Worst chase country

Dan Robinson

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worstchase.jpg


I took this on an actual chase. Rural Kanawha County, WV
 
Not trying to one up Dan here, but since the subject was brought up, I have to say I-29 in NW Missouri is ridiculous. Driving from the US136/I-29 junction to St. Joesph (about 50 miles), I think we saw the western horizon to the ground three times.
 
LOL! That's pretty bad, Dan!

I once drove around the area from Huntington to Matewan (near Williamson KY) after reading a story about how that's where the "Hatfield/McCoy Feud" occurred, and remember it looking about like that. Central PA, where I am going to be relocating, is almost as bad, especially around the state forests N of State College.

But, as far as where I will absolutely, positively, never-ever chase again, that would include down by the the TX/LA line E of Nacogdoches TX, where you're lucky if you can see the sky directly over your head due to the tree canopy, and also SE OK, where the trees may not be quite so bad, but there are also big hills.

Bob
 
LOL! That's pretty bad, Dan!

I once drove around the area from Huntington to Matewan (near Williamson KY) after reading a story about how that's where the "Hatfield/McCoy Feud" occurred, and remember it looking about like that. Central PA, where I am going to be relocating, is almost as bad, especially around the state forests N of State College.

But, as far as where I will absolutely, positively, never-ever chase again, that would include down by the the TX/LA line E of Nacogdoches TX, where you're lucky if you can see the sky directly over your head due to the tree canopy, and also SE OK, where the trees may not be quite so bad, but there are also big hills.

Bob
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Heh, how about that spot we were in last month down there west of San Antonio and south of I10 Bob? That had to be the worst! And after dark no less!
 
Hahahaha.... Oh yeah.

Well, my view woulda been about the same whether we were there or driving from Dumas to Dalhart. Your taillights. J/K. (Coulda seen stuff from the lightning in the PH)

P.S. That reminds me: A couple years ago I changed planes in SAT. Descending and ascending, I looked out the window and thought "Gee, I thought it was real hilly around SAT", but all I saw is flatness all around. Were we right where it flattens out when I bailed on you and G last month, David?
 
As a hiker and storm chaser, I know that great hiking territory = bad chase territory, and vice versa.

The worst chase area you can find yourself getting tempted into in a central United States chase is definitely the Ozarks of NW and NC Arkansas and into southern Mo. Worst chase county in the central U.S. would definitely be Newton County, Arkansas, in my opinion. But all the things that make it bad chase terrain ... thick forests, ridges, deep valleys, bluffs ... make it a hiker haven!

Out here ... most of Va., NC, W.Va. is extremely challenging terrain/forests. I'm learning the high view spots in SW Va. for that rare supercell that will lumber through sometime when I'm actually able to chase it. Shenandoah Valley would be doable for a decent storm intercept.

The hiking is great out here, though!
 
I go rock climbing and hiking in Newton County when time permits......and the only way I see that you could chase there is with a canoe and an ATV. Cars won't get you to many places.
 
Thats why I dont chase East of Kansas or Oklahoma or Texas. Might as well chase storms in my backyard in a box :)
 
I got suckered all the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas on one chase. Big mistake, that place is a terrarium.
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Awwwww................Lake Tenkiller State Park is GREAT chase country!

No? :rolleyes:

March 11th 2006 sucked a little bit around the Salina/Kansas Oklahoma areas. On the upside - you can get some great fried shrimp in Kansas Oklahoma (yes Kansas Oklahoma - that is town name/state name).

FWIW - some of the most frustrating chase terrain I have been in is in Texas. Parts of the legendary Panhandle along with areas south of there towards Lubbock suck quite magnificently. What the hell is it with all that low scrubby brush down there - you can't see your nose in front of your face! Machettes, please!!! <_<

I think it frustrates me so much because I know I'm in the Texas Panhandle and I KNOW that the terrain is supposed to be chasing nirvana. Give me eastern Arkansas, southwestern Missouri or northern Iowa over THAT anyday! :D

K.
 
Dan, I was going to find an image from my chases including in Virginia but I couldn't. That's pretty bad even for eastern standards.

