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Storm Chases: Most successful event.

I am going to try to do an unscientific poll and will have the results on my blog when/if this thread takes off and I get some good feedback.

I post this question. In all the years you (my peers) have been chasing....what have your most successful chase day or days been?

Post one or two days in your careers that you all can reflect on and say "Yeah that was just perfect." Based on structure, productivity, lack of hassle involved, and/or sentimental value (I.E your first)

My goal is to tally up everyone's responses during the longevity of this thread (in my blog) and at the end of its duration I will post the unofficial results (on here) and maybe we can figure out a clear cut day that everyone seemed to gravitate towards.

It is the off-season and it sure beats flaming each other ;) I look forward to seeing the wide spectrum of results that ST features!

#2 - April 23rd, 2000 - First trip to the plains at 12 years old! Got down there on the 22nd, spent the night in El Reno, OK, and was treated to my first Oklahoma thunderstorm. The next day (23rd) chased SE OK and saw my first Oklahoma tornado just east of Mc Alester. A beautiful supercell formed in SW Pittsburg County at around 2 PM. We were gassing up about 20 miles north of Mc Alester when we noticed this massive Cb to the south. It was so eerie to stand at the Mc Donalds (next to the gas station) and hear constant thunder while the sun was shining with blue sky all around. Everytime I dream, I just imagine looking south at 2 large updraft towers.....while to the west and north.....clear blue sky. As we hit Mc Alester, a large wall cloud came into view to the SE. It was amazing. Directly to the east was the core of rain and hail and then almost immediately a low rain free base with low hanging wall cloud. If you have been to Mc Alester, then you know the bridge on the main road in the middle of town? Passes over some rail tracks I believe. As we crested that, the wall cloud and long flanking line came into clear view. If I am feeling generous I may post a video still of it. (I am very reserved when it comes to posting material, I have loosened up in 08 though so one day I may open up to the world) Anyway we stopped just east of town in a JC Penneys parking lot and filmed a brief needle funnel that grew into skinny cone that dipped 50% to ground level. Never knew whether or not this was a tornado until one day a few years ago I looked it up on SPC.


Followed the storm east to Red Oak but never saw a
ny else worth noting. Even if it did produce further east (which it actually did) I wouldn't have seen it in the Rocky Mounta....I mean SE OK terrain.......

#1 - April 14, 2001 - My first and second Kansas tornado! Got down there on the 13th stayed in Cameron, MO. I was 13 years old and back then all we had was a weather radio. We knew storms were going to fire in OK and KS, but had no laptop and the only other means of media was from AM radio and a small 6 in black and white tv. While fueling up in Wichita (were going to head to OKC) we overheard ICT mentioning tornadoes along US 54 corridor in Kansas. We decided to head west on 54 to Pratt. We got there at about, 1:30 PM and booked a hotel room at the Super 8 across from the Pizza Hut and next to the Mc Donalds along 54 just east of 281 I want to say. A severe T storm watch went up to the north for the Salina area as we ate at Pizza Hut. As we paid, a tornado watch went up for Oklahoma. So we were caught in the middle. We were baited south to Medicine Lodge, thinking if anything went up in N OK we MAY be able to get down there and catch it. Back then the NWR coverage was bad in this area so we were going all visual. Looking for towers and trying to stay away from the stratiform precip to the east. Finally a storm popped just SW of Medicine Lodge. We were thinking showtime. It struggle to do much of anything as we head south. Finally just south of Medicine Lodge we let it pass over and were not impressed. So we sat there for ten minutes admiring the Kansas landscape. We had a brief transmission from ICT of a severe thunder storm warning for the storm we just let pass over (by that time it was near Attica) so we blasted north up 281 to Medicine Lodge, thinking we would be blasting east to Attica.

This is when the best decision I have ever had in my storm chasing career occurred. "Dad I have to go to the bathroom" :DOH!: Much to my dad and brother dismay we stopped for a minute while I "changed the oil" As we fired up the car, a clear cut radio transmission from the Pratt County spotters. Tornado warning western Pratt County! WOW where are we? Where is that? It's only 20 miles ahead? Lets go! As we blasted north on 281 this LARGE core came into view to the north. From east to west, the northern horizon was filled by dark precip. Then there it was....the large rainfree base to the west and the low ragged wall cloud about 10 miles off (near the town of Haviland) For the next 15 minutes we sat 7 miles south of Pratt and watched this beautiful jaw dropping storm move ESE. We let the wall cloud get within 1/2 mile of us (It was so surreal to see scud developing 100 feet off the ground and get drawn in to the center of circulation within such a close proximity of us) All I can say is thank God we had 3 video cameras rolling (2 camcorders and 1 dash cam). The video I was taking SUCKED. If I wasnt shooting my shoe laces, I was filming the power lines above my head. My dad was taking far superior and amazing footage(well least I think so) of the whole event to this point. I made a nice little presentation for my MET class a year ago of this whole event but again I rarely release my work so again I may change my mind eventually.

