Let’s Wrap it Up

Well the week has drawn to an end and we have all headed home. We didn’t get to see a tornado but we learned a lot during the process. I think we not only learned alot about storms but about ourselves and each other as well. We have all bonded and made friendships that we will never forget. I wish that we could have seen a tornado but I don’t think that if I could I would change a thing that happened. God blessed us with a view of his creation that we will never forget. I think that the majority of us are already planning to go again in the future. Especially after today when all the tornadoes swept through the midwest the day after we left. I think that it even further developed our fascination with storms and  the wonders of God’s creation.  

Even though we didn’t seen the elusive tornado we still learned. I plan to take home what I have learned about, not just tornadoes but storms in general and hopefully better equip my hometown for future disasters. I think that this is very important since my hometown was recently ravished by a series of storms that raked across Alabama. But overall this trip helped everyone learn more.

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A Day in the Sink

The last day on the chase didn’t prove to be a very fruitful one. We spent the night in Dodge City, Kansas and went to the Boot Hill Museum. We took lots of photos with the train engine that was donated to the museum. We also bought several keepsakes for out families while we were there. One of which was a joke that had been going on all week. We had adopted Mr. Carey as a grandfather figure, so we bought him a keychain that said #1 grandfather.

We then began to head back to Amarillo so we could catch our flight the next morning. On the way back we stopped in a basin that was also known as the sink. We took several photos with the historical marker that was there and observed the bison that was nearby. This is where we gave Mr. Carey his gift. We had stopped for lunch and while we were eating a slight boundary had developed and there was a chance that a storm might flair up. Nothing happened while we were waiting so we called it a day and headed out.

When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Today turned out to be an amazing day. I want to start by saying that God is amazing. Amazing isn’t really even a fraction of what God is but we can’t put him into words. Our feeble minds can’t comprehend the least bit about God without his help and even then we don’t get to know much at all. Today was our first real storm that we got to chase. The morning started out nice enough with a good chance of storms breaking out after the 2 pm hour.

After leaving Pratt, Kansas this morning we made our way to Greensberg, Kansas, a city that was 95% destroyed by an F5 tornado that went through the city in 2007. The city is rebuilding itself to be almost completely green now. Greensberg is also home to the world’s largest hand dug well. A very nice citizen of the town took us to the museum and opened it up to us to see the destruction that was unleashed upon the city. The tornado that hit Greensberg did something that was really strange. It went through the town and then it hook back and went through again.

Our visit to Greensberg was cut short with the hope of possibly seeing a nice super cell. We all hopped in the van and headed after the storm. The storm didn’t pan out to be anything but we heard that another one was developing close to Dodge City and we headed off to intercept that one. When we intercepted the storm it look like we had hit the great divide. One side of our view was bright and blue and the other was dark and ominous. It was amazing to see the beauty and power of God shown off at the same time in two different ways. The destruction and the ability to devastate and at the same time the bright blue sky on the other. We watched the storm enthralled for a good while then moved to a better location where we wouldn’t be soaked by the outflow. We parked again and watched the storm that looked like it could drop a tornado at any time for a while longer. Eventually we moved again this time headed to Dodge city with plans to call it a night. It was getting dark so we couldn’t see very well and then the outflow picked up tremendously. If the wind and rain didn’t seem to be bad enough we catch a glimpse of what appeared to be a wall cloud in view as well. It seemed to us as storm chasers that we had moved from the realm of hunting the storm to being hunted by it. Thankfully no tornado developed at night which would have been difficult for us to see or watch out for. On the plus side though we got to see an amazing lightning show. This just seemed like an opportunity for God to show up and show out. I believe Job says that each lightning bolt will call out to God and say, “I am here.” Thanks Amy 😉

Tomorrow will be our last day on the hunt for the elusive tornado. Hopefully we will get the privilege of seeing one of these great phenomenons.

The Game is Afoot

Today was our first day actually on the hunt for a super cell. We started the morning in Childress, Texas but we soon found ourselves in the panhandle of Oklahoma. This where we got our first shot at a decent cell. We followed the cell for about an hour hoping that the storm would shoot through the cirrus shield but the storm never gained enough strength. The storm eventually dissipated and we moved on in search of a new cell. We found a weak boundary in Alva but nothing that was enough to cause us to stick around.

The highlight of the day was probably all of us standing around throwing the frisbee waiting for the first cell to become of appreciable size. I know that this trip is supposed to be in the name of science for the learning of tornadoes but we have had a ton of bonding time and made life long connections with people not only in our school but with people from all over the world.

After the last boundary we decided to head on up into Kansas to where we will be chasing tomorrow. Tomorrow is supposed to be our best chance so far to catch a tornado so hopefully we’ll find one. We are hoping to stick around Pratt, Kansas all day tomorrow and I think that Friday we may do some chasing  back into the Texas area leading us back to Amarillo for our flight out on Saturday morning.