Bill Hark
 
Karen I must difer with your assessment of the Panhandle.:)

I dont see how you can compare Arkansas to the panhandle for chasing. yes we have small bushes (called mesquite as in smoked or BBQ)in many parts but they are found mostly off the Caprock which is not what we consider chase territory. nobody likes to chase in the canyons. Not because of the bushed but becuase of the hills and valleys. But on the caprock the road options are endless between Amarillo and Lubbock and we have the dryline!! I have chased pretty well every state in tornado alley except North Dakota and nowhere is the chasing better than the panhandle and west oklahoma. I think West Oklahoma should have been its own choice in the best area poll since it is so different than chasing near or east of I-35. The panhandle and west Okahoma is pure chase heaven for anybody who enjoys nice scenery and can actually chase a storm with good visibility and road options. I have ben chasing on these roads for over 20 years and still love it every time I am out there. I think you are just used to much greener areas like home and dont see the beauty of the plains but to each his own.


Now to stay on thread...mostly anywhere east of I-35 is crappy for chasing. there are exceptions ofcourse but in Texas, Oklahoma and much of Kansas it is pure trees and hills east of I-35. The worst area I have ever been is near the Arklatex region or Ozarks. massive trees and hills and winding roads. The 2nd would be the piney trees area of east Texas. I was in this area as we drove to Beaumont to chase Rita. There were times you couldnt see straight up due to the tree canopy.
 
Here's my take on it... :)

Worst chasing (nearest tornado alley) = western Arkansas

Primo best chasing = Kansas

Fantastic chasing = TX and OK panhandles, Nebraska. Roads are avail in W TX but they can end suddenly. Sandhill roads of NE are less appealing but doable.

Great storms, roads not so great = eastern Colorado

Massive, incredible storms but very hilly terrain with lakes and trees = OK and TX east of I35

Awesome lightning: New Mexico and Arizona during monsoon Jul-Sept. Best chances in AZ: Eastern part of the state. Lightning hotspots: Chiricahua Natl Mon (SE AZ) and North Rim Grand Canyon (NW AZ). Other high activity areas July-Sept: Tucson, Benson/Willcox, Tombstone. Closer to Phx: Superior, Globe, Apache Junction, Fountain Hills, Tonto Natl Forest, Black Canyon City, Carefree/Cave Creek, New River and anywhere on the Mogollon Rim (trees though but there are sweeping views). Huge summer storms: Verde Valley/Prescott. Sedona = lightning + red cliff opportunity. Flagstaff: too many trees and storms in the daytime. Not good chasing: Mex borderlands (too dangerous), Yuma/Quartzsite/Parker - very dry extreme desert outback. Basins and soaring mountain cliffs. Heat into 120s during summer. Not recommended - huge stretches of vast desert, no call boxes on the Arizona side, but there are on the Calif desert side on I10. If you have to drive to Los Ang during summer, go by night, bring cell phone and CB radio. Indian land = check with tribal office to see if permit required. ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH FULL TANK and LOTS OF SPARE WATER. Distances are vast, services are many miles apart.

My first AZ chase place with very good luck = Safford, Arizona. Remote, but great chasing there.

Great hiking + great lightning = Arizona!
Here is how it works out:
October through April = desert mountain hiking
May through Sept = alpine mountain hiking (mornings - careful of lightning in the afternoons)
July through Sept = lightning!! :)
 
Karen I must difer with your assessment of the Panhandle.:)

I dont see how you can compare Arkansas to the panhandle for chasing[/b]

I think Karen was only comparing EASTERN Arkansas to the Panhandle ... terrain-wise, it's similar, with flat, cleared agri land that has expansive views, but of course the chaseable area is smaller, you don't get the wide array of supercells that far east (no LPs, some Gulf-style HPs that are hard to see inside), the season is much shorter (not much after May 15 most years), and there's more haze the later in the season you get.

Those of us who have had a good catch there (Karen's was earlier this month; mine was January 1999 before I left the area) are a little partial to that little strip of plains between unchaseable terrain on either side!
 
I think Karen was only comparing EASTERN Arkansas to the Panhandle ... terrain-wise, it's similar, with flat, cleared agri land that has expansive views, but of course the chaseable area is smaller, you don't get the wide array of supercells that far east (no LPs, some Gulf-style HPs that are hard to see inside), the season is much shorter (not much after May 15 most years), and there's more haze the later in the season you get.

