Leonard cover photo
Title block

Cover: First anticylonic tornado filmed by chaser Jim Leonard near Freedom, Oklahoma on June 6, 1975. Maps can be found here, and another photo here.

STORMTRACK is a non-profit publication intended for the scientist and amateur alike who share an avid interest in the acquisition and advancement of knowledge concerning severe storms. It is published bi-monthly by Master Graphics in Lewisville, Texas. David Hoadley founded the publication in 1977 and STORMTRACK has continued to grow and improve ever since. David Hoadley still contributes drawings and sketches. Currently, we have about 675 subscribers!

Anyone can submit an article or letter to STORMTRACK. Articles should be single-spaced and contain proper English. Right justified margins are preferred or the editor can retype the text. High contrast photographs reproduce best. Diagrams should be clear and legible, subject to photo-reduction. All articles will be edited.

Subscription rates are: U.S. first Class mail $14/year. For Canadians, it’s also $14/year in U.S. Currency. Overseas is $20/year in U.S. Currency. Individual issues are $2.35 per copy. Back issues are available by year, or the complete 19 year set (1978-1996) can be purchased for $135. Please note that issues up through 1993 are photocopies. To subscribe or renew, send a check or money order PAYABLE ONLY to Tim Marshall, 4041 f Bordeaux Circle, Flower Mound, Texas 75028.


1. Commentary
2. Chaser News
3. Letters to the Editor
4. What Good Are Chasers?
5. How Storm Track Started
6. Storm Track Subscribers
7. Storm Chasers E-mail listing
8. One For One in ’96: March 5, 1996
9. Past and Present Helpers of Storm track
10. Internet Addresses for Weather Information
11. The Other Rewards of Storm chasing
12. The StormTracker Van
13. A Second Season Chase: September 18, 1996
14. An Evening with Roger Jensen
15. Storm Track Classifieds

This document was converted from a paper copy. Formatting and character errors may appear throughout this document.


I’d like to thank all of the subscribers to Stormtrack for letting us make the 20th anniversary possible. This issue is devoted to those who made this publication a success. Little did anyone imagine that a publication about storm chasing would last so long. For those of you who wondered how this publication began, David Hoadley, with the encouragement of nine individuals, began the publication in 1977. The newsletter was just $1.80 per year! I’ll let Randy Zipsers’ article bring you up to the time that I became editor. In May 1986, when I became editor, there were 161 subscribers. I typed each issue on my old IBM PC-JR with 64K of memory. At first, 1 could only type four pages of text before I would fill up all the available work space. But soon after becoming editor, I bought a doubler and increased my work space to eight pages of text! Wow! Don’t laugh to hard but up to this issue, that was the computer I was using all these years. The text was printed out on my 24 dot printer until this issue. I am glad that David still contributes to Stormtrack with his articles and funnel funny sketches. The flavor of the publication still remains.

In 1986, Stormtrack was big enough that I had to find a local printer to process each issue. That turned out to be too expensive. Then Gene Rhoden recommended that I have an acquaintance of his, Don Lokke, print the publication. Don worked out of his garage where his presses were stored. So, I talked to Don and found out we could add a slick cover with high quality photographs, and bind it for not much more money. Gene Rhoden designed the cover and in July 1987, our first slick cover issue was printed. That lasted until September 1989 when printing problems and delays forced us to seek another printer. I also was tired of having to drive two hours to pick up each issue of Stormtrack. So, I searched for a local printer and found a husband and wife team who lived in the neighborhood that could do the printing. Robbie and Cheryl Wright (Master Graphics) have been the printers of Stormtrack ever since.

Between 1993 and 1994, Stormtrack had about 650 steady subscribers. Then in 1995, the number of subscribers began to fall dramatically thanks in part to the internet. We were down to about 500 subscribers when I began to think that the paper version of Stormtrack was done for. So, I talked to Tim Vasquez about taking Stormtrack on the internet and he was willing to do this when he got back from being stationed in Korea. In the meantime, I decided to improve the publication and I bought an ACER computer with 100MB hard drive and CD-ROM. Need I say it took me a while to learn how to use the new word processing software. It is much more complicated and different than the simple Writing Assistant software I was used to. Also, I had bought an Okidata 4001e 600dpi printer and had lots of problems using it initially (i.e. the drum went bad by the third copy).

Meanwhile the movie ‘TWlSTER was making its debut and within a few months there were hundreds of new inquiries and Stormtrack roared to almost 700 subscribers, the highest in its history! Stormtrack started getting subscribers from Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Then, Tim Vasquez came back from Korea and we got together to make a Stormtrack home page just in time for the 20th anniversary issue and Stormtrack On-line was launched on November 5, 1996. I also began to surf a thing called the internet. So, a lot has happened this year in order to take Stormtrack into the 21st century.


The Central Iowa NWA Severe Weather Conference will be held March 15 and 16, 1997 at the Holiday Inn Airport, 6111 Fleur Dr., Des Moines, IA 50321. For hotel reservations, you can call them at 515-287-40l3. Speakers include Chuck Doswell, Les Lemon, Alan Moller, Robert Prentice, Ron Pryzbylinski, Gilbert Sebenste, Craig Setzer, and Tim Vasquez. The conference fee is around $85 per person. For more information, write to John Mc Laughlin at 885 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309, phone: 515-247-8551.


David Hoadley writes: “Some time ago, I was asked to bring storm prints to display at a severe storms conference in Omaha, Nebraska. That was October, 1977. It was my first conference, and I was overwhelmed by the response. More than 70 attendees from all over the country wanted copies. This was the motivation that prompted Storm Track. It was initially intended to make chasers aware of the value of their photography -but also grew to include chasing technique and interesting storm encounters. Randy Zipser, whose company invited me, was involved from the beginning and helped greatly in contributing to and shaping the early product.

Since then, it has grown and matured to reflect a wide range of chaser interests across the country. I took it as far as I could then turned it over to Tim Marshall in 1986. Since then, he has changed the format to a magazine, added photography and quality paper, written and attracted more professional articles, and more than tripled the subscriptions. Congratulations to Tim Marshall, who has done an outstanding job with the publication and helped define and shape storm chasing in the United States for the past 12 years. Wherever this evolving future leads, Storm Track was at the beginning and is now an integral part of that history.

Now, at a time of anniversary and reflection, I would like to believe that Storm Track has helped shaped this new chasing culture and fostered in its advocates the need for courtesy, patience, and safety. It is always difficult, with a big storm just over the horizon, to wait for information at the weather office, for traffic at a stop sign, or sit behind a slow driver -with no place to pass. However, interrupting busy staff, failing to stop, and ‘riding’ someone else’s bumper (or your horn) are not only rude and dangerous but a sign of immaturity. If you have to hurry to the storm, then you don’t know what you’re doing.

Ken Nakamura gave TWISTER an overall rating of F3. “The special effects were awesome and spectacular, but there were flaws. The second tornado had two subvortices initially revolving counterclockwise around each other, but changed to clockwise as they reached the road, with the “sisters" revolving cyclonically! Other flaws that were distracting was the scene where they were driving down a dirt road but a head-on view of the chase team shows a paved road in the background".

