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2004 Great Plains Storm Chasing Trips

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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The 2004 storm season in the Great Plains (A.K.A. Tornado Alley) will go down in storm chasing history as one of the best ever, in terms of the quality, accessability, and sheer number of photogenic storms and tornadoes. I was blessed to have a part in this phenomenal season, covering 12,400 miles in fourteen states over a four-week period from May 10 to June 15. In the course of fifteen chases in May and June, I was priveleged to witness and film twelve tornadoes, incredible storm structure, spectacular lightning and countless other atmospheric phenomena across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa. 2004 will be a year to remember!

The following links contain a full illustrated logbook documenting all of the chase trips during the 2004 season. Digital photos, 35mm slides, video captures as well as a few video clips are included in each log.

Chase 1: May 11, Central South Dakota
The first of three chase trips during the 2004 season begins with a long drive to the Northern Plains for a classic triple point low setup. Highlights: 40-45 MPH sustained southerly winds, and sharp frontal boundary distinct enough to feel within a distance of 100 feet.
Chase 2: May 12, Southern Kansas
From South Dakota, it's another long drive to southern Kansas for an incredible tornado-producing supercell. Highlights: Three photogenic tornadoes, large hail, fantastic storm structure and frequent lightning.
Chase 3 & 4: May 18 & 19, Kansas & Iowa
Two bust days start out the second trip to the Plains, first in Kansas on the 18th and again in Iowa on the 19th. Highlights: Scenic drives, chaser convergence.
Chase 5: May 20, Eastern Colorado & Western Kansas
A string of severe weather days begins with a chase to Colorado. Highlight: Sunset lightning show.
Chase 6: May 21, Northeastern Nebraska
A chase to northeastern Nebraska yields a catch of a supercell and tornado. Highlight: One tornado, great storm structure and an incredible lightning show.
Chase 7: May 22, Southern Nebraska
A drive to southern Nebraska on a high tornado risk day comes with missed opportunities. Highlights: Mammatus, funnels, storm structure.
Chase 8: May 23, Northeastern Oklahoma
An unexpected chase on what started out as a 'down day' in Tulsa. Highlights: Spectacular supercell structure, wall cloud, frequent lightning and a possible tornado.
Chase 9: May 24, Eastern Kansas
A trip to northwestern Missouri and southern Nebraska ends up in northern Kansas with missed tornado opportunities. Highlights: Supercell structure and frequent lightning.
Chase 10: May 26, Northeastern Oklahoma
Another unexpected chase in northeastern Oklahoma yields another success. Highlights: Two tornadoes and supercell structure.
Chase 11: May 29, Western Oklahoma
A big outbreak day turns out successful with tornadoes west of Oklahoma City. Highlights: Anticyclonic tornado, airborne trees, vortex sound, large hail and extreme winds.
Chase 12: May 30, Central Missouri & Illinois
The last chase day of Plains trip #2 takes place on a High Risk day in difficult chase terrain. Highlight: Supercell structure, anvil crawler lightning show
Chase 13: June 10, Southern Nebraska
A chase day in Nebraska falls short of tornadoes. Highlights: Supercell structure, rainbows and a nice lightning show.
Chase 14: June 11, Northwestern Iowa
A long drive to Iowa results in a successful chase day. Highlights: One tornado, storm structure and a great lightning show.
Chase 15: June 12, Southern Kansas
The grand finale chase of the 2004 season! An incredible day in Kansas wraps up the third and final trip to the Great Plains. Highlights: Three photogenic tornadoes, great supercell structure, and a nice lightning display.

Special thanks to: Dave Crowley & Justin Teague for excellent forecasting; Dave Crowley for the guest room and steak cookout in Tulsa, Pete McConnell, Damon Shaw & Fabian Guerra for an enjoyable week-long chase team-up; Bill Coyle, Dave Crowley and Tim Vasquez for nowcasting, and most of all thanks to the Lord for blessings of a great season, new friends, safety on the roads, and keeping the truck running for every one of those 12,400 miles.

Links to more reports and photos:
Most of the chasers I traveled with this year also have reports from our trips posted on their sites:

Dave Crowley Oklahoma
Al Williams United Kingdom
Pete McConnell Missouri
J. R. Hehnly Oklahoma
Dr. Ken Dewey Nebraska
Justin Turcotte Nebraska

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