Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Goodland KS 5/20/14

After making our way across Kansas, we settled into a hotel in Goodland to stage ourselves for Wednesday chase. We managed to find a steakhouse in town called "The Shiraz" for some dinner and drinks. My partner was very happy to receive the large pours of wine after the day on the road.

Of course we were keeping an eye on a storm that had recently gone through the Denver metro and was taking aim directly at Goodland.

It seemed to be taking its sweet time to make any sort of headway across the plains toward us which gave us ample time to finish our meal and drinks, go back to the hotel, grab some camera gear and settle in a spot just outside of town in plenty of time to watch the sunset against the supercell that was headed in our direction.

And this is what we were treated to:

This cell was about 35 miles due west of our position. Sadly, we had gotten there a little too late as the sun just wasn't as colorful as thirty minutes before. You know, that "Golden Hour" thing. If you don't? ask a professional photographer.

While we were in our photo moment, we had a local chap pull up next to the field we were in, asked "if we knew we were tresspassing?" to which I answered "Yes" and before I could get the next apologetic sentence out, he replied "I'm just pullin' your leg" Whew. Half thought I was gonna see something come off the gun rack next.

We proceeded to have a nice chat about weather, chasing, the town of Goodland, and how at one time he wanted to be a storm chaser but through his over the road trucking job he'd seen one or two and that kind of broke him of the interest. Damned if I can remember your name though. In any case, thanks for the laugh and the hospitality. I always try to get a taste of the local scene any time I'm out chasing.

As the sun set, so did our conversation. Our new friend departed with us smiling and staring at the now dimly lit cell making its way closer. Did I say the whole reason for us being out there was to capture some lightning shots while the storm was still some distance away?

Early attempts were kind of feeble with the low level clouds obscuring the electrical show up on top. So, we decided to pack it in and head back to the hotel for a nightcap. Upon our arrival, we met up with some Texas chasers who were chasing the very same cell we were photographing. One of the chasers said that it had spun up a brief tornado but they had gotten no evidence due to the fact it was rain wrapped. It did however, throw out a lot of large hail according to others who'd just drive through the storm and decided they'd had enough for the night and needed some hotel refuge.

As we were chatting with the Texas bunch, I noticed the electrical activity was coming off the rails and beginning to spew forth some very impressive cloud to cloud spreads. My partner had had enough for the day and wanted to just enjoy the rest of the evening. I however, wanted to grab at least a few shots before I hit the bed for the night.

I set out with the intent of going back to the original site that we'd claimed earlier. It was now dark enough where I just needed to get out of the lights of the city. A whole six blocks. I set up my camera and fired off several shots before it was clear that the storm was clearly weakening and turning to the North as it did so. It never became an issue for the good folks of Goodland, but it was a great light show for those who were there to watch it!

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