Adrian Mackey is rested up and ready to go again after his trip from the UK to the states where he spent two weeks in tornado alley. “On Tuesday May 16th, we stopped in at Weather Displays in Logan, OK and upon checking their radar, noticed a cell with a well defined hook had exploded in the clear air in southwest Kansas -not too far from Dodge City. Our hundred mile drive brought us up to the storm which exhibited a nice crisp flanking line and neat backsheared anvil. At approximately 2030 hours, the wall cloud produced a charcoal black funnel three miles to our east and became a tornado as it churned dirt from a field. Although only lasting five minutes, it did appear to be multi-vortex in character and moved between the towns of Jetmore and Hanston. The other highlight was Monday May 22nd, when we tracked twin mesocyclones near Wheeler, Texas and followed them to the Oklahoma border at I-40. We headed to McLean and encountered quarter-size hail before turning around when we realized we were minutes away from windshield annihilation. The skies of the high plains in those evening hours will be a lasting memory for me."
Funnel funny
Photo funny


The movie TWISTER portrayed storm chasers as carefree and reckless, a motley crew of roadside gypsies and beatniks who compete with one another to see who can get closest to the vortex. Over the years, real storm chasers have contributed much to the public safety as well as the scientific community. 1 present the following contributions storm chasers have made which l believe is representative of at least the older, long term chasers who have been at this for many years.

l. AID IN WARNINGS — Of increasing importance to many communities are “real-time" warnings given from mobile chase vehicles through ham radio and mobile phones. Chasers call in reports to the appreciative National Weather Service offices which -in turn- use them immediately for radio and television warnings. Since even Doppler radar can miss more than half of the smaller tornadoes, such on-site reports are essential to provide the earliest possible warnings. Even when the larger storms are radar-visible, spotters provide essential information about changing storm structure that radar may not catch such as the development of the wall cloud, large hail reaching the ground, and whether the vortex is reaching the ground. Such reports can save critical minutes in the warning process and give people additional time to seek shelter. “I’ll take a pair of trained eyes over my Doppler radar", said one NWS official.

2. HELP IN TRAINING SPOTTERS- Storm chasers voluntarily contribute slides and videotape for use by the National Weather Service in training local storm spatters to provide accurate and early community warnings. When severe storms approach, these spatters go to pre-designated locations around cities and towns to provide visual reports of developing storms. In 1980, the National Weather Service produced “A Slide Series Supplement to Tornado: A Spotter’s Guide’. This set of 156 slides was duplicated and sent to more than 50 offices around the country, along with a l6mm training movie and descriptive text discussing the program and each slide. I believe it was the first large scale effort of this kind. Chasers such as myself received letters from the National Weather Service asking me to volunteer photography for use in the program. I submitted over 200 slides, of which about 30 were selected. I also assisted in editing and writing the commentary and glossary that accompanied the slide set. The original slide and movie set has been revised several times since then for further public use. 1 like to think that many lives have been saved as a result of this training, and that chaser photography was a substantial factor in making it a success.

3. GIVING TALKS TO THE PUBLIC- Chasers have given numerous talks to the public. I for one have given about 75 talks to almost 3,000 children and adults in public schools, colleges, civic associations, scout troops, fraternal lodges, churches, summer lodges, neighborhood social gatherings, and for fellow office workers. Each slide/video show lasted about an hour and included the discussions of hazards and safety measures. Hopefully, these people are more weather-wise now.

4. PROVIDE SLIDE IMAGES FOR PUBLIC PAMPHLETS-Slides from chasers have been used by the National Weather Service and others in publicly available pamphlets about storm characteristics and dangers. Such documents can be found in the lobbies of many National Weather Service offices, police stations, grocery stores, and insurance companies.

5. WRITE AND PROVIDE SLIDES FOR TECHNICAL ARTICLES- Many chasers have written technical articles and/or contributed slides to formal and informal publications. Such research has advanced the science of tornadogenesis. Chasers slide images have appeared in numerous scientific articles, journals, and preprint volumes like the American Meteorological Society, National Weather Association and the American Geophysical Union.

6. AID IN DOCUMENTING TORNADO REPORTS-Storm chasers provide detailed accounts to the l debrief the National Weather Service after the event. There accuracy in providing the locations and numbers of tornadoes as well as describing unusual characteristics of storm structure are invaluable. Much of their data is from sparsely populated areas and this gives researchers a better idea about seasonal frequency, locations and trends over several years.

7. AID IN FORECASTING SEVERE STORMS- Many years of data gathering and storm chasing have led to a better understand the forecast conditions necessary for severe storms. Some chasers, like myself, have developed unique forecast procedures which has intrigued several scientists. Other chasers have found jobs in the National Weather Service or academia and have brought fresh insight about forecasting.

How Storm Track Started by Randy Zipser

It is not surprising that few know of the beginnings of Storm Track. Its concept first originated with David Hoadley of Falls Church, Virginia during the summer of 1977. I first met Dave in the spring of 1974 when we both visited the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). At that time, I was employed with General Electric’s Management and Technical Services Company (GE/MATSCO) in the Washington, DC area. Since we were from the same area, Dave and I kept in frequent contact, often devoting entire weekends to viewing each other’s slides. Also, during this period, GE/MATSCO, under the direction of Col. Robert C. Miller, USAF-Ret., was charged with organizing the Tenth AMS Conference on Severe Local Storms in Omaha, Nebraska. Fortunately, I was assigned to handle the arrangements for the Conference’s “informal" slide show, and asked Dave as well as Bob Dundas, the photographer of the Great Bend, KS tornado, to assist me.

Dave and I were hotel mates at the conference and decided to pre-screen some of the film material the evening before the informal slide show. On the evening of October 19, 1977, Dave and I had a spontaneous “mini" slide show in our room at the Omaha Hilton. To my recollection, the others present were Alan Moller, Chuck Doswell, and Richard Anthony -all veteran storm chasers.

Little did any of us know at the time, that our informal get-together would lead to Storm Track. Although Dave and I previously discussed starting a newsletter for severe storm enthusiasts across the country — to exchange photographs, information, and chase tips — the idea received an overwhelming positive reaction from Al, Chuck, and Rich. In fact, David was so excited about doing the publication, that he began putting together the format for the first issue THAT VERY EVENING! He worked after midnight and developed the name STORM TRACK. He also acquired titles to most of the subsections, like the commentary, letters, etc., that are in use today. I acted as associate Editor through discussions with him on the early concept and later development of the newsletter, responding to his ideas and offering some of my own like topics for the funnel funnies.

In the weeks that followed the conference, Dave wrote the premiere issue of Storm Track, complete with introductory cover letter and artwork. The first issue was sent in late 1977 to about a dozen people we knew at the Universities of Chicago and Oklahoma, NASA, NSSL, NSSFC, NCAR, and ERL. The first nine subscribers to STORMTRACK were Dr. Rodger Brown, Dr. Charles Doswell, Ron Holle, Alan Moller, Dr. Richard Peterson, Dr. Alymer Thompson, Charles Vleck, Dr. John Weaver, and myself. Dave remained the editor of Storm Track when I moved away from the DC area in 1975, and he continued the job for another eight years. Tim Marshall became the new editor in May, 1986. What a long way since that humble Omaha evening in 1977.

Stormtrack subscribers for 10 to 14 years Thank you for supporting this publication

 Betsy Abrams                                                                                         
 Robert Allen                                                                                         
 Roger Bee                                                    Ken McKneely                            
 Albert Bertram                                               Gary McLaughlin                         
 Dick Blattenberger                                           Radislav Majic                          
 Keith Brewster                                               James Marchand                          
 Dr. Don Burgess                                              Vince Miller                            
 Charles Bustamante                                           Forrest Mitchell                        
 Robert Carmody                                               Daniel Mummert                          
 Dan Chaffee                                                  Ken Nakamura                            
 Dr. Stan Cohen                                               National Center for Atmospheric Research
 Colorado State University                                    Jim Neuman                              
 Richard Conn                                                 Terrance Nixon                          
 Gary Cooper                                                  Dr. Carl Ojala                          
 Allen Cortese                                                Mark Paran                              
 Dean Cosgrove                                                Jerry Paul                              
 David Cyr                                                    Lou Puls                                
 Dr. Robert Davies-Jones                                      Bill Read                               
 Mike Denton                                                  Gene Rhoden                             
 Tim Dorr                                                     Peter John Rhodes                       
 Gretchen Driftmeyer                                          Chuck Robertson                         
 Carson Eads                                                  James Schiavone                         
 Bill Eckrich                                                 Will Shaw                               
 Roger Edwards                                                Phil Sherman                            
 Shelby Ennis                                                 John Skare                              
 Tom Irvin                                                    Jon Slemmer                             
 Warren Faidley                                               Richard Slonaker                        
 Edward Flenz                                                 Christopher Sohl                        
 J.B. Frentz                                                  Steven Steinke                          
 Bill Gartner                                                 Buddy Stocks                            
 Dan Gay                                                      Steven Stopek                           
 Matt Goral                                                   Greg Story                              
 Jack Hopka                                                   Paul Swearingen                         
 Greg Johnson                                                 Steve Tabb                              
 Terry Kern                                                   Kim Van Vleet                           
 Richard Knagg                                                Tim Vasquez                             
 Boris Konon                                                  Arjen and Jerrine Verkaik               
 Steven Krane                                                 Fred Wasmer                             
 Lea County American Red Cross                                Bob Welch                               
 Karl Leiker                                                  Raymond Zehr                            
 Jim Leonard                                                  Gerard Zmijewski                        
 Dr. Eugene (Bill) McCaul                                                                             

