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Tornado Chase 2013

George Kourournis on Facebook

George Kourounis on Twitter

George Kourounis on YouTube

 

This page contains the daily blog updates that I'm posting while on the road in Tornado Alley. Once again I'm driving one of the tour vans for Cloud 9 Tours. Charles Edwards runs one of the oldest and most reputable storm chase tour companies around. We take people from all over the globe to the Great Plains to search for the worst weather in the world.

- George Kourounis


Track our location and watch our LIVE streaming video here (If it is running, depending on weather and internet connection)

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May 31 - El Reno, Oklahoma
MONSTER TORNADO - Wow, it's hard to believe what we just witnessed today. As expected, storms went up and we targeted the best area, near El Reno. instead of individual storms, they formed an east west line of embedded supercells, which didn't look encouraging at first, but then really got organized. We saw a tornado touch down in a field near the El Reno airport, then get obscured from our location by rain. As we crept east along Interstate 40, we spotted something remarkable. A huge tornado, so big that it barely fit in the viewfinder of my camera!! We were behind it, so our position was good, I could just keep pace with it. I've never seen anything so big before.
 
It eventually turned right and crossed the highway ahead of us. This was a very complicated storm with many areas of rotation and odd behavior. The large number of storm chasers, regular traffic, downed trees & power lines and other debris made this a challenging chase, to say the least!
 
**Update** Many storm chasers had close calls with this tornado due to its extreme size and odd motion. Many got caught up in it and Unfortunately, 3 well respected chasers/storm researchers were killed by it. Tim Samaras, his son Paul and Carl Young.
 
**Update 2** The National Weather service has upgraded the strength of the tornado and has given it and EF-5 rating, the highest there is. Not only that, but the width of the tornado was calculated to have been 2.6 miles wide (4.2 km)!! That makes it the world record holder for the largest tornado ever documented!! The wind speed was measured by mobile doppler radar at 296 mph (476 km/h)
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EF-5 Wedge

May 30 - Guthrie to Drumright, Oklahoma
Tornado Warning - Yet another moderate risk day. Well, the tire we repaired last night in the rain, finally gave out on Interstate 35 as we were driving to get into position for a storm headed towards Guthrie. It ballooned out and exploded, just as I pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway. We changed it out with John's spare tire (Luckily it fit!) faster than a Nascar pit crew.
 
Unfortunately, the supercell that we chased never really got its act together. Several times, we were expecting it to produce a tornado, but it never really could seal the deal. It kept cycling and reorganizing and stayed tornado warned for most of the afternoon as the countless other storm chasers on the road today lined up along highway 33.
 
It looks like tomorrow will be our last chase day of the tours, and the potential looks good again.
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May 29 - Higgins, Texas to Enid, Oklahoma
Tornado Warning - There was a lot of potential today with another moderate risk in the forecast issued by the Storm Prediction Center. We positioned ourselves in northwestern Oklahoma and as soon as the storms started to form, they began turning into lines of storms rather than discrete supercells that are more likely to produce tornadoes.
 
Despite this, there were several tornado warnings on rotating storms that were embedded in a line of storms coming out of the Texas Panhandle.
 
We managed to get out in front of one of these bowing lines and were treated to a great shelf cloud that looked very ominous working its way across the horizon. It didn't take long for it to overtake us and we followed it back into Oklahoma. After dark, many of us pulled off near Enid to photograph the lightning show, and what a spectacular show it was. I think this was my favorite lightning shot of the year so far.
 
Unfortunately, while we were leaving the dirt road we were on, I got a flat tire and the next couple of hours were spent dealing with it, in the middle of a howling storm with torrential rain and winds so strong that I could barely open the van door. We ended up using a can a fix-a-flat and sending Mike to go to Wal Mart to buy an air pump and other supplies. We eventually got back on the road, but it certainly was an adventure, that I'm not keen to replay... Other than the awesome lightning!

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May 28 - Bennington, Kansas
TORNADO - Wow, what a day! The target area for today was huge, with the Storm Prediction Center coving a large porting on the central U.S. in a 5% tornado risk. In fact, that 5% covered more than 450,000 square miles and our mission was to narrow that down to a single spot producing a tornado.
 
And we were able to do exactly that!
 
