The morning of May 28th was awful. I got into an argument with my husband, ripped 2 contact lenses, had to watch freaking out dogs in a hotel room while Dave and Ross went to repair the windshield, and had cold water in the shower. I was in a horrible mood. I was grumpy, stomping around, and snapping at everyone in my way. I couldn't get out of my own head and was unable to care about storm chasing. I whined my way through getting breakfast at Starbucks and felt completely shut down while sitting in the car eating while Keith and Dave figured out whether we should go northwest into Colorado to play the upslope or stay local in Salina and see what develops. Once they decided that we were staying in Salina, my mood actually worsened because I was sick of that city and wanted to LEAVE.
Since we were staying in Salina to wait for storm initiation, Ross suggested that he and I go on a photography walk and shoot this old, abandoned grain elevator area and railroad tracks. Within five minutes of shooting, I was in a better mood. The area that we walked around was a wealth of photographic opportunity. Everywhere that I looked there was something to shoot. We shot for about an hour, and by the time we got back to the car, I had taken 225 photos and was in a fantastic mood.
Almost immediately after Ross and I got back to the car, Keith and Dave decided it was time to leave because storms were starting to go up north of Salina. Thus began the easiest chase in history.
After going north and meeting up with Roger, we continued on to the Bennington, Kansas area. As we approached the storm, a brief tornado touched down and lifted. That was just the beginning. Once we pulled over, the show really started. The storm had incredible structure. The inflow stingers looked like a hand.
And the structure!
While we stood there and watched, the tornado continued to grow in size.
It was around this point that I turned to Dave and said, "Dave, Thunder's ashes. It's time." For the past three years since Thunder's untimely passing, Dave has brought some of his ashes on our chasing trip. He wanted to spread his ashes into the strong inflow of a tornadic storm. We had the road mostly to ourselves, the inflow was strong, and the people were right. It was time. As he shook out the ashes they were carried into the storm and we all stopped what we were doing to say goodbye. Ross and I walked over and put our arms around an emotional Dave, and Keith put his arms around all of us. It was the perfect storm, and the perfect people. These were the people who loved Thunder the Storm Chasing Dog best. I'm honored and privileged to be counted among that group.
It was a few minutes later that the storm formed my very first wedge tornado. Mind. Blown.
Shortly after this, the tornado became completely rain wrapped and we could no longer see. We tried changing positions, but it didn't help. That was ok. We watched this tornado stay practically stationary for 35 minutes. It was perfection.
This day started out as one of the worst days I've ever had while chasing, and ended up as one of the best.