Spring Break Storm Chase/Bust

After last year's successful spring break storm chase, I booked tickets for this year's break Thursday 4/6. By Wednesday, a strong line of thunderstorms was forecast to pass through NYC right about the time of my flight. I tried to change my flight but American was not waiving their change fees. A couple hours before my flight, I checked the radar, and sure enough, a strong line of thunderstorms was forecast right before my flight time. And, of course, the flight was diverted, delayed several hours, and then cancelled. No seats were available for four days (!) so I cancelled the tickets, and missed some big weather on that Sunday. The weather setup still looked very marginal, but I was really itching to get out on the road, so I rebooked a ticket on Monday (4/10) on Delta and headed out to Dallas (and caught a nice sunset on the way, see above photo). It looked like a marginal setup for Wednesday out in west Texas/eastern New Mexico, so once I picked up the car after yet another flight delay I headed that way.  

I woke up Tuesday west of Dallas, and nothing much was forecast so I continued west to get in position for Wednesday. I enjoyed the wide open spaces and was able to clear my head after a a busy school year (which still goes for a few more weeks).

I ended up in Hobbs, New Mexico, and caught a nice sunset and moon rise in this region dominated by oil production:

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Wednesday ended up being a pretty marginal setup, but I did navigate the spotty road network and the oil truck traffic jams and got on a couple severe-warned storms.

I headed south to Fort Stockton for the night, since another marginal setup was forecast for the next day.  

Thursday morning, on my morning run, I saw well-known chaser Daniel Shaw's truck parked outside my hotel, and just as I was wrapping up breakfast he came in and we ended up talking for a long time. He's a great guy who comes over from Australia for three months of storm chasing each year. I had been a bit down after driving around and not even getting any decent photos for a couple days, but Daniel's energy and enthusiasm cheered me up.

That Thursday was again a marginal setup, but since I needed to be back in Dallas Friday for my flight home, I was looking at a very marginal target of Wichita Falls, TX which was in that direction.  I set out on a leisurely trek back towards Dallas, and with a weak forecast, eventually abandoned the Wichita Falls target and ended up sand sledding in Monahans Sandhills State Park, and seeing the Million Barrel Museum.

I ended up for the evening in Abilene and found the Art Walk, which was fun.  I headed out of town to catch the sunset:

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And of course while I was wandering around Abiline, a supercell formed in my previous target of Wichita Falls TX which produced a tornado.  And the next day, while I was sitting at the airport, Daniel, who I had just been hanging out with, caught an absolutely amazing storm.  

So I was in the right place but at the wrong time--I missed incredible storms by just one day, and I ended up driving almost 1300 miles for pretty much nothing. But that's storm chasing, especially when you don't have flexibility in your schedule. But in the end, it was good to get out into the wide open spaces, and get a break. And I'm hoping for better storm timing when I go out again in late May.