Friday May 17th, I left to Brads house right after work and made our way down towards Kansas, spending the night in Cameron MO. We were on the road to Kansas by 8 am Saturday morning, they had a moderate risk with a 10% hatched tornado risk.
We made it to Greensburg Kansas where we sat with a whole bunch of other chasers waiting for initiation to start. We could see the dryline start to bubble up with Cu in the distance but waited anyway because those storms werent going to do much of anything. While we were waiting a tornado watch was put out for our area at around 2:40. While in Greensburg I got to see Darin Brunin who I havent seen in forever so that was nice. Also got to meet Dick McGowan and his girlfriend Shay for the first time too. College of Dupage chase tour was there with one of my friends being a part of it so I got to see Matt and meet another facebook friend of mine, Alex. Other people I ran into and got to talk to were, Donovan, Brett W, Scott, Lucio, Danny Neal, James Menzies, Shane Kirk, Stephen Locke, Evan Hatch, and I think that’s it from that sit lol! There were lots more people there too that I just didnt know. You can see the storms in the distance and all the chaser cars too lol.After some time we went down the block to go chat with Sean and Brandon for awhile. Its always nice seeing him, he cracks me up! While there I got to meet the JC Photographer and Steve Worlington, got to check out his UTAV which was pretty cool!Oh man while we were all sitting talking, some guy gets out of a semi with a FBI shirt on that was CHOPPED IN HALF!!! His whole stomach was out literally!! Sean and I look at each other and were like WTF!?! WEIRDEST thing ever! Why neither one of us took a picture of the guy is beyond us but it was funny! After a while of waiting and getting sunburned some storms started popping up. They didnt really look too impressive but we were bored with waiting and decided to follow one that started just west of Greensburg. It started getting more and more organized so we would stop a few times as we followed to photograph. The first time we stopped, it was getting lower and was really photogenic and defined. I’ve never seen structure like this before so I was pretty excited.Farther down the road we stopped to photograph it again as it started putting out a few mid-level funnels but it quickly started raining on us. At that point we sat and waited, watching the radar because there were other cells popping up behind it that could have started to cut off the growth of the storm we were on so we watched them. While sitting there, Tim and Paul Samaras with Carl Young drove by in his Twistex truck so that was cool to see again. It stopped raining and that other cell had little effect on the one we were watching that started to look better on the radar so we proceeded following it until we again stopped to photograph. As we stood under this cell, we were in perfect postion besides the fact that it was rotating above us with the RFD notch right above us which was really awesome to see. I ended up getting smacked in the back with one of only two pieces of hail that actually dropped from that storm which I thought was funny. It was then time to move again to stay with the storm so down the road we went and stopped again. Radar shot, we’re the white circle in the hook of the storm where the tornado drops. Twistex passed us again and stopped down the road from us as we were both watching the same part of the sky, Brad had looked a little farther back to the left and spotted what was going to be the Rozel Ks EF4 tornado halfway down right next to us! He pointed that out and I got SO EXCITED that I popped up out of the window to see and then asked if it was ok if I got out and after he said yes I flew out of the door like I was on fire and started snapping away squealing with excitement! For anyone who has chased with me before or has seen me be excited I bet you guys are hearing the squeal now as you read this 🙂 Picture of Twistex truck and then the tornado right as it was touching down next to us. We shot it for a minute and then Brad said to get back in so we can follow it so I turned to run on this muddy road and fell FLAT on my face into the mud camera and all! Somehow no one at all caught that lol! I tried to get up two more times falling again both times. At this point Twistex was driving down the road towards us and I finally got up and got back in Brads car full of mud and off we went to track with it. Here’s a shot I took later that shows the mud still on my 7D lol
We stopped again a little down the road because the tornado was pretty slow moving and we took more photos and I got a couple phone videos too. It was AMAZING to stand in the field with the fully condensed beast of a tornado slowly passing by us. Brad and I both took photos in front of the tornado then got back in to follow it more. This is when I did what I’m known to do on a chase and proceeded to prop myself up on the window ledge of the passenger side and hang out of it while filming the tornado with my Canon 7D in one hand and holding onto the inside of the car with the other. (I do not encourage or endorse doing such an thing). The tornado had fizzled out but we kept with it anyway and I’m glad we did because another one came down or just strengthened back up. We followed it down another road that only had a cop sitting on it and stopped by the tornado to photograph it as it was dying with the sunset behind it. After it died I took a few pics of the structure and ended up getting a pretty good lightning shot because a bolt came down pretty close right in front of me striking about 4 times before going away. Brad wanted to keep on the storm so I jumped back in the car and we went on and low and behold there was another tornado but the way we were on a busy street now with cops that decided to block to road towards the tornado we werent able to stop to shoot so I again hung out the window to shoot so the photo I have of the tornado at that time wasn’t the best. Twistex again ended up behind us which I thought was hilarious! We ended up turning down the road opposite of the one the cop blocked and again pursued the tornado. By this time, the cone turned into a squiggly needle slowly dying off as we got up to it so I got a photo or 2 of it before it died. The sun was just about setting and there was some mammatus in the sky which was awesome to see so I snapped a few shots of that. We then talked about whether we should shoot the sunset with mammatus or if we should follow the storm and we chose sunset but went to find a better place to shoot.As we were driving to a better place we noticed that a funnel was in what seemed to be the middle of the air which was really strange so we pulled over again and I snapped a few shots and continued to a spot to shoot to sunset. I snapped a few shots of the sunset and then turned the other way to try and catch some lightning, well at this point I stopped paying attention for a second and wind knocks my crappy tripod over making my camera crash to the ground and CHIPPED the center of my wide angle lens! 🙁 Its ok though, I will get it fixed. After all that excitement we were starving so off to Applebees it was for steak! There we ran into one of the extreme tornado tour groups so I got to see my other friend Matt for the first time in awhile so that was nice. I also got to meet Hannah from Australia too. After we sat down Juston and Simon from storm riders came in so I went and said hi to them and show them my pics. I was glad to finally meet them in person. Brad, Brett, and I enjoyed drinks and food to end an AMAZING day! A photo of my dinner because I’m goofy like that and then a next day shot of the inside of Brads poor car after I made it a complete muddy mess LOL