Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jury Duty

I reported for Jury Duty on Monday morning at 07:30 as we were told to do. This is a Federal District Court that I was called to serve on and this was an experience that I felt strongly was my civic duty to participate in. At the same time I was more than a little bit pissed that I had to get up at 05:30 and drive through a deluge of rain to get to the court house yet at 10:30 we still hadn't been sworn in because none of the judges had made it in yet. Finally Judge Heaten made it in and all of us were qualified/sworn in and allowed to recess to the jurors waiting room. Which is what we did all day long! WAIT!

Now I will give it up and say that it was one of the worse rain storms in a while in OKC and there were parts of NW OKC that got greater than 7 inches of rain that brought us into the national spotlight but why was it if better than a 100 jurors that traveled from all over the Western District could make it to court why couldn't the judges that lived right in OKC? An 86 year old juror was there for his 4th term on a Federal jury that put it fairly succinctly! It was a case of the tail chasing the dog! We were expected to interrupt our lives and were being held accountable for being there, but the judges didn't seem to held to the same accountability! I was there from 07:30 until after 5:30 pm and was never seated on a jury.

I felt that it was a wasted day that I could have been doing something more productive than sitting in a jurors waiting room waiting. I don't mind doing my part but I want to be doing something! I could have been stormchasing!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 17 Stormchase 2010 Sunday June 13, 2010

Today is the last day that I will be able to storm chase this year and I am really sad!!! It is possible that a huge weather change will come about and it will extend the severe storm/tornado season throughout that summer and I will be able to chase again but...possible but not probable.

I woke up late this morning in Dumas, TX really dreading the arrival of the last day of chasing. We loaded up the car and hit the road around 11 am and headed northeast towards what we hoped to be a successful day of storm come on we had already seen 5 good days of spinning storms and being a greedy being we hoped for more.

We stopped for gas and lunch in Pampa TX at the Texas Steak House and had a really nice Sunday lunch. I had the barbecue chicken dinner and it was so yummy. It was the type of place that a waitress walked around with a tray of dinner rolls hot out of the oven. I was in ecstasy and I would go back today! After lunch we headed north to Perryton, TX and before we got there towers had starting building and we broke out the ThreatNet to help guide us.

The skies were really wild with all sorts of roiling clouds but what was impressive was all the flooding and this storm was laying down even more water!

This was a really colorful storm!

We saw a tornado today. Chuck says that he was happy I got to see one cause it would have made him feel guilty if he got to see a tornado when he went chasing with Tempest Tours and I didn't get to see one this year. We literally saw the tornado in the last hour of our chase this year and I was driving trying to get ahead of the storm and Chuck only got one photo.

We headed south heading for home at about 5pm. I have to be in OKC Monday for Jury duty and it was about a 4 hour trip to get there. YUK! End of stormchase and begin the daily grind!

We stopped at the Applebee's in Moore OK for supper and while there I watched several segments of the Weather Channel. Looks like the storm just kept on going and more tornadoes were spawned by the storms. Oh well! There is always next year!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 16 Stormchase 2010 Saturday June 12, 2010

Wowzer! Today was an interesting day! When we got up this morning it was kind of cloudy and hazy outside but when we went outside we found out that it was misting and colder than what it should be on June 12th! It couldn't have been more than high 50's and it was cold. We traveled for hours to get out of that mess ending up going east on I-70 to KS 27 south to Liberal and on into Texas where we picked up our first storm of the day that flaked out on us!

This is kind of a neat photo. See the hole in the clouds? If you look close on the ground it was kicking up dirt! I would imagine if you could have stood under the hole you could have looked up into the blue sky above.

This second picture is also of the first storm when it was flaking out. I thought that it looked really pretty but was not severe anymore.

About 3-4pm we decided nothing else was going to happen and we drove south to Pampa TX so Chuck could take a walk down memory lane and he took me to where he had filmed the Pampa tornado in 1995. Boy he was a lot closer than I originally thought he was. We were on our way to Amarillo to find a room for tonight when Chuck saw a storm on radar and we decided to chase it a while. It was beautiful and had a lot of lightening. I am just going to post a few of my favorites from today.

