Supercell and snake in Eastern Wyoming

posted in: Storm Chasing | 0
Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: May 21, 2010
Chase Partners:
Adam Lucio, Danny Neal

Chasers Encountered:
Scott Weberpal, Skip Talbot, Scott Bennett, Marc Austin

Miles Logged: 1131
States Chased: WY, CO, KS
Largest Hail Encountered: 1.75"
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

We started off this chase day in Hays, KS after driving from Oklahoma City the previous day. We left Oklahoma City kind of late (my fault) so we didn’t get to Hays until really late (like 2am) so we weren’t up super early. The morning model look over made me think we needed to be in Eastern Wyoming, which was quite a distance from where we were at.

We left Hays in the morning, and opted not to wait for food since there was a huge line at the McDonalds. Little did I know that would be one of the last food stops until Colby, almost 2 hours to the west. We eventually stopped in Colby, getting Arby’s and then hitting the road again.

We had been told ahead of time that there was a 30 minute delay on US 385 in Colorado, so we opted to go north out of Goodland and bypass the construction.

We made real good time, only stopping in Holyoke, CO for Adams odometer to turn 100,000 miles. We then proceeded north to I-80 and then west past Kimball where we saw Vortex 2 just chillin out.

We headed to Pine Bluffs, WY which was the first time I was ever in Wyoming, then north towards La Grange. The countryside out here is very desolate, with very few people around.

We got to La Grange, WY and then kept heading north to Torrington. The cell that had been showing up on radar for quite some time was really strengthening and showing some real good signs of organization. Scott Weberpal reported a Tornado, but only a rope tornado. I’m still skeptical that it was actually on the ground from his video, but nonetheless a nice rope funnel was present.

We finally got onto the cell west of Torrington. It had amazing structure, but never seemed to be able to get it done. We ran into Skip Talbot and Scott Weberpal alongside the road. My camera blew over on the tripod, but seemed to still work even after taking a spill.

Due to poor road network in terms of east options to the north of us, we headed back to Lingle to go north on US85. There was one road to cut over to Highway 159. It turns out that was a muddy/dirt road. Skip followed us onto the road, and there was definitely a few points I was worried we might get stuck.

We ended up hitting the paved north option of 159 and pulled over on the side of the road. Scott Bennett met up with us at that point, and we watched the storm slowly progress eastward.

I went to walk back to the truck and rounded the drivers side and saw a HUGE snake coiled up next to the driver door, hissing away. It was about this time I screamed like a little girl and went “OH MY GOD THATS A HUGE $@!#@!#! SNAKE!!!”. Everyone thought it was funny, including some locals who were looking to see the Doppler on Wheels truck.

After inspection, it was just a bull snake, and not poisonous, but I still have snakes, so I stayed away. The storm looked to get its act together again, and put down a huge funnel, but never touched down.

The locals threw their hands and used a shot gun to get the snake to go away so Adam could jump into his truck and drive away. Danny and I jumped into the truck and we took off north.

The road turned to dirt somewhat abruptly, and Skip turned back. Scott kept following us through the muddy mess that was this Wyoming road covered in Hail and soaked through.

We managed to get through about 10 miles of mud before getting to US-20. We ended up giving up shortly after heading east on US20 as the storm had pretty much petered out, and we were at a pretty bad vantage point for it.

We ended up hanging out in Crawford, NE before deciding to eat dinner in Chadron, NE. We headed to Valentine where we had made reservations at the Super 8. We ran into Marc Austin & the family (The “Warm Sector” people) at the hotel, and chatted with them while we were checking in, discussing tomorrow (Saturday).