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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 travelling with long time friends & chase partners Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland.

- George Kourounis

June 20 - LaGrange, New York to Toronto
After a decent night's sleep, the first thing we did is start working on my car. I was able to easily find the pinhole leak in my power steering line, so we put a plan into place. We would try to patch up the leak as best we could, just to get me back home.
We used some sheet rubber and zip-ties to plug it as best we could. It was still leaking, but much better than before, and I felt confidant it would get me home. I picked up a couple of bottles of extra fluid, and I took off.
The patch held for a while, but after about 45 minutes, I could tell that the power steering was not working anymore. The good thing is that at highway speeds, it's not really a problem, the car handles just fine, but the slower you go, and the tighter you turn, the harder it gets. Parking lots being the most difficult to navigate.
Despite having no power assist, I pressed on and crossed back over into Canada and eventually back home to Toronto, arriving at around 8 P.M.
Many thanks to Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison for allowing me to join them on this year's chase. We've been friends for years, and chased countless storms together, but this was the first time that the three of us have been in the same vehicle for a chase trip.



June 19 - Richmond, Indiana to LaGrange, New York
Day 2 of the long drive home... We got in to the hotel after 1 A.M. last night, and were out the door at 7:30 this morning. We just kept blasting to Dave's place and we arrived at around dinner time. I had plans to jump into my own car and keep pushing on to get some more miles under me, but as Scott and Dave were removing the windshield hail guard from the Exterra, I backed out of Dave's garage and immediately had a problem with my car. The power steering had been making some noise, but now as soon as I pulled out, I spring a serious leak in the power steering hydraulic line.
It quickly became obvious that I wasn't going anywhere, so we said goodbye to Scott and he left for his home in Queens, and I stayed at Dave's for one more night. I'll deal with the car in the morning.

June 18 - Woodward, Oklahoma to Richmond, Indiana
Day one of the long drive home. We departed the hotel in Woodward at about 8:30 in the morning, and spent about 16 or 17 hours on the road. We stopped for the night just west of the Ohio state line in Richmond, Indiana. Along the way, we encountered some pretty significant flooding in St. Louis where heavy rain spurred flash flood warnings, and caused flooding on some of the highways.