The storm looking to my left!

The storm looking to my right!

A happy accident! I loved all the lightening today!

Last one for today! I took so many photographs it is going to take me a while to go through them all.

It turned out to be a really great day all things considered! We really didn't expect much because of the cold and nasty weather in CO but turned out that we got another super supercell. We are holed up in a Best Western in Dumas, TX tonight. It is kind of sad cause tomorrow will be my last day chasing this year! I have to appear for Federal jury duty on Monday in OKC. I hope we get another good storm tomorrow!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 15 Stormchase 2010 Friday June 11, 2010

Sorry this is a day late but I had little or no connectivity yesterday...yes I am still alive...and I was unable to blog anything!

We spent most of Friday morning sitting around the Buffalo Bean in Limon, CO after we checked out of the Comfort Inn. The CI is nice but not almost $120 a night nice! I was shocked when Chuck told me how much a room was after AARP. Anyway...we sat around drinking latte's and checking email etc until around 1pm when we went over to the T&A truck stop to get a Subway salad and visit with friends. In the time we had been killing time at the Buffalo Bean the Vortex2 armada had shown up in Limon and was parked anywhere that there was available space. I would assume that we doubled the towns population that afternoon.

We started chasing a storm east of Denver and tracked it for several hours taking tons of pictures.

Here is the first picture I took of the storm! It is a look to the north. This storm had a really long stinger going in to the storm from the ne.

This picture was taken a little later looking towards the south.

This image was taken shortly after the one above looking back to the north. Awesome clouds!

This is one is one of the last I took before we quit chasing the storm and tried to finding a hidey hole so the storm could roll over us and we could make our way back to a motel.

We ended up staying in Limon, CO again tonight. It was close and we knew they would have rooms since the Vorex2 armada had gone on east. That is a huge group and they take up all the rooms in these small towns. We ended up staying at the Quality Inn and it was really nice and about $55 less a night then the Comfort Inn. Only problem we had was that my airport card is old and I couldn't get connected in the room and had to go to the front desk to connect. Chucks did just fine.
We had supper at a place in Limon called Oscars Grille and Pub or Pub and Grill depending on what sign you see. It was an awesome steak and Chuck and I shared a bottle of Spanish wine that only cost us $12. Yummy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 14 Stormchase 2010 Thursday June 10, 2010

WOW! What a day! We started out the morning slowly...I didn't wake up until almost 10am and Chuck got our checkout time extended a half of an hour! Then we stood out in the parking lot talking to a bunch of stormchasers until it was decided it was time to go!

We headed west to Sidney NE and stopped for lunch at the Perkins there. They are going to miss us when we stop chasing because that is the 3rd time we have been in there this week. Anyway after leaving there we headed west to Kimball NE and then stopped just north of town to wait out the storms.

Chuck had the Threatnet up and running and when the first echos of storms started going up down in CO we headed south to try and intercept one. The first storm was a pretty storm and we just knew that it was going to tornado but unfortunately it sucked in too much cold air from storms around it and eventually died.

This is the first picture I took of the northern storm. It looks like it has so much potential!

This storm had so much motion to it and it was constantly sucking scud up to the base that it was inevitable that someone was going to call it in as a tornado.

This my favorite of this storm!

This is the last picture of the 'northern' storm that I took before we headed south to intercept the storms coming out of Denver CO area.

The southern storm is a beautiful storm with lots of structure. It looked like it was cork screwing from the base up into the heavens! It seemed to know that we were there and it came right at us. Chuck spent about an hour doing time lapse on it and it will look awesome when it is animated.

These are a little dark but Chuck has promised to show me how to use the Graphic Converter program when we get home so that I can correct that issue!

I think I will go to bed. It has been a long night! I had just about finished writing this installment when I shut everything down and had to redo it. I saved it this time when I almost did it again. Will try to do better tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 13 Stormchase 2010 Wednesday June 9, 2010

Woke up this morning with the wind just howling across the plains. It was a little cool but not at all like it was yesterday. It is going to be a chase day for sure!

Warning this is a long post so grab a cup of coffee!

