June 17, 2014: Venice, Florida Waterspout

With limited tornado risks across the Great Plains, we traveled to Florida for a best chances of severe weather and possible waterspouts.

Waterspouts and landspouts are non-supercell based tornadoes that form from the surface up to the cloud base, as opposed to a tornado that forms from the cloud base to the ground. Chasing storms in Florida is difficult due to the population and trees. Rural roads are few and far between as well, further complicating storm chasing in the state.

While Florida is nearly impossible to chase storms in, there are amazing opportunities for lightning photography with storms you could almost set your watch to predict. Being successful in finding waterspouts, especially outside of the Florida Keys where they’re rather common during late summer, requires being in place in the area most likely to have thunderstorms over the water.

Just traveling a short distance such as 10-miles along Florida’s Gulf Coast is nearly impossible within any timeframe needed if the location of the storm is that far off from the forecast.

We spent the day along the coast, where storms were most likely to make their way to land. And, during the late evening hours, we traveled inland for chances of lightning photography in Central Florida.

June 01, 2014: Storm Chasing in Southwest Kansas.

June 1st was the start of a new storm chasing tour and everyone got a great chase on their first day.

We traveled from Oklahoma City to one of my favorite places in Tornado Alley: Southwest Kansas. A sharp dry line with dewpoints in the mid-60s was in-place.

That coupled with good upper-level support and steep lapse rates would be the focus of our first tornado warned supercell of the day near Rozel, Kansas.

Unfortunately, due to a missing hard drive (please see our other 2014 post for info on that), we lost the photos from Brian’s camera. These two photographs which were on another camera are all we have.

May 26, 2014: South Texas Tornadic Supercells

As noted with some of our other posts from 2014, due to a missing backpack that contained a hard drive, we’ve lost the majority of the photographs and videos that we collected during the 2014 storm season.  There were several tornado photos on the hard drive, which what hurts the most.  We even lost a van window due to small debris, there were no injuries, we were not in the van at the time (read below).  The few photos that we have been able to post here are photos that we posted to social media prior to the hard drive missing.  Some of these are just screenshots of our radar application showing our GPS icon in the vicinity of tornado warned storms.  It’s possible that we might find a photo here and there on a CF card that we’ve missed, if so, we’ll update the 2014 posts as necessary.

May 26: This day took us deep into south Texas, an unusual event for late May.  Once in the target area for the day, storms quickly formed and almost immediately became tornado warned.  We intercepted two tornadoes, both were rain wrapped.  Brian made the decision to punch the core of a massive supercell in order to get into the notch of the storm for a better look.  The storm was moving primarily in a southerly direction, we spent the evening staying ahead of it by a few miles until we eventually ran out of land – we had three possible options: 1. Go to Mexico, 2. Ditch the van in the Gulf of Mexico and take a swim, or 3: Find a sturdy building and ride out the storm.  We of course choose option three.  We parked the van outside a well constructed restaurant in a small town and well, we ordered dinner.  Thankfully the plates made it to the table just as the power went out and the sky turned black.  A weak tornado passed our location by nearly a block, in due process, some gravel and debris took out a van window.  We decided to just eat during this event, due to the amount of rain, visibility was limited to about six feet.  And yes, the food was terrific after a long chase day!