Stormtrack subscribers for 15 years or more

    Bill Barlow                                                   Alan Moller*                                              
    Sam Barricklow                                                National Severe Storms Laboratory                         
    Lawrence Blattner                                             Mike Robinson                                             
    Dr. Howie Bluestein                                           Dr. Aylmer Thompson*                                      
    Roy Britt                                                     Charles Vlcek*                                            
    Dr. Rodger Brown*                                             Mike Watts                                                
    Marty Feely                                                   Weather Data Inc.                                         
    David Hoadley*                                                Dr. John Weaver*                                          
    Ron Holle*                                                    Randy Zipser*                                              
    *The original subscribers - 20 years.                                                                                   

STORM CHASERS E-MAIL LISTING: Updated January 2, 1997.

 Betsy Abrams      crowthegaix.netcom.com              Tom Grazulis        tornproj@plainfield.bypass.com
 Bob Adams         adams050@gold.tc.umn.edu             Craig Green         stauros@onramp.net             
 Steve Albers      alber serfs I.noaa.gov               Eric Gross          egross@mailer.fsu.edu          
 Chris Anderson    candersn@iastate.edu                 John Hanna          kirkwood@ionet.net             
 Howard Altschule  haltschu le@war ldnet.att.net        Bruce Haynie        kbhayni@why.net                
 Mark Aubin        stormchaser@juno.com                Robert Herman       rjherman@tfsksy.net            
 Jennifer Bankier  jennifer.bankier@dal.ca              David Hoadley       105026.2010@compuserve.com
 Sam Barricklow    sam. barrick low@dr ig.com           Steve Hodanish      steve.hodanish@noaa.gov        
 Brad Bartley      brad@in teraccess. corn              Ron Holle           holle@nssl.uoknor.edu          
 James Beauchamp   jbeauch@email.okstate.edu            Forest Holmes       kb7tao@ida.net                 
 Richard Bedard    gilcopub@ionet.net                   Matthew Hubert      swoop@winternet.com           
 Matt Biddle       mbiddle@ou.edu                       Pat Hykkonen        pat@ods.com                   
 Howie Bluestein   hblue@metgem.gcn.uoknor.edu          Paul Janish         janish@nssla.nssl.uoknor.edu
 Chuck Boudreaux   chuckbou@iamerica.net                Brian Jewett        jewett@atmos.uiuc.edu          
 Keith Brewster    kbrewster@ou.edu                     Steve Johnson       sjassoc@l ightspeed.net        
 David Brooks      waterspout@juno.com                 Jason Jordan        stormchaser@tamu.edu           
 Harold Brooks     brooks@nssl.uoknor.edu               Curt Kaplan         ckaplan@adnetsol.com          
 Keith Brown       75242.2131@compuserve.com           David Keller        ke1ler@nss la. nss1.uoknor.edu
 Rodger Brown      brown@nssl.uoknor.edu                Shaun Kelly         spk0visi.com                  
 Jim Caruso        beita@aol.com                       Patrick Kerrin      76747.2206@Compuserve.com     
 Brad Case         bcase@camalott.com                  John Keyes          jkeyes@rossby.metr.ou.edu      
 Phillip Cecil     pcec i I@midwest.net                 Bernie Kopp         bkopp@omnifest.uwm.edu         
 Tony Cook         tcookgrnebula.tbe.com               Fredrick Kruze      vortex@p Id.com               
 Dean Cosgrove     dic@csn.org                          Les Lemon           102177.2336@Compuserve.com
 Paul Craven       paul_craven@raccoon.com             Martin Lisius       73124.1052@compuserve.com     
 Casie Crosby      ccrosbie(a) rossby.metr.ou.edu       Don Lloyd           dl loyd@inc.net                
 Doug Crowley      doug. crow ley@noaa.gov              Ed Lozano           new stoed@aol.com             
 Matt Crowther     crowthe@ix.netcom.com               Robert Madanat      rmadanat@ao I.com             
 Lon Curtis        curtis@ns.wm.com                     Harvey Madison      harvey@piglet.cc.utexas.edu
 Robert Dale       rdale@norden 1.com                  Tim Marshall        ] 05566. 1564@compuserve.com
 Jon Davies        jdavies@feist.com                   Jim Martin          jdmartin@cris.com             
 Bob Davies-Jones  bobdj@spock. nss 1. uoknor. edu      John McKay          jmckay@interlog.com           
 Roger Diercks     diercks@students.uiuc.edu            Corey Mead          cmead@iglobal.net              
 Chuck Doswell     doswell@nssl.uoknor.edu              DeWayne Mitchel     damitchel lpnss1. uoknor. edu
 Carson Eads       ceads@pulse.net                      Alan Moller         al.ma 1 ler@noaa.gov           
 Bobby Eddins      beddins@why.net                      John Moore          ozone@primenet.com            
 Charles Edwards   storms@pair.com                     Jack Nelson         103172.2114@Compuserve.com
 Roger Edwards     tornado@wildstar.net                 Laura Nelson        luvlacepflash.net              
 Warren Faidley    storm5@goodnet.com                  Mike Newhouse       nexrad@earthl ink.net          
 John Finch        j finch@rossby.metr. uoknor.edu      Chris Novy          chris@siu.edu                  
 Scott Fitzgerald  scott@swcp.com                      Barry Nusz          bnusz@armt.com                
 David Floyd       dflayd@nexrad.osf.ou.edu             Scott Olthof        olthoff@atmos.uiuc.edu         
 Mike Foster       foster@vortex. w grfc. noaa. gov     Chris Overby        chimney@airmail.net            
 Joe Freeman       j oe. freeman(@mci.com              Al Pietrycha        pietrych@rap.ucar.edu          
 Scott Froehlich   froehlic@iastate.edu                 Greg Potter         wws@ix.netcom.com             
 David Ciold       dag8972(a)ariel.tamu.edu             Robert Prentice     rprentice@nexrad.osp.osu.edu
 Dawn Gonsowski    gonsowskQageog.niu.edu           
 Erik Rasmussen    rasmussen@nssl.uoknor.edu            John Sturtevant        metserv ices@wxscratch.com       
 Bill Reid         735S 1 .’2512Qacompuserve.com       Rick Swierczynski      richardj@otnnifest.uwm.edu        
 David Reynolds    djr.torro@zetnet/co. uk              Daphne Thomspon        thompson@doplight.nssl.uoknor.edu
 Gene Rhoden       grhoden@why.net                      Greg Thompson          gthompsn@ncar.ucar.edu            
 Chad Richardson   dsmoke@texas.net                     Richard Thompson       richard.thompson@noaa.gov         
 Mike Ridgeway     mridgepmicron.net                    Steve Vasiloff         vasiloffpnssl.uoknor.edu          
 Mike Robinson     robinson@sy.com                     Tim Vasquez            71611.2267@compuserve.com        
 Tim Samaras       tsamaras(kcentral.com               Chris Vincent          cvine22440aol.com                
 Karl Schulze      kschu lze(@ariel.tamu.edu            Skip Voros             svoros@execpc.com                
 Ciilbert Sebenste sebenste@geog.n iu.edu               Mike Watts             mwattsQanetten.net                
 Craig Setter      csetzer@earth link.net               Boyd Webb              bw i i i@be 1 1 south. net        
 Fred Shabec       shabec@gnn. corn                     Weather Chase          wx-chase@po.uiuc.edu              
 Phil Sherman      psherman@adobe.com                  Lou Wicker             w icker0ariel.tamu.edu            
 Charle Sill       pronews7@aol.com                    David Williams         stormchaser@worldnet.att.net      
 Paul Sirvatka     sirvatka@lc 1 qc 1 .cod.edu          lan Wittmeyer          ian@atmos.colostate.edu           
 Gary Skaggs       skaggs@nssl.uoknor.edu               Scott Woelm            woelmwx@skypoint.com             
 Brady Smith       bks I(@ra.msstate.edu                Steve Wolff            bnsa@txdirect.net                 
 Rich Smith        richard.smith@noaa.gov               Gary Woodall           gary. wooda I l@noaa. gov         
 Doug Spehege      speg(ddoplight.nssl.uoknor.edu       Powell Wray            powell@scsn.net                   
 Ken Stanaland     kstanal                              Josh Wurman            jwurmanpuoknor.edu                
 Greg Stumpf       stumpf@nsslsun.uoknor.edu            Paul Yoke              chaser@wwdg.com                  

