Having arrived back in Dodge City at 3 AM, we got off to a sluggish start, but managed to stir because of our anticipation with Pioneer Productions. We had absolutely no idea of what lied ahead. The Pioneer team was composed of four members that included producer Brian Leckey who visited Carroll High last month. The team was delayed one day because their chase vehicle was literally destroyed by baseball sized hail two days before. They were caught when their vehicle developed a flat tire forcing them to "ride out the storm."
Our chase vehicle began a slight transformation when Pioneer began to connect the cameras and microphones. One camera was on a side window in the back of the vehicle. Producer Brian Leckey rode in the passenger seat with a hand-held camera. Cameraman David Maguire of Sydney, Australia rode in Pioneer's chase vehicle and videoed from the window. Also in our vehicle was a sound producer who monitored the sound level of the video.
Our target area for the day was Woodward, Oklahoma. While enroute, the Pioneer team filmed first from their vehicle taking several shots passing our vehicle, then dropping back. After reaching the target area, we stopped at a local convenience store where we experienced "chaser convergence." Several chasers joined together to discuss the latest strategies while gathering more up-to-date information.
After the staging, it was time for real action. We chased several storms in and around the Woodward area but none produced. Late in the afternoon, we received reports of an isolated supercell in southern Kansas just west of Meade. The storm had already produced a large tornado in an open field. With an estimated time of arrival of only 45 minutes, we quickly set out to intercept the storm.
Nearing the Kansas border near Buffalo, Oklahoma, we were began to see significant cloud structure through the hazy skies. Soon thereafter we witnessed at least a large wall cloud with a lowering very near the ground. From our position, however, we could not tell whether or not the lowering was on the ground. We continued north where we ran into the VORTEX chase team as well as Doppler-On-Wheels (DOW). Some careful maneuvering placed us on a large crest with an excellent view. Upon our arrival, only five chase vehicles were on the scene. This quickly changed. Within 20 minutes, over 60 vehicles were present with over 100 chasers converging. It was the "Woodstock" of chaser convergence.
Atop the hill, we observed a very agitated wall cloud which produced many short-lived funnels. One funnel did manage to form a needle like multiple vortex tornado which was on the ground for less than one minute. After some quality observing, the storm performed a right move like its predecessors causing the crew to make a quick and orderly exit.
A second microburst struck the ground approximately five miles to our west which created a large and spectacular dust storm in our path. As we approached the storm, we stopped to make sure that no rotation was present before proceeding. We entered the dust storm and experienced strong cross winds and near zero visibility.
We headed back to Dodge City for a much deserved rest and food.
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