June 17 - Laverne, Oklahoma
After the storms last night in Colorado, we put in the extra effort to drive west for a while to put us in good position for today. We ended up in Liberal, Kansas, and even though more storms rolled through town overnight, I was too tired to even notice them. We slept in and went for lunch at a place called Gallo Pinto, a local Mexican/Nicaraguan restaurant. It was excellent!
Our friend Dr. Jason Persoff from Denver was going to be joining us today, so we waited for him at "Dorothy's House" (Dorothy from the Wizard Of Oz was supposedly from Liberal).
It was great to see Jason, and we hung out at a local gas station for storms to initiate when we ran into a problem... Jason's car wouldn't start, and this was Saturday afternoon, so if we couldn't get it working, he might be stuck there all weekend. It wasn't a dead battery, and after some troubleshooting, I was able to figure out that it was a bad connection on one of the battery terminals. Luckily, Dave has tools with him, and he was able to find a washer to put under the terminal and tighten everything up properly. To say Jason was relieved would be an understatement.
As soon as we were done with his car, we grabbed a quick bite to bring with us on the road, and we split, headed south. Some storms had fired up and a tornado watch box had been issued so we took off and dropped south to Turpin in the Oklahoma panhandle. It didn't take log for us to get to the storm and position ourselves where we had a good view. It was high-based, but had a lot of rotation, and at one point it had a significant lowering, and we even saw a swirl of debris on the ground. It was very small and brief, so we don't know if it actually was a tornado, or perhaps just a gustnado.
Regardless, the storm became tornado warned and we followed it almost due east. The whole time, it looked like it was going to produce a tornado. The rotation and upwards motion were incredible, as good as I've ever seen. The storm also had amazing colour! The greens were surreal and that was a good indicator that it has some big hail in there too.
At one point, we stopped to get out an take a better look, and somehow Jason didn't see the dropoff at the side of the road and he ended up driving off the edge and into the ditch. Luckily, the car was mostly undamaged. Part of the bumper was ripped and the washer fluid line was broken, but that seemed to be about it.
The hail threat kept increasing as the road network kept bringing us closer and closer to the core. We started to encounter some very big hail that might have been close to tennis ball size. We didn't want to deal with that, so we took to the dirt roads, which gave us more options. The roads were gravel and dry, so that worked out well for avoiding the big hail, while still keeping an eye on the base of the storm. It was now accelerating, and getting harder to keep up with, and we knew that a squall line to the west was catching up, which would likely ingest our storm entirely, so we decided to ride out the core of it, in the town of Laverne.
The plan was to find some shelter in Laverne and let the rain and hail overtake us, like we've done countless times in the past... That was the plan...
The tornado sirens in town were wailing, and this monster of a storm loomed large as it approached from the west, looking like some ominous, unstoppable mass of black, gray and green. It was going to hit us hard, and now there was nothing we could do about it.
We managed to get separated from Jason, who ended up under an awning about a block or so south of us, while Scott, Dave and I parked beside the Alon gas station.
We didn't actually get much hail, but the winds increased dramatically, and shifted, which let us know that a circulation, or a large tornado was just to our north. The power went out, and the incredible gusts ripped the roof off the Laverne Community Center across the street. It was intense, like being in a strong hurricane. Pieces of sheet metal were flying around, one hitting Scott's truck, and another came flying towards Dave and I, almost hitting him. I quickly checked the radar and was shocked by the rotation signature I was seeing. The circulation was just north of us, and what we were getting was extreme rear flank downdraft winds. We feared that part of the town was getting shredded by a rain-wrapped tornado.
The whole building was shaking, the window glass was flexing, and at times the wind and rain were so intense, we couldn't even see across the street.
Once the worst of it had passed, we gathered ourselves and drove north to see what had happened. There was some damage, but not the disaster scene we had feared we'd run into. There were reports from other chasers and sheriff video that later confirmed that there was indeed a tornado about 1 mile north of town.
We said our goodbyes to Jason, strapped his flailing bumper up with some zip-ties and we went our separate ways. On our way to Woodward for the night, we encountered an awesome orange & blue sunset, and a dark sunset rainbow. A nice way to cap off an intense day.
It also marked the end of this chase trip overall. Tomorrow we start the long journey home.






June 16 - Las Animas - Springfield, Colorado
Tornado Warning
There was some potential today in southeastern Colorado today, so after breakfast at the hotel in Elk City, Oklahoma, we wound our way up into the Texas Panhandle, and through the town of Perryton, that got hit hard by one of yesterday's tornadoes. We weren't able to see much of the damage because we didn't really have much time to stop, and most of the hardest hit areas were cordoned off.
We continued northeast into Colorado where we stopped and waited for a bit in Lamar. To our west, near the town of La Junta, a storm formed and became tornado warned.
We turned south at Las Animas and got into the best position we could without risking having to drive through the core of the storm. There was really only one road option.
We watched the storm for a while, right beside a cemetery, that for some reason, only had 2 graves... And one of them was open... With a casket inside. I've never seen that before on a chase. It would seem the person had recently died and been laid to rest, but the dirt had not yet been put back in the grave.
Another first for me was seeing a tarantula on the dirt road we were parked on. I didn't want the fellow to get squashed so after we took a bunch of photos, I scooped him up with our map and placed him safely in the grass.
The storm wasn't moving much, but it was starting to rain on us, so we decided to continue south a little bit. That's when we our friend Dan Shaw from Australia again. The storm was just sitting there, and for most of its life it was very high-based, but now, it was really starting to look much better. We thought that it might be capable of producing a tornado when rotating scud started to rise up into the base, and it got quite low to the ground. It never did though.
By now, a bowing line of storm was approaching and was about to crash into our storm. We decided to go for it and take a questionable dirt rod south and east to stay ahead of it. The road was actually pretty good and we were easily able to out pace the rain.
Once the line caught up with us just west of Springfield, the "Tail End Charlie" storm got tornado warned. It was also very high based, but was spinning. It was beautiful, but never really had the chance to produce a tornado. The structure was amazing though!
We dashed into Springfield and made quick gas & food stop. This storm looked like a UFO mothership! We scarfed down our subs and went east out of town to get some structure shots.
By now it was dark, but this storm wasn't done with us quite yet. It really started to get electric, spitting out lightning bolts, mostly horizontal, with a few cloud to ground strikes. We found a great place to pull off near Walsh, Colorado and got some awesome pics of the storm structure, lightning and even a barn in the foreground.
Today really over-performed.
We eventually got to our hotel in Liberal, Kansas for some much needed rest. We have one or maybe 2 chase days left on this trip before we need to start heading home.






