MAY 17 - JUNE 1, 1997: My first chase trip to the plains states. Summaries are primarily from the southern plains and include several supercell days, as well as my first tornado intercept on May 25th, 1997 near Anthony, Kansas.
MAY 22 - JUNE 5, 1998: A mega-death ridge plagued the plains states during my second chase trip. Then to add insult to injury, I missed the F4 tornado event in Spencer, SD by only a few miles at the end of my chase vacation.
MAY 14 - MAY 30, 1999: Overall, a very successful chase vacation and well worth the Expedia coupon code I used to go. Supercells were encountered on numerous days, with the best day occurring on May 20, 1999 in the Texas Panhandle when a couple of tornadoes were filmed.
MAY 19 - JUNE 3, 2000: Plenty of severe storms, funnel clouds, and photogenic Supercells contributed to a decent chase season across the southern and central plains. Even a display of the Northern Lights!
JUNE 23 - JULY 5, 2000: This is the first year I was able to make more than one chase trip to the plains states. The best action occurred in the northern plains...fantastic lightning, big Supercells, and even a bow echo tornado encounter in Montana.
MAY 11 - MAY 29, 2001: This was my first year working as a driver/guide for Tempest Tours, and was another good year filled with plenty of chase action. Everything from being stuck in the mud near Ceevee, Texas to a nicely backlit tornado near Ada, Oklahoma on May 20th.
JUNE 28 - JULY 9, 2001: My second trip to the plains took me to western plains of Nebraska and South Dakota. This was a very good season for the Nebraska Sand hills region, as severe storms erupted almost on a daily basis.
MAY 21 - JUNE 10, 2002: My search for Supercells this year took me from near the Mexican border in Texas north to the state of Montana. Some memorable chases were the "Pampa Beast" on May 23 and the Crosby County Supercell on May 27th. From May 26th until June 5th I served as Tour Director for Tempest Tours.
AUGUST 16 - 24, 2002: A trip to the desert southwest was made in search of lightning activity from monsoon thunderstorms. There are no summaries from this period, but the MONSOON - LIGHTNING PICTURES are worth a thousand words.
MAY 9 - JUNE 1, 2003: My first chase day resulted in a tornado intercept near Monroe City, Missouri on May 10th. This was followed by a rather dismal period storm wise for my stint as the Tour Director for Tempest Tours until May 23rd. On my last day, a nicely structure storm was intercepted on May 30th near Fort Morgan, Colorado.
JULY 2 - JULY 13, 2003: My second chase trip to the plains faired better as numerous some great storms were encountered on several days. An exceptional fun chase day occurred on July 5th near Elsmere, Nebraska when I try to out maneuver a nasty storm.
SEPT 18, 2003 Hurricane Isabel: A trip was made to the eastern shore of Virginia to intercept the northern edge of Hurricane Isabel.
MAY 15 - JUNE 5, 2004: Like many others, this was by far and away my BEST chase season to date! Twenty days were spent in chase mode which resulted in 16 severe storm intercepts, three of which were tornadic (May 22, 24, & 29). Two of the tornado days occurred while serving as tour director for Tempest Tour #3B from May 22nd to May 28th. In addition to the nearly two dozen tornadoes that were observed, I witnessed one of the most spectacular supercells of my career on May 20th in Morgan County, CO!
JULY 26 - AUG 2, 2004: The season remained active well into summer, so I couldn't resist making another trip to the plains in late July...my latest chase trip ever! I found severe storms almost daily in the states of Colorado, Nebraska, or South Dakota. I came away with some of the best lightning captures of my career as well as another incredible "mothership" near Sioux Falls, SD on July 31st!
SEP 25 - SEP 28, 2004 Hurricane Jeanne: An intercept of hurricane Jeanne was made on the Florida peninsula on September 25 and 26th, followed by two days in search of tornadic storms within the rain bands from Georgia to Delaware.
MAY 18 - JUNE 13, 2005: Overall the 2005 Spring Chase Season proved to be a good one for most storm chasers. Twenty three of my days were spent in chase mode which resulted in 16 severe storm intercept days. At least 9 tornadoes were intercepted, but unlike 2004 none of these tornadoes proved to be long-lived or significant events. However, what may have been lacking in dramatic tornadoes was more than made up for in spectacular storms. Two of which were among the best structure storms I have ever seen (June 2nd near Arriba, CO and June 7th near Wanblee, SD). My chase time between May 28th and June 11th was spent serving as a staff member and tour director for two consecutive tours with Tempest Tours.