One for One in ’96: March 5, 1996 Chase by Mike Cohen

Our first chase of the season almost never happened. March 5, 1996 was a day where the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for the area east of Dallas. I checked with the Fort Worth National Weather Service and spoke to Al Moller who told me that there was a cell in Hunt County going severe. I asked if he felt there would be action to the south of this storm and he said yes. When my chase partner, Bobby Eddins, pulled up the wind profiles, we were not impressed as winds at all levels were out of the south-southwest. On a wild hunch, and since we hadn’t seen a good storm since last year, we decided to go chasing. When we reached the Tarrant/Dallas county line on 1-20, we saw our target storm. It was small and multicellular, but it looked promising. When we reached FM 1641 west of Terrell, we were east of the storm and watched a developing wall cloud cross I- 20 as it moved northeast.

We drove northeast of FM 2965 toward Wills Point and could now see a pronounced rear flank downdraft (RFD) and rotating wall cloud. Taking FM 751 to Quinlan left us behind the storm but this gave us a great view of the storm to our east-southeast as we crossed Lake Tawakoni. The storm evolved into a classic supercell with a beautiful flank and wall cloud with constant motion wrapping to the southeast of the rain core. We watched a brief funnel form and dissipate. Anyone who has tried to chase storms in East Texas knows how frustrating the pine trees can be -restricting your view, and this day was no exception. Every time we saw something interesting, we would lose it behind the trees.

We stopped in Emory to gas-up and make a call back to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. I spoke to Skip Ely, the meteorologist-in-charge (MIC), and found out the mesocyclone had 40 knots of shear. As we went southeast out of Emory on Highway 69, we crossed a 100 yard swath of one inch diameter hail -about two miles outside of town. Our storm was now turning to the right.

We took Highway 182 to Quitman and then Highway 54 east toward Gilmer trying to retain our position on the storm. We continued to see a wall cloud and rear flank downdraft wrapping around it through the trees. We turned north on FM 312 at the small town of Little Hope, Texas (we feared this as an omen) and watched a well developed wall cloud moving east. We returned to Highway 154 and found a decent view to the north and stopped. Just as we pulled over, I noticed a condensation funnel extend to the ground with debris. We jumped out and started shooting video at 6:25pm CST. The small tornado was approximately 4 to 5 miles north of us in northeast Woods County. 1 The tornado formed just as the mesocyclone occluded and didn’t last very long. We were running out of daylight so we watched the storm for another ten minutes. Our reports were passed onto the National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana. We were happy to start out the year one for one. All chasers know this doesn’t happen very own.


The following individuals have contributed part of their time in helping make this publication a success. The following is a brief autobiography of our helpers.

BRUCE HAYNIE has contributed countless hours at assembling, stamping, and taping STORM TRACK over the past few years. “I was born in Longview, Texas on August 12, 1967 (a native Texan) and was raised in Dallas. I’ve been interested in the weather ever since I can remember, but became particularly interested in tornadoes after the 26 May 1976 tornadic event that occurred one mile south of my house in Dallas. I knew after 10 April 1979 (Wichita Falls, TX.) that I wanted to chase storms. I attended Texas Tech University from 1987-1992 where I met several individuals who were into storm chasing. On 9 September 1987, I saw my first tornado while chasing just west of the Lubbock area. My chasing has continued since 1957 with many busts and a few successes. I currently reside in Dallas, Texas. Check out my homepage at http://www.why.net/users.kbhayni. My E-mail address is kbhaynie@why.

RICHARD HERZOG has been assistant editor of STORMTRACK since May, 1991. “I graduated with a meteorology degree from Penn State University in December, 1990 and was hired by Haag Engineering Company in March, 1991, which fortunately was where Tim Marshall works. l was very interested in going storm chasing with Tim and helping with STORMTRACK. My main duties have been proof reading the issues before they go to press and helping with the stamping, stapling, and addressing to mail them out. I did the full editing of the May, 1993 issue and have also contributed movie, video, and book reviews. l always have been impressed by the geographical and demographical distribution of our subscribers, and how STORMTRACK helps bring chasers together."

GENE RHODEN helped with the design of the slick cover in 1986 and was essential in finding Mr. Lokke who was our first printer. Gene has been interested in storms and storm chasing since 1976 when a tornado hit north Dallas. He is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in meteorology at Oklahoma University while working part time at the Discovery Store in Dallas. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma and commutes to Dallas and back weekly. He has a fully equipped chasemobile and is a licensed ham radio operator.

PHIL SHERMAN was the assistant editor of STORMTRACK from May, 1986 through September, 1990. He helped edit and contribute to the publication and produced the January, 1989 issue. “ I have resided in the Seattle, WA area since January, 1995. My wife Kathy and I have two children." 1 am a software engineer currently employed by Adobe Systems and have worked the past eight years on the Persuasion presentation program. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and acquired my severe weather interest early in childhood. Though the mid-Atlantic area is not known for tornadoes we did have our share of summertime thunderstorms. After high school I went on to Duke University where I majored in Computer Science and Economics. Meteorology remained my “vocation" and the knowledge l gleaned from NSSFC and NSSL technical papers was complemented by a lot of intuition - in other words, “just enough to be dangerous". Upon graduation in 1982 I took a job in Dallas with Texas Instruments and was ecstatic when 1 arrived there by the proximity to the Alley and the almost daily Tornado Watches. Several years passed in which I became increasingly keyed into the seasonal severe storm cycle and the variations that occurred from year to year. In 1984 and 1985 I became primed for chasing after reading William Hauptmans’ Atlantic article “On the Dryline" and viewing NOVAs’ “Tornado" episode. Thereafter, I called the NWS and asked the person on the phone about chasing. Fortunately for me, he handed the phone to Alan Moller, who proceeded to inform me of the Storm Track publication and gave me some excellent advice: “buy all of the back issues of Storm Track and learn from all of its writings." I did just that and found that a guy named Tim Marshall was a frequent contributor and lived very close to where I had currently been working (Xerox Corp. in Lewisville). I called Tim that winter (85-86) and he kindly invited me to his house to discuss chasing. I was in a daze by the end of that session having witnessed several hours of Tims’ chase video from the early 80s; I also could not wait for spring to arrive. I kept in touch with Tim until our first chase of the year (and MY first chase ever) arrived on March I 1, a “high risk" day that was characterized privately by the weather service as “Wichita Falls, Part 2". I told Tim I was interested in contributing to the production of Storm Track and he then asked me to be the assistant editor, a role 1 occupied until early 1990 when my son was born. The January 1989 issue was one that I fully edited. My most successful chases include: 4 tornadoes at Canadian, TX 5/7/86; dramatic tornadic supercell at Windthorst, TX 5/l4/86; mini-supercell tornadoes at Ardmore, OK 5/2/88; beautiful tornado at Hodges, TX 5/13/89; and a successful chase of 3 tornadoes from the Billings/Red Rock, OK storm of 4/26/91. My last chase occurred 4/27/94 - appropriately, a bust. I’ve seen many spectacular cloud formations in the Seattle area since moving, but no tornadoes. My E-mail address is: psherman@adobe.com."

