Longest single-day trip while chasing

Dan Robinson

After reading about Tony's June 12 marathon, I thought it would be interesting to hear about your longest trip completed in a single day (time and/or mileage)? While working on chase logs this week, I calculated a final total on my longest drive on a single day for chase purposes (and for all-time, for that matter):

On Monday, June 6, I drove from O'Fallon, Illinois at 4AM to Brookings, South Dakota at midnight, stopping in Hastings, Nebraska on the way to pick up Kurt Hulst and Nick Grillo. I was on my way home on the 6th when I changed my mind east of STL and decided to chase SD on the 7th.

A marathon trip totaling over 900 miles in 20 hours! This includes all gas and food stops, and a couple of short roadside 'safety nap' stops. To Kurt's credit, he drove for a couple of hours in NE so I could have a break.
On May 3, 2003, Brian Fant and I left DFW at 7:00 AM, headed for OKC. Upon arrival, we realized we needed to shift our target way west - as in, the Texas Panhandle. So, we continued to Shamrock. Once there, I switched vehicles and jumped in with Amos (we were planning to chase together from there on out), and after looking at data, we decided we needed to drop south. Eventually, we ended up in Quanah, but not without passing through Altus a couple of times (how we drove from Shamrock to Quanah via Altus, I'm not entirely sure...it was one of those days).

Of course, by then, we had already traveled roughly 500 miles - despite being only 170 miles from where we started.

Anyway, storms went up and we decided to chase a left mover back into SW OK. It crapped out, so we had dinner in Mangum, looked at data, and saw that the next day looked like Armageddon for the KC Metro area.

So, we did what any other devoted storm chaser would do and drove to freakin' Ottawa, KS before calling it a night. I think we arrived at 3:00 AM or thereabouts. As far as I know, that's the only time I've done over 1,000 miles in a single day. I believe Amos and I switched off at various points, but poor Brian (who decided to stick with us) drove the whole thing himself.
I left Wichita for Lubbock Texas at 8 am on June 12 this year. I chased the Kent county storm and then decided to pull the all-nighter and drove back to Wichita where I briefly stopped to drop off video at the station and swung by my house to grab charged batteries. From there I drove to North central Iowa to chase that afternoon and then drove South where I got a hotel room South of Desmoines. I don't know the mileage, but I was driving for 36 hours straight. It was brutal.

Another long one was on May 4, 2003. I left Wichita a 6 am and drove to Lawrence KS. to pick up a friend. We drove up and down the Kansas border second guessing our target for a few hours. We finally decided to go after the storm that hit Pierce City and we ended up South of Springfield Missouri by the end of the night. I had to drive back to Lawrence to drop my friend off before driving back to Wichita. I was in the car for 21 hours straight and drove a little over 1100 miles that day.
My longest drive on a chase was from Norman OK to Mobile AL for Hurricane Ivan....it was about an 800 mile drive each way.

As for longest drives overall, on my trips to CA and back it's not uncommon for me to drive over 1200 miles within a 24 hours span. Most miles I drove at one time was 1296 miles from Ely NV to Norman OK, which took almost exactly 24 hours.
June 12, 2000 - 1,179 miles

(Norman, OK - Fargo, ND)

Left Norman around 1am, and arrived in Fargo around 9:30pm the following evening. Missed all the tornadoes by about 45 minutes. Drove back the next day, also missing all the tornadoes, but because we basically just drove back to Norman, the mileage was only 924.
June 4, 2005

Left home here in west central Indiana around 6am, targeted Kansas City. Arrived in Kansas City around 1-2pm and waited for initiation. Decided to go west into Kansas, but then changed my mind at the last minute and headed for extreme Northwest Missouri. Caught my first ever tornado, then moved on to different storms before heading back home. Arrived back home a little after 5am. Total miles was approx. 1,255. Fell on couch, and almost couldn't be revived, lol kidding. It was definitely worth every second though, and would do it again in a heartbeat. :)
June 3, 2005

STL to Snyder, OK then to Tulsa, OK. Approx 846 miles and 13 hours. To say I felt pretty dead afterwards would be an understatement.
Dern Court, you beat me by 1 mile, LOL!

I can't remember the exact date... I'm here at work and it's in my logs somewhere at home... but I do remember the freaking mileage.

1254 miles in about 22 hours, back in April of 2000 (it was a Thursday) It was a setup that was progged to be a 'huge outbreak'. I left the Memphis, TN area around 5 AM and met Roger Hill in SW OK about 3 PM that afternoon. After chasing blue skies for about 3 hours (huge bust), I blasted back home, arriving around 3 AM. Slept for 3 hours and went into work later that day.

i wasn't worth crap that day either, lol
On May 10, 2003, I departed Huntsville, AL around 8 a.m., drove up to Central MO, then NE to Monroe City. MO, where I missed a tornado by literally 5 minutes. Chased that storm into Illinois and broke off after sunset.

That was a Saturday, and Sunday was Mother's Day. I'd promised my Mom I'd have dinner with her Sunday afternoon, so I drove all the way back to Huntsville, with a good number of miles being through intense rain. Solo chase. 1270 miles in 22 hours.

On June 10th, this year, I departed Hays, KS at about 11 a.m., after having caught several nice tornadoes in the NW Kansas June 9th outbreak. From there, I drove to the western OK panhandle (Boise City), then up to Springfield, CO, where I caught a monster shelf cloud with funnels at the northern end. Then drove up to Lamar, CO and headed east towards Wichita, with the intent of finding a hotel room between Wichita and OK City.

After about three stops and no luck (all rooms were sold out, and it was about 4 a.m.), I pulled over at a truck stop in Okemah, OK, and slept about 90 minutes until the sun came up. Then, drove from there back to Huntsville, arriving at ~4p.m. This was also a solo chase: ~1550 miles in 29 hours- technically over a single day, but all in one stretch.

