June 4, 2005 – Chase to Northeast Kansas

Finally a weekend chase opportunity, only took until June to happen. My initial target was somewhere west of Des Moines, Iowa, preferably in southwest Iowa. Friday night’s model run was showing really good ingredients in that area as well as in Kansas. However I wanted to target Iowa to avoid the massive chaser convergence that would be in Kansas. The SPC had a moderate risk posted for the same area so I knew I was at least thinking somewhat on the right track.

I got up at 6:00am on Saturday morning and prepared for the chase. After a stop at the ATM and then the gas station ($2.34/gal), I hit the road at 7:00am. I took I-74 west towards the great state of Iowa, checking data every once in awhile. When I checked the latest Day 1 outlook, I noticed it had been upgraded to a high risk. (yippeeee!) Thoughts of May 29, 2004 came to mind as I proceeded westward. As I was driving, I kept text messaging Skip Talbot to find out his location. Despite him leaving his home in Bolingbrook, IL much later than me, he ended up getting to Iowa before me. When I got to the Des Moines, IA area, I called him to find out where he was going to target. He informed me that the latest model runs were keeping everything further south into KS/MO and that he was heading to the KC area. At first I wasn’t sure about going that far, but I’d already gone this far so might as well keep going.

May 29, 2004 – Chase to Northern Kansas

I had been waiting for this weekend all year as it was the only time during prime chase season that I’d have 3 days off work. After last weekend’s outbreak in the plains, I didn’t think this weekend could be as good. After sifting through all the models, forecast discussions, and the good ole gut feeling, I picked a target area of Salina, KS. (which I found out later that quite a number of other folks did as well!) Due to the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend, the SPC, NWS and the media were really stressing the severe weather possibilities. It appeared the plains were in the bulls-eye on Saturday and then the midwest on Sunday. My goal was to chase in Kansas on Saturday, then race back home early Sunday morning and chase in Illinois. I’ll save you the time of asking the question and just tell you that I am indeed insane. 😉

After loading up all the gear, I departed Champaign around 7:30am on Saturday morning. We had blue skies here with a very comfortable, almost chilly conditions. I knew that where I was going, it would be a lot more warm and humid. I took I-57 south to I-70 and made my journey to the west. During the drive, I periodically checked weather data to see what was going on. There appeared to be a decent cloud cover over Kansas which had me worried at first, but with later satellite updates I noticed those quickly dissipated throughout the morning. I also noticed the SPC had issued a high risk for a big portion of NE/KS/OK. I made a stop in Columbia, MO for some gas and lunch at McD’s and wondered why both were cheaper out there than it is here in IL. 😉 Anyway, I got back on I-70 and continued west to my target area. I passed through Kansas City around 2:30pm and was alerted of a PDS tornado watch for Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. (whew!)