Those of us who have had a good catch there (Karen's was earlier this month; mine was January 1999 before I left the area) are a little partial to that little strip of plains between unchaseable terrain on either side!
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Well of course. Thanks Kevin for putting it so astutely. There is, obviously, absolutely no point in comparing the Talimena Scenic Drive to Hereford, Texas! :rolleyes: It's all relative......just another one of those threads to help pass a boring morning at work.

I would add, however, that I don't think the dryline is an exclusive feature of the Texas Panhandle! :lol: ;) It works its magic no matter where you are......climatological features know no physical boundaries, really - apart from extreme topographical influences on the mesoscale.

K.
 
I agree karen that the dryline isnt an exclusive to the panhandle but nowhere is it sharper due to the extreme dry air of NM and the closeness of the gulf. A 50 degree DP spread is common. And nowhere else is it the main driving force in storm initiation. Without the dryline the panhandle would get awefully boring.

And now ya'll have me curiouis about eastern Arkansas since I have never chased there. Still not the same but I like chasing new areas. adds a new challenge.
 
I agree karen that the dryline isnt an exclusive to the panhandle but nowhere is it sharper due to the extreme dry air of NM and the closeness of the gulf. A 50 degree DP spread is common. And nowhere else is it the main driving force in storm initiation. Without the dryline the panhandle would get awefully boring.

And now ya'll have me curiouis about eastern Arkansas since I have never chased there. Still not the same but I like chasing new areas. adds a new challenge.
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Yes I agree with you there about the potential for nice, sharp drylines out there. I'll never forget the sharpness of the dryline on May 12th 2004 - the Attica day. I don't have the exact obs imprinted on my memory but I remember watching the temps skyrocket and the dewpoints bottom-out behind that dryline punch that was coming in. I have some good captures and an animation of the dryline/bulge progression on that page there, too.

I don't really know about the characteristics of the dryline further east - but I am sure there are some generalized differences. Kevin summed up this area's potentials and caveats well in his earlier post.

Jay you'll need to do eastern AR some time - even if it's just to chase in the horrid terrain around the Searcy area and then burst out onto the chase-nirvana of the eastern part of the state. It's like night and day. It's exciting to see tornadoes in an area that you would never have dreamed possible or plausible. April 2nd this year still seems like a dream to me. I have no idea how we managed to see what we saw that day......apart from Jason driving like some possessed bat-out-of-hell to keep up with everything until it all started going tornadic. We did it, tho.

I'd like to have a good tornado day in southwest Missouri or southeast Kansas, personally - that's an area which has still to produce for me and I can see its potential.

K.
 
Here in Ontario (if anyone cares lol) the Niagara escarpment is horrible to chase in. Last year we headed out towards the Hamilton area, what a mistake that was! You literally need to stay on the hwy to see anything half decent. Lots of trees, hills, and poor road options. From now I am just gonna stick to areas W, NW and SW of the Waterloo area. Or even better, why don't I just forget this place and head to the plains? :)
 
LOL

I envy you all, even in the worst of North American chase country.

Even if there were tornadoes here, the island is only 4 miles wide. If you like short chases, come on over! Then again, it makes choosing your target area easy---pick a nice beach and watch the horizon. (actually, daytime convection results in lots of waterspouts just like the Florida Keys.)

Then again, if you like tropical storms, it is a different story...
 
Tom,

Boy oh boy, does THAT put things in perspective! Your post reminds me of how we should all be thankful for all the things, great and small, that we have. I hope that is not a depressing thought for you! LOL! Actually, I bet many of us would kill to be there on long, cold, hard winter nights.
 
South Central MO and North Central AR are probably the worst areas to chase in close to "Tornado Alley", but I think Central and North Central Illinois is the best area I've ever chased......incredible road network combined with non-stop farmland and good-sized cities for internet access and after chase dining.
 
Here in Ontario (if anyone cares lol) the Niagara escarpment is horrible to chase in. Last year we headed out towards the Hamilton area, what a mistake that was! You literally need to stay on the hwy to see anything half decent. Lots of trees, hills, and poor road options. From now I am just gonna stick to areas W, NW and SW of the Waterloo area. Or even better, why don't I just forget this place and head to the plains? :)
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Hey Laura - I'll up that a little. I generally won't chase east of Brantford - Woodstock - Stratford line. Just awful!!!
 
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