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This page contains the daily blog updates that I'm posting while on the road in Tornado Alley. This year I'm shaking things up a bit. I won't be driving for Cloud 9 Tours, as I have been doing for the past 12 years. This time, I'm teaming up with Mark Robinson and Jaclyn Whittal from The Weather Network. The three of us will be storm chasing and sending back reports, live streaming, and filming an episode of the "Stormhunters" TV series.

- George Kourounis



May 28 - Columbia, Missouri to Toronto
That's it. We pushed hard and finished up the last stretch of the trip on one very long day. I didn't get home until about 2 AM, but I'm glad to be home.
 
Many thanks to Mark, Jaclyn and the The Weather Network for making this year's trip possible.
Also many thanks to all the other storm chasers we linked up with out there. There were so many!! Thanks guys. It's always a blast to meet up with old friends and make new ones too.
 
See you next year.

May 27 - Rosalia, Kansas
Today was supposed to be nothing more than a travel day to start working our way home, but it turned into an unexpected chase when some storms formed along our path home.
 
A large and very photogenic shelf cloud formed in a bowing section of the storms right near the town of Rosalia, Kansas and of course we had to pull off to take some pictures. It was quite nice to be able to squeeze in one more chase for this trip.
 
All in all, this was probably one of my most successful storm chase seasons. We had no down days at all. We were either driving into Toronado Alley or actively chasing.
Also, to have 5 consecutive tornado days was unprecedented for me.
 
BTW, if you ever find yourself in Burlington, Kansas, do yourself a favor and stop in at Skeets BBQ joint. It is some of the best BBQ I've ever had in my 19 years of coming out here... And that's saying something.


We continued on into the night and stayed in Columbia, Missouri.

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May 26 - Dodge City, Kansas
A rare Moderate Risk was issued for today and it was looking like this day had the greatest potential for tornadoes all week. Could we pull off another tornado day, stretching our streak out to six days in a row? Well Mother Nature had other plans.
 
Many disorganized clusters of storms fired up and we kept going after them.... One by one they'd go up, we'd drive after them, then be disappointed by what we saw. One of them did manage to become tornado warned, and we were right on it. Unfortunately, it became undercut by cold air and died. That was it. A chase day, but not a great chase day.
 
Tomorrow we start heading home, but first a nice steak dinner with friends in Dodge City.

May 25 - Chapman, Kansas
Tornado - We almost missed this one.
 
After getting suckered south to a storm that never developed. We couldn't resist turning around and blasting north to a very impressive storm that had started to produce tornadoes near the town of Bennington. Reports started to come in of a large tornado on the ground and it continued for a long time, a very long time. The tornado lasted about 90 minutes. Just enough time for us to reach it as it approached the town of Chapman. Luckily it missed the heart of the town, and only damaged a few homes and railroad tracks south of town.

This monster tornado was on the ground for over 30 miles, and lasted an hour and a half. It was rated EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, and it is incredible that it missed any town, and there were no reports of any serious injuries. What a lucky day.

We did come across a house that was completely leveled and the homeowners were gracious enough to let us film and report from the site for The Weather Network and CNN. One woman survived the tornado in the basement. She did exactly what she was supposed to do.

I would have liked to have been on this storm earlier, but at least we did manage to see it. This was our fifth day in a row of seeing tornadoes. A feat I have never accomplished before.
 
More pictures from today

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May 24 - Dodge City, Kansas
Tornadoes - Incredible day - It is very rare to witness a storm that produces SO many tornadoes. We literally lost count of the number as the storm luckily passed just west of Dodge City, Kansas. We believe we witnessed at least 9 tornadoes, possibly more. There were at least two instances when there were two tornadoes on the ground simultaneously, and possibly (pending video review) 3 touching down at the same time.

At one point, we had to backtrack on dirt roads that started off good, but slowly deteriorated to the point where we had to abandon them or risk getting stuck.

The storm just kept on producing tornado after tornado...
 
This was our FOURTH day in a row seeing tornadoes. A personal record.
 
Luckily, we booked rooms in Dodge City today, so we didn't have to go too far. There may have been some margaritas consumed.
 
 
More pictures from today

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May 23 - Turkey, Texas
Tornado - A very interesting chase day... AND our third tornado day in a row. We didn't think it was going to happen, then after dark, the storm near Turkey, Texas did it for us.
 
Similar to yesterday, the storm we were on wasn't too impressive until it started to get dark. If there's one thing we've learned this season it is to never give up on your storm. After a full day of chasing, we were treated to one of the best lightning displays I've seen in a very long time. There were bolts coming down all around us, some at very close range, and interestingly, there were frequent times when multiple contacts with the ground would occur simultaneously from one flash.(Up to 5 hits as one point).