AUG 17 - AUG 19, 2005: A late summer "Spring-like" severe weather set up prompted me to make a trip to the central plains, my latest and shortest trip ever! Two of my three days in Nebraska and Kansas yielded intercepts on tornado warned storms. The other day was spent enjoying weaker storms amid the quiet and beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills region. On that day a tornado outbreak occurred well to my east in Wisconsin which was too far away to consider for intercept.
MAY 3 - MAY 31, 2006: From a tornado standpoint, 2006 was one of the worst years ever experienced by the Plains chaser. After several early season tornado outbreaks in MO, OK, and TN the month of May began with a string of several severe storm days followed by a 10 day period of virtually no storms what-so-ever. Storms returned for the later part of May and early June, but tornadoes were still not to be found. Several days yielded beautiful supercells, lightning displays, and plenty of blowing dust. Surprisingly, one of the most memorable days of the season took place on May 28th when a mammoth several thousand foot high wall of dust (Haboob) evolved from a mostly uninteresting line of storms that turned severe in western Nebraska. Ironically, most chasers missed this event when they blew off the day as it became apparent the big supercells weren't going to happen.
JUNE 1 - JUNE 16, 2006: Continued from the May trip above.
MAY 4 - MAY 31, 2007: Unlike 2006, the 2007 chase season offered plenty of storms to chase. However, once again tornadoes were few and far between. Early May did offer a few days of tornadoes mostly in Kansas, but many of these occurred after nightfall (Greensburg, KS 5-4-07) or were imbedded in horrid viewing conditions. Fortunately almost every day in May (and June) offered storms to chase, many of which were severe and/or offered dramatic structure. Our best tornado day occurred on May 22 near Hill City, but for me the storm structure really stole the show. Overall a very good season despite the lack of tornadoes!
JUNE 1 - JUNE 17, 2007: Continued from the May trip above.
MAY 13 - MAY 31, 2008: May proved to be a very stormy month across the Great Plains and even offered several significant tornado days. May 22 and 23 offered plenty of tornadoes across western Kansas, but the storms were fast moving and gave mostly fleeting views of their tornadoes for those fortunate enough to be in the exact right position at the exact right time. I was not one of the fortunate ones on those days. My luck changed on May 24th when nearly a dozen tornadoes were observed from one isolated storm in northern Oklahoma. Tornadoes or not, May offered day after day of storm chasing opportunities.
JUNE 1 - JUNE 26, 2008: Continued from the May trip above, June continued to be a very stormy month across the plains states.
MAY 7 - MAY 31, 2009: May started out rather dull for the most part but storm activity gradually increased as the month progressed. Although tornadoes were largely absent in May, there were plenty of supercells to chase during the last two weeks of May. Unlike the past few seasons were numerous trips were required to the northern plains in search of the best storms, most of the activity remained in the more seasonal active areas of the central and southern plains.
JUNE 1 - JUNE 19, 2009: June turned out to be much more active then May and even produced a couple of significant tornado days---June 5th in Goshen County WY and June 17 near Aurora, NE.
MAY 8 - MAY 31, 2010: May was particularly active and offered the most tornadoes since the 2004 season. Several significant tornadoes occurred on the dates of May 10th (Red Rock, OK), May 22nd (Aberdeen, SD), May 24th (Howes - Faith, SD), and May 31st (Campo, CO). Vortex2 was out in full force for a good part of May which added to the ever increasing chaser "hordes", culminating on May 19th with a horrendous rolling convergence of dangerous drivers in north central Oklahoma.
JUNE 1 - JUNE 27, 2010: June continued to be quite active with several more significant tornado day occurrences. Two painful misses for us occurred on June 16th & 17th when large tornadoes raged across SD & MN while we were tethered to a short tour farther south. We did however enjoy a great tornado day near Last Chance, CO on June 10th and again on June 20th near Chugwater, WY which also included a large hail event immediately after viewing the tornado.
MAY 13 - MAY 31, 2011: Overall May was an active month for Supercells, but came up a bit short on tornadoes compared to last season. We observed significant tornadoes in Missouri on May 22nd and again on May 25th. Unfortunately poor visibility and an even poorer road network greatly hampered our view of these tornadoes. As usual, the best photographic opportunities occurred farther west in the open plains with better visibility.
JUNE 1 - JUNE 27, 2011: June was rather a dead month for tornadoes overall, but did include several days of spectacular Supercells which made the month a success photography wise!
