Great Mud-Stucks

Dec 10, 2003
Great Plains
How many of you have been stuck in mud to the point of missing tornadoes? Have some fun and share your great and frustrating stuck in the mud experiences.
Well. Never to the point that I missed any tornadoes, (At least not any that I could have gotten anyway.) May 31, 2005 two of our vehicles got stuck east of Herford, TX as a meso went just to our east. There may have been a rain-wrapped tornado in it, but we will never be sure if there was or wasn't.

The road was paved to begin with and we took the south option to stay ahead of the storm. A few miles down, the road turned to mud. We got stuck, then the rain came and the road turned to a river.

Chis Novy is using some of that video in his talks.
Almost. On April 18, 2006 I was following a very young storm in Daviess county MO. I decided I'd cut northeast on a farm road to save time. Well, it was made of clay of some sort, and a new updraft exploded south of the original one... quarter hail and light rain began falling, and the road turned to slick mud before the heavy ran had even begun. I was helplessly stuck, which was one thing... but then about 45 min later the local radio station reported that the storm was producing a large rain-wrapped tornado west of Chillicothe. With my previous ~6 chases that year having been quite tough (fast storm speeds), I was really quite disturbed that I had messed up an easy chase with slow storm motions. Had to wait a couple hours for a tow, since the tow was from Chillicothe and they were being assaulted by this slow-moving supercell. Lucky for me, the storm didn't actually produce any tornadoes.

My treads after I got stuck... didn't miss anything because of it, and fortunately, Verne and Michael pushed me out (and amazingly enough staying clean)...

My worst mud experience came in my early days and has probably lead to me NOT chasing at night... I was on the dirt roads of Colorado between I-76 and I-70 and got stuck in the mud. An incoming storm and its driving winds slid us into a rapidly filling ditch where my car went nose-first into the water. Heavy rain and hail aided the ditch's attempt to take my car. I figured we were screwed until a lone vehicle with a tow rope came down the dirt road and in the hail and rain, pulled me out as water was getting to the windshield. He saved our butts big time. It was a slow drive back home cause of all the mud in my front end. Had to triple up on a car wash the following day to clear the mud from the front end. A very scarey experience!
Another case, where I didn't miss the tornado, but instead, watched the tornado less than 1/4 mile away while stuck.
I had a film crew with me shooting storm scenes for "The Day After Tomorrow" The camera was on a tripod in the back of a 15-passenger van with the intent of shooting out the back of the van in the case that we see a tornado.
We approached the tornado from the west and it appeared ahead of us. When we saw the tornado, I turned off onto the entrance to a pasture, facing the back of the van at the tornado. well, there was a layer of mud just 1/2 inch thick that made the tires spin. The film crew left everything and ran to the other vehicle. When the tornado made a turn and demolished a farm house, I decided to join them.
6 of us piled into a jeep Cherokee that was already overloaded with luggage and backed up down the road to a safe distance.
Wen we returned to the van, there was a small tree branch stuck in the steering column (I left the window open) and there were small boards stuck in the ground all around.

