As some of you may know, I went storm chasing last week. Yes, storm chasing. It’s okay if you did a double-take. I realize it’s a totally out-of-character thing for me to do/to write about but when a friend who is a meteorologist and experienced chaser asks me to go storm chasing, I go!
All in all, we covered 7 states and drove over 4,000 miles in 9 days. We got as far north as Glasgow, MT and as far south as the area around Marathon, TX, with both destinations bringing us within ~50 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders, respectively. I’ve always loved road trips, but this trip really challenged my ability to stay in car for that long. I might have been clawing at the window on a few of our staging days. A week later and I think my bum is still numb from all the sitting.
You can see my full photo gallery on my photo site. Otherwise, some of my favorite photos from this epic adventure are posted here.
The first day of the epic adventure was also an epically looooong day. I flew 4+ hours to OKC (6+ hours of travel time total) to immediately get whisked off on a 6-hour drive to southwest Texas to chase storms. This was my first trip to Texas and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My summary: lots of oil rigs, the occasional cow, and really flat land.
I was ready to hate on Texas, but she really delivered on the storms. We were pretty much able to drive up to a tornado-warned storm and follow it for a while.
Day 2 in Texas didn’t serve up any storms, but we did see the (former) world’s tallest roadrunner statue in Fort Stockton, Texas, and got some great landscape shots while waiting. We also found some good beers and eats at the Famous Burro Cafe in Marathon, Texas, which the waitress hilariously muttered under her breath that they aren’t really famous. It doesn’t matter since they’re in the middle of nowhere. They can call themselves whatever they want.
Day 3 was another long drive from Midland, Texas to Sidney, Nebraska, a total of about 700 miles. We made a stop at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo on the way out of Texas. It’s an interesting public art installation, more so after a good rain when it turns into a giant mud pit.
Day 4 was finishing the drive through Nebraska and on to South Dakota for what would turn out to be a pretty good chase day. Early in the day, we were able to drive by Mount Rushmore, but then chased a tornado-warned storm through the Black Hills near Keystone and Buffalo Gap. The storm did produce a tornado about 10 miles from us, but we couldn’t see it because of the hilly terrain. Boo.
Day 5 was – you guessed it – more driving! We left South Dakota for Montana. We almost made the great escape to Canada from Glasgow, MT. No tornado, but there are some lovely storm pictures, a rainbow, and a pretty kickass sunset.
Day 6 was a day off. Only storm chasers can be grumpy about a beautiful sunny day, by the way. But we found some fun by visiting Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in South Dakota and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.
Day 8 = storms! Maybe! We found a rest area in Wyoming that had a great vantage point for any storms in the area. We followed a storm for a while, saw a few funnel clouds, and another rainbow. Then it was time to haul ass south so I could make my flight the next day.
The final day of our trip was a 6-hour, 450-mile drive from Colby, KS to Oklahoma City so I could make my flight that evening. Seems fitting that the trip was bookended with 6-hour drives on the first and last days. What an epic adventure. Thanks again to my friend JR for allowing me to ride along. I will never look at the sky the same way again.