APRIL 28 - MAY 20, 2012: My season started a bit earlier than usual and I managed to find a tornado in the Texas Panhandle on my very first day of chasing! A few days later our tour group experienced one of the best supercell days of the season in central Nebraska. The rest of this period was spent heading up Tempest Tour 2 and the Excell Photo Tour along with Richard "Tank" Dickson. The overall pattern was fairly stormy, but lacking in jaw-dropping supercell structure days for the most part. However, we did have one tornado day that featured a 16 minute tornado in south central Kansas.! We were also able to add a few spectacular nighttime lightning displays to our memory cards as well.
MAY 21 - JUNE 12TH, 2012: This period included Tempest Tours 4 and 5 as well as a few days on my own while chasing with Tom Trott, a Tempest Tour guest from the U.K. Five tornadoes were observed during this period as well as several nicely structured Supercells. There were only a few down days and one day between tours that resulted in missing one of the best tornado outbreaks of the season on May 25th in central Kansas. On the other hand I had one of my best days ever looking into the notch of a massive HP Supercell that yielded several brief tornadoes and awesome structure on June 7th near Calhan, CO. Unlike the last few seasons I was fortunate to capture a a few nice lightning displays as well during this time period.
MAY 1 - JUNE 5, 2013: The season started off very slow under the influence of a mega-high pressure system that scoured out the entire plains region all the way to the Gulf of Mexico rendering storms virtually non-existent during the first week of May. Conditions improved for the middle of the month that included multiple tornado days each occurring rather close to major cities. Some of the wildest and best looking storms of the season occurred during the last week of May when several incredibly beautiful supercells formed over the central and high plains. A deadly tornado occurred on the last day of my tour season on May 31st near El Reno Oklahoma that was rated F5 with a damage width of 2.6 miles, the widest path ever recorded. Unfortunately, this tornado also took the lives of three well respected storm comrades, Tim Samaras, his son, and Carl Young. A devastating loss to their families and the entire chase community.
MAY 19 - JUNE 10, 2014: This was the first time in many years that I headed out on my own and would not be working any of the tours, I wanted to be stress free and to be able to fully enjoy the storms. Severe storms were encountered on all but one or two days, but many miles needed to be traveled in order to do so. In all, over 11,000 miles were logged. My longest trek was a two day marathon drive north from San Angelo, TX to Miles City, MT...but the effort eventually paid off with a really beautiful supercell near Miles City. Tornadoes were few and far between and were mostly brief and not very photogenic. Not so for the supercells as many were truly spectacular! All in all it was one of the most enjoyable periods of time I spent on the plains and it was nice to hook up with many of my old friends from time to time.
JUNE 26 - JULY 7, 2014: I thought my storm chase activities were done for the year when I got a call from Bill Reid asking me if I would be interested in doing the last tour of the season for him. I had only been home a week, and at first was not too interested in doing this. But after thinking it over I decided since the tour would be out of Denver and I could tie it in with a trip to visit my son in Colorado as well as do some mountain wild flower photography afterwards. The pickings were really slim on this tour, but on most days I managed to find us some decent storms...in many cases the storm of the day within a 300 mile radius!
MAY 20 - JUNE 9, 2015: Another year chasing on my own with no tour involvements. The timing for this season was almost identical to 2014 and overall the pattern was once again very good! Supercells were encountered nearly every day along with two tornado days. The highlight of the season for me occurred on June 4th when multiple tornadoes occurred in Elbert County Colorado. A slow moving supercell moving off the Palmer Divide produced several anti-cyclonic tornadoes in various shapes and sizes. I was extremely fortunate to witness this event and it ended up being one of the most successful chase days of my 19 year storm chasing career. My goal this year was similar to last season, to seek out unique photo opportunities away from the masses of chasers whenever possible, and at times that meant passing up what would become the best storm target for the day.
MAY 21 - JUNE 3, 2016: Yet Another year chasing on my own with no tour involvements. I left a day too late to intercept a fantastic sculpted supercell in far western Kansas on May 22nd, but then enjoyed three consecutive tornadoes days on May 23, 24, & 25th! Any one of those days would have made the trip worthwhile, but unfortunately everything slowed down after that. Although I intercepted storms during the next 6 days, I can't say that anything was really all that spectacular given the miles driven. Worse, at the end of those six days prospects were basically non-existent for severe storms anywhere on the plains for at least another week. I had no desire to hang around that many days so decided to call it quits early and head for home. One of my shortest trips ever, but given the three consecutive days for significant and/or photogenic tornadoes at the beginning of my trip I am not complaining.
