It was the first day of summer and this chase came out of nowhere.
I had spent the day at home with a sick loved one and hadn’t had the chance to keep updated on the weather until the evening when I was told there were storms forming off to the northwest.
I checked my radar and there was a tornado warned supercell over Custer County and looked to move toward Dawson and Buffalo County.
That was a shock.
With little preparation I grabbed my camera, which was only half charged and headed up Highway 183 out of Elm Creek, hoping to get to Eddyville and cut the storm off there.
While I was headed north the tornado warning was allowed to expire, but it still maintained a severe thunderstorm warning. I could only catch glimpse of the base between the hills as I headed north to Miller. By the time I reach the town, the base of the storm and wall cloud were visible.
I made my way into Eddyville and found a raised spot of Drive 439 where I could watch the storm. The base was only a couple miles out and occasionally backlit by the sun. It was a stunning sight and in the rolling green hills of the Wood River valley outside of town, it made me appreciate the phrase, “God’s country.”
As the storm cycled several times, I watched as the rear flank downdraft, RFD, cut a hole in the storm and bowed it out, with several wall clouds forming. The storm didn’t look capable of a tornado in my mind and so I held my position as the storm became quite close to where I was observing.
As the storm passed I was treated to another amazing sight of the back of the mesocyclone and yet another RFD wrapping around the storm.
I headed back down to Highway 40 to keep up with the storm, the supercell seemed to cooperate and glided down to the southeast, flanking the road.
As I approached Miller once again, a hook at the end of the storm, the action area, was closing in on my location. Had there been a tornado, or the threat of one, I likely would not have stayed on the course I was, but given the storm was weakening, I felt comfortable letting this feature close in.
I turned south again for Elm Creek but had to stop and picture the setting sun among the clouds over the green hillside, it was another stunning sight, in a night which was full of them.
I got back to Highway 30 and watch as the cell took on a low precipitation state and was clearly dissipating, but it wasn’t over yet.
Near Odessa, as the sun began to set, the dying supercell was lit up with different hues of yellow, gold and purple, another stunning sight.
For a chase I nearly missed, this might have been the most photogenic storm and area I have chased in all year.