Anyway, as this storm was moving overhead we dropped south a mile to see a large cone funnel dipping down around the same area we were in. Then we heard it.....what the.......is that???? whoooosssshhhhhhh! Then it hit, like a giant white fist. The RFD. Winds gusted to 80 mph from the WNW and rocked us. I was standing on the opposite side of the road and was blown to my knees (hell I was only 80 lbs back then) That was the inexperience in us though. We should have went south and continued east, instead of going south and sitting south. We got blasted by wind and dime hail for 5 minutes and then it all stopped and it was a brilliant blue cloud free sky behind it. As it blasted east, we tried catching up to it, but with our crappy minivan, we could not take the dirt/mud roads. So we lost time driving back through Pratt, and then east on 54. We got the beginning of the Pratt tornado, but missed the large hybrid wedge that Mike U and Jay A documented. Just as we got east of Pratt, we saw it again. A stout stove pipe about 5 miles to the SE. With a beautiful rainbow painted across the sky. It was a shot made in heaven. Nothing I have seen since compares to this view.......The only picture I have ever released of this day says it all


After this tornado lifted trailed the storm east to Clearwater, KS, where we saw another brief (30 second if that) touchdown just before dark. Here are the reports from the day.
2324[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]UNK[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 7 SSE PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]KS[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]3754[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9867[/SIZE][SIZE=-2] (DDC)[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]
2330[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]UNK[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 5 NE SAWYER [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]KS[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]3755[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9860[/SIZE][SIZE=-2] (DDC)[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]2339[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]UNK[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]10 SE PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]KS[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]3753[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9858[/SIZE][SIZE=-2] (DDC)[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]2345[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]UNK[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 3 S CAIRO [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]PRATT [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]KS[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]3759[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] 9856[/SIZE][SIZE=-2] (DDC)[/SIZE]

This far and away blows away anything I have seen to this day by far.

So as I said before, how about you??
It's impossible to narrow it down to even a few "most successful" days, because there are so many variables for the different events. I'll list a few highlights though...

May 3, 1999 - 10 tornadoes, including my first F5. Also made a fair chunk of change from this event, which helped pay my long-suffering utility bills that Spring.

May 29, 2004 - 10 tornadoes, including the most incredible meso/tornado cyclone/tornado behavior I've ever seen or captured on video. It's hard to beat tornadoes zig-zagging and doing full circles.

June 12, 2004 - My best video day ever, and my most incredible tornado experience. The only day I've ever truly "heard" a tornado roar.

May 4, 2007 - Meteorologically-significant storm and behavior. The three largest tornadoes I've ever seen, including the 100th of my career.

May 24, 2008 - Difficult but productive day, with 11 tornadoes. Although many of them were hard to see or needed lightning to bring them out, this was my career-best for # of tubes.
May 29 gets the call for two years..

2004: My first 10+ tornado day including the Conway Springs show. To this date, still some of the best video I have shot in terms of tornadoes and their antics.

2008: My second 10+ tornado day including Kearney, Tipton, and Glen Elder. This chase takes over as my best to date not only cause of the wild weather we witnessed, but all the events of the day in terms of the deployments we managed to do.

Overall, over a quarter of my career tornadoes have been seen between these two events. Funny to think they are the same date!
Two days stand out although the March 28, 2007 Beaver, OK day would be a close third.

Sept 16, 2006 - wins hands down in terms of positioning on the Cannistota tornado, first looking down on it's formation from the overpass and then letting it come to us down I-90. First time I heard the tornado roar and had debris raining down around us.

May 10, 2004 - 7 tornadoes in one county over two hours moving 10 - 15 mph with awesome contrast and visibility. A single meso, tornado factory.
This is a list of every day chasing where I've seen at least 1 tornado. My most succesful chases are in bold:

May 5, 2002: Wasnt a very succesful chase but it was my first ever tornado. We missed the Happy, Texas tornado but was able to catch an F1 after dark near Seiling, Oklahoma.

