I thought would start a new thread to show you guys and gals some of my storm chasing adventures. I just graduated with a degree in meteorology and I storm chase quite frequently. I generally chase in Indiana though I did take a 2 week trip out to the Plains this summer. I have a lot of very incredible and unique pictures so I'll start with a few today and I'll post some more in the future.
The first picture was taken in Rush County, Indiana near the town of Carthage in June 2006. These are mammatus clouds which are actually quite common, but not like these. First off it was near sunset which provided absolutely stunning color to the clouds. In addition the clouds themselves were very well defined and I was literally underneath them. The term mammatus actually is derived from the word mammary. Basically, some one had a dirty mind and thought they looked liked breasts hanging from the sky. There is a very common misunderstanding about mammatus clouds in that they are a supposed precursor to a tornado. This is definitely not true and not only did this storm not produce a tornado, no storms produced tornadoes this day at all. This storm had actually pretty well died out and it was not severe at the time.
The second picture is from Fayette County, Indiana near the town of Bentonville also from June 2006 (though a different day than the first picture). This picture is of a shelf cloud which can signify strong, though not necessarily severe winds (>60 MPH). Actually right after I snapped this picture, lightning began hitting very close to me. I hopped back in the car to safety and I found out later that a guys tires on his pickup were blown out from lightning hitting his vehicle. He was fine though but I definitely wouldn't want that happening to my car.
The third picture is a more recent one from May 22, 2008 near Gove City, Kansas. This picture is of a wall cloud which *can* be a precursor to a tornado. In this instance it wasn't, but we did see 2 tornadoes later that evening. We though a tornado could drop right in the middle of the picture but it never happened. Actually we were at the end of some lady's driveway as we pulled off the dirt road we were on. She was standing in her front door and she gave us permission to stay there as long as we needed. Thankfully the storm was moving parallel to her house as even though there wasn't a tornado with this storm, there was up to baseball size hail and winds greater than 70 MPH.
The fourth picture is of a tornado from the same day on May 22, 2008 near the town of Hoxie, Kansas. It was a surprise as we were headed down towards I-70 to get some gas but we thought we would just take our time and see what this little storm was going to do first. All of sudden we see this funnel cloud and within a couple minutes a tornado drops. At this point there were no chasers on the storm at all. We called in the initial report to the National Weather Service and within a few minutes everyone from the local Police to every chaser imaginable starting showing up. It was a relatively weak tornado, rated at an EF-1 which provided some damage, but there were no injuries or loss of life. It was actually the first tornado I ever saw with my own eyes so it was one I'll definitely never forget.
About 20 minutes later the storm dropped another tornado which was a little stronger at an EF-2 but provided no loss of life or injuries as well. This provided to be interesting because while we were behind the tornado, we were only a couple miles from it. We pulled off of the main highway onto this dirt road that had very little maintenance done to it. It had rained earlier and the road was like driving on ice. I almost slid into a ditch and this other chaser actually went into the ditch. After the tornado dissipated we helped push the guy out of the ditch and stayed on paved roads as much as we could the rest of the trip. Not all of the roads are like that but that one was horrible.