TIM VASQUEZ is the new STORMTRACK on-line editor at http://www.telepath.com/www/storm/ “West Texas is well known for its open prairies, remoteness, and rapidly-changing weather. It’s also the birth place of Tim Vasquez, in Abilene in l968. As a kid, I spent a few years each in California, Germany, and the Philippines, and was exposed to a wide variety of weather events. These experiences are what set my interest in meteorology into motion. The finishing touch came in the early 1980’s, when I settled in Texas once again and saw countless severe weather events unfold. Although I always had an eye for thunderstorms, I had no idea how out of tune mainstream literature was until 1986 when he met with Alan Moller, a chaser and NWS forecaster. Alan introduced me to some of the key conference volumes, tech memos, and papers that formed the backbone of severe weather research. With this as a springboard, I spent months poring over everything I could find, and began storm chasing the next spring with chaser Gene Rhoden. Unsure of meteorological job availability during the 1990’s, I joined the Air Force in 1989 to get some solid meteorological experience. My duties took me to the Tonopah Test Range in the Nevada desert, where the F-117A Stealth Fighter was tested, and where I was an observer. In 1992, I went to a 7-month forecasting course in Illinois. During the cold winter evenings, I spent time improving and perfecting a newborn PC weather analysis program, thirst called RadarScan, then WeatherPro. It was named WeatherGraphix in 1993 and led to the Windows-based Digital Atmosphere program. Having the top assignment pick of 17 fellow classmates, I returned to Abilene to forecast at Dyess AFB, Texas. It provided me with a great opportunity to delve deeper into thunderstorm forecasting and chasing. I arrived just as the base’s WSR-88D was being installed. I played a key part in bringing the station’s severe weather forecasting skills up to date, and introduced two of the forecasters to the art of chasing. I also worked part-time as an on-air forecaster at KTXS-12 in 1995. Later that year I spent a year in Korea as a lead forecaster in Seoul. I currently am a systems programmer at the Air Force’s weather telecommunications gateway in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I live in Norman and continue to work on weather software projects." Hoadley/Marshall Haynie/Herzog Rhoden/Vasquez

Internet Addresses for Weather Information by Tim Marshall

The most complete listing of weather related information and data can be found at Mike MacDonalds WeatherNet list which is at: http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/servers.html There are over 400 links to sites that have weather information or weather data. Some of my favorites are as follows:

I. Weather Data for chasers

 Florida State Meteorology                     http://thunder.met.fsu.edu:80/metdata.html                    
 Florida State Universtiy                      http://metlab 1.met.fsu.edu/                                  
 Intellicast                                   http://www.intellicast.com/                                  
 National Center for Env. Fred.                http://aspl.sbs.ohio-state.edu/nmctext.html                   
 National Severe Storms Lab                    http://www.nssl.uoknor.edu/" nws.wz.html                      
 North Carolina State Met.                     http://meawxl.arrc.ncsu.edu/                                  
 Ohio State Weather Server                     http://twister/sbs.ohio-state.edu/asp-html                    
 Purdue Weather Processor                      http://wxp.atms.purdue.edu/main.html                          
 Storm Chaser Homepage                         http://taiga.geog.niu.edu/                                    
 Storm Prediction Center                       http://www.nssl.uoknor/" spc/#forecasts                       
 UCAR                                          http://rap.ucar.edu/weather/                                  

II. Other Interesting Weather Sites

 ALERT                                         http://www.xnet.com/" alert/                                  
 American Meteorological Soc.                  http://atm.geo.nef.gov:80/ams/                                
 Arizona Thunderstorm Chasers                  http://saguaro.la.asu.edu/rcerveny/aztc2.html                 
 Austrailian Severe Weather                    http://austrailiansevereweather.simplenet.com/               
 Aviation Weather Center                       http://www.awe-kc.noaa.gov/                                   
 Center Anal. Pred. Storms                     http://www.caps.uoknor.edu/                                   
 Climate Prediction Center                     http://nic.fb4.noaa.gov/                                      
 College of Dupage                             http://weather.cod.edu/nexlab.html                            
 Envrionmental Research Lab                    http://www.erl.noaa.gov/                                      
 List of NWS Home Pages                        http://www.hpcc.noaa.gov/nws.html                             
 NASA                                          http://explorer.are.nasa.gov/pub/weather                      
 National Center for Env.                      http://grads.iges.org/pix/head.html                           
 National Climatic Data Center                 http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ncdc.html                            
 National Hurricane Center                     http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/                                      
 National Weather Assn.                        http://www.www.infi.net/" cwt/nwa-page.html                   
 National Weather Serv. Hdqtrs.                http://www.nws.noaa.gov/                                      
 Storm Track Homepage                          http://www.telepath.com/www/storm/                           
 Texas Severe Storms Assn.                     http://www.tessa.org/                                         
 The Tornado Project                           http://www.tornadoproject.com/                               
 The Weather Channel                           http://www.weather.com/                                      
 Tornado Research Org.                         http://www.torro.org.uk/                                      
 USA Today Weather Page                        http://www.usatoday.com/weather/basemaps/                     
 VORTEX                                        http://antietam.nssLuoknor.edu/mosaic_files/vortex.html                                              

1996 - The Other Rewards of Storm Chasing by David Hoadley

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1996 was a minimal year for this chaser. I was in seven tornado boxes over five days and in ideal location on four -but only saw three weak tornadoes and a half dozen small funnels. I chased May 9-10, 23 26, and June 16-28, looking for that elusive southwest flow aloft.

On the 9th, the first tornado was a broad but brief dust swirl beneath strong cloud-base rotation southwest of Concordia, Kansas. A second, spinup-tube, rose from a field a minute later -seen in the rear view mirror while driving away for a better photographic location, but it was gone before I could stop. On Hay 10 (the Big Spring “grapefruit hail" day) I chased the first severe storm in southwest Texas, south of Headland. It later triggered several Doppler tornado warnings near San Angelo, however, darkness prevented visual confirmation.

The next chase took me to Russell, Kansas, late on the afternoon of the 22nd, after an almost non- stop 23 hour drive from Virginia but too late to catch the Benkelman storm. The next day I chased central Kansas, but my forecast was wrong despite strong surface dynamics (the previous day’s also didn’t verify). On the 24th, I decided to play it smart. Tornadoes were reported the previous day in northeast Colorado, and that morning the Storm Prediction Center called for more there. I did the usual forecast but then, since the previous two had busted, ignored it and drove into southeast Colorado to await the big show. Only at Springfield, did I first hear the tornado watch from the panhandle to central Kansas. The tops of reported severe storms were already visible far to the southeast! A quick calculation suggested it was too far to catch, so I sat patiently near LaJunta, grinding my teeth and waiting for storms that never fired. After two busts, how did my 10AM forecast do that day? Smaller than the NWS box, it was right through the middle of it and included every reported tornado!! Sometimes, there just is no justice.

Chastised at that poor judgement, I closely followed my forecast the next day and chased several cells north of Clovers, New Mexico -but to no avail. Convection occurred over a wide area but with little apparent organization, while the dry line lay to the west. I saw the backside of one cell go up east of Cloves, but it appeared no different from the others. However, within an hour and less than 40 miles east, several chasers caught a brief tornado near Friona! What was more galling, it was only 5 miles (!) from the dead center of my forecast! Again, no justice.

The last chase was June 16 through the 28th from Colorado and the Dakotas to Montana, where I saw a weak tornado northwest of Miles City on the 24th. The one mishap -and a warning to chasers- was with a rather large buzzard near Benkelman, Nebraska. While driving to Goodland, through light rain, I approached this ponderous fowl, dining by the side of the road. I hardly slowed, since most usually flap away. Not this time. Before I knew it, he took off -right into the windshield- and hit hard, squarely in front of my face! The wiper snapped off in a thump and flurry of feathers -but the window held. The wiper was replaced, and a few more grey hairs were counted. This driver now slows when approaching such wildlife. You should too.