May 7, 2002: Saw a tornado in the cluster of over 20 tornados in SW KS

May 4, 2003: Saw an F3 tornado near Baxter Springs, Kansas.

June 11, 2004: Witnessed two tornados near Fort Dodge, Iowa

June 12, 2004: Saw 3 tornados including the Mulvane F3, Rock tornado, and the tornado before the Mulvane tornado.

June 13, 2004: Witnessed two tornados from a surprise supercell near Lincoln, Nebraska

May 22, 2007: Saw the tornado north of Hays

May 23, 2008 - Saw Quinter #1 as it approached the interstate and second tornado form on the other side of the interstate. Dropped south and saw at least one more tornado near Ness City.

May 24, 2008 - On a day where I was expecting to chase in Kansas or Nebraska I witnessed 3 tornados NW of Oklahoma City.

May 25, 2008 - Saw the landspout tornado near Bison, Kansas.

May 29, 2008 - Witnessed one of the several Kearney, Nebraska tornados.
My best day would have to be May 23, 2008.

I observed three tornadoes that day including both of the Quinter tornadoes. Both Quinter tornadoes were amazing to watch and the second one was the largest (and received the highest EF rating) of any tornado that I have seen so far. This day was also a lot of fun to forecast for me. I made up for the previous day's forecast and picked Wakeeney as a target spot that morning. This was close enough to allow us to position on the Quinter tornadoes.

After witnessing a third tornado near Ellis late in the evening, we moved to Hays where we just sat in the city for 20 minutes listening to the tornado sirens go off. I really enjoyed this as well because I love the sound of tornado sirens. :)
Well my dad and I have had our share of exciting and successful chases but these stand out in my mind.

September 16, 2006 - We intercepted our first tornado while chasing in SE South Dakota, one of two others we saw that day.

April 24, 2007 - Even though most chasers think of this day as being a bit weak in terms of not that many strong tornadoes I thought it was a great chase for my dad and I. We sat in the same spot for nearly 30 minutes watching numerous funnels as well as several touchdowns near Nickerson, KS. The structure on that storm was also pretty impressive.

May 4, 2007 - I wouldn't exactly call this day "successful" mainly because it did very severe damage, but to be on such an historic storm to me counts as successful. Yes, the Greensburg storm was just unbelievable to see in person with its size and power, but like I said it was sobering to see all of the destruction.

May 22, 2008 - This day was insane for us capturing 9 tornadoes on four different supercells. It is one thing to see nine tornadoes from one meso, but 9 from four different supercells including the Collyer, KS storm that ranks as one of the most impressive storms I have ever seen!

September 12, 2008 - This was a surprise day that bagged us a weak tornado just about 10 miles from my house! That is what made this day such a wild and exciting one. The structure this day as well was some of the best of the year!
March 28, 2007 - Goodland, KS

My best by a long shot. Five tornadoes including the perfectly photogenic rope in my avatar. First multi tornado day. First Wedge. First multi simultaneous tornado event. I still dream of that day. Thanks to Jerry Funfsinn for getting the video footage of that day as I was ill equipped.
May 10, 2004: - Our first truly successful chase day. We were near Limon, CO and got on the same supercell Verne mentioned above. We witnessed many tornadoes and some nice storm structure!

May 4, 2007: - This day isn't memorable in terms of numbers of tornadoes. As I recall we only saw one or two. We did catch the LP Supercell near Woodward, OK after it had already produced. The structure was incredible! The most significant event though, was the Greensburg Tornado. Our first EF-5 and probably the largest and strongest tornado we will ever see!

May 5, 2007: - The day after the Greensburg tornado, as many of you can recall, was a very active outbreak day. Visibility was poor on most of the tornadoes, but we still came out fairly successful with at least 4 tornado captures.

May 23, 2008: - After our two-week chasecation, we flew back out from Florida for this outbreak. We saw the first and second Quinter tornadoes. The second EF-4 tornado produced the best video footage we've ever recorded.

May 24, 2008: - It was just a "gut feeling" that lead us south into Oklahoma rather than north into Nebraska and northern Kansas, but boy it paid off! The most tornadoes we've witnessed in a single day at 12. A phenominal day with some amazing storm structure and a few close high-contrast tornadoes.
Some very good responses so far. Most people are adding five, which is alright since it adds more variety, so I will add my next 3 chases.

