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Chase May 16 2001

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Route:Amarillo (TX) - Dumas (TX) - Hugoton (KS) - Montezuma (KS) - Liberal (KS)
Chasepartner(s):Herman Harperink, Harald Edens and Floris Bijlsma


CHASE LOG:
In the early afternoon some thunderstorms popped up to our north, namely to the SW of Kansas. Good for a chase after all...? We headed off in a northerly direction, past Dumas, over Highway 287. We quickly spotted the first few storms, looming over the horizon in front of us, although they weren't that spectacular. One storm cell was directly over us, of which the cloud base was absent (it had already dissolved); and yet, we heard a few rumblings, originating from the anvil. Dark dust clouds were blown over the fields and roads, and hammered our car.
We stopped for some photography, but that wasn't much fun with the strong wind gusts and dust. Also, it started raining, so we had to go on. We did the core-punch, which wasn't much exciting save for a lot of rain, wind gusts and a few close lightning strikes. At a point, a rainbow started to form right in the storm's downdraft...and we were exhilarated by the nice sight of purple lightning bolts shooting across and in between the primary and secondary rainbow. We tried all we could to photograph and video the lightning together with the rainbow; which was hard to do with a still camera during daylight. The video worked well! Several cells were active, and our targeted storm slowly drifted away into the distance. We got to see another storm which had been behind the storm, to the south, which spawned beautiful crawlers.
At about 9pm, all storms had moved rather far off into the distance, so we packed our stuff and continued the chase in ENE direction. We had hardly left the country road to a highway when we received a warning by the NOAA weather radio for a severe thunderstorm just south of Montezuma. Seek shelter immediately, and stay away from windows... floor the gas pedal, and chase that storm!
Every now and then, an intense CG bolt occured at the rear end of the storm (where we were); not much later the radio transmitter towers in the direction of Montezuma started launching GC lightning bolts - lightning discharges which were branched upwards - which produced unusually loud booming thunder. We stopped, in spite of the rain, and tried some photography and video of these bolts from within the car.
The storm moved off, and 20 minutes later the chase was on again. So, we turned around and drove in the direction of Liberal over Hwy. 56-S. We drove for an hour, and it got midnight. We spotted yet another storm, far off to our W-NW, exhibiting frequent flashes of lightning. We pulled off the road right away and watched the storm... waiting for a suitable flash which would illuminate the cloud base...
The storm closed in on us fairly rapidly. Not long before the precipitation reached us, the lightning display became quite spectacular, with bright, branched CGs striking ground not far from us, and producing impressive thunder. After some more photography, the rain got too much (even for the old manual camera which was still out in the rain) and we decided to leave. We turned around and continued our trip home on Hwy. 56-S. We were just NE of Liberal at that time.


PICTURES:


VIDEO STILLS:


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© 2001 Bernard Hulshof