However, my 40th year of storm chasing was about more than just the twisting clouds from an angry sky. Two memorable non-severe days stand out with some of the best tornadoes I have seen. One was during the early afternoon, while driving into southeast Montana from Belle Fourche. There are stretches where US 212 rides a ridge-line and mostly looks down on gently rolling, green hills and wooded valleys with widely scattered farms and cattle. That particular day, the deep blue sky was filled with small cumulus, which scattered a checkerboard of shadows across the freshly green and wind-swept fields. Classical music soon filled the car, and for the next hour I forgot about storms and tedium and even where I was. Time stood still, as the changing patterns of prairie and cloud passed in a pageant of color, light and shadow - as if revealing some grand plan.

Another day, while driving through western Nebraska, the evening sun caught an anvil almost overhead -from a storm to the southwest. No man-made light marred the darkening horizon as this cloud deck began to flare in yellow and pink against the deepening blue sky. A program of organ music was just beginning on PBS radio. The sky seemed to catch fire and begin to burn with color, as the anvil draped itself in brilliant gold and volcanic red. The car filled to the music of royalty and acclamation, while open windows swept it clean with the night air - and stars began to gather. I didn’t want it to end.

. . . some of the other rewards of storm chasing.

Storm Tracker logo


I learned early on that having hourly updated weather information on the road was a must. The NOAA Weather Radio wouldn’t be in range half the time and I rarely had a weather office to stop at along my chase route. Also, I was a ham radio operator, N5LTN, and mobile communication with the weather service as well as other spotters/chasers was essential. Thus, I designed my first “chasemobile" in 1957 with the aid of fellow ham radio operator Sam Barricklow, K5KJ. Each year I would add new equipment, but I soon found out that my ideas strongly outweighed my yearly budget. l soon outgrew my first chasemobile and after the end of 1992 chase season, I chose a mid-sized 1990 Chevrolet Astro Van with all wheel drive. It’s powered by a 4.3 liter V6 engine that is considered large for a V6 but still gets acceptable fuel mileage. The all wheel drive configuration is great when driving on wet roads and that “occasional" back road. It’s also a popular vehicle which makes getting replacement parts easier in a small town where most breakdowns seem to occur -rather than in a big city.

Living in Texas with all the extremely hot weather requires extra cooling of all automotive fluids to prolong the service life of mechanical components. So, I added a higher capacity radiator for the engine. The transmission and power steering now have external cooling units. The automatic transmission has been modified with the installation of a shift improvement kit that increases the operating fluid flow of the transmission and creates firmer shifts. I’ve added wider tires for improved stability and looks as well as safety (more rubber on the road equates to more stopping power). For better visibility in heavy rain, I’ve installed triple edge blades in a single wiper configuration. I keep the windows clean even during the chase.

I have a bank of three amateur radios mounted in a steel frame between the front seats. With three radios, I can cover all of the radio spectrum from 2Mhz up to 2Ghz. One radio is an ICOM 275-H two meter all mode transceiver with 100 watts output. The second is an ICOM 7100 scanning receiver and the other is an ICOM 736 HF, a six meter all mode transceiver with 100 watts output. The radios allows me to send and receive information and is especially helpful during severe weather events. I can scan frequencies and listen to other ham radio operators, fire and law enforcement personnel, TV broadcasting services, aircraft communications, and NOAA weather radio. Behind the radios is my 9" color TV with built-in VCR for viewing and recording local TV weather reports/radars, viewing amateur TV repeaters that have local weather radars during severe weather events, and viewing THE WEATHER CHANNEL broadcast while on the road via an RCA DSS satellite system. The system requires an 18" dish which I have mounted on the rear end of the van on a pole welded to my trailer hitch; and I’ve made it easily removable/adjustable.

Behind the front seat I removed the original bench seat and replaced it with a cut down version of a 19" rack mount equipment cabinet. I added a table top to set up the portable PC computer, external 15" color CRT monitor, color printer, and work space to analyze weather maps. Inside the cabinet is my cellular phone, the RCA satellite receiver, power amplifiers for my amateur radios, a 550 watt DC to AC power converter and DC power distribution blocks.

From the drivers seat, I’ve installed a dash mounted electronic automotive compass used for navigational purposes. I am currently working on setting up a global positioning system (GPS) with moving map navigation software. l also mounted my Hi-8 Canon L-1 video camera on a modified Bogen monopod that is secured to the dash and has vibration dampers. The tripod has a mini fluid head for smooth pans and tilts. I normally have a wide angle lens attached to the camera and record continuously during severe weather episodes. The whole assembly mounts into by steel rack that holds my radios. I employ a small external LCD screen that mounts on the console to monitor what I’m recording.

I have seven antennas on the vehicle. The two meter vertical is a 7/8 wave antenna with 5.2 dbZ gain and is 62.6" tall used to talk with other amateur operators during SKYWARN operations. The scanner antenna by Diamond, model D505 with built-in preamp, is 24" tall and is used to monitor amateur radio nets, fire, law enforcement and NOAA weather radio. The tri-band antenna by Comet, model SB-83, covers two meters and cellular and is 35" tall. I have an egg-beater antenna for two meter sideband (SSB) mode and is used to talk long distances as well as being designed for horizontal polarization for TV reception. A six meter SQLOOP antenna is for 50Mhz SSB horizontal use and the HF antenna is used for long distance communications. The van was photographed extensively by the TWISTER folks in March, 1995 to incorporate such features in their chasemobiles in the movie.

A “Second Season" Chase: September 18, 1996 Oklahoma Panhandle Tornados by Jon Davies

Surprisingly, I’ve never seen a tornado in late summer or fall before, in what some people call the “second season" as systems transition between summer and winter in the plains. I’ve missed several late year tornados in the Kansas/Oklahoma area, including the September 5 tornado in east Wichita in 1992. But this year finally changed that.

The evening of September 17 had seen several tornados in the northern Texas panhandle, and on the 18th an even stronger upper level disturbance was coming out across the same general area. However, a fly was in the ointment... The prior evening’s storms had become an elongated convective complex moving across Kansas, Oklahoma, and northwest Texas on the morning of the 18th, sweeping out some moisture and cooling surface temperatures ahead of the next system. Still, the panhandle area and south- west Kansas looked to have enough sunshine and instability behind the convective complex to possibly get some good storms going. The progged upper system had good dynamics with strong winds and vertical wind shear through mid-levels to help shape up potential storms. Good turning in the wind profile in low-levels also suggested potential for updraft rotation. Photographer and writer Jim Reed and myself decided to give it a shot, leaving Wichita in Jim’s Ford Explorer around mid morning.

Because dew points seemed to be higher in the central and southern Texas panhandle, we targeted this area for potential development, and were greeted by distant anvils as we approached Shamrock in the eastern Texas panhandle. But as we moved closer, we saw that the anvils were only tops of dying updrafts, the budding storms being snuffed out by cool stable easterly outflow behind the convective complex now over southeast Oklahoma and northern Texas. Checking surface obs and forecast upper winds by laptop, and receiving input by phone from The Weather Channel’s Mike Phelps in Atlanta on his day off, Jim and I decided to move back north and west to the Oklahoma panhandle. This had been my original target area from the night before, and an area not so affected by the Oklahoma outflow. Convergence of surface winds and moisture for initiating potential storms also seemed to be maximized in this area.

Towers and fuzzy-looking cells were visible to our north and west as we passed through Canadian. But these were so unimpressive that, as Jim and I crossed into the Oklahoma panhandle, we seriously considered aborting our trip just to get back to Wichita at a decent hour. Yet I noticed an interesting look to the bottom half of some of the cell updrafts below their fuzzy tops... a somewhat crisper, corkscrew-like look down lower suggested an environment conducive to updraft rotation. Maybe we should stick around to see what would happen as the upper wave moved in from the west.

The first cell we passed through heading north and then west from Beaver was nothing more than a disorganized heavy rain shower that only increased our urge to head home. But with the next cell to our west southwest, a distant rain free base was visible, sparking our interest. Sure enough, west of Turpin the updraft base was rotating slowly with a lowering beneath it, and several intense CGs were visible near the rain core further north. Around 6:45 pm, Jim and I set up position on a dirt road about 4 miles west of Turpin. We were immediately greeted with the sight of a sharp funnel (!) that extended halfway to the ground for a minute or two. We could not see any circulation or debris at the ground, but the funnel made a nice photo contrast against the sun’s lighting behind it.