We started chasing by heading north through Scotts Bluff, NE into WY. We stopped to get lunch in Torrington, WY when Chuck noticed some storms blowing up to the east of us so we headed back into NE and chased most of the afternoon until the storms came into the dryer air and everything fell apart. We would stop and take some pictures then we would get back in the car and go another 10-20 miles and set down and photograph some more. Chuck has a new time lapse camera that he has taken a lot of photos on and as soon as we get home he is going to work them up and animate them. I can't wait to see the animation cause it will be awesome with this storm alone.

Here are some of the highlights of our day. You can click on the image to enlarge it!

This is the first picture of the storm I took outside of Scotts Bluff NE. It was a scary sight to behold!

I was standing out taking storm pictures when I heard something that sounded like kids (no pun intended!!) and heard one of them say Momma! and by gosh being a Momma I turned around and looked to see and was I ever surprized! A whole fields of kids!!

A stop to view the storm! I turned into a ranchers drive and almost went into his hay field to get a better look (the road went there) but decided to turn around and park in the drive and watch for a while.

So couldn't leave this part without putting a couple picture of the 'hay' field.

Do you call these rounds of hay?

If that is a round is this a loaf?

The above set of pictures are a a progression of the storm at our third stop on the chase.

This little dirt dobber showed up during the above series...sometime...and I just had to throw it in.

We kept starting and stopping for the whole afternoon and I took maybe...150 pictures and I could keep going for a while but think I am going to draw the line with these last photos! This was our last stop before heading to Ogalala NE where we are spending the night tonight in a Days Inn.

A last view of the storm! See how smooth it looks! Not scary at all!

The windmill on the hill that folks equate with the old west.

I couldn't make up my mind which picture to put out on the blog so decided to put them both up for viewing. One is enhanced with iPhoto!

Hope that you didn't fall asleep cause this was a long post but thought that I would do it to appease my kids! I am fried. I am off to bed now cause Chuck is telling me tomorrow is likely to be a chase day again here in SW NE. I really like it up here. Very nice!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 12 Stormchase 2010 Tuesday June 8, 2010

When woke up this morning and it was really chilly outside. We passed a sign and it said it was only 55 degrees I figured that we wouldn't be stormchasing today! Too darn cold for a storm to get started!

We went to breakfast at Perkins and decided that since it was a down day we would do some more sight seeing in CO. The target was selected was the Pawnee National Grasslands which are located in NE CO. The Pawnee Buttes are located within the Grasslands and was our ultimate goal for the day. The Buttes area is a nesting area to migratory birds and certain trails to are closed to hikers from March 1st to June 30th, to protect nesting falcons, eagles, and hawks. It is a harsh land without a lot of anything close around. It would take a special, let that read prepared, person to live all the way out in the country where we went.

On our way to the Buttes we did some time lapsing of gravity wave clouds outside New Raymer CO. There was a really neat building in town that we stopped and photographed that was not run down or falling apart. There were some interesting paintings on the building. The only business in town that was operational was a restaurant but this building was in better shape then the restaurant. Chuck did get some photos of an old gas station that was no longer in operation but all the glass appeared to be intact.
Click on any of the photos to enlarge them!!

This is the first painting and the best of the two.

Painting #2

I couldn't decide if the painting were on glass or metal because they had a reflective sheen to them. I couldn't capture it with a photo though. They are painted on glass. The horse scene is between panes of glass and the windmill is painted on the outside of the glass.

Here is a picture of the overall building that will give you some perspective of the size of these paintings! Very nice!

The next photographs are pictures of the Pawnee Buttes in the Pawnee National Grasslands!

This is the West Butte. Notice all the windmills in the background? Those windmills are all over the place now and it would be interesting to know where all that electricity is going!

This is the East Butte

This is my favorite outdoor photographer! I love taking pictures of him!!

Well we don't know what tomorrow is going to bring so don't know yet if we are going to stormchase or sunchase but whatever it is will be fun!

Day 11 Stormchase 2010 Monday June 7, 2010

Today was a storm day!! YAY!!!