Video can be seen here.
I was on a chase East of Limon Colorado the storm was intensifying rapidly and moving east. I hopped on a side road and gave chase. Well after a bit the rain and hail were making it hard to drive, (I had a 95 olds cutlass) well it was pitch black out and i ended up having to straddle the road due to the grooves that were cut out in the road as the center of the rut was getting higher. Mud and my old car didnt work. I ended up plugging the siren box and speaker that was under the front end with mud. I messed up the alignment and crapped the shocks. Needless to say thats why I use a truck and vehicle 1 is in the junkyard somewhere. ( I think i have a pic will put it on if i find it.
Had two in 2005 alone. On one particularly active evening in Texas panhandle (early June) we got ahead of several supercells that just went insane. It looked like a giant severe squall line was heading straight for us. It was pitch black dark outside and I wanted to stop for some lightning photography - lightning intensity was incredible. We pulled on side of the road but the view was not great so I decided to cross the road and drive a bit into the nearby countryside (along a small side road), away from the lights and traffic. Well, as soon as the Jeep got about 20 yards along this road we realized the road was actually so muddy the SUV instantly sunk into it. There was a small irrigation ditch on the side of it, too. As soon as we tried to back the SUV out of there it started slipping sideways toward the ditch. Than it began pouring and the tornado warned line of supercells was almost on top of us. Lightning everywhere. I never felt so helpless. Well, my wife got behind the wheel and started slowly backing the Jeep while I pushed on the side of the vehicle, away from the creek. My feet kept sinking up to my ankles into the mud but it actually worked ! The SUV got out of the deep mud and we were able to get (push) it all the way back to the hard pavement. I simply could not believe it. Then we got hit by the "bad" weather and drove for another hour very very slow through flooded roads till we got to the interstate. What a night.

A week or so before that we were in Colorado, it was beginning of June of
2005. A very nice supercell went over us and dumped huge amount of hail and rain all over the place, temps went down from about 75 to 43 pretty much instantly. The land was covered with hail everywhere. We stopped at a gas station in Limon, CO and then hit the interstate again, going east.
After a while I noticed something was banging on the back side of the Jeep. So we pull over on the side of the interstate. I did not realize the right wheel was parked off of the pavement. Upon trying to keep going again both wheels on the right side got stuck deep in mud no matter how gently we tried to get out of there, 4x4 and everything, right. You can never rely on that. So after a while a cop pulls over and we explain the situation. Well, he is like "you guys better get it out of here... if the highway patrol shows up you'll get a ticket for **failure to properly maintain your vehicle**...". Damn, I thought. Ok, it was our mistake. But at least he called for help which got us out of there a bit later without any further problems...
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My "stuck-in-the-mud" fun was 40 miles south of Joplin, MO. (2005) A friend of mine, (my best friend), who had never chased before, met me there from Illinois. For two hours I told him about the "do's and don'ts" of chasing, and naturally the subject of getting stuck came up...10 minutes before I did it. I told him that I couldn't understand how ANYONE could get stuck when it's such a dangerous thing to do. So.....a tornado warning came out about for a county maybe 20 miles from where we were, and I tried a U'ee. The roadside LOOKED solid, but i immediately sank up to the middle of my tires, and was stuck, as we watched a hail core get closer and closer, but no tornado. Luckily, 4 guys on 4-wheelers drove up, and with 5 pushing, (I was one of them..the LEAST I could do), we got out in time to escape the golfball sized hail. I was mud-covered, but more concerned with my big mouth. The tornado? Who knows? Never got to the right side of the system to see if anything ever developed. That was the only storm of the day too.
May 9, 2003

We were on the storm that would go onto produce all the nighttime OKC area tornadoes early in its life, out by Cordell, OK. We were doing 60mph when, as we came over a hill, our asphalt road tuned into slime. Susan Walling was driving, and did a helluva job not killing us, as she steered through three fishtails, wagging back and forth, and got us down to about 40mph as we finally careened off into the ditch, getting up onto two wheels briefly before settling back down on all fours. We had so much momentum that we ended up back on the road, but stuck. Floss Ralston and Bob "Dad" Schafer were behind us, and suffered the same fate (except they didn't almost crash, but said ours looked spectacular from their view).

So, it took us exactly one hour and fourteen minutes to free both vehicles (by sheer manpower) but we finally got ourselves back onto the paved road. We had a small roadside celebration of our triumph over tragedy, and all seemed well in the Universe. Then Tom Tackett (our good friend and loyal nowcaster) called to say the storm was looking tornadic heading towards the OKC metro. We got back on the road headed home, hearing live play-by-play of the tornadoes we were missing. One of the worst days of my chase career.

A few years later I heard a rumor got started that we'd crashed and were killed.