A couple minutes later Jim and I were reminded of one of the foremost dangers in storm chasing. The CGs had thus far seemed confined to the area near the edge of the rain to our north. But as I was videotaping next to the vehicle with Jim shooting from the ditch in front of me, a small lightning bolt struck a power pole maybe 100 ft behind me, emitting a ‘pop’ that sent sparks flying and both of us scurrying into the Explorer. The fact that we heard an almost immediate crash of thunder (confirmed on the video’s audio track) suggests that the main bolt was probably a quarter mile away, and that our small bolt was probably just a side branch of that. But our nervous laughter heard on video shows how shook up Jim and I were.

Repositioning ourselves to the west edge of Turpin, we watched the lowering associated with the earlier funnel occlude to the northwest, as a new wall cloud with a short inflow tail formed over Turpin just to our east. The sun’s light created a faint rainbow over the town, along with gorgeous blues, purples and browns in the clouds. These colorations and a couple of lightning bolts from the wall cloud itself made for some memorable images as the cell moved quickly to the northeast and began to lose its supercell structure.

Our attention now turned to a new cell to our southwest. We dropped south and then west of Turpin on a blacktop, stopping east of Adams to watch the rain free base several miles to our west and northwest. My first impression with this storm was that it looked somewhat “gust-oriented"... the base initially seemed more like a shelf cloud beginning to gust out. But I was wrong. A lowering soon ap- peared at the north end of the “shelf", and a downdraft clear slot began to notch rapidly into it from the left. This coupled with cloud elements flowing in from the right suggested rotation. I hollered at Jim that something might be getting ready to happen, and as I spoke a funnel appeared and descended toward the ground... a tornado around 8 miles west southwest of Turpin at 8 pm! It appeared to make ground contact for around a minute or so.

Just as rapidly as it formed, the small cone dissipated, but the storm’s classic structure was really shaping up. The wall cloud and rear flank downdraft sharpened, topped by a short crisp tower visible through fragments of lower clouds and a trailing flanking line. It was dusk and getting hard to see, yet refracted sunlight lit the storm’s tower beautifully. Surprisingly, there was very little anvil visible and no back shearing.

About 8 minutes had passed since the first tornado when the wall cloud began to occlude, and lightning illuminated a new lowering with a pointed inflow tail on its northeast side. This time Jim hollered at me... another tornado was down from the new wall cloud! Squinting in the half light at 8:10 p.m., I could just barely see it. Several lightning flashes then backlit the tornado, which lasted a couple of minutes and had the appearance of a narrow tree trunk or stove pipe. What seemed to be a small dust cloud could be seen in the lightning flashes. Then the condensation funnel lifted, leaving a sharp needle-like point above the ground for some thirty seconds before it dissipated.

Unbeknownst to us, chaser Gene Moore was positioned near Baker to our northwest, where he snapped an excellent close range shot of the second tornado, which later appeared on the Storm Chaser page on the net. From our position, Jim got several more distant stills by leaving his shutter open 4 to 5 seconds. This was in spite of the fact he had to change film right in the middle of things (!?4!). I was content to do only video, showing the second tornado backlit by lightning. As the storm moved north- east, the well-defined tower became increasingly visible as lightning lit it frequently, a pretty but poten- tially dangerous storm heading toward Liberal.

Jim and I followed the storm into Kansas, phoning a report into the Dodge City NWS when our cell phone signal was steady. Thankfully for Seward County residents, no more tornados occurred, and Texas and Beaver Counties in Oklahoma suffered no significant damage from the tornados we observed. Though the vortices were short-lived, the architecture and sights of a couple very interesting supercells had made our excursion quite worthwhile. And I had seen my first “second season" tornados! We continued to take nighttime shots of lowerings and lightning, and finally packed it in for a late pizza around 10 p.m. at Meade.

For me, several reminders came out of this chase. First, the old adage about towers and cell tops needing to be crisp to suggest severe potential doesn’t always hold... if there is good vertical wind shear and adequate instability, the storms may well shape up into something crisper and more structured if one is patient. Second, storm chases can have rapid emotional ups and downs, and it helps to stay cool and ride these out... Jim and I were so discouraged by the late afternoon look of things we nearly baled out of our chase. I’m certainly thankful we didn’t. Third, look out for lightning! Enough said there.

Some information about the meteorology of 9/18/96 follows...

Parameters from interpolated 12 hr FD fest sounding near Liberal (KLBL) at 7 pm CDT 9/18/96 using KLBL surface ob:
Sfc (at KLBL) 130 deg at 14 kts
6000' MSL 190 deg at 17 kts
9000' MSL 220 deg at 22 kts
12000' MSL 230 deg at 30 kts
18000' MSL 235 deg at 44 kts
24000' MSL 225 deg at 52 kts
(Sfc temp = 69 degF, dewpoint = 66 degF)
(18000' temp = -11 degC)
For a storm moving from roughly 240 deg or 250 deg at around 20 kts
0-3 km helicity = 150-160
observed mid level winds = - 40 kts
storm-relative mid level winds = - 20 kts
Sfc-based Lifted Index = - -7
CAPE = - 2500 J/kg EHI = - 2.5

Above is a hodograph (see Storm Track, Jan.-Feb.1994 for explanation of hodographs and supercell wind profiles) plotted from the 12 hr FD winds aloft forecast for the Oklahoma panhandle valid 7 pm CDT on 9/18/96 using the Liberal, KS observed surface wind at roughly the same time. Notice the good directional turning in the bottom 6000 to 9000 ft, and the strong increase in wind speed through mid- levels (18000 to 24000 ft). Theoretically, the directional turning in lower levels would help induce updraft rotation, while the strong winds and wind shear in mid levels would likely help strengthen and shape the updraft, and serve to move precipitation downwind so as to not undercut the updraft with too much cool outflow air in low levels. This type of hodograph suggests the potential of supercells with possible torna- dos, if there is significantly unstable air and a lifting mechanism to help get a good thunderstorm updraft going. surface map

In this case, surface convergence boundaries and an upper level disturbance helped to trigger storms in an unstable area of the Oklahoma panhandle southwest Kansas

Above is the surface map for 6 pm CDT on 9/18/96, showing some surface features relative to where the evening tornadoes occurred. (Thanks in part go to Tim Vasquez’ Digital Atmosphere software program.)

roger jensen


Roger Jensen is a living legend in the storm chase world. He is recognized as one of the first chasers in the industrial age who traveled the back roads of North Dakota and Minnesota just to photograph a thunderstorm. Roger moved down to Texas this year in order to maximize his photographic opportunities with a longer storm season. He is glad to be away from the “Siberian Ecstasy" as he calls it. Fellow chasers Carson Eads, Bruce Haynie, Gene Rhoden and myself took Roger out to dinner recently and had a good chat about how chasing was in the early days. Feel free to correspond with Roger. He is at the Heritage Country Manor Nursing Home, 505 North FM 1417, Sherman, Texas 75090. His phone number is 903-593-1483.

So Roger, give us a little background about where you were born and raised? I was born in Fargo, ND on September 5, 1933. I stayed up there until the fall of 1945 when my family and I moved north to Lake Park. I lived a lot of my life out at the farm raising wheat and milking pure breed registered Guernsey’s. Eventually, in the latter 50’s, I went into greenhouse work and truck gardening (selling vegetables from a truck). I worked on the farm for 30 years raising all kinds of vegetables and flowers; anything you could raise and sell in Minnesota. Then, in the summer of 1974, we gave up the farm and moved to Detroit Lakes where I worked in a turkey processing plant for 11 years,

Tell me, do you still eat turkey? Oh Geez, not unless its awful good. I spent enough time at “Turkey Heaven".

So when did you get interested in storms? Ah, when I was almost born. When I was going to school up in Fargo, I had a different interest than anyone else around. Most of the kids were scared of them, but when I was 8, 9, 10 years old, I just had a fascination about storms.