#5 - June 7th, 2008 - Chicago area tornadoes. Procrastinated a lot this day, wanted to nap not chase (was running on zero sleep for a while). How can you pass up this day though? Especially one so close. The rest is history....... Didn't get on it from the start, but still got an amazing up-close view and bagged 2 tornadoes.

#4 - May 30th, 2004 - Camped in the El Paso area for my target. Got baited east to I-57 corridor and missed the Secor tornado that was in plain sight of my original target of El Paso. Still grabbed a brief spin up near Martinton, IL, before the storm occulded and twisted its way into Indiana. Then got cored by the cold frontal squall line near Kankakee.

#3 - May 30th, 2003 - Storm B. Take a pick this day. Storm A through G from Monroe WI to Clinton IL. All produced tornadoes as they moved SE at 25. Was on the storm that tracked through the Joliet, IL. Caught it near Mendota, IL, and caught the West Brooklyn, IL, tornado, and tracked this supercell down Route 30 all the way into Joliet, where the storm burned us. Didn't see the Joliet tornado, but was 5 minutes behind it, never easy seeing damage.

#2 - #1 - listed above

I am going to start the unofficial poll in my blog, and will update as time allows.
June 25, 1998 - First tornado, 20 miles from home.

April 11, 2001 - 3 tornadoes from Parnell to Oxford, IA in my first successful cold-core chase.

May 10, 2003 - Lima, IL to Good Hope, IL - 2 large tornadoes both on the ground for over 30 minutes then to cap off the day a beautiful rope tornado at dusk with 2 cone funnels on either side of it.

May 30, 2003 - Got home from work at 3pm, drove 45 minutes west, got a tornado between Monroe and Brodhead, WI, and was back home by 8pm.

July 14, 2003 - Had a tornado develop <100 yards in front of us near Searles, MN. Two more tornadoes that day, one near Lake Crystal and another brief tornado near Janesville, MN.

May 10, 2004 - Simla to Cedar Point, CO - 7 tornadoes in 2 hours from one storm (in a <2% SPC tornado probability area - didn't get suckered into SE WY and the higher tornado "probabilities"). Occlusion after occlusion produced tornadoes as the storm moved very slowly to the northeast. You could have setup a lawn chair for each tornado.

May 5, 2006 - First anti-cyclonic tornado near Patricia, TX.
For beauty, power, visibility and "tornado time", May 23 2008 Quinter was my best chase ever. I watched the first cone approach me while I waited on I-70. It lifted and formed another brief tornado to the north. The next storm approached the area and I watched an EF4 wedge from a hilltop as it moved north. It was nice to have a few minutes of pure tornado time when I could just sit and watch the storm. Then I was able to head north, then west on I-70 in time to see the massive trunk cross the interstate. Visibility and contrast was amazing.

My second best day (not even close to May 23, 2008) was May 29, 2004 near Jamestown and Cloud, County Kansas. I saw 6 or 7 tornadoes including a wedge. Although visibility wasn't as good as 5/23/08, the day had a wide variety of interesting tornado shapes including a wedge, trunk, a long narrow "s" shaped tornado, anticyclonic tornadoes along with some flying debris. Throw in some 4 inch hail and it was a very cool day.

My 3rd best day was May 25, 1997 where I saw tornadoes in the Harper and Anthony, Kansas areas. I really enjoyed the first tornado of the day. Although brief, I was able to watch the development of a supercell from a small tower while mainly staying in one place. Later in the day, I saw the famous 'Dillo-Cam Perth, KS wedge. There were multiple funnels, another brief tornado and beautiful structure. The first tornado of the day is also sentimental for me since it was my first tornado.

The May 25, 1997 outbreak along with the tornadoes I saw on May 26, 1997 were during a two week period chasing with Charles Edwards on Cloud 9 Tours. I learned how to chase on that trip and chased on my own during later visits to the Plains.

Bill Hark
March 12, 2006 - The only IL storm I know of to earn it's own name besides the Tri-State Tornado of 1925.

April 2, 2006 - Historic 25 tornado outbreak. Great day for unusual, fast moving spin up's.

May 17, 2006 - Bizarre, moisture starved long track NW to SE moving supercell.

July 26, 2006 - Tornado producing storm that pretty much drifted due E along a stalled boundary and was incredibly easy to follow.

September 22, 2006 - Colorful storm at Logan county IL.

December 12, 2006 - Slow moving, late season wall cloud with amazing color.