June 15 - Waurika, Oklahoma
Tornado Warning
The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk for severe weather with a 10% tornado probability for parts of Oklahoma & Texas. We were already in Amarillo, so that meant we had plenty of time to get into position today.
We drove to Shamrock, on interstate 40, and spent a couple of hours waiting, looking for clues as to which way we should go. The SPC issued a tornado watch box for our target area at about 2PM.
We eventually blasted east as a storm fired up near the town of Mangum, Oklahoma. The road network was less than favorable as we caught up to the severe-warned storm near Roosevelt. There were actually 2 supercells merged together, and the eastern one had enough rotation to prompt a tornado warning near Lawton.
Soon, our storm became tornado warned and we kept trying to keep up with it by stair-stepping east, then south, but it was very difficult due to the speed of the storm, plus the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Area was a huge obstacle, with few road choices.
We needed to gas up, so we made a push for Waurika, and filled up as the hook of the storm overtook us. At the gas station, things got hairy as the winds really picked up and a barrage of lightning bolts struck all around us. We saw a rapidly rotating lowered area with rising scud, and it looked like a tornado was imminent very close to our location. We couldn't confirm contact with the ground, but others also reported a funnel cloud, and it corresponded with rapid rotation detected on RADAR at the time. The power had gone out, and there was garbage flying around all over the place. It was intense for a few minutes.
The storm was now approaching the Red River that divides Oklahoma from Texas, and we just let it go. It was going to be very difficult to catch back up with it as it continued to crash southeast. It did go on to prompt several more tornado reports.
We grabbed a real quick bite to eat and fueled up the truck in Frederick and kept going.
As we drove northwest, there was another storm near Snyder which was quite pretty. We took some structure shots of the storm while it kicked up plenty of dust. Its strong winds kept shifting around unpredictably, as the sun got lower in the sky. in the distance, we could see the back side of our previous storm, and it was doing something unusual. The updraft was punching through the anvil of the storm that we were currently on, bending the anvil upwards. I don't recall ever seeing that before.
There was a third storm that we targeted on our way to our hotel in Elk City but it died quickly. We started to hear reports of a damaging tornado that hit Perryton, Texas in the northeastern Texas Panhandle.
In the morning, the true impact of that Perryton tornado started to become clearer. It had hit a trailer park and there were at least 7 fatalities and 100 injured. There were also reports of absolutely gigantic hail in Sanger, Texas.






