First Chase: March 16th 2012

Supercell north-east of Abernathy,Tx

The first chase is always special… and vital. It’s a new season, a new beginning and its a time to get all the chasing anxiousness out that’s been pinned up inside for months. I know for me and my wife Leslee is a time of sync. To me its crazy how our personalities work together on a chase. I have this weird sense that always tells me where we need to be and also can tell on radar what town we will need to head to meet the storm at its peak time… problem is I have terrible sense of direction. Yep, I will admit it. Most guys have this amazing sense of direction, can read any map and always know where there going. This guy does not. My wife just so happens to be the best map reader ever, so we work well together and these first chases are so vital in us getting synced up and ready for the season.

So we leave the house, cameras ready and packed, rain x on windows, full tank of gas and our chasing blood running strong. With fat smiles on our faces we hit the open road and head towards Lubbock, Texas (we live in Amarillo). So even though there is not a cloud in the sky yet… I know there will be. I checked some data the night before and again that morning and conditions were decent. Most important of all though i had that special feeling inside I get when its going to be a good chase.

Now I will add there were two sets of chasers… both somewhat famous (no names). One group was located in Childress, Tx and the other group was in Midland, Tx. I will tell you one thing I do not do is fellow chasers or look up where there going and meet up with them. I use some weather data and a lot of gut. Ninety percent of the time this combination works so I go with it, plus it always feels good to be on a storm no one else is on (very rare).

Very weird fact about me, during storm chasing season when I wake up some mornings and often know the exact towns the storms will form near… no data just this crazy, peaceful feeling that just tells my gut “go here!”. On March 16th my gut said Lubbock, Tx, despite the popular choices of others to go to Midland/Odessa or Childress.

We get to Tulia, Tx and I tell my wife maybe we should just head to Childress since that’s where everyone is hyping up the potential storm activity. I thought to my self maybe my gut was wrong… so I turn down this lone road and B line it to Childress. While we are driving about 10 miles down the road east of Tulia, my wife  says “look over there towards Lubbock!” It was the most beautiful thing I have seen since last season! A huge cumulus tower starting to form an anvil! I will tell you as a chaser, nothing is more beautiful and will get your blood running faster than when you see that first anvil of the season. Then only thing even better is the first wall cloud.

I hit the brakes, bust a U and head towards Lubbock. We are smiling ear to hear, chattering, giggling and of course breaking traffic laws enforced to warn you to maintain a certain speed. I tell her “Its finally here, our first supercell!” It was beautiful! We met it north-east of Lubbock. We got near the right/rear of the storm (generally where the wall cloud and tornadoes form) and saw its wall cloud. The smell of the rain was so sweet, so fresh. I could not believe the moment had finally arrived and we got to see our first storm. We chased it for a while down dirt roads and small towns until it weakened a bit. I will add a did form a brief funnel and some small hail but no tornado.

So with chase one down and us feeling one with each other and one with the chase, we were finally all go and ready for the season ahead. Where was the first place we went after our first big chase? Dairy Queen in Abernathy, Tx of course! It was so amazing! Just sitting there with my wife eating in this little Dairy Queen parking lot and watching the anvil of this beautiful storm fading into the horizon. A perfect beginning to what would become an epic chase season.

It wasn’t the most powerful, it wasn’t the most photogenic, but it was our first supercell and know one else was on it…

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