Worst roads encountered on a chase

Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,753
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
What are the worst road situations you've encountered on a chase? This one I found myself on in Warren County, Missouri ranks up there:

https://twitter.com/stormhighway/status/1104561165756186629

On the Mulvane day in 2004, I was on a road in Texaco Hill, Kansas that turned into one of those two-dirt-wheel-paths-in-grass with cows walking on it. At least it was passable all the way through!

https://goo.gl/maps/a62fQm6BkWD2

I've also encountered plenty of the usual slimy Plains mud. I've never been stuck, but that's mostly because I turn around immediately once I realize the road is risky.
 
Jun 16, 2015
476
1,133
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34
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
The first one that comes to mind was in southern Oklahoma on a chase. I came up a hill on a dirt road and immediately saw that there was a small river of rushing water at the bottom. I broke quickly and luckily didn’t slide too far.
https://twitter.com/stormchaserq/status/726128224325918721?s=21

Somewhere in northwestern South Dakota, I followed a dirt road for a few miles before it turned into two tire tracks with tall grass between. It quickly got even worse (increasingly hilly/rocky terrain) and since it was the only road going east for the next several miles and storms on my heels, I was forced to bail out.

I also had a chase in western South Dakota that involved more than 100 straight miles on a dirt road with multiple instances of farm animals on the roadway in darkness.
https://twitter.com/stormchaserq/status/763265737842499584?s=21
 
Last edited:
Dec 8, 2003
1,380
388
11
Southeast CO
www.youtube.com
May 2, 2001 I was watching a storm develop just SW of Childress TX from a dirt road. The storm trapped me such that I couldn't get back to my paved road, even though it was less than a mile away. I ended up stuck and slept in the car, pulled out by a passing farmer the next morning. That night changed my level of chasing preparedness in a big way, forever.
 
One of the worst roads I ever chased on was in Kansas. I was chasing on the back roads, and then my GPS told me to get onto another county road that was dirt to go South. Seems normal right? Well halfway up this "dirt" county road, it turned from dirt to complete grass. Now instead of the road being smooth with dirt, it was bumpy and dangerous with grass. What's crazy is that at the end of this road it had a stop sign. So it was definitely a county road. But I have never seen a county road in my life that turned from dirt to grass. Screenshot_20190311-113451.jpeg

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Stormtrack mobile app
 
Sep 7, 2013
684
537
21
Strasburg, CO
There are so many "grass" roads in eastern CO. Maps say one thing, eyes say I'll just go ahead and go back.

My worst was my first experience chasing Western KS. It was the first time I encountered the "creme brule" road. Looks dry, can actually walk on it, but under that crust is a primordial ooze that takes away all control of a vehicle after you break through. I barely managed to escape it, and by the next morning it had turned into concrete under, on and inside my car. It literally took days with a power washer, a screw driver and a hammer to finally remove it all.
 
Jun 16, 2015
476
1,133
21
34
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
There are so many "grass" roads in eastern CO. Maps say one thing, eyes say I'll just go ahead and go back.

My worst was my first experience chasing Western KS. It was the first time I encountered the "creme brule" road. Looks dry, can actually walk on it, but under that crust is a primordial ooze that takes away all control of a vehicle after you break through. I barely managed to escape it, and by the next morning it had turned into concrete under, on and inside my car. It literally took days with a power washer, a screw driver and a hammer to finally remove it all.
I had a similar experience the first time I got stuck while chasing. It was 2014 and I was chasing in south-central Nebraska near the Kansas border. I turned on a dirt road that quickly had a downhill slope. Little did I know that this road was the “creme brule” that you describe. Knowing that I couldn’t get back up the hill, I continued forward, only to find another hill going up.

To make a long story short, I tried sloshing my way back up both hills with no luck. My cell service bordered between 1X and no signal, so several attempts to call AAA were lost. Eventually I got connected to a towing company and they said no one would tow me off that road, after they initially said they would. In hindsight, I can completely understand why.
https://twitter.com/stormchaserq/status/473205991417597952?s=21

After probably three hours or so I finally plowed my way back up the hill and got back on the main road. I think the sun helped to slowly dry some of the mud. I’m also fortunate the severe setup more or less busted, so I didn’t become trapped in a storm or miss something good.

Anyway, my car was covered in this slop. I couldn’t even get up to 50 MPH without the car violently shaking. Everything had hardened to concrete and it took a few days and several trips to a self service car wash, along with using an ice scraper to pry apart all the junk that was lodged in every crevice underneath my car, including the tires, which caused the violent shaking.
https://www.quincyvagell.com/2015/12/04/whats-challenging/

I got stuck a few more times here and there over the next two years, but I’ve been good in recent years with avoiding similar situations.

I do recall a dirt road in northwestern Oklahoma last spring that turned to sand... Since I was going downhill and saw the next main road in the distance, I didn’t bother turning around. Doing so probably would have gotten me stuck, since the sand seemed to be several inches deep.
 