North of Salina, Kansas, near the town of Bennington, an isolated supercell storm went up, right in our target area. We were quick to get on it and were treated to a nearly stationary storm that went on to produce a huge tornado, that we observed from quite close from its first funnel to when it became a giant wedge, to eventually becoming rain-wrapped.
 
This tornado was a real monster. Luckily, it looks like it missed the town, and that's a good thing because it was likely very violent and would have done considerable damage.
 
The tornado was on the ground for a long time, so we were able to reposition ourselves close enough to be able to hear the roar of the tornado as it was grinding away in the countryside. It was dark, menacing and I briefly entertained the idea of getting even closer, but with the rain wrapping around it, I figured that was not the best idea since we already had a fantastic view of this thing.
 
Once the storm went completely HP (high precipitation) we just let it go and drove down to Salina for a well deserved steak dinner.
 
It just so happened that I was scheduled to do a live Twitter interview with Canadian Geographic Magazine at the exact same as the tornado was on the ground. It was a bit frantic and crazy, but worked out perfectly. We couldn't have timed it any better if we had tried.
 
There is still a threat for a lot more severe weather for the rest of the week so we expect to be very busy.

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2013_05_28 YouTube

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May 27 - Lucas, Kansas
The complication today was that it was the first day without Charles being around. John will be back later in the week, leaving just myself and Mike Theiss to deal with everything. It went rather smoothly, except for the weather! A moderate risk was issued and tornadoes we spotted on a storm that formed well north of our target area. We did get to see a nice LP (low precipitation) storm near Lucas, Kansas that had nice structure, but all i all, today was a disappointment.

May 26 - Ogallala, Nebraska
The day started off in South Dakota with a risk of storms nearby. To kill some time in the morning, our group took a trip to Mount Rushmore, then worked our way down through Wyoming, then into Nebraska. Some storms did go up, but the best ones were well out of our reach.
 
One thing that did happen was that the Owner/leader of Cloud 9 Tours just became a father. He and his wife Lori are adopting a newborn baby and he got the call tonight that the birth mother's water broke. At midnight, as the rest of us were finishing getting settled in for the night, he and John Guyton blasted off and drove all night to Oklahoma so that he could be there with mom and newborn Emma Edwards. Charles will not be rejoining us for the rest of the tour so that he can spend some time with his new family member. Congratulations to the new parents.

May 25 - Rapid City, South Dakota
A very long day - We started our day in Colby, Kansas, knowing that we'd have to blast farther north, probably into Nebraska. Well, as our journey north progressed, it became clear that we'd have to go quite a bit further north than originally anticipated. We eventually ended up in Rapid City, South Dakota... And it was worth the drive.
 
One, solitary storm had formed and kept going for hours, almost stationary and it was a tease on the horizon for us for several hours. We kept hoping that it would hold together long enough for us to reach it, and luckily, it did.
 
When we finally got up close to it, we saw that the cloud base was very high due to the lack of really rich moist air. Immediately, we knew that our tornado potential was going to be low, but the storm was still amazing.
 
After watching it for a while, we decided that it was too long of a drive to just view this thing from a distance and that we needed to go in closer and see what this thing had too offer.
 
Be careful what you wish for.
 
Well, the hail coming out of it started off small, but then grew bigger and bigger. The next thing we knew, we had smashed windshields in 2 out our 3 vehicle convoy! John Guyton's glass was broken, but not too bad, but the windshield on Mike Theiss's van took a really significant impact.
 
Backing off from the core, the storm really started to look good and take on a gorgeous "UFO Mothership" appearance as to passed east of Rapid City. This was some of the best looking storm structure that I've seen in a long time.
 
A convergence of storm chasers all gathered at the end of what eventually became a dead end road and we all swapped stories while countless camera shutters clicked away, capturing this very photogenic storm as the sun set and it withered away and evaporated.
 
No tornado today, but I tell you. This storm looked a lot better than many of the tornadoes I've photographed over the years.

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May 24 - Goodland, Kansas
It took us a while to blast up into northwestern Kansas from Amarillo, but we made it. Along the way, we met up with many, many other storm chaser friends and we all had a great time, waiting around for storm initiation.
 
When a storm eventually did fire up, we all pounced on it and got into position, but it took a while for it to get organized. We experienced hail that was about an inch and a half in diameter and at one point, a lightning strike hit close enough to us that we could see the smoke coming up off the ground from where it hit. We were safely in the car at the time.
 
As the storm approached the town of Goodland, it finally got picturesque and took on an LP look (Low precipitation).
 
