Thursday, June 7, 2012

Storm Chasers

For real, but not intentionally.

Leaving Anita's place outside of Murdo, we decided to forgo the interstate and head to Nebraska.  We had until Friday afternoon to get to Colorado Springs, so had some time to wander and explore.

Early morning at a South Dakota farm in a barely inhabited region. 

We passed through lands belonging to the Rosebud Sioux tribe.  There were lots of horses.  I finally thought to snap a picture of a few.  They seemed quite interested to see someone actually driving on the road.  

 And into Nebraska.  I remembered the sandstone formations of western Nebraska from an earlier trip.  It's a place that I could feel at home.  Except for the weather . . .


 Quintessential plains scene.  The rail system is quite alive across the country.


 As we continued out of Chadron, NE and toward the Wyoming border, the clouds began to gather.

 Then we hit a torrential rain storm.  Or it hit us.  The sign says "Leaving brand inspection area".  Cattle thieves are still a problem in Nebraska?


 Near Nebraska/Wyoming border: old schoolhouse still in use.

The satellite radio in the RV has a feature which automatically cuts over to emergency weather alerts, which it did just over the Wyoming border.  It was giving us warnings for Converse and Platt and Goshen counties. Of course we had no idea where those counties were or even what county we were in.  And google only works on the cell phones when one actually has cellphone service.

We decided to get off the back roads and hit I-25 heading south.  We have found there to be cellphone service on most of the Interstate system.

 Now there's a strange-looking cloud . . .   Uh, clouds aren't supposed to touch the ground, are they?

Discovering where we were, and the fact that we were heading toward those counties mentioned, and hearing the fact that a tornado was reported on the ground in Chugwater, WY, and that we were heading toward Chugwater (great name or what?) we decided that it was the better part of valour to sit and wait for a while.


 In rest area, looking south.  As you can tell from the reflections, we were not alone.


We decided to chance it and head on toward Cheyenne, thinking that we had waited long enough.


 Tom driving . . . we thought that the worst had passed.  But there is this strange white hill (or at least rise) just to the east of the freeway.  Then we started noticing more strange white patches.

 Oh.  It's hail.  BIG hail.  You can't really tell from the pictures, but it varied from marble to ping-pong ball.

No, we hadn't waited in the rest area quite long enough . . . 


This was taken one of the several times we pulled off the freeway and sat on the off ramp until the storm moved ahead of us some more.  Looking southwest toward the edge of the storm.


People really do stop and hide under overpasses.  We were once again sitting on the offramp.

I found some great real storm-chaser photos of the tornado at http://michaelcarlsonphoto.com.

Yes, I have watched Twister seventeen times and counting, and I love the storm chaser programs on Discovery and on the Weather Channel.  But I prefer watching others storm-chase on tv to doing it myself.



video

The sound of hail hitting the RV as we sit and listen to the weather alerts.

We finally made it to Cheyenne, where we were treated to a light show.  I highly recommend A.B Camping RV Park there.  Not only does it have two fenced dog areas, it has the most excellent on-site barbeque restaurant. 

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