A classic, large negatively tilted upper-level trough was progged to move into West Texas by late in the day today. I wanted to focus on the area just south of the Texas Panhandle where I expected better instability and more discrete, right-moving storms. My morning target was Plainview, updated to Tulia by early afternoon. A steady steam of information was delivered to me via cell phone by William Reid to keep me on track.
I never really thought that I would see a storm like I saw on Tuesday evening. Ever.
On Tuesday, June 24, I watched the same storm produce tornado after tornado after tornado for more than an hour, with two or more tornadoes on the ground at the same time, THREE different times! It was simply unbelievable.
Becoming a storm chaser was the natural course for someone fascinated by severe weather and tornadoes since childhood. My interest in storms developed during that time as a result of many days spent viewing dark, ominous Texas skies, and nights spent awake watching vivid lightning from the window of my room while thunder, hail and howling winds combined in a cacophony of incredible noise that shook our home.
Hey, why didn't someone tell me about Dakota magic before? I've been hanging out around the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles all these years, waiting for the Holy Grail of Tornados to unfold before me. Maybe I should trade in Amarillo for Aberdeen.
It was Saturday evening, June 13, 1998. I was having dinner with some of the top storm chasers in the country at the Wagon Wheel Tavern in historic Marysville, Kansas. Fellow chasers Carson Eads, Tim Marshall, Alan Moller, Gene Rhoden and I sat down to a late meal after chasing a fast-moving, high-precipitation supercell along the Kansas-Nebraska border for several hours.
Late last May I had the opportunity to read many of the early issues of Storm Track. My friend and fellow chaser, Charles Bustamante, had packed nearly a dozen volumes of Storm Track for our latest excursion to the Plains. Near Glendale, Nevada, I recall reading a fantasy article/cartoon by David Hoadley. The star in this "Gentleman's Chase" wakes up somewhere in tornado alley, has a leisurely lunch, watches a storm develop nearby, and photographs a tornado while in perfect position after a brief drive. For him, it was just another typical chase day.