After snapping a few shots, we went for dinner and were treated t a very nice full moon as we left the restaurant.
 
All in all, not as dramatic of a chase day as I was hoping for, but we still managed to tease out a few good photo opportunities out of it. Tomorrow, we'll probably keep heading north into Nebraska.

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May 23 - Floydada to Rotan, Texas
Tornado Warning - We got blasted by 2 tornado warned storms in the Texas Panhandle that seemed to want to do nothing more than sandblast the paint off of our vehicles. Both storms had tornado warnings, but we never saw any tornadoes, probably because we couldn't see much of anything at all!
 
Some of the tornado reports were nothing more than columns of rising dirt being ingested into the storm's updrafts. We saw plenty of these, but there was clearly no rotation involved.
 
The dust however, was epic. At times there were multiple plumes of red dirt being sucked up into the storms, as other gusts of wind blasted us with sand, pebbles and other debris. At times, the visibility was reduced to almost zero.
 
Tree branches were snapping off and flying, and unfortunately, I drove into one as it was sliding across the road. I hit the brakes, but the thick limb was still strong enough to break the front grille of the van and simultaneously pop out both front turn signal light assemblies. They were hanging out, dangling by the wires. Very odd indeed. The good thing is that they were not broken and easily popped back in.
 
Once the sun went down and we'd finished up with the flying dust, we stopped in the town of Rotan where the storm re-organized and became tornado warned again. The winds picked up and there were sketchy reports of a tornado very close by, but from where we were, we couldn't confirm it.
 
After a late dinner in Lubbock, we continued to push on to Amarillo, in order to get better positioned for another chase tomorrow. It sure felt nice to finally take out my contact lenses after all that dust and dirt. I swear, it felt like somebody had poured a spoonful of sand into each of my eyes.

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May 22 - Childress, Texas
Today was a travel day to get from Waco to Childress, Texas for potential storms tomorrow. We are still in shock from losing our friend Chris yesterday. His death was so sudden and unexpected. I've been blown away by the outpouring of kind words and shared stories about him.
 
The show must go on. We chased in Texas in his honour and we will continue to do so.
Chris Curtis

May 21 - Waco, Texas
I don't know where to begin, I'm still in shock. Today we lost a good friend and a member of the Cloud 9 Tours family. Chris Curtis died suddenly overnight while we were staying in Denton, Texas after yesterday's storm chase. It was completely unexpected and I still have a hard time believing it is true. Chris was incredibly enthusiastic about weather and we've chased hundreds of storms and 50 tornadoes together over the past ten years.
My most sincere condolences to his other friends and family. He died while out doing what he loved. Today we celebrated his life and passion and mourn the loss of a great friend. He was a talented writer who knew how to spin a tall tale, a connoisseur of food and drink, an entrepreneur, photographer and music lover. His sense of humour is what I will always remember.
 
Thank you for all the good times my friend, you will not be forgotten. Below are his last words, the blog post he wrote last night:
 
 
I’m in our chase van driving south on I35 towards Dallas. We have rooms booked for the night just north of the city and will be pursuing yet another system of severe weather tomorrow in that area. Today we woke up in Shawnee OK, perhaps a mile or so from where a powerful tornado destroyed dozens of homes and killed two people. Our group leader lives in Shawnee, and his wife was at home and evacuated to a local shelter during the storm. Their home was spared, but tonight in Moore OK many others were not so fortunate.
Moore is next door to Norman OK, which is our ‘base camp’ when we assemble together to chase storms each spring. We have friends there who work in hotels and restaurants we frequent, and others who live in the area. While on the road today we were shocked by the reports that we could only observe in glimpses. We went south, driving right through Moore, this morning; along with hundreds of other storm chasers who all saw the same data and felt that the unpopulated areas well south of Oklahoma City was the smart bet today. A few did decide to stay north, and last we heard many were aiding in search and rescue efforts.
 
Sunday afternoon I was looking at a very short lived tornado out of my van window touch down perhaps 50 feet from me near Viola Kansas. It was thrilling, and as always profoundly affecting. Nature humbles us, in ways both beautiful, and horrific.
Today has been about horrific.
 