June 14 - Amarillo & Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Today was our first down day of this trip. We seem to already be in good position to reach storms tomorrow, so there's no reason for us to go anywhere else today.
We had an early lunch at my favourite burger joint, Coyote Bluff. It's been years since the last time that I was here & I was eager to return. It was exactly as I remember. A real dive, with awesome food! What more could you ask for?
I got the famous "Burger From Hell" (spicy) and the 3 of us shared a plate of cheesy chili fries.
From there we went to quirky "Cadillac Ranch" attraction along Route 66. 10 old Cadillacs, each half buried in the ground. Scott had never been there before, so we had to go. It is a tradition to spray paint graffiti on the cars (it is not only legal but encouraged, they have a trailer there now that sells drinks, souvenirs and cans of spray paint). Over the years, there's been SO much paint on he cars that it is inches thick in some places! Dave even broke out his drone and got some aerial shots.
It was still early, so we decided to take a drive down to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Unfortunately, because of the tremendous amounts of rain that they've been getting over the past month or so, the road down to the bottom of the canyon was mostly closed. Apparently a big sinkhole had formed and there was something like 9 feet of mud across the road. We drove down an got as far as we could, and we got some pictures at the places we were able to access.
For dinner, as is tradition when visiting Amarillo, we went to The Big Texan steak ranch. It's a famous attraction along Route 66, and we always have a good time there. I got a nice steak, but I didn't attempt their 72 oz steak dinner challenge. The place was really busy, even for a Wednesday night.
Tomorrow is looking good close to here. We expect supercells to form in the mid-afternoon, and then quickly turn into an MCS or derecho.





June 13 - Boise City, Oklahoma & Stinnett, Texas
Tornado Warning
Yet again there were 2 potential targets today. One that was near Abilene then east of Dallas, and a lesser target in the Texas Panhandle. The southern target is near where we were yesterday, but the terrain is difficult with lots of hills and trees and very poor mobile cell data. When the 1300z outlook came in from the SPC, they had upgraded the Panhandle target to include a 2% tornado risk, that sold us on going north. We like that part of Texas, and it doesn't take much to get some great, photogenic storms there.
In the hotel this morning, on the way down to breakfast, I found a satchel on the ice machine. It contained 2 Canadian passports, some Mexican travel documents and a few thousand pesos in cash. Obviously, somebody had set it down and forgotten about it. I brought it down to the front desk and the clerk recognized one of the people as having just checked out. They tried to call, but the number was disconnected. I hope they don't get too far before noticing they don't have their passports.
After breakfast we drove from Abilene to Amarillo, had a quick lunch there, then continued on up to Dalhart in the northern Texas Panhandle. A storm had already started to establish itself up just south of Boise City, Oklahoma (in the Oklahoma Panhandle). That was our target.
We approached it from the south and got good view of the updraft. It had a lot of rotation, and we saw a very suspicious lowered area that really caught our attention. Some other chasers who had a slightly different view got a better look and they confirmed that it was indeed a tornado. The NWS quickly issued the first of many tornado warnings for this storm. We expected the storm to drift southeast, and it did, but the road network around there doesn't provide a lot of choices. We didn't want to play too close to it either because there were reports of 4 inch hail in there, and we encountered another chaser who had his windshield destroyed by it.
We did our best to stay out ahead of it, and as we passed through the little town of Sunray, the tornado sirens were blaring. It's always eerie to drive through a town with the sirens on with an ominous, potentially tornado producing storm looming.
By the time we got Stinnett, we decided we wanted to at least try to get some shots of the hail. We found a spot to park the truck (it has hail shields, so there was little chance of it being harmed), and we took shelter under an awning. The sirens were sounding here too, and many of the locals were freaking out.
Suddenly, we heard a loud crash! I thought it was debris flying off a roof or something, caught up in the strong winds w were experiencing, but no. It was a car accident, only 50 feet away from us. A woman had panicked and run a stop sign, t-boning a white pickup truck with a whole family in it. The truck spun around, and the car that hit them drove off. Luckily, a police car was nearby and was on the scene in less than a minute or so. By now the wind and rain were intense, and some small hail was coming down. Everyone in the truck seemed OK thankfully.
Once the knew the worst of it had passed, we got back in the truck and Dave pulled up his video. He managed to get part of the crash on camera, so we talked to the cops on the scene, and learned that the fleeing driver had been found and stopped in the town of Borger, just to the south of us. That was good to hear. We chatted with them briefly, as well as the mother that had been in the truck. It turns out they actually knew who the woman driving the other car was.
Because of stopping for the hail, and the subsequent car accident, it was now going to be impossible to catch up to the storm again. It went on to cross the entire Texas Panhandle and re-enter Oklahoma. Along the way it dropped massive 5 inch hailstones near Shamrock. There were no other tornado reports.
We continued on south towards Amarillo, and along the way, we were treated to an incredibly vibrant rainbow, and nice sunset.
Overall it was a good chase day. We had dinner in Amarillo, then called it a night. Tomorrow looks to be a down day, so we'll likely remain in Amarillo again tomorrow.