Sep 7, 2013
684
537
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Strasburg, CO
I do recall a dirt road in northwestern Oklahoma last spring that turned to sand... Since I was going downhill and saw the next main road in the distance, I didn’t bother turning around. Doing so probably would have gotten me stuck, since the sand seemed to be several inches deep.
I think dry sand roads catch people off guard. It's sort of like driving in soft snow or slush where it sort of just pushes you around. I have a tactic to these roads called "drive lightly". I sort of let the car float where it wants to go while maintaining soft control and not driving too fast but also not too slow. I can drive these roads usually at speed...the first time my wife drove one she white-knuckled and over corrected so bad she had to stop so I could take over. Again, lots of these types of roads as well in Eastern CO.
 

James Gustina

Supporter
Mar 9, 2010
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www.thunderingskies.blogspot.com
The Smoky Hill River Valley in western Kansas takes the cake for me (I believe it was June 4, 2015). We were due south of Quinter and cut east towards the Castle Rock Badlands area and it just went to hell the minute we got off pavement. The dirt roads are mostly chalk and when wet, are borderline impassable. I knew the area around the river had a shoddy road network but it did an absolute number on my chase partner's Honda.

A close second would have to be Texas Route 70 in the Panhandle between Clarendon and 40. Some of the largest potholes I've ever seen on a paved road made worse by even the slightest amount of rain.

Sent from my VS996 using Stormtrack mobile app
 

Jeff Duda

EF6+, PhD
Staff member
Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
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Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
I'll nominate "Road 8" in Chautauqua and Elk Counties, Kansas. Experienced this road while trying to keep up with the lead storm (the Wakita storm) on 10 May 2010. Thankfully we were in my friend's SUV which was able to chuck through the rain-soaked mudbath of a road, at times able to hit 70, but fishtailing throughout much of it. 17 straight miles of this just to get from US 166 to US 160. And no, we were not able to keep up with the storm.
 

S Kalka

EF0
May 3, 2010
23
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6
Mt. Pulaski, IL
I also have to say that the worst roads that I have been on were in western Kansas. I have had those go from dry to holy shit with no visible clues at all. I try to stay off them if I think that the storm has crossed them, but I don't always follow that rule. So far I haven't gotten stuck, but I have rutted the hell out of a couple, which I try to avoid because I'm sure that pisses off the locals.
 
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Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
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E2110 Rd in southeast OK. Was going from Durant to Hugo, but storm was tracking right along US 70, so we dropped south to this east/west road that we thought was paved because it had Google Streetview. It wasn't. We got behind and missed the tornado as it went thru Hugo on 5-9-16.
20160509_184252.jpeg
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
F5C2D544-1CF6-4E1F-8F97-9F824CF33395.jpeg While trying to take a shortcut on a county road to get to our hotel in Childress at about 11:30 at night, previous rain had turned the road into a clay mosh pit. During a 1/4 mile struggle to keep the car moving in the slop (we were afraid to stop and turn around, fearing we wouldn’t get going again) we finally came up to a bridge where we decided to stop and assess our options. My brother got out to use nature’s restroom and discovered the bridge had been washed out. The only option was to turn back the way we came and hope we could make it back.
We found out the bridge had been washed out a long time and someone had moved the road closed signs out of the way because they were still using the road and just driving alongside what was left of the bridge and driving across the stream bed when it was dry.
The pic is from a dash cam when he realized the bridge was gone.
 
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Haleigh Knowlton

Enthusiast
Jun 27, 2017
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Omaha, NE
Mine is technically not a road, but what looked like it was. Was night at Lake McConaughy in western Nebraska. After having taken some lightning shots at a beach I decided I wanted to go try some more shots but from the other side of the bay. So I started driving north along the recreation road, only my headlights illuminating on an overcast night. I turned left onto what I thought was the access to a little picnic area. By the time I realized the dirt surface was changing to sand I found myself on the beach, which was a major problem given I was in a front-wheel drive vehicle.

I was able to barely keep up just enough speed (like barely walking speed) (and knew better to try a u-turn in sand in a front wheel drive) to not get stuck and with a quick glance to my GPS map realized I turned left 1 turn too early but there'd be a pair of trees up ahead that's I'd be able to turn left at to get up some harder packed sand in the treeline to the actual picnic area.
 
I don't think I can top some of the selection above (!) but one I recall was south-east of Childress back on May 13th, 2005. A developing supercell was in that area, and the paved option was SW and then east, but the SW part would take us right into the hail core. Thus we opted for a minor road which went S and then E. However, about a mile into this the gravel gave way to red mud and clay! There was no real turning back at this stage, as the road was narrow with ditches about 3 feet deep on each side. The storm became tornado warned and so we just had to keep going - any nudge of the throttle had us sliding around, but someone I kept us going, and we cheered very loudly as the paved road hoved into view!
 
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John Farley

Supporter
Apr 1, 2004
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Pagosa Springs, CO
www.johnefarley.com
Although I have seen some horrible roads in Kansas and Oklahoma, my worst experiences have been in eastern CO. Unpaved roads there turn into an undrivable combination of mud and slick clay after a good rain, and sometimes look fine until you are already into the mess. Twice I have narrowly avoided getting stuck (and that was with AWD) and was able to turn around and get out, but my rule now is that if the road is wet or the storms are moving/developing in such a way that it could become wet, I don't go there any more.