Best Chase Day of 2014
This story is all about June 7th, 2014. It was my best chase day that year...and it almost didn't happen for me. I had left home early that morning with plans to photograph a tractor pull. No sooner had I arrived at my destination when Chris Conley of Mean Motion Media called. I had met Chris about a year and a half previous at a meeting of the Daviess County Weather Spotters and had recently chased with his team.
I usually chase solo, but always jump at the chance to chase with Chris for several reasons. For one, when you chase solo, you can get overwhelmed with duties. You have to drive, check radar, call in reports, have eyes in the back of your head to check the skies constantly, and this is in addition to any photography you want to capture. When I chase with Chris, I usually have the whole back seat of his Yukon to myself and have to focus on only photography and video. Chris' vehicle is much better equipped than my car for chasing as well. The main reason I enjoy chasing with Chris though is that he is one of the few people I've met that may actually love storms more than I do, so when he told me storms were firing up, I never gave the tractor pull a second thought. Coincidentally, the tractor pull had been rescheduled and I ended up shooting it later on anyway.
The storms were building in SE Missouri at the time, so Chris, his son Drake, and I headed to Fulton County, KY and waited along the banks of the Mississippi River for the storms to come to us. One of the challenges of chasing in this part of the country is the rivers. With few bridge crossings, it made more sense to let the storms make it across and track them from there.
The storm track led us SE toward Union City, TN. Most of the photos shown here are from that area. We saw some of the best rotating storm structure that I have ever seen. For a very brief moment, we saw a rain wrapped funnel but couldn't be 100% sure that it was on the ground. Our visuals of the rotation along with what the National Weather Service was seeing on radar, led to a tornado warning. To my knowledge, we were the only chase team in the country on a tornado warned storm up to that point. The radar image below shows our location when Chris called in the report to the NWS.
We were on the road for over 12 hours that day. Nearly half of that, we were under a tornado warning. Being focused on shooting stills and video, I wasn't keeping track of exactly where we were during the entire day. You can read Chris' blog if you like for more details. A 20 minute highlights video is below. Since the wind made the audio useless, I simply put the video to music. I hope to get a quality microphone later on.
That day was intense, thrilling, and exhausting. I would've been ready to do it all over again the next day though. After all that hard work, as we passed Ft. Campbell, KY on our way home, we were even treated to one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. I captured more photos and video of this single event than any other. I hope I get even more opportunities to do so again this year. If I do, rest assured you will be able to see highlights of it here. For faster access to my storms photos, be sure to like and follow my Facebook page.