Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: May 21, 2020
Miles Logged: 652
States Chased: OK, KS
Highest Wind Encountered: 40MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:


With a tough pattern in place, I didn’t want to believe anything too far out. By too far out, I meant more than a day. Imagine my surprise when looking at the 00Z NAM the day before. I had a hard time believing this was happening. A chaseable day?

My original thought was much closer to Woodward than what really happened. I figured I could work most to all of the day then boogie up to Woodward.

Leaving Late

I had to work, and I expected to still have time. However, it became apparent during the day that initiation would be further west. As I’m leaving there were already storms in Colorado. That’s a long way from Woodward.

I made the usual trek to Seiling where I stopped to fill my tank. From there I continued up through Woodward and out towards Fort Supply on 412. I was targeting a little guy off in the distance, but with a very crisp updraft. From radar, the storm was going up right by Liberal on the OK/KS line. Still 75 miles away when they first severe warned the storm.

Arriving on Scene

As I reached US83 on US412, I made the jog north. The storm in front of me was still struggling. It was also extremely high based. I navigated up to the northeast side of the storm north of Liberal and then headed east. The further east I got, the more structure I could see. It was beautiful!

Eventually I setup on a desolate road in the middle of nowhere. It was apparently downwind from a feed lot or just something really smelly.

First Supercell Structure

I setup cameras for time lapses and practiced my HDR skills I had been working on since my May 7th structure chase. I am quite happy with the outcome in the photos below. This storm was moving extra slow and gave me time to enjoy all by myself on a back road in rural Kansas.

I continued north on this highway as my new Microsoft Maps mapping software showed the road going through. It did go through, but I was on a two tire path at some points. Not a problem, though, my car handled it like a champ.

Eventually I worked my way north to Sublette when the structure started to become mediocre. I farted around Sublette for a bit trying to get some cloud to ground lightning strikes, thinking my evening was over.

Sublette Kansas Supercell Structure

Supercell near Sublette, KS on May 21, 2020

Little did I know my evening was just beginning. I kept driving around the next storm to my west which had also taken on amazing structure characteristics. I parked on a desolate road to the east of the storm and photographed.

Eventually it really started to wrap up, so I decided to press close, and get near the circulation. Around the same time, the line of storms approaching from the back undercut the storm and that was all she wrote.

It was a long drive back to Norman. I arrived around 2am.