An increase in lightning activity is sometimes an indicator of a strengthening storm, and can sometimes be a precursor to tornado production. Well, that's exactly what happened. The storm went tornado-warned, and we tried to keep ahead of it because I don't usually like to chase tornadoes after dark. One complication was that our best escape road was closed, so we (along with a hoard of other storm chasers) had no choice but either drop south, or head back into the storm.... South it was!

We pulled off and spotted a very large tornado, illuminated by lightning. It was far enough away that there was no danger to us, but it was difficult to see in the murk. The wedge-shaped tornado was very close to the town of Turkey, and luckily the town was spared a direct hit. It was likely a very strong tornado.
 
Tonight we stayed in Childress, Texas
 
More pictures from today

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May 22 - Spearman, Texas
Tornadoes - Tornadoes on my birthday and tornadoes two days in a row!
 
The storm that we had been tracking was looking unimpressive on radar and visually, and we were in the process of giving up on it and started driving away a bit frustrated. Luckily, Jaclyn Whittal wasn't done with the storm yet and urged us to turn around and check it out one more time. Well that certainly paid off. The storm ramped up, became tornado warned, then started producing at lease two tornadoes. The first had a classic "elephant trunk" look to it as we raced to get closer to it. Once that tornado lifted, we turned around and started heading east, and suddenly, we noticed that a second, much larger tornado had formed behind us. This second tornado looked very strong, so we kept our distance as it churned away in a field.

The tornadoes didn't hit any towns, which is good considering how strong the second one likely was. I'm so glad that we turned around. Persistence pays off!
 
After the chase we stayed the night in Amarillo, Texas, but because we got in so late, we never had the chance to have a celebratory steak at our favorite hangout in town, The Big Texan. Perhaps next time.
 
More pictures from today

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Spearman 02

May 21 - Leoti, Kansas
Tornado - Wow! Our first chase day, and we see a tornado right away. That almost never happens. The almost stationary storm near Leoti, Kansas was a real beauty. It produced at least one tornado and had some amazing structure.
 
We've been doing some experiments with Brinno timelapse cameras, and this storm was a great opportunity to try them out. Joining us for a couple of days is Michael Lohr from Colorado who represents the cameras. He had a great day, and I can't wait to see the footage.
 
We tried getting closer, but the DOW trucks were causing a roadblock. One of them was trying to turn around and backed up too far, and they got stuck. Ooops!
 
Also, my crazy friend Dan Wexler, from back home in Toronto joined us for the day... Literally for the day. He drove non-stop from Toronto, got a couple of hours sleep last night in Garden City, then chased with us today, saw the tornado, and tonight he's on his way back home. He only had a very short time to chase. Boy did he luck out!
 
After the chase, we stayed the night in Liberal, Kansas.
 
More pictures from today

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May 20 - Lawrence, Kansas to Garden City, Kansas
Today was our last travel day to get into position for potential storms tomorrow.It was nice to meet up with so many old friends. It is common for groups of storm chasing friends to meet up while out in the field (chaser convergence).

May 19 - Lima, Ohio to Lawrence, Kansas
It's nice to be back in Kansas! Not much to talk about today. It was a travel day for us, but we're getting excited about the upcoming pattern. It looks like a Pacific trough is going to be basically stationary for almost a week. That will funnel a LOT of moisture up from the Gulf Of Mexico. The fuel that severe thunderstorms require. It looks like we might have picked the perfect time to schedule our chase. It's too soon to know for sure, but we are very optimistic. Meanwhile, Jaclyn and I are driving Mark crazy in the car with our music trivia knowledge.

May 18 - Toronto to Lima, Ohio
We got a bit of a late start today, so we didn't make it quite as far as we would have liked. We had to drop in at The Weather Network for a few things, then we had to detour a bit to pick up Jaclyn. Crossing the US border was a bit slow since they made us pull into secondary inspection. The officials were very nice and as soon as they verified our credentials, they let pass on through. The pattern isn't expected to get busy for a couple of days, so we're in no big rush. Overnighting in Lima, Ohio.

May 17 - Toronto, Canada
 
Tomorrow we depart for Tornado Alley. I'm very excited to chase this year because my circumstances are completely changing. Instead of driving for Cloud 9 Tours, I'm teaming up with The Weather Network. I don't have as much time as I normally would have this year, so this works out quite well for me. Let's see if the storms cooperate!

Tornado Alley

 

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george@stormchaser.ca


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