It is hard to put into words how we all feel right now; maybe our experience last month in Boston gives me a unique perspective. The first bomb that Monday went off in front of the building where my father used to work, and a few doors down from Old South Church, where my mom was ordained and on many Sundays gave sermons. The car chase that Thursday night ended about a block from the house where I lived as a young boy in Watertown. It was a week of horror, and a week where Boston stood up tall and strong, and showed good in the face of evil.
 
Tornadoes aren’t evil, they are random acts of nature, but the literal effects can easily be far worse. Moore will now become the only town to ever be hit twice by an EF-5 tornado, and an EF-4 as well, in 1999 and 2003.
 
As chasers we do more than observe and record some of the extremes of nature, the internet has allowed us to collectively create a large network of trained and experienced people who are available to the National Weather Service both in reporting what we see, and also at times being available to answer questions from them directly. We all use GPS and radar to show our locations and contact information in real time. And even on a day like today, when most of us saw the same data and all made the same wrong guess, a few saw things differently and were there on the ground when this worst possible scenario unfolded. I have no idea tonight if chasers helped report the initial funnel cloud faster than it may have been otherwise, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Even an extra minute can save scores of lives in a situation like that. May of 2012 saw the fewest tornado related deaths in the US in recorded history. Calm weather had much to do with that, but tornadoes did happen, and chasers were out there on their own dime doing their best to pitch in.
I wish we could do more. Maybe tomorrow we will be in the wrong place at the right time, and have the chance to do our part. I know that any of my many chaser friends feel exactly the same way.
 
Chris Curtis. From the road in northern Texas.

May 20 - Central Oklahoma
Tornado Disaster - Tornado Chase 2013 The past 2 days have been nothing short of gut-wrenching. As a storm chaser, the toughest thing we face is when a tornado affects a populated area. We never wish for this to happen, but despite all the open pasture and farmland, there are still many densely populated cities and towns in Tornado Alley that sometimes take direct hits.
 
Just hours ago, I was south of the town of Moore, Oklahoma, chasing the storm that formed there. We saw the radar signature of the Moore storm to our north as it was impacting the city and my heart just sank. We knew that it was going to be really, really bad. There was no way we could get to it in time and to be honest, I don’t think I really wanted to witness this one.
 
I’ve seen the aftermath of many of these tornadoes and it never ceases to hit me hard. As I write this, the information is still coming in. Dozens of fatalities, schools hit, entire neighborhoods destroyed… The damage path was over 20 miles long and well over a mile wide at times. Perhaps one of the worst tornadoes in U.S. history.
 
I understand intellectually that chasing these storms has absolutely no effect on whether or not they hit populated areas, but I can’t help but feel wracked with guilt for wanting to witness nature at its most intense. I’m perfectly content with seeing a tornado touch down in an empty field… Not like this, not like this.
 
But, it wasn’t just today. During our chase yesterday, my chase partner, Charles was constantly on the phone with his wife because they live in the town of Shawnee, which was hit by another violent tornado. Luckily, she got to a shelter and the tornado turned to the north before getting close to their house, but at the time, the fear and uncertainty was very real indeed.
 
My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this tragic disaster.
Please consider a donation to the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/
 
I did capture one image that I think sums up the resilience of the people of Oklahoma, who have been through so much over the years: As the day's storms were ending, a rainbow and a bolt of lightning appear beside an American flag at sunset. A symbol of strength after the storm.
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May 19 - Viola, Kansas to Shawnee, Oklahoma
Tornado Outbreak - What a day. We targeted southcentral Kansas for tornadoes today and managed to see two. The first one had a short funnel with a debris swirl on the ground and the other had a photogenic slender cone like shape that touched down extremely close to our vehicles. It was in the field right beside the road and the circulation passed directly overhead.
 
Unfortunately, several other supercell storms formed in central Oklahoma and ended up doing a lot of damage in places like Edward and Shawnee. Some of the tornadoes were long-track, violent ones. As of right now, I don't know the full extent of the damage or fatalities.
 
Charles Edwards, the owner of Cloud 9 Tours lives in Shawnee and at one point, we thought that a tornado was headed right for his house, but luckily, it passed about 3 miles to the west.
 
Today was one of those days when strong tornadoes hit some populated areas.

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May 18 - Coldwater, Kansas to Norman, Oklahoma
Today was our last chance to chase with the tour one people. We had to get back to Norman so we could only travel so far and still make it back. We targeted southern Kansas, nead Coldawater and although storms did form, they never got tortnadic where we were. Further north, there were several tornadoes reported, but they were out of our reach. By the time we eventually got back to the hotel, it was after 1:00 AM.

