Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tornado Chasing For Non-Dummies

As those of you who've read my TCfD* series know, I tend to do the bulk of my chasing when the conditions here in Colorado are perfect for it -- usually late May into early July. Tornado activity is usually very spotty, if at all, after that.
But sometimes, Ma Nature likes to throw some teases out at unexpected times, as She did on the afternoon of Sunday, August 24.
A rather impressive series of storm cells developed over Douglas County, Colorado (just south of the Denver Metro Area), and tracked east. Around 4:30-5pm or so, the storms went tornadic, with tornadoes reported near Castle Rock, Parker, and Sedalia.
As you can see, the one pictured at the right is the one that was produced near Parker, CO. An absolutely great photo, the kind I spent the summer -- and the last several previous -- trying to get. This is exactly what all the miles, the cost, and occasional risk and discomfort has been about: photos just like this.
Let's review this year's efforts, just for the record: four storm chases. Approximately 2,000 miles driven. I missed an EF-3 that hit and heavily damaged Windsor, CO, in late May, by 25-30 miles. I missed a reported EF-4 in eastern Kansas, by 5-6 miles (close enough to see, but couldn't see because of heavy rain, hail, and 60 mph winds in my immediate vicinity), and had to settle for a pithy funnel cloud, about 15 miles away, a little later. I missed another tornado near Bird City, Kansas, catching only, yet again, another pithy funnel cloud. And I missed a pair of tornadoes in the vicinity of Yuma and Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
So as you might expect, this picture is immensely gratifying to me. Except for tiny little thing: I didn't shoot it. My sister-in-law did. From the comfort of her own home, near Parker, CO.
Where was I, when all this was going on? Finishing up and leaving work, more than 50 miles north and west of all this.
Four trips, 2,000 miles, all the overpriced gas associated therein, and only two pithy funnel clouds to show for it, and my sister-in-law (a sweetheart, by the way) accomplishes my mission without leaving the comfort of her house.
I don't know how many people noticed and wondered about the guy, driving east on I-70, who was banging his head on his steering wheel, while listening to live reporting on the pictured tornado; but I'll bet you anything, not a one knew the reason why.
At least you do, now.
*Tornado Chasing for Dummies


Blogger Jack K. said...

AARRRRRGH! Don't you just hate it when this happens?

Your sister-in-law must care enough to share the photo with you and allow you to publish it.

Or, she could be rubbing salt in the wound. Nah, she is too nice for that.

I understand there were no injuries from this one.

Keep chasing 'em.

28 August, 2008 03:54  
Blogger Two Dogs said...

I can only guess missing that one was heartbreaking, but you know that you have fun riding around looking for them.

I didn't have my camera when I was riding the one out earlier this summer, and the only reason I even thought about the camera when it was happening was the reading of your chasing activities. I certainly didn't think it was fun having sand beaten throught the fabric of my clothing with 90 mph wind, but you would probably like that.

I hope that you get another one in your bag soon. Why don't you drive south to catch photos of Gustav?

28 August, 2008 08:22  
Blogger Little Lamb said...

Have you noticed the picture the professionals take are much better than mine are? Why can't I get a good picture of a rainbow?

Now apply this reasoning to whatever pictures you might take. I understand you wanting certain pictures anyway. So go for it!

28 August, 2008 17:21  
Blogger Herb said...

I heard about Colorado becoming Tornado Alley for a little while. I'm sorry you didn't catch any.

29 August, 2008 04:09  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

Exhilerating... I'm sure seeing one that close to your backyard starts the adrenelin pumping.
Sorry you missed it.
Out here in earthquake country, it's shake first, take pictures later.

29 August, 2008 13:44  
Blogger Debbie said...

That's a great picture, just fantastic. Glad I wasn't there though!

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

30 August, 2008 11:45  

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