Unbelievable day. We started the day off with a briefing from Ryan on the weather conditions for the day. Everything was in place for some crazy weather, but we needed to wait a while for that Cirrus shield to burn out. We all loaded up and went out breakfast-hunting, and found ourselves at this little rinky-dink, almost sketchy looking restaurant. Most of us accepted at that point that breakfast might not be the best we’ve ever had, but food is food right? Boy was i blown away. It was quite possibly one of the best breakfasts I have EVER eaten. And that’s all there is to say about that.
We visited Greensberg, Kansas for a while. If you don’t know anything about Greensberg, it’s a town that got demolished by an EF5 tornado on May 9, 2007. The tornado was 1.7 miles wide, and was on the ground for about a half hour, traveling 20 miles. It came right through Greensberg, and then did something peculiar: it wrapped back around and made another run through the town. 95% of the town was completely destroyed. Afterwards, they decided to rebuild the town using the best of the best environmentally friendly technology, and ‘Go Green’ to the max. Today they have newly designed storm-proof buildings, and windmills all over the place. We had really sweet lady open up the museum for us with just a few pictures on the wall of the damage from the storm. She shared with us how the town pulled together and overcame any pride one might have had so they could clean up and start a new life. She was the first person that I have ever met who challenged us to find the good that comes after a disaster like this. She had found it. It was such a humbling experience. We take for granted all that we have, and are usually not content with it. Here in this little town that is still recovering from a disaster 4 years ago, i saw a picture of what it means to have faith, and to truly look past the physical destruction to find the opportunity to start again.
The chase is on now. We head Northward following the radar to where we think our best chances will be of intercepting a Supercell. I’m realizing just how much waiting is involved in storm chasing, as we drive to a location, and wait to see what happens, then pick up and head somewhere else as the storms develop on the radar. We followed a storm as it began to form, but nothing came of it. Then we found the big one.
It was one of the most terrifying, thrilling, and really indescribably experiences of my life. The entire sky just rolling with grey/black clouds. We had the chance to get out and get some photos before the rain hit us like a brick wall. It’s just simply unbelievable. We got the ‘let’s go’ warning from Ryan, so we ran back to the van and hit the road flying. We got hammered with rain, and dive-bombed by a pheasant, making it an intense ride beneath the menacing looking cloud-cover.
About an hour later, after the rain had stopped, we got out and got some more pictures. The storm above us had pulled closer together, with a remarkably sharp outline. It was so gorgeous, captivating, and menacing to stand there in wind that could knock you off your feet, watching the storm swirl around above us like a fluid. We hopped back in the van and started heading South again after 30 minutes or so, and got swamped with another downpour. The rain blocked out what little sun was left; the cloud’s above us were now black as night, only visible when lightning would light up the sky. We had the lightning show of a lifetime. Just an almost constant flash, all around us, while speeding down the highway in the pounding rain. Again, it was incredibly intimidating, and yet so captivating.
We stopped in Dodge City, Kansas for the night, and grabbed some dinner at Applebee’s around 10:30 pm. Apparently every other chaser in Kansas joined us there as well as the parking lot was full of chaser vehicles with everything from barometers to make-shift hail shielded windows. It was a fantastic end to an even more fantastic day.