May 17 - Eliasville, Texas
TORNADO - Wow, just wow. Today's risk for tornadoes was low, only a 2% zone forecast by the storm Prediction Centre, but it sure did pan out! We experienced pretty much everything, from crazy storm structure to lightning to hail that was 3 and 4 inches in diameter, and a long-lived, slow moving tornado.
 
The tornado touched down near the town of Eliasville and it put on quite a show for us. It barely moved and kept changing size and shape.
 
I just love it when there is a so-so setup and we end up hitting the storm jackpot, it is very rewarding.
 
I'll add more details when I get time. Right now, It's the middle of the night and we have yet another few big chase days ahead of us!

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May 17 Tornado YouTube

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May 16 - Shreveport, Louisiana
Tornado Warning. After yesterday's chaos and only about 2 hours of sleep, we packed up and drove east to where there was a slight chance of storms. Close to the Texas/Louisiana state line, a single storm had gone up, but didn't look too impressive. We were there anyway, so we checked it out and despite hills and trees, it had a great looking shelf cloud and was very green.
 
Shortly after we got under the storm it started to rotate and soon was tornado warned. As we drove through it to get into better position, we encountered very strong winds, blinding rain and hail to the size of golf balls at least. The wind kept shifting and the rain was atomized which gave me cause for concern, but the signature on radar made it clear that a tornado was very possible... And close by.
 
Our chase ended when the road we were on was blocked by downed trees. Bizarrely, as we were stopped, a jeep driving the other way tried to swerve around a pickup truck and drove right into the downed tree! The driver was mad, but OK.
 
There was a fair amount of damage (snapped trees, roof damage) and we heard some reports that a tornado had been confirmed. It would not surprise me at all.
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May 15 - Millsap & Cleburne Texas
TORNADOES - Today was an exhausting, epic, crazy day filled with a range of emotions from highs to lows. It's late right now so I'll just give a quick synopsis... Witnessed at least 2 tornadoes, the best one in the town of Millsap, Texas. It was close enough to hear it clearly! More photos to come.
 
An hour or so later, we were just south of Cleburne when the rotation passed in front of us from north to south with HUGE power flashes, then the tornado crossed in front of us AGAIN from south to north as it approached Cleburne in the dark!
 
Unfortunately, there have been many reports of damage injuries and fatalities. We never really expected today to be so potent, but the right balance of ingredients came together. More info later as I learn more. We did drive through the town of Granbury at one point, just after a very damaging tornado had gone through, but we didn't see that one or the damage it caused.

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Tornado Video

May 14 - Wichita Falls, Texas
OK, I'm starting to lose my patience with the weather. There is hope on the horizon, but for right now it is hot with blue skies here in Wichita Falls. There is a slight chance for some marginal storms tomorrow, and we're getting desperate for anything. The weekend looks good, but it will be complicated by the fact that we have to do the tour 1 / tour 2 switch over this weekend too. Chasing storms is all about how well you can handle frustration.
 
**Update** I spoke too soon. After dinner, we spotted a cluster of storms to our southwest and decided to go for it. We were treated to a verty nice lightning display near the town of Crowell. The photo is a composite of several images, showing how much lightning the storm had. What a nice treat.
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May 13 - Norman, Oklahoma
A travel day. There was a very slight chance of some storms, but that hope quickly fizzled by early afternoon, so we've stopped for the night at our home base in Norman, Oklahoma. There are some good indicators that the weather pattern will turn around by the weekend, we shall see what happens. That is still many days away.

May 12 - Dallas, Texas
Not much to Report today. We're still waiting for a change in the weather pattern. The weather this year has been crazy. Very few storms, and cold temperatures back home. This is probably the strangest season I've seen in a long time (perhaps ever). Today we headed north to Dallas and had a fantastic cajun meal and several rounds of poker at the motel.

May 11 - San Antonio, Texas
A down day in San Antonio. It looks like we're going to have a few days with no weather to chase, so today we took in the sights of San Antonio. We visited The Alamo, took in a movie then a boat ride down the river through the center of town and had dinner along the river walk. San Antonio is a great city with plenty to see and do. I highly recommend it to anyone.

