Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Storm Chasin', funnel clouds and thunderstorms

Everyone always says that if you don't like the weather in Nebraska, wait a minute and it will change.

At 6:30 this morning, I opened our bedroom drapes and saw a glorious thunderhead building in the southwestern sky. I pointed it out to Scott, and we both wondered if we would get any storms today. After watching a local station, the meteorologist there said we were only in the "slight risk" category.

Now, you know what that means, right? We're gonna get nailed at some point.

By noon the temperature had reached 93 degrees. I had to go to O'Neill to take some pics for a publication and run some errands. I left around 2:30 and when I reached O'Neill, I stopped to snap some photos of where the new O'Neill Community Center will be built along Highway 281.

And then, these two vans with massive amounts of antennas on top, whiz by me. The lettering on the vans say Meteorology Laboratory and College of Dupage. I jump into my Jimmy and follow them around O'Neill. Finally, they stop to refuel and I pull along side them, introduce myself, and ask if I can interview them.

They tell me to do it quickly, because as soon as they are refueled, they will be off in a flash. (Which they were!)

Seems they are part of a meteorology class which sends five different groups out for a ten-day stretch to chase storms. This is group #5. The two young men who talked to me were quite polite and told me they go wherever the storms are, and they travel across the U.S. and Canada.

On my way to town, I noticed a system building to the west, but the real storm clouds seemed to be located east of us. I asked them if they were following the eastern storm, and they said no, they were tracking the storm building here in Holt County.

And I didn't have much time to complete my errands!

Forty-five minutes later, on my way out of town on Hwy 281, I meet another SUV and a bolt of lightning reflects in its windshield. Amazing photo op! Too bad I was driving!

Heavy rain until Chambers corner and then light rain for the next 10 miles. Then nothing. Until I reach the farm and stop to speak to Scott. We can see the storm building. And it keeps building. By the time I drive the one mile to our house, it is raining heavily. And within a half hour, he's here telling me a tornado warning was issued for our area.

Take cover. Yeah, right. I'm too much like my oldest daughter Cassie. I want to watch the storm, although when I was talking to her and telling her what I saw - a funnel cloud rotating to the west of our house - she chastised me like any good child would do and told me I needed to take cover.

What, and miss all this?

Scott and I stood in the garage and watched the deluge. Puddles formed in our driveway. I said a silent prayer that our garden survive and I told Scott that I hoped nothing damaged the fields. (Reminds me of Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean)

Heavy rain, pea-sized hail, and luckily, no damage to our garden our fields.

But I found a website sponsored by the meteorology storm chasers from Dupage that reloads every two minutes and lists storm warnings. Looks like we will be in for a long night.

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