First Midwest Chase of the Year

A big day for storms yesterday!  Although no tornadoes were reported, the storms exploded with intense wind and large hail.

We started out our chase day south of Temple Texas, at around 2:00 PM where we prepared to intercept our first severe warned cell of the day.  I was with my faithful chase partner and girlfriend Hazel Nelson, along with the amazing lightning photographer Jason Weingart.  I am not allowed to say exactly what we were doing, but it involves research and weather phenomenon.  This said, we had to try to set up our probe for the first time in front of a storm.  I never knew how difficult setting up probes during a chase could be… tangled wires, lack of time, and a monster storm approaching made for a few intense moments.

Through the turmoil, I was fortunate to be able to snap a quick panorama of the storm before having to back up.

Positioned slightly further back now, I took out my tripod and snapped a few more of the supercell approaching.
32814storm3Right after this shot, the pounding wind, rain, and then hail moved in.  The hail was pretty intense, starting out at pea size, and then becoming dime sized and some slightly bigger.  Fortunately we didn’t lose any windows.

We got right back on the chase, this time heading south toward La Grange Tx.
The storms at this time had mostly turned linear, meaning they formed into almost a line pattern.  We were looking more for discrete, or individual cells, which is why we decided to venture further south.
Heres the anvil of the storm as we drove south.
The sun was starting to set as we neared the storms, and knowing that I only had one good chance at a photograph, I started my frantic foreground hunt.  While still following the storm, we passed trees, fields, barns…but I was not yet satisfied.  I was looking for something more, maybe a lake or something that jumped out at me.
We kept driving and driving, and then all of the sudden, I saw what I was looking for.  It was a little pond with a beautiful tree and old dock… unfortunately inside of a barbed wire fence.  I walked to the fence to see if I could still manage a picture, but gave up quickly because of the awkward angle.  I decided to drive down the road and keep looking… but then I saw some people outside of the farm with the pond.  I pulled up to their gate and started waving at them from the distance.  At first they waved back, and then kept on doing what they were doing.  But I stood there a minute longer, and I heard, “come on in!”.

At this time I snapped a quick picture.

Excited to get to my pond, I drove in and started talking to the extremely nice family, who gave me full permission to walk up to the pond. Time was limited, so I ran full speed to the pond.

It was a low area, and the side of the pond was a mixture of thick mud and deep spots…and my shoes immediately became weighted down.  I propped my tripod on the side of the pond, later realizing a part of my tripod leg got lost in the muddy goo.  Well worth it though.  One of the prettiest places I have watched a sunset in a while.  In the picture is the pond with the last strong southern Texas storm in the distance.
Altogether we only had to drive about 400 miles total, so a pretty successful day!  There are expected to be larger and stronger storms this upcoming week, and maybe some tornadoes… so more pictures to come!

2 thoughts on “First Midwest Chase of the Year

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