May 10 - Eagle Pass to San Antonio, Texas
Severe Thunderstorm - Well, today was interesting. We started off in Kerrville, Texas and headed south, quite a bit south. Actually, we ended up being a stone's throw away from the Mexican border at the town of Eagle Pass. There were a few storms across the Rio Grande that looked really good on radar and were headed our way so we got as close as we could without actually crossing over into Mexico. We even hung out for a while beside the U.S. border protection agency's tethered surveillance blimp which is apparently packed with sensors and radar for catching people crossing the border illegally.
 
Unfortunately, the storms didn't seem to have their documents in order and they never really survived the border crossing, but meanwhile, another few storms had fired up near San Antonio, so we blasted up to get onto the biggest one up there.
 
The new storm was very fast moving and difficult to keep up with. It was hauling at 44 knots and kicking up quite a few big plumes of dirt that brought the visibility down to near zero at times from the gust front and rear flank downdraft winds.
 
We heard reports of baseball sized hail in it and we did see quite a few large hailstones on the side of the road as we passed through the town of Pearsall and as we eventually caught up with the storm, we tried to get into the core of it, but there was just no way to keep up. It was just moving too fast.

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May 09 - Buffalo Gap to Fredericksburg, Texas
Tornado Warnings - Today was very busy day. The forecast didn't seem to have a lot of tornado potential, but yet we managed to chase 3 supercell storms, 2 of which were tornado warned.
 
The first tornado warned storm was near the town of Buffalo Gap, Texas and it looked really good on radar, but was difficult to get to due to the fact we were approaching from the north and the view was mostly obscured by rain. We did eventually get to the business end of the storm and it had a nice, round, striated look to it.
 
The second storm was very dramatic with terrific structure and some pretty big hail. We took quite a pounding a few times as we played a game of cat and mouse with the storm for a good part of the afternoon.
 
The last storm of the day also became tornado warned, just as our daylight was starting to fade. At one point, we pulled over to try and get a better look at it when all of a sudden a VERY close lightning bolt struck. We even saw some sparks from a nearby power pole and heard a quick sizzle sound, right before the big clap of thunder. Scary stuff!
 
A few minutes later, it started lobbing some very big hail at us, so we scrambled to get out of the way and continued on to the town of Fredericksburg where we thought the biggest hail might strike. We took shelter under a gas station awning as the rotating part of the storm passed close by, but surprisingly, we didn't get the hail we were expecting. Not bad for a day when we were not really anticipating much.

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May 08 - Paducah, Texas
Severe Thunderstorm - After a bit of horsing around, we hit the road and made the trek from Liberal, Kansas to Childress, Texas where we were expecting some severe storms to initiate this afternoon. They did, but the storms today kept toying with us. They would form, then weaken, then another one would look really good so we'd go after it, then the original storm would rapidly re-intensify. This was pretty much how the day went and we ended up driving in circles around the Paducah/Childress area.
 
Along the way, some of the obstacles we would face included A closed road which we managed to negotiate, huge gaps with no internet connection and a small dirt road (more of a track really) that the GPS said went through to the next main road, but had a padlocked gate on it.
 
Despite all the forces working against us, we still managed to get onto a couple of very photogenic severe storms that were rotating but never enough to warrant a tornado warning.
 
On the way back to Childress for the night, we were treated to a stunning sunset that we managed to line up with an old windmill. This must've been one of the most photographed windmills in history.
 
To top off the day, we pulled in to the only local restaurant we knew was open, but as usual, we arrived with less than 10 minutes before closing time... With a party of 16 people. They surprisingly didn't turn us away. Thank you K-Bobs steak house.

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May 07 - Mullinville, Kansas
Severe Thunderstorm - Since we were already in good position by starting off the day in Liberal, Kansas, we spent much of the day waiting around for storms to fire up. We did a Wal-Mart trip, we visited Dorothy's house from The Wizard of Oz and we even invented a new game.: The "Kansas Tumbleweed Derby", each of us would pick a tumbleweed from a field and race them in the wind, seeing which one would roll across the finish line first.
 
Our patience paid off as storms did go up and were were treated to a nice on near the town of Mullinville. It had a nice shape to it with some obvious rotation, but the base was high due to meager moisture. We did get into quite a bit of small hail and saw a nice rainbow & sunset. We ended pulling in to Woodward, Oklahoma rather late, but it helped to put us in position for tomorrow.
 
