Sunday, June 13, 2010
A tornado in the road
But today, with three days left, it all happened.
We started our chase early.. which normally evolves into a good thing. Not too much sitting in parking lots, bs'ing, playing catch.. the activities that fill the void for an hour or two. No one seemed too optimistic until we saw the very promising skew-t (vertical profile) for Perryton, TX, where we waited to target a storm.
South of Perryton, we encountered quite a bit of flooding from storms that had already rolled through.
We also passed damage at Bryan's Corner from a tornado that ripped through the day before.
All of a sudden while on the way to a travel target, we had a target storm. It didn't look great at the time, but it was early, and we were actually targeting a storm before it produced a tornado, instead of targeting it after it produced, which is what usually happens. We stayed on the storm for about two hours before it started getting interesting.
Gabe and I decided since the storm was not producing any tornadoes yet, that we would do our storm relative "mission" in the storm core. The core is a ton of fun - fun as in zero visibility, big hail (sometimes being launched at many mph), and some adrenaline rushing winds and the wonder of what the heck are you going to emerge out into. Go figure, while we were in the core, the storm decided to produce a really nice tornado. We couldn't get out of the core in time to see it.
So then, with a limited road network, we launched forward ahead of the storm to see what we could see. We were going down a road southward, turned back northward.. then Gabe had me turn back once more. Someone reported a tornado, and just as my buddy Kiel said over the radio, "rain wrapped tornado on the ground", Gabe and I were trying to figure out where exactly this twister was. I was convinced it was just ahead of us to the right, and he in the meantime convinced me that if there was a tornado, it would be in a mess of clouds beside us. Gabe said, "we're fine, we're getting west winds... Uhhhh, why are we getting west winds???" All of a sudden, we're still driving forward, and a rain wrapped tube slightly darker than the other sky comes rolling across the street where I pointed at a few seconds beforehand, about a 1/2 mile ahead of us. A big swirling ball of rotating cloud emerged, as the tornado crossed in front of us. It zipped across in about the time it took for me to realize what has just happened, enough time to bust out in laughter.. both at the mistake that Gabe made, and the monstrosity of what a little tornado could look like so close up. Then, not seconds later, one of our vehicles coming flying by. What the crap?!!! It was the most awesome 10 seconds of my short life, far from what I ever expected to see upon waking up this morning. Instead of being afraid, I just busted out into laughter instead. Here is a video I posted of the TWISTER. It's very choppy but at least it gives you a bit of an idea.
Best day ever. I was also proud of my official 20,000 miles driven since this all began on April 20th. June 13, with two days left in the project, was a good day.