We started out the morning washing clothes at a laundromat in Wray, CO and had lunch at a restaurant in Wray called the Creekside Inn...good food. We then headed north to Julesberg, CO to await the storms of the day. All of the weather data showed us to be in the "hot seat" but Mother Nature played games with us. We had everything but the the ability to go vertical with the storms and then it started to get too hot outside. The first storms went up in WY and came at us so we decided to go north and catch them.

The first storm we saw today was very pretty and smooth in appearance but just couldn't seem to sustain it to give us a tornado. It sort of looked like a broad based mushroom from a far. We chased it for awhile but decided to drop back west and pick up a storm that seemed to be a little stronger.

The second storm wasn't as pretty visually as the one above but it was a whole lot more exciting. We chased it for awhile and then spent time trying to get away from the storm and rain. We were heading into a town called Bridgeport in NE when Chuck told me to becareful and I thought that was kind of strange. When we stopped at the light to turn south I thought I heard the storm sirens going off so I rolled down the window to be able to hear them a little better and told Chuck, "listen! the sirens are going off! (duh!)" and he replied "UhHuh, turn." We drove on another few minutes and he told me that he didn't think I was going to like what he was going to tell me but...Turns out that during that little episode above we were within .10 of a mile from a meso with a shear signature of 126 mph...There were power flashes seen by another chaser near where we had been which is indicative of a tornado! Close but no cigar!

Think there might be hail in this storm? This second storm had a lot of hail, wind, and rain.

Tonight we are in a Comfort Inn in Sidney, NE. We had supper late at the Perkins here in town and met up with several other storm chasers. It is always fun to meet and visit friends after a successful chase day!

Tomorrow is another chase day so hopefully we will be able to intercept another good storm and I will be able to post some more photographs.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 10 Stormchase 2010 Sunday June 6, 2010

Today was another frustrating day storm chasing. We started out in Lamar, CO and headed north to Kimball NE. About 2/3 of the way there the sky started bubbling and it looked favorable for a mind blowing day but...

We stopped at a rest area near Kimball on I-80 and Chuck shot some time lapse photography of a building storm but then it started falling apart so we headed back west about 60 miles to try and catch a storm that was looking a lot better on the ThreatNet. We stopped to check it out and I guess we scared it cause it fell apart too!! Needless to say the rest of the day ended like that. We ended up heading back east to catch the first storm that was NOW looking better but...

We turned south and stopped in Holyoke to gas up and the storm got away from us somehow. The storms to the west started falling apart and lining out into a squall line so we gave it up for the day.

Here is a photograph I took of the ThreatNet screen when we stopped for gas in Holyoke. See that little white dot in the center? That's us...smack dab in the middle of nothing.

Tonight we are in Wray, CO where it seems the town is in a decline. Seems a lot of the farms/ranches are being bought up by big corporations and they don't support the communities like individual farmers did. Sad. A lot of towns here on the plains are dying. The only motel in town that we could find was the Butte Motel and the only place open to get dinner was the local Subway!! The Butte is a little rundown but very clean and was a comfortable place to stay.

Anyway that is it for tonight. We are hoping for a better day tomorrow...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 9 Stormchase 2010 Saturday June 5, 2010

Today we headed west out of Colby, KS on I-70 in hopes of visiting with friends in Goodland, KS and maybe taking them out to lunch since this was a down day for us. Unfortunately Al Pietrycha was busy and didn't get our call until we had already made other plans and headed south out of Goodland to Tribune, KS on Hwy 27.

We stopped for lunch at a neat little place in Tribune called The Chatterbox...I thought that the name was based on folks meeting up to have coffee and talk but in truth I think it was because of the waitress Patty, she is such a chatterbox!! I was kind of dragging behind Chuck when we got there and when I made it in the door it was to hear her telling him he was a mean person to have left me in the parking lot! Woman then went on non stop the whole time we were there. I don't think she has ever met a stranger and it didn't matter if she knew you or not everyone got the same grief from her. You could tell her homies loved her cause they gave it right back to her and didn't let her get by with anything. One man named Bill ordered a Patty Melt for lunch...why? Because he knew he would never get her to melt! Place is neat and clean so don't let the outside put you off. It is just west of Hwy 27 on Hwy 96.