I Don’t Really have a Creative Title for Today

Today was a slow paced day. We didn’t really do a whole lot. When we left the hotel we headed back to Texas to position ourselves for tomorrow. While we were headed back we thought we’d do a little more sight seeing. We headed from White’s City to the Sand Hills in Texas formed by the inability of the winds to lift the sand over the plateau. After we left there we headed to Odessa to see a big hole in the ground. The hole in the ground also just happened to be where a meteor hit the Earth in the 60s I believe.

The highlight of the day was probably sitting around in the van talking with Amy and Daniel about “intelligent topics.” We’ve learned a lot about each other on this trip and we bonded too.

Tomorrow hopefully will be the first time we actually get to do some chasing.

The team at “El Capitan” in SW Texas

From Carlsbad to the Salt Flats

Today started slightly earlier than yesterday. We left the hotel at 8 a.m. headed back to Carlsbad Caverns to actually go inside the caverns. The formations inside the cavern were simply phenomenal from top to bottom. literally. The decent from the natural mouth of the cavern to the bottom of the cavern is about 80 stories. On the way down we saw typical cave markers like stalagtites and stalagmites. We also saw some cool things that I haven’t seen in other caves before. We saw a rock that had fallen from the top of the cave called the iceberg rock. It kind of resembled Pride Rock from the Lion King. The rock weighed approximately 200,000 tons. When we finally reached the bottom of the cavern we entered a room called the big room. Real creative name right? The room was about 600,000 square feet. That’s like 14 football fields!!! We saw several formations that resembled things we’ve seen before. We saw a formation that came from the roof that looked like a lion’s tail. They had another one called the Chinese Theater.

We stopped for lunch after leaving the cavern. I wasn’t impressed with my lunch so we won’t talk about it. After eating “lunch” we headed back into Texas to the Guadalupe National Park. Where the highest peak in Texas is located. This point is called Guadalupe Peak. Another creative name I know. There is another interesting landmark in the park. It seems to be a little better known than the highest peak. The point that I speak of is El Capitan. Josh and I made a deal that when he is elected president, his first official act will be for the two of us to hang glide from the top of El Capitan. We didn’t actually get to go the peaks themselves, although we did walk a trail that I thought was going to lead us to the top of one of the mountains. We arrived at a pure spring that flows from the side of one of the mountains.

After walking for what seems like forever we made it back to the base of the trail and headed for the salt flats of Texas. As we arrived at the flats we noticed a dust devil had blown up on the other side of the road from us. As we are getting out Mr. Carey gives us a little geology lesson on the flats. He tells us about how the salt is the leftovers from the erosion of the mountains. He also told us that the ground actually tasted like salt. So you know what that means right? Oh yeah, Josh and I licked the ground in the middle of the Salt Flats. Yes it did in fact taste like salt but it was also rather gritty.

Tomorrow we are going to visit a crater and mainly position ourselves a little better for Wednesday when hopefully we get to start legitimately start chasing. There is a slight chance that we can tomorrow so I guess we will find out then.

The Calm Before the Storm?

They say that there is a calm before the storm.  I just spent the entire week taking final exams.  If this is your idea of calm would you please tell me what crazy is, because I would love to know.  But with all the finals out of the way I can set my eyes on the more important task of preparing for our trip to Texas. Did I also mention that I also had to move out of my dorm this week?

Hopefully at this time tomorrow I’ll be sitting on a plane with 8 of my new best friends.  Headed to Texas to chase storms and possibly take on that massive steak at the Big Texan. I’m still in deliberation over that last part though.   But the most difficult part was not deciding to go on the trip, the finals this week, or finding somewhere to keep my belongings for a solid week.  It was easily trying to fit a weeks worth of clothes into one carry on sized bag.  I’m a decent sized fellow, so two pairs of shorts in the bag and there goes half my room. This should be interesting expedition not just for the storm chasing but finding out how much I can get in that carry on.

What does ones parents think about this expedition? Well…. I told mom that I was taking this class and she in a very serious voice said, “You’re kidding right?” After several hours of explaining the class she eventually agreed to let me take the class. But the question that my mother posed has been asked of me many times in the last four months.  If not that question then “why” I guess it’s hard for people who don’t have a love for the unknown to understand these things. I’m deeply burdened for the people that are effected by these disasters but I have a passion to learn about them. Last weekend I went to East Limestone with some friends to help clean up and I was looking at a map on the wall that I was slightly confused about because it was only three lines going across half of the area. A lady walked up to me and said. You probably don’t know about this but in 1974 a pair of tornadoes came through here and the one that came through last week split them. This is what I want to know about. Why does this happen? How does this happen? Why the same place? Questions that I am hoping to find an answer to.