June 12 - Brady, Texas
Tornado Warning
We got an early start and departed from the hotel in Amarillo, headed towards the Abilene area. We expected a couple of potent supercells to form near there this afternoon. After a quick lunch, we stopped briefly in Coleman, where several other storm chasers had converged at the gas station there.
Eventually, the Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for our area, as we had an early dinner at the Whattaburger in Brownwood. Storms were attempting to fire up, but they kept struggling. Eventually one good storm got rooted and became dominant. We made a bee-line for it, but we had to approach it from the north, which always brings with it the risk of encountering large hail. Luckily Scott's vehicle has hail guards.
We got right up into the notch of the hook echo as it went tornado warned. There was a large rotating wall cloud, and the structure of the storm looked great. We held tight as it slowly approached, spitting plenty of lightning bolts all around us.
After a while, it seemed obvious that the tornado threat had passed, so we blasted south to try and get a better look at the overall structure of the storm. In the town of Mason, the sunset-lit updraft was gorgeous, and the amber light that it reflected was surreal. I love that unusual light, it is very uncommon. We snapped a bunch of photos and continued on.
Eventually we ran across good friends Dan Shaw and Greg Ansell, and we spent a few minutes chatting and getting caught up as the lightning continued to flash in the dwindling light. It was well past 9:00 now and we still had another 2 hours or so to get to our hotel in Abilene.
One big problem we had today was the terrible cell phone service in this part of Texas. It's a real black hole of mobile data.





June 11 - Hereford & Tulia, Texas
There were 2 targets to choose from today. Severe weather was expected in southeastern Colorado this afternoon, and that was the obvious choice... However, there were some hints in the computer models that a supercell or two could form in the Texas Panhandle, and if they went up, they had a chance to be quite intense.
We drove from Henrietta to Amarillo where we decided to hold and see how things developed. After a few hours of waiting at a truck stop, it was looking better for us to sit tight rather than blast up to Colorado.
Eventually storms began to go up south of Adrian, Texas, so we plotted a course to intercept. Of the 2 severe-warned storms there, the southern one was the best looking, and we kept following it through the small town of Hereford, where we encountered hail to the size of golf balls and some very high winds.
The storm kept going, so we kept up with it, and turned south at the town of Canyon. The storm was about to go into an are where are no roads whatsoever (Palo Duro Canyon), so we knew we had one more shot to get a good look at it before the sun set and it dried off into no-mans land.
We got as far south as Tulia where we set up to catch the sunset on this storm. It was quite spectacular with the orange colours on the updraft and anvil of the storm. It was totally worth risking the lesser target today. we were rewarded with a gorgeous storm.
One thing that was not so nice was the mosquitoes!! There's been a lot of rain in the Texas Panhandle this spring, which has lead to a lot of standing water, and that means lots of mosquitoes. There were swarms of them and they were voracious. Such an annoyance.
After dark, we drove back to Amarillo for the night.
Tomorrow looks like it'll be another chase day, likely down near the Abilene area.





