Storm Chasing with Tempest Tours

Storm Chasing with Tempest Tours

Storm chasing is, in relative terms, a new kind of tourism. Television shows like In Search Of… (1978) and movies like Twister (1996) introduced professional storm chasing to the wider public, and over the last twenty years or so, a number of tour companies have sprung up offering people the chance to join in with the chase.

Tornadoes in Southwest Iowa and Northwest Missouri

Tornadoes in Southwest Iowa and Northwest Missouri

Here are some quick-pics of the tornadoes observed near Shenandoah and Yorktown, Iowa, today…and the beefy meso between Hopkins, Missouri, and Bedford, Iowa…and the near sunset tornado south of Maryville, Missouri.  Dallas Raines is holding 4-inch hailstones SSW of Bedford, Iowa.

TEMPEST TOURS CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

As our guests know, we stop at local Tornado Alley eateries as time allows. Headline regional fare includes Tex-Mex, barbecue, big farmer breakfasts and, of course, chicken fried steak (CFS), sometimes referred to as the “National Dish of Texas.” Our president and native Texan Martin Lisius is sharing his tasty chicken fried steak recipe for our guests to enjoy at home.

Evening Supercell East of Wichita, Kansas

Evening Supercell East of Wichita, Kansas

Not much was happening as the clock ticked past 5 and 6 p.m., and it was looking like a cap bust might be in the cards.  A perusal of the moisture convergence charts drew my attention towards the Wichita area.  Though the Emporia area still appeared to be a reasonable place to wait and hope, I rolled the dice and headed down the turnpike towards Wichita.

Supercell from Edgemont, South Dakota to Henry, Nebraska

Supercell from Edgemont, South Dakota to Henry, Nebraska

Bill was wanting to drive up to Rapid City, SD, where models were wanting to initiate thunderstorms.  Along the way, we stopped in Edgemont, SD for a pit/fuel stop, and we noticed a cell a few miles away.  Bill liked the look of this storm, and it was isolated from the activity near Rapid City.  We decided to hedge our bets with this cell, and we definitely were not disappointed!

Booker, Texas Nighttime Supercell

Booker, Texas Nighttime Supercell

I made my way to OKC on Tuesday, May 2, and with Bob C. and Bill S., rounded up five guests from Tour 1 and Tour 2 for a chase into northwestern OK.  We left OKC really late, at 5 p.m., but that was not too much of a problem as the upper-level support was late and nothing had developed yet.  I was hoping that the models which showed early evening development into extreme western OK would come to fruition.

Abilene and Chapman, Kansas Tornado

Abilene and Chapman, Kansas Tornado

The models that we looked at mid-morning were a bit weak and wishy-washy with regard to storm development near the surface low and down the dry line.  It is never fun to wake up and see a downgrade by SPC, but I did not necessarily disagree in this case.  I think I told the group that we would be playing the triple-point at the surface low.  The instability and shear would be excellent to our east and southeast later on, towards Salina, and we would just have to cross our fingers that the cap would not be too strong.

Woodward, Oklahoma Tornado

Woodward, Oklahoma Tornado

The look of the sky was not helping too much yet.  Chris was a little nervous about chasing south of I-40 in the eastern TX PH, where there had been flooding problems the previous evening.  I elected to stick with the NW OK target.  We were there, and on paper it was looking about as good as the southern play.  We went back north to Shattuck…and north to Laverne.  Deja vu!  Eventually some towers developed…yes!