I can officially say I did something yesterday that nobody who reads this blog will ever do in their lifetime — I slid through a mud puddle for an entire mile just outside of Alton, Kansas in an effort to find someone with a tractor to pull our three vehicles out of ditches after they were stuck when our dirt road turned into a muddy mess.
OK, I’ll take a breath now and explain.
Less than 24 hours after we were being treated like royalty at Werner Park in Omaha, we found ourselves begging locals with pickup trucks to save us from a night in the middle of a field because our transportation was trapped. How about that for a swap on the food chain?
We started by chasing a storm through Kansas that looked incredible — for a novice like myself, I have never seen clouds rotate as quickly as these were. Suddenly, it all made sense how a tornado could be formed.
The chase on the supercell basically began in Woodston, KS, where we got out of the car and filmed the storm right as it appeared a funnel would drop down from the clouds. Mike Bettes did a quick live broadcast for the station, and I did my best to get as many pictures of the action as I could before torrential rains forced us back inside the car.
So we tried to drive out of the rain and get in front of the storm, and we were lucky to be able to do so because the storm was moving parallel to the road we were on. But when we got near a little town called Alton, the infamous quote was uttered by Bettes himself.
“Alright, we’re gonna try something here.”
The plan was to cut down a dirt road to a highway we would take to intercept the storm and hopefully get a great look at it as it produced a tornado. Maybe it was a good thing that never successfully happened — we may have gotten caught in the middle of the worst part of the storm.
Instead, when we got about a mile down the dirt road, the rains turned the path into a soupy mess, and our cars were all stuck. Ours was the only one that was facing sideways as the heavy winds and hail pounded the passenger side of the SUV.
So we rode it out. In the middle of nowhere. And then we walked.
Luckily, we were spotted by a Twitter follower who knew folks in the area, and after about 20 minutes of carefully stepping through mud (and the fields when the lakes in the road became too deep to walk through), we happened upon some guys who put the rescue operation in motion. Needless to say, our chase was over for the day, and we were happy to not be spending the night in a ditch.
Hopefully today will be better, as we will head to South Dakota to see what happens in the northern Plains this afternoon. Two more days left on the Hunt!