22 May

New Mexico, ON

Posted by in 2015 Season at May 22, 2015

welcom back, Spuds!

Since my previous post, my tornado count has gone from zero to two!  Not exactly like the tornado’s you see on the tele, but still quite something to see first hand.  The first occured on chase day #9 in western Texas, NW of Fort Stockton.  As it happens we were just ahead of the whole weather network crew on this lonesome Texas road.  As they all drove by, I carried out various silly gestures to snsure that those who know who I am were indeed able to recognize me.  They seemed to have a better spot in mind so we followed them down the road a bit.  By the time we pulled in with our knock-off 747 engine fan running, all the cameras and tripods were out, with the Storm Hunters just about finished setting up for a news clip.  Managed a quick wussup and selfie with ol’ Grinter from my days at that facility on Steeles Ave in Toronto.  The name escapes me at the moment.  And all eyes went back to a very huge, very interesting storm slowly making its way towards us.  This storm moved at something under 10 kts which is quite slow and easy to stay on top of.  Lots of wierd stuff going on with this cell that I dare not risk describing in any further detail.  It was tough for me to tell where this tornado was going to take place, exactly, so it ended up being all the more experienced storm chasers yelling out “She’s on the ground!” for me to be satisfied that this was indeed my first sighting of a tornado.  This tornado happened in less than a minute.  Basically the blink of an eye in comparison to what is often shown on tv.  Once it had finished, I by chance turned my camera to snap a shot of all the other Canadian chasers lined up off the roadway.  In this photo, I managed to capture a cloud-to-ground lightning strike that was considerably closer to us than any previous strike, startling everyone back into their cars for a safer viewing.  Silly Matty G. was even standing on top of his pickup truck dressed in his favourite Tin Man outfit holding an umbrella for some reason.  This is still one of my favourite pictures yet and so far the only one I’ve added a copyright to, considering how coincidential it is.  Might get around to sending it to the weather network.

And what do you know, it was only the very next day that tornado #2 happened for me!  My collegues and I were nearly in Dallas, TX for this one.  Again, it was fairly brief but still awesome.  The area was considerably different from the previous day, with hilly terrain and tree canopy making things more difficult to see.  Internet connection was key here, radar imagery and street maps allowing us to thread the needle of all the storm cells around us.  The speed at which these things can touch down and move along the ground really came into perspective for me with this tornado.  We were so far away from the thing but it was easy to see that it would outrun anyone who is too close, whether on foot or in a moving vehicle.  We got out safe and sound with room to spare, but unfortunately the town of Mineral Wells did not.  As it happens, two tornadoes hit the area one after the other, causing damage straight through the centre of town.  We slowly moved around the area and got a pretty good view of the damage.  Thankfully noone was seriously injured.

In the mean time, not too many trees out in western Texas, but holy wildflowers!  Its as though I’m in an entirely different part of the country that sees more moderate amounts of rain year round.  Feeling pretty lucky to have timed it out like this.  Stuff was in full bloom down here that takes till July to get the same way in Southern Ontario.  Yesturday we went after another storm east of Fort Stockton.  Conditions for tornado developement were present, but not good enough to the point of producing tornado #3.  With luck, I’ll be typing all about it in my next post.

Today we ventured into New Mexico so that I could take another state off my ‘been to’ list and to enjoy the hot, dry, sunny weather..  except thats not what was waiting for us.  Suddenly I’m back home on an April-like day with fog, drizzle and a high of only 8 degrees celcius.  Lets just say it was alot easier to fall asleep in the front seat this time around.  Oh well.  My trip to see the Seguaro cacti in Arizona that I’m still in the process of dreaming up should make up for it.  At least in Roswell I finally found a touristy sowing patch to add to my cub blanket.  Once we made it to our hotel in Clovis, NM I had to go for a walk down some random bulivard close to the hotel to break away from the ever-growing truck smells.  One of the worst things about hotels in the states, and perhaps in Canada too, is that they are in no reasonable walking distance to anything remotely interesting.  I’ll probably go for a minimum 10k walk when I get back home.  I know I’ve been too physically lazy once I can feel into the inner side of my tibia bone with my fingers.

peace to my wu-nation

=> Shane

Tweets @mesoholics