Another day, another hotel continental breakfast. I really like those “do-it-yourself” waffles though.
I got in late the previous night so I planned on waking up a little early for breakfast and forecasting. I decided on Elk City, OK 1 as my starting point for the day.
The drive there was pleasant, with patches of heavy fog on the way. I stopped just across the Oklahoma border at a rest stop. Have I mentioned that Oklahoma has really nice rest stops? These things are built like museums and are very clean. They’re even staffed!
I talked to the Rest Stop Receptionist (working title unknown) for awhile. Upon hearing that I was a storm chaser, she started complaining about the TV weather coverage in western Oklahoma, strongly advising me to “tell them to do something about it”. I explained that I have no actual contact with any Oklahoma television affiliates and am, in fact, just a guy in a car. This didn’t really sink in.
You know what? Fine. I’ll bring it up at the next meeting.
Continuing on, I got to Elk City by late morning. I got gas and realized that I had a bunch of time to kill. I knew I needed a LOT of work before I could take decent pictures with Heather’s Canon 60D camera, so I drove out to the back of the lot and started experimenting.
Realizing that this was dumb and that there were far more photogenic places to be, I headed west out of town. I parked on Highway 283 just north of Sayre, Oklahoma.
Then I began my covert surveillance of the local livestock.
I was there for awhile. Long enough to decide to go back to Elk City for a restroom break and a drink, then go back to my spot. About an hour later, RadarScope showed a strengthening storm southwest of my position. It was rotating and moving northeast near Shamrock, Texas. Chasers began flocking to the only game in town but I decided to stay put, confident that initiation was starting and that soon there would be other options.
The Shamrock storm looked better and better. I stayed put.
It became tornado warned. I did nothing.
In fact, nothing else developed. After about an hour I decided to head to the Shamrock storm. I dilly-dallied around though, stopping at one point to try to photograph a really cool looking hawk sitting on a fence. It waited until I had the camera out of the bag, lens cap off, and almost pointed at it. Then it flew away.
Well played, hawk.
I finally did intercept the storm after driving south through Erick, Oklahoma. By now it had drifted southeast of Shamrock and was almost out of juice. I took some pictures of the cloud base, then drove a mile north before it could rain on me.
I was really feeling the lack of sleep and just not feeling good in general. I watched what looked like some storm initiation north of me, but couldn’t get enthused about the chase day. I felt like I’d kind of suckered myself south to chase the Shamrock storm so I wasn’t happy. I decided to head east towards Oklahoma City, but figured I’d change course if things developed.
I finally did stop just off I-40, almost due south of Woodward to take some more pictures. It was pretty cloudy now and I wanted to test my photography in lower light.
I saw that some storm initiation was now going on to the north and was tempted to head over to get in position. I just wanted to rest though, not backtrack a couple of hours back to Oklahoma City. So I called it a day.
Which is why I missed a tornado just north of Woodward later that evening. According to some of the reports I heard, the damn thing sat STATIONARY IN A FIELD for like ten minutes. Then it lurched northwest (of all things), scaring the crap out of a few chasers.
This was the topping on a crappy day. I resolved to do better tomorrow.
- Focus some forecasting time on finding out more about when storm initiation will happen. I could have gotten another couple of hours of sleep and still had time to get out there and WANT to chase. I’d have missed the hotel waffle though. I have mixed feelings.
- You are not a hawk chaser. You are a storm chaser. Leave the local wildlife alone.
- Experimenting with the camera was the only good decision I made all day. It helped a lot.