June 10 - Palestine, Texas
Woke up to the sound of thunder as early morning convection swept across central Oklahoma. That was a nice good morning greeting from Mother Nature.
We worked our way south into Texas, and down through the Dallas metro area to where we expected storms to fire up around mid-afternoon. We stopped in the town of Waxahachie where we met up with good friend Bill Hark from Richmond, Virginia. Today was his last chase day before heading home. We also crossed paths with Mike Mezeul, who is a phenomenal photographer.
Storms eventually formed and we blasted out. a few storms were mostly disorganized, but one really seemed to start to get its act together and become a supercell. Between the towns of Rice & Corsicana we started to encounter some pretty big hail. There was a report of some being up to 2.5 inches. We have hail guards on the vehicle, so the hail was of no concern to us, but many other drivers started to panic and stop under an overpass, and many of them were even blocking the active lanes. Traffic halted. This is very dangerous because if there had been a tornado, it could have been a disaster.
The cars eventually cleared and we continued on. the storm started to show signs of some pretty significant rotation, and while I expected the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning they never did.
We got out ahead of the storm near Palestine, Texas and it overtook us while we stopped for gas. It was only about 5:30 and there was still 3 hours of daylight left, but it was black as night. The streetlights even came on.
At this point the storms became messy so we started heading back northwest towards our hotel in Henrietta.
The weather was not quite done with us yet though. We stopped for a quick bite to eat, and with the way the sun and rain were positioned, I predicted that the conditions might be perfect for a rainbow in the next few minutes. Sure enough, right after we ordered our food, a big double rainbow appeared.
It was a good first chase day. While not epic, it was a good opportunity for us to shake out our process and equipment.
We pulled in to our hotel in Henrietta at bout 10:00 for some much-needed rest. Tomorrow it looks like we'll need to head up into the Texas panhandle, or possibly further north into southern Colorado. We'll see.





June 09 - Indianapolis, Indiana to Norman, Oklahoma
Travel day #2. Today we continued on, closer to our target area. We started the day in Indianapolis, then passed through St. Louis, Tulsa, and onward to Oklahoma City where we met up with friend Steven Barabas. Steve treated us to a great home-made meal on the grill. A lot of laughs were shared, but these 3 weary travellers needed to get some sleep, so after a much too short visit, we soldiered on to the town of Norman, Oklahoma, where we're staying for the night.
The weather forecast has shifted slightly, and it looks like our target area for tomorrow is a bit further south and east, probably near the Dallas area. Chasing anywhere near the big city can be difficult due to traffic but we'll know more in the morning.
After 3 straight days of being on the road, I'm pretty exhausted.



June 08 - Indianapolis, Indiana
Here we go...
Scott arrived early this morning, and the three of us hit the road. It was relatively uneventful, and while there was still quite a bit of forest fire smoke, it wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday.
Along the way, we stopping Richmond, Indiana for lunch and eventually called it a night in Indianapolis.


June 07 - LaGrange, New York
This morning, I departed Toronto early and had a smooth border crossing into the U.S. I left early enough to give myself some time for a quick detour to Eternal Flame Falls near Buffalo, NY. It was about a mile long hike in Chestnut Ridge Park, and at the end is a waterfall that has a lit flame in the middle of it. The fuel for this flame is a naturally occurring methane gas seep that keeps feeding the small flame. It was totally work the detour. There wasn't much water flowing today, so I need to return at some point after some heavy rain.
Speaking of fire... The ongoing wildfires in Quebec have been so bad that copious amounts of smoke have been travelling south across Ontario and into the U.S. The air quality today has been very bad, dangerous in some places. The air quality in New York City got so bad that it was the worst in the world for a while and they even canceled a Yankees game.
I eventually arrived at Dave Lewison's house in time for dinner. It was great to see him & his wife Steph, and their toddler, Sarah.
In the morning, Scott will arrive from New York City and we will hit the road. The plan right now is to spend the next 2 days getting into position for storms starting on Saturday.




June 06 - Toronto, Canada
Final preparations are underway for my first post-pandemic tornado chase. It's been a while, and I'm really excited to finally get back out there. Tomorrow morning I'll be headed to New York state to meet up with Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland, then the 3 of us will be headed west to Tornado Alley. This will be the latest start to a chase trip I've ever done (usually around mid-May), but the weather pattern hasn't been too favourable until now.
Scott, Dave and I have known each other for about 2 decades and have chased countless storms/tornadoes/hurricanes together.

Tornado Alley


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