After lunch we headed west into CO hoping that we might stumble on a storm... We stopped by Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site. HORRIBLE story! Google it! I was so saddened by the whole story. The Army in 1864 marched in and gunned down an encampment of peaceful Indians that had pledged allegiance to the USA. There were 600 Cheyenne and Arapahoe there and over 1/4 were killed and most of those were women, children, and old folks.

They have set up a trail so you can walk to the top of the bluffs and view the original encampment. They have found some bones and artifact at the site and have set up a burial ground where they are buried and where any future finds will rest.

If you look at this photograph you can see that there is very little to hide behind here on the plains so the Indians were running away trying to make it to the creek in the distance so hide. The ranger told us most of the trees in that area date about 50+ years ago so there was nothing!

We went on to Eads, CO and visited a art gallery/gift shop there. The gallery was being manned by an older woman who was sitting with two men. The paintings were her daughters so we had a good time talking about daughters that were artists. The lady told us that she used to paint a lot with oils but has recently changed over to acrylics. Of her 4 daughters 3 are artists and do a lot of different crafts. One of the displays at the gallery were hand turned wood objects ie, bowls, pens, etc. The man who makes the bowls was at the gallery and we had a good time visiting with him. Needless to say we both came away with hand turned bowls. We really enjoyed visiting with the mother of the artists and the wood turner!

Tonight we are in Lamar CO at a Days Inn. The owners are east Indian and I found out that they own this hotel and the Holiday Inn next door. Guess hotel business is good in Lamar. Chuck just told me that it looks pretty good for a chase tomorrow and on Monday so I am going to finish this up and get some sleep! Hope I have some pictures to share tomorrow!

Day 8 Stormchase 2010 Friday June 4, 2010

Interesting...Heather just told me that I am falling behind on blog posts but I thought I had done yesterday but CHUCK! assures me that I didn't... I was reading!

We seem to be having a fairly sunshine filled year this year and the storms seem to be avoiding us like a plague! We left O'Neil NE and headed south to Grand Island, NE (yeah I know seems we have been there a lot this year) anyway we headed south on US 281 till we got to US 34 and took that into McCook, NE. We had planned on staying in McCook but evidently there was a ProAm Golf tournament there this weekend and there were no rooms available in the whole town! We took US83 south to Colby KS and put up at the Comfort Inn there. Nice place...a little pricey but nice!

Supper was at the City Limits Bar and Grill where we have gone many times in the past and the food there is still as good. I don't know about the bar help though...We ordered a bottle of wine and it came to us very vinegary and so they took it back. When the second bottle came out the same way the guy was insistent that maybe we didn't know what this particular brand tasted like. It was a Black Swan Shiraz and yes I knew what vinegar was whether it was that brand or not!!!! I think I almost made a a** out of myself but he irritated me. The waitress brought us a glass of wine out to taste it it was vinegar also. Stated it was a better quality wine and only $37 a bottle. Told her we thought we would pass on the whole wine in Colby experience. Nice place, nice waitress, not so nice bartender!!

Topped off the night reading and went to bed fairly late so Chuck had to wake me up this morning to head out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 7 Stormchase 2010 Thursday June 3, 2010

Started out this morning in McCook, NE with the outlook of a very long drive ahead of us. Chuck targeted the NE corner of NE as being our spot to be so we hopped in the card and headed north. We made it to O'Neil, NE around 2pm and went to the library to try and get some information on what the weather was doing. Visually we had a lot of sirrus clouds and not much else.

After looking at data we gassed up and headed north towards Ft. Randall, SD hoping to see a storm! Looked really positive when the first storms went up but once again they were pretty poor storms. Chuck did some time lapse photography and had a great day doing that but there was nothing exciting to photograph.

We headed back to O'Neil and booked a room at the Super 8 and had supper at the local Pizza Hut. There isn't a whole lot to choose from at 8pm at night in most towns on the high plains and seeing a Pizza Hut is always a warm fuzzy.

Thought I would share a card I made last month. The products used to make the card all Stampin Up! Sorry but I don't remember who the dp was put out by and the bling was in my stash!

Here is a peak at the inside. Easy-peasy!