MAY 15 - MAY 21, 2017: A season with plenty of storms and supercells but lacking in tornadoes this time around. Once again I arrived a day late to get to the tornadoes as they originally looked to occur in southwest KS, but formed much farther south in the central Texas Panhandle. But certainly not a disappointing season with plenty of storms to chase and a few quality supercells. The only negative was the ever increasing amount of chasers to be found throughout the plains. No longer is this just an Oklahoma or Texas issue as it can be bad anywhere on the plains and especially when only one or two storms form, even more so on a holiday weekend in May or early June. Going later in the season may be the only way to avoid the masses and still find quality storms farther north.
JUNE 26 - JULY 3, 2017: A rather rare second trip to the plains was made at the end of June. This was in part because the pattern looked to be very good for supercells for a several day period the last week in June, and the fact that Nancy wanted to visit with the granddaughter in Colorado for a few days while I was chasing (I had spent time with the granddaughter during the previous chase trip in May). Again, the pattern was not good for tornadoes, but storms were to be found on just about each day of our trip. The fact that the storms were every bit as good as during the first chase trip, were confined to a relatively small geographic area and that very few chasers were encountered has me thinking of abandoning the early-mid season trips and stick with the late June period. It seems by that time most folks have been burned out, spent out, or have simply tired of it all and have gone home. Tornadoes may not be as frequent, but structure storms would be and the chance to perhaps capture a somewhat unique scene holds a lot of appeal to me.
JULY 22 - AUGUST 3, 2018: I wasn't able to get away during the usual months of May and June, but from past seasons I knew there would be plenty of storms to chase in the central and northern plains well into July, and possibly even August. As mid-July approached I started watching for a pattern that might yield severe storms for at least two or three consecutive days. July 24th started to look good for supercells somewhere in northwestern Nebraska followed by the potential for severe storms somewhere in the central plains in the days that followed. I wanted to allow at least two full travel days to get into position so that on the third day I could be assured of reaching my target area by early to mid-afternoon. The plan worked as I was able to reach far northwestern Nebraska from my previous overnight stay in Cozad. I intercepted a nice supercell on the 24th just west of the Nebraska border near Van Tassell, Wyoming. Several more photogenic supercells were encountered during the week that followed, and even a brief tornado just outside Kimball, Nebraska. I was fortunate that the quality of the storms was equal to what can be expected for any given week in May or June, but without the multitudes of chasers clogging the roads and clamoring for a photo-stop. That alone made the late season trip worthwhile and something that will be strongly considered in the years ahead.
MAY 16 - MAY 28, 2019: Various commitments and circumstances had me leaving for the plains a few weeks earlier than originally planned, but this turned out to our advantage with a very active storm pattern. Nancy did most of the driving for this trip and although tiring, we enjoyed chasing storms for 12 out of the 13 days of chasing and visiting some places that we had not been too in a number of years. Severe and tornado warned storms were encountered daily including two stand-out tornado days for us on May 17 near McCook, Nebraska and with the main even occurring on our last chase day near Waldo, Kansas. With the exception of one day in Colorado few other chasers were encountered, which was surprising given the peak of the season for annual chase vacations. As for the quantity and quality of storms this trip would have to be rated overall as one of our best ones. Some interesting stats include 8,964 miles driven which includes visiting my son and family in Colorado prior to chasing. Average daily gas expense came in at $76 and our average lodging costs were $86 per night.
JUNE 19 - JUNE 26, 2021: After missing out on the 2020 chase season, in part due to the Covid19 pandemic, it was great to get out on the plains and see some nice storm structure once again. Like previous seasons, we first spent several days visiting with family in Colorado, and used this as a jumping off point at the first decent potential of severe storms. This occurred on June 19th and we had almost continuous days of storm chasing opportunities up until June 26th. Although the season was rather short and devoid of tornadoes during our time out there, I was not disappointed. We had fun roaming around the plains and even had a couple of days with great storm structure to photograph. We logged approximately 3016 chase miles with a trip total of roughly 6625 miles, so a little less overall that past seasons. Some season stats are as follows. Average daily gas expense came in at $77 and our average lodging costs were $116 per night. The gas prices were about the same as in 2019, but this looks to go dramatically higher for the 2022 season. Our hotel stays were definitely higher since we now elect to upgrade a bit to nicer hotels that are a bit cleaner, are quieter, have elevators, and usually a warm hot breakfast.