May 22nd 2004 -- Norman (OK) to Topeka (KS) to Fairview (KS) to Beatrice (NE) to Hebron (NE) to Firth (NE) to Auburn (NE) to Topeka (KS) to Norman (OK) in less than 24 hours. Total mileage: 1050 miles.

June 10th, 2004 -- Norman to Salina to Norton (KS) to Red Cloud (NE) to Salina to Norman in less than 24 hours. Total mileage: 1040 miles.

At least both chases were "successes" IMO.
May 29 2004 Dave Bellmore and I drove from central Wisconsin to Omaha, NE...leaving at noon which turned out to be way too late, missed the show, turned around and went straight back home, pulling in the driveway in the new daylight, around 6 am. 18 hours...1100 miles
17 hours on April 10, 2005.

Not sure of the milage, but we went from Norman, OK -> Garden City, KS -> Wichita, KS -> Norman, OK.
I forget the exact day in 2004 but I drove from Norman, OK to Yankton, SD and then into SC MN and back to Norman non-stop. I did stop around Hebron, NE for a quick nap on the way back. Total trip was around 1400 miles and ~26 hours. The best part was I chased a MDT risk, blue sky bust!
I can't even begin to fathom how far nor what day it was ... but I believe it was the bust of June 10th ... drove from Laramie, WY to Denver ... on east to Goodland, KS where we turned south towards the OK panhandle ... ended up as far south as Amarillo, TX before heading north back into NM and up I 25 to 287 from Fort Collins and into Laramie ... anyone want to check the mileage for me?
My longest (non hurricane) chase was from Topeka, KS to Peoria, IL and back to Norman in May of 1995 total mileage was about 1200 miles. I guess it doesn't quite count as a 24 hour period since we departed Topeka about 6am and didn't arrive in Norman until after 10am the next day, but it was continuous.

As far as hurricane chasing goes, the longest one sitting stretch was from Norman to Homestead FL. 1600+ miles. Castro wouldn't let Hurricane Lili through Cuba, so it went around and out to sea.
My longest uninterrupted chase was June 12-13 2005, going from Kansas City to Hamlin TX and back in 25.5 hours (5:00am till 6:30am)... some 1500 miles. This is not something I'll do again anytime soon, but I wanted to get back home to potentially chase the next day to my northeast.

Just did an even higher-mileage trip for SW ND yesterday, but wisely got a hotel after the chase. Some of these marginal days, you wonder if the wear-and-tear on your car is even worth it. But the first marginal-looking day I sit out... mesoscale magic and a tor outbreak.
My longest chase day is the same as Andy Fischer's ... not surprising since we live in the same area I guess - but I think it turned out to be a long day for a lot of chasers, including the Denver crew, because none of us completely expected to have to go that far south. Felt worse for Doug Mitchell, though - since he was coming clear from Minnesota. I was on the road for a full 24 hours straight on June 12-13, all except for a couple of hours of which I was behind the wheel.
My longest chase day was some bust day a few years ago, we drove about 1800 miles in 27 hours. Luckily we were able to rotate drivers. :)

We left around 2am from Omaha for a MDT in SW OK/NW TX, picked up a partner in Lincoln, then headed to Hastings to pick up another friend. We all piled into one car and made it to OKC by noon, on the backedge of a huge morning MCS. At this point we had serious doubts, but we still pushed for Childress. We putzed around for a short time before realizing nothing was going to happen, and drove back to Hastings/Lincoln/Omaha, and I arrived back in Omaha around 5-6am.
During the May 2003 events I drove for 48 hours straight a couple of times, once on May 4th...and again on May 9th trying to catch up with storms spanning from Nebraska all the way down to Texas. It was a rough go...but some good times. :wink:
I have several marathon chases which I've recorded in the past few years... I'll rank these by mileage. The date was the target day as a couple of these were over three different "dates". All were single chase events, no back-to-back chase days.

April 19, 2003: 1814 miles in 38 hours (Outcome = busted).
May 24, 2004: 1706 miles in less than 36 hours (Outcome = high risk bust).
June 12, 2005: 1573 miles in 40 hours (Outcome = 1 tornado). We did 906 miles in 18 hours Sunday from Denver, CO to Snyder, TX.
April 5, 2005: 1350 miles in less than 36 hours (Outcome = not bad).
May 5, 2002: 1296 miles in 20 hours (Outcome = did okay).
April 10, 2005: 1186 miles in less than 40 hours (Outcome = 5 tornadoes). Blizzard left us stranded in KS for a bit before we could return home.
April 17, 2005: 1075 miles in 48 hours (Outcome = bust). I had a throat infection during this trip which ended me in the ER when I returned.
October 22, 2004: 1074 miles in less than 36 hours (Outcome= bust).
May 15, 2003: 968 in 22.5 hours (Outcome = 2 tornadoes). Slept 4 hours before and after this trip.


Sucks the top 2 longest where both busts! :lol:
June 2-4, 2005. 1,786 miles in 33 hours. Left Seneca, SC at 6PM on the 2nd, and drove to Morrison, Illinois to pick up a friend. I got there around 7AM, and WAS going to stay there for some sleep, but saw the potential for tubes in the Wichita - Topeka area later that afternoon, and didn't want to miss it. So, after loading up, we left immediately for Wichita, and got there around 6PM, and continued to Ark City on the OK/KS border. Great storm, dropped a tornado AFTER we left to go back north to Topeka, to get ready for the next days storms. Talk about tired!! And after all that, Saturday - the 4th was a bust for ME, but some other chasers had a good day. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat :D