Andy Cole's Stormchase blog

Back on the plains in 2019 to share in nature's spectacle

Chris’ 2019 blog, Day 5: Cows, Trains and Open Roads

With no storms on the radar, we decided to get into place for the impending bonanza in two days time on Friday. We headed 215 miles North East towards Amarillo in North West Texas so we can head north or south to the severe thunderstorm target areas.

Friday’s SPC (Storm Prediction Centre) forecast

Arriving in Amarillo the SPC forecast for Thursday had been undated showing an updated slight risk of severe weather.

Thursdays SPC forecast

The slight risk area is a further 8 hour drive north of Amarillo. If we chase it then it’ll take out the option of targeting the southern enhanced risk on Friday due to distance. However, being the swansong tour before Andy’s lifestyle takes an exciting turn, we decided to drive another two hours north to Guynon in Oklahoma, an area known as the Texan Panhandle due to the shape of the states. This decision means we can head north to the slight area of risk tomorrow through Kansas and Nebraska in a 6 hour drive, if the radar forecasts make it worthwhile, knowing that we will have to put in a long 10 hour drive in the evening/ Friday morning if the southern enhanced target zone shows more promising forecasts.

Cows. We passed through Hereford, who’s mottos include; ‘Beef Capital of the World,’ and ‘Most Conservative Town in America’. Fields as far as the eye could see were crammed with cows with density I’ve only ever seen in cages chicken. Just one of the yards alone ‘processes’ 2,600 cattle per day.

Cows .. and coincidentally a train in the background

Trains. Everywhere we drove, trains over a mile long seemed to be following bellowing out their horn akin to a ferry entering a port. The longest train ever on the Texas freight lines was 3.4 miles long pulled along by 9 diesel-electric locomotive trains, each with over 6,000 horsepower. While we probably didn’t see this, we did see one with 8 diesel-electric locomotives which means it must have been pretty big and took minutes to pass.

With the cows, trains, open road and upcoming weather systems, the excitement is too much to take so it was a healthy dinner (pizza and chicken wings!) followed by an early night before an early rise.

Miles travelled in the day: 336

Total miles driven: 1,392

Supercells seen: 1

Tornadoes seen: 0

States visited: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma

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