My life count for tornadoes is ridiculously small but color is what i'm after and 2006 was a great year for it. 2004 and 2005 were awesome too. 2007 and 2008 has it's moments but nothing like those mentioned. As for your poll, my first two entries are worthy for inclusion since some here have been on them as well but not so sure about the rest. Also put me down as witness to May 10, 2003, May 30, 2008.
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My most successful chase was the first one with my future wife. We correctly decided not to drive around a blind bend in the road. Had we not, we would have driven directly in to a tornado actively destroying the town...

Which only goes to show the wisdom of the words from this years season of Storm Chasers that no sane scientist chases in Arkansas.
Even though I have some "less-big" sentimental favorites, here are my top 3.

May 22, 2004 - Alexandria and Daykin-Hallam wedges... on storm from its birth on the dryline bulge west of Belleville KS. A big CAPE big SRH day that produced giant tornadoes.

August 24, 2006 - watched a storm initiate north of Pierre SD, move ESE, and produce several tornadoes, missing the 3 largest due to being out of position on spotty roads. It was a "dry" classic for much of its life til it reached the warm front, with high-based high-contrast tornadoes... the storm cut me off right before producing the 45-minute wedge near Wessington, and even missing that it was still the coolest storm I've ever been on.

September 16, 2006 - the Salem/Canistota tornado was probably the nicest tornado I've ever seen (I prefer cones and stovepipes to wedges)... lots of cool fluid motions, and developed high contrast as it crossed I-90. For some reason it seemed to be moving extremely fast, too, though I don't think the storm itself was ever moving faster than 45mph.
As I expected, the highest-profile event of 2008 is leading this poll. Just a reflection of the influx of new blood into chasing and (more to the point) into StormTrack.

I'd love to see this poll across the entire storm chase world, newbies and old veterans alike. I'd wager 1991 and 1995 would give Quinter a run for its money.
As I expected, the highest-profile event of 2008 is leading this poll. Just a reflection of the influx of new blood into chasing and (more to the point) into StormTrack.

I'd love to see this poll across the entire storm chase world, newbies and old veterans alike. I'd wager 1991 and 1995 would give Quinter a run for its money.

I was actually hoping to get their feedback.....I knew the more recent events would dominate. I shot out some emails to many veterans and maybe I can get a response or two. I am surprised I haven't seen a Dimmitt, Pampa, Allison, Andover, Red Rock, or even Spencer reply yet..... It is what it is I guess.
I will 4th May 10, 2004........I think it will be a long time before I ever feel so satisfied after a chase as I was that night. What an awesome day. Sat north of Simla and watched the storm form for well over an hour before the first tornado touched down.
Believe it or not, for me, it was June 5, 2006. I chased with friends Ron Gravelle and Scott Keddie.

I felt the entire day was planned out very well. During the early afternoon hours, we had time to grab some Dairy Queen ice cream and visit the site of the Manchester, SD tornado. We then headed west to Sanborn county in SD, after a classic supercell erupted. We did not see any other chasers in sight, it felt like we were the only ones out there. We sat beside a field after taking some back roads, watching the wall cloud gather and the rear flank downdraft come down with a clear slot behind the wall cloud... all while the birds chirped. We could hear an unforgettable hail shaft roar sound from the core.

We then decided to head south to get out of the storm's path and get into position to watch tornadogenesis. Above a lush green field of grass, the meso began to really tighten and rotate more. Soon, a brief small multi vortex tornado formed. Right after that, a debris swirl formed to the right. Several minutes later, a larger classic elephant trunk/cone shaped tornado had formed. It did eventually become rain wrapped before dissipating and we hoped it did not hit anything. We got photos and video. We saw a really bright green core after the tornadoes, and then we got rear flanked, calling it a day.

It felt like we were in our own little world of wonder. To me, that was a complete satisfying chase experience I will never forget. It never had the structure like the Beloit/Tipton storm, but it still had discernible supercell features and we enjoyed the show without anyone else getting in the way. We never really had to panic and rush on this chase, things kind of planned out itself, which was nice.
I was actually hoping to get their feedback.....I knew the more recent events would dominate. I shot out some emails to many veterans and maybe I can get a response or two. I am surprised I haven't seen a Dimmitt, Pampa, Allison, Andover, Red Rock, or even Spencer reply yet..... It is what it is I guess.

There might be less than a half dozen people combined on this board who witnessed any of those events - or that at least check this board regularly.