window and seeing that the blizzard had made its way here (after a booming thunderstorm last night yet), I decided to stay here an extra day and drive to Guymon the next day, and thankfully they had the room! So that gave me the extra day to catch up on the journal and e-mail, and once the snow let up, to finally get Jip’s oil changed at the local Pennzoil place (the guy there took one look at Jip’s license and teased, "Are you stranded, too?")!

  Snow-covered "Jip" stranded in Colby, Kansas!