This was a good warmup chase for the group who are now very ready for some more serious storm chasing and it looks like the next few days could be just what the doctor ordered. More severe storms, with tornado potential are forecast. We'll see how things go.

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May 05 - Amarillo, Texas to Liberal, Kansas
With some severe weather potential on the horizon, we've relocated to Liberal, Kansas. Chances of severe weather increases as the week goes on and we will be there when it happens.
 
Along the way today we made a quick stop at the Cadillac Ranch, just outside of Amarillo. It consists of 10 Cadillacs, half buried in the ground, and spray painting them in encouraged. It is a bit of a tradition for us to drop in there to take a few photos and add to the countless layers of paint that have built up on the cars over the years.

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May 05 - Amarillo, Texas
The forecast still has us waiting for a little while, so in the meantime, we drove out to the Big Texan Steak Ranch In Amarillo. This is one of our favorite haunts out here and the steak is truly fantastic. One of our group, Andre from Edmonton decided to try their 72 ounce steak dinner challenge.
 
He had one hour to finish 72oz of steak, salad, dinner roll, shrimp and a baked potato. If he finished it all in time, the meal was free. Well he attempted last year and got a respectable 53oz of steak down the hatch. This year, he blew that record away by completing the full 72 ounces of steak, but the clock ran out before he could finish all of his side dishes.
 
Kudos to him for doing so well. He holds the Cloud 9 Tours record for most steak eaten and the only person to try the challenge twice.
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May 04 - Norman, Oklahoma
Today was pick-up day for tour 1, so most of the day was spent driving back and forth to the airport greeting old friends and meeting new ones. On this trip we have a very multi-cultural group with people from France, Canada, the U.S, and Australia.
 
On Sunday morning we'll do our orientation meeting and safety briefing, then probably head out to Amarillo. There isn't really anything to chase yet. It's still too cold and it'll take a few days before we see a better weather pattern for storms.

May 03 - Springfield, Missouri to Norman, Oklahoma
Freak Snowstorm in May!!
 
In all my 15 years of traveling south to Tornado Alley, I've never once seen snow during the trip... That was until today. A strong cold front left quite a cold air mass in place and the snow was coming down quite hard in places like Springfield, Missouri where the grass was white, and drivers had to scrape the fresh, sticky snow off theirs car's windshields.
 
Several cars had spun off the highway into the ditch and the entire scene was surreal. It was actually quite deep in some spots!
 
Once I crossed into Oklahoma, conditions began to improve as the skies cleared and it warmed up a bit. I never know what I'm going to encounter out here and so far, this season has been a bizarre one, right out of the gate.
 
I'm now in our home base town of Norman and tomorrow, we'll begin picking up the tour guests at the airport and finish getting organized. The weather pattern still does not look very good for us this week, but as I've seen so many times... You just never know what's going to happen out here.

2013_05_03_A

2013_05_03_B

May 02 - Rolla, Missouri
A very long first day on the road. I left Toronto early this morning and I usually stop when I get to the west side of St. Louis, but I was feeling good, so I kept driving all the way to Rolla, Missouri today. A total of over 880 miles! The drive itself was uneventful, other than a cluster of storms I drove through in Illinois that were not impressive enough to slow me down.
 
That's it for me today. I'm off to bed and I'll finish my drive to Oklahoma in the morning.

April 28 - Oakville, Ontario
With only a few days left before I depart for this year's storm chase trip, I took advantage of the first sunny, warm Saturday of the year to help out Mark Robinson, a meteorologist with The Weather Network & storm chaser. He's also getting ready to head out on the chase and we spent the day wiring up and preparing the official Weather Network SUV for the chase. All went well, I just hope that he'll be able to keep it out of the big hail. We'll see what happens! I'll be meeting up with Mark from time to time while storm chasing, doing some reports for TWN.
TWN_SUV

April 26 - Toronto, Canada
 
Welcome to my 2013 tornado chase blog page where I will be posting daily summaries & photos from this year's storm chase.
 
For the next 4 weeks or so, I will be hunting down the most dangerous and spectacular weather on Earth such as lightning, hail and of course, tornadoes... But it's not just me. I help to guide tornado chasing trips where people from all over the world come to the "Tornado Alley" region of the United States to ride along on the chase as we see what Mother Nature has up her sleeve. We have a good time, all the time.
 
Check back often to see what we've been up to.

Tornado Alley

 

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Send E-Mail To George Kourounis

george@stormchaser.ca


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