What did your mom and dad think of your interest in storms? I was the only one in the family that had an interest in storms. They thought it was pretty unusual. My mother liked storms pretty good, but my dad didn’t like them. My three brothers, Gordon, George, and Shannon were not very interested in storms.

When did you start photographing storms? Oh, back in the early 40’s, I started out using Kodak box cameras; the 120’s and the 616’s, while we were at the farm. I started taking slides when I was working up at Mount Rainier during the summer of 1952. The camera I have now, a Miranda single lens reflex, I got that in the latter 50’s. I have Soligar lenses, a 24mm wide angle and a 75-300mm. I sent most of my film to Kodak by mail for processing. I request card mounts for my slides so I can write on them. I remember the storms in the summers of 46, 47, 48 like they were yesterday.

Do you have a tripod? No, I just hand hold everything. I can hold the camera pretty steady down to 1/30th of a second.

What kind of film do you use? I love Kodachrome 64. I like the characteristics of it. it’s got a good color balance. I always use a warming filter or a skylight filter on all of my photography. For my zoom shots, I use a polarizer. I love to try to get sequences even if its far away thunderheads.

So when did you go out and start chasing storms? Early 50’s. I took the Desoto out, it was nothing real fancy. The chase season was from mid-June to mid-August. If you’re lucky the season lasted that long. The last few years at Detroit Lakes, there wasn’t hardly anything.

When was your first tornadic storm? June 20, 1957, the Fargo event. Our farm was about 32 miles east of Fargo. It was a big and dirty thunderstorm backlit by the sun. I was tied up at the farm and couldn’t chase it. There was a lot of damage in the Golden Ridge section on the northwest edge of the city of Fargo.

Have you ever corresponded with Dr. Ted Fujita who studied the Fargo event? Oh yeah. They thought I was his brother there for years. He had three or four different secretaries that knew me. I have his research paper number 42 on the Fargo tornadoes. I thought he done a really good job on that.

Did you ever hear about the tornadoes at Dallas or Union City? Yeah. Al Moller sent me a paper on the Union City, Oklahoma tornado back when they were starting to be good chasers.

How did you get to know David Hoadley and STORMTRACK? I don’t know how I found out about Dave or STORMTRACK. When I became aware of him, I wrote him and started getting STORMTRACK; it was just a newsletter then. I didn’t become aware of other storm chasers until David Hoadley began publishing STORMTRACK.

Did you like the TWISTER movie? It was pretty good. I liked the ending with the big wedge tornado.

Tell me about your big tornado day? It was June 28, 1975. I got a mile wide tornado near the town of Felton, Minnesota. It’s a little farming town about 20 miles northeast of Fargo. That was a Saturday afternoon and severe weather lasted well into the night. I got up there just because of the thunderstorm activity and the severity of it. I wasn’t expecting a large tornado but that turned into a doosey. It moved north-northeast at about 5 mph and it was on the ground at least 25 minutes. There was no tapering to it at all; it was just a great big monstrous thing. It wiped out about seven or eight farms.

Have your pictures ever been published? Yeah, Yeah, in Tom Grazulis’s Significant Tornadoes book. That book is a doosey. He sent me a video and a poster at that same time. Dr. Richard Scorer used several of my slides in the publication CLOUDS OF THE WORLD. I sold him pictures, oodles of pictures back in the 70’s when I was working at “Turkey Heaven". I have an article in the Correspondence section of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 54, No. 1. My wedge tornado appeared on the cover of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 58, No.6 along with my lengthy account of the record floods and storms in the summer of 1975.

Do you have lots of slides? Thousands of them. They are in trays, in boxes. I spent about a month labeling all the boxes for my move down here.

Have you taken many slides other than storms? Oh god, I’ve taken many pictures of clouds like interesting cirrus formations - like cirrocumulus. I’ve seen oodles and oodles of cloud formations.

Were you ever interested in meteorology? Yeah, Yeah, it goes along with the interest I had in storms. I learned to read weather maps from pilot manuals that my brother Gordon got for me back in the 40’s. Gordon was in the marines. I never did go to any meteorology schools.

What do you think of all this storm chasing mania going on with hundreds and hundreds of people chasing storms? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I hope they are out chasing for the same reasons we are out chasing.

And what is the reason why you chased storms for 45 years? Gosh, its for the awe at what your seeing. I was born loving storms. I became aware of this by the time I was in the third or fourth grade. l realized right away that I was different in that way and its been my strongest interest all my life. Geez, I’ve had lots of hobbies and interests in my life that’s come and went. I liked trains and planes but that lasted for about five or six years.


Sell or swap your wares. Only 25c per word with a 20 word minimum = $5. Quarter page ads are $70, half page ads are $130, and whole page ads are $250. Send your request for the next issue by February 15, 1997.

StormWatch, Winner: National Weather A.ssociation Media Award. StormWatch, the new official National Weather Service Advanced Storm Spotting Training Video is now available from the Texas Severe Storm Association (TESSA). StormWatch introduces the storm spotter and reveals the unique characteristics of the severe thunderstorm they must know. StormWatch highlights storms which produce deadly lightning, ravaging flash floods, damaging hail and destructive tornadoes. Send $24.95 plus $2.95 shipping and handling to: TESSA, P.O. Box 122020, Arlington, Texas 76012. Allow 3-5 weeks for delivery. Checks payable to TESSA. No purchase orders please. (1/97).

NEW RELEASE! THE CHASERS OF TORNADO ALLEY. This is it! The long-awaited sequel to the award-winning 1991 Public Television documentary CHASING THE WIND. THE CHASERS OF TORNADO ALLEY tells the true story about storm chasers and how they pursue Nature’s most violent atmospheric phenomenon, the tornado. A unique tale about the storm chaser’s love for storms and the Great Plains. Hosted and narrated by TWISTER’S Dean Lindsay. Produced and directed by Martin Lisius. Send check or money order for $19.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling to: Prairie Pictures, P.O. Box 122020, Arlington, Texas 76012. Please allow 3-5 weeks for delivery. No purchase orders please. (3/97)

Chasing the Wind...SPECIAL RELEASE! Since its Public Television premier in 1992, CHASING THE WIND has become an American favorite. This award-winning documentary produced and directed by Martin Lisius, is now available on home video through this special release. Ride along with storm chasers as they track the deadly but elusive tornado across America’s Great Plains. Their strategy and dedication pays off as they intercept one of the most spectral tornado outbreaks in recent history. CHASING THE WIND is the original storm chase adventure! Send check or money order for $17.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling to: Prairie Pictures, P.O. Box 122020, Arlington, Texas 76012. Please allow 3-5 weeks for delivery. No purchase orders please. (3/97).

Make your own Twisters!!! Working tornado models for sale. Generates a 3-4 foot vortex about one inch in diameter. This is not a water-based whirlpool. Produces several variations and goes through various stages of development. Recovers in six seconds. Great educational tool. Mesmerizing entertainment for the off season. Fully adjustable for experimentation purposes. Comes with instructions. From $40 for basic kit to $200 for turnkey. Various options available in between. Shipped freight collect. Send money order to Capt. Harlan Trammell, 3090 F Springhill Road, Smyrna, Georgia 30080 or call 770-319-1814 (home) or 404-776-3625 (pager) for details.

Join Cloud 9 Tours for another successful season of storm chasing. Ride along as experienced storm chasers take you with them to witness the wonders that nature has to offer in prime tornado season. We have state of the art technology allowing us to get updated weather data on the road. Contact us for details at (405) 447-3171, e-mail is stormsga)pair.com, or visit us on the internet (world wide web) at: http://www3.pair.com/storms/cld9/html

Stormtalk Book and Stormwatcher Video Set: There are 90 of the 550 original sets left. Once they are gone, they are gone. The hard bound book lists about 1000 storm chase terms, many are slang. Terms explain the relevance to storm chasing and key terms are cross referenced in bold type. There are over 100 illustrations, many sketches are done by David Hoadley. The 45 minute color VHS video shows you the many cloud types that are explained in the book. The set is $50 post paid. Make check or money order payable to Tim Marshall, 4041 Bordeaux Circle, Flower Mound, Texas 75028. Immediate delivery.

Leonard back cover shot

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