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Disaster Chase 5/11/14

Travel log

Disaster Chase 5/11/14

Jesse Attanasio

Disclaimer: I don't consider myself a storm chaser. I have only been half ass studying storm systems for the past year or so. By "half ass studying", I mean that I read storm chaser logs and watch live chases to get an idea of what to look for and what to avoid. I really wouldn't suggest going this route because as you will find from this entry, you REALLY need to know more than just a radar.

Quick summary for all of your non-commiters: 

  • Storm chasing
  • Flat Tire drama
  • Rain,Rain,Rain
  • no timelapse happend


9:00 AM

  • I got a phone call from a friend/storm chaser who I was planning on tagging along with so I could focus more on photography instead of winging it and going off of what I saw on my NOAA radar app. He told me that he was still in Kansas and was going to pick up two fellow chasers to get content for a local news station. Thats fine by me, because I was kind of hoping he would be alright with me just following in my vehicle so I could pull off when necessary and timelapse the storm from a distance instead of being inside of it and risking high winds and rain becoming an issue for my gear. Anyways, we planned to meet in Lincoln between 1-2pm. I didn't feel like sitting around my house for the next few hours so I figured I would head to Lincoln early and do a little location scouting for a client. 

11:00 AM

  • Once I had everything charged, cleaned and packed up, I hit the road for lincoln.


12:00 PM

  • Once I got to Lincoln, I marked a few spots around the University of Lincoln campus on my map for potential view points and quickly realized that I was going to be spending a lot longer than I expected just sitting around. So I pulled up my OpenSignal app and found the closest free wifi spot so I could see what chasers were streaming on the TVN Weather Live streaming iPad app. 

2:19 PM

  • I got a call from my friend who was advising me on this storm, and he just pulled into eat lunch in Nebraska City. Being that the storm was supposed to move in between 3:30 and 4:30 I told him I was going to start slowly moving West towards Milford and we would meet up there.

Staying away from these roads since the storm earlier that morning and the day before more  than likely made it a sloppy hell.


3:00 PM

  • After aimlessly driving dirt roads to the North of i-80 hoping to find some good foreground for the incoming storm. I come up on the town of Seward, NE and of course the longest train possible just starting crossing the road I was on.

3:55 PM

  • Heading just north of Seward and I get a phone call from my friend who I was supposed to meet in Milford. He informed me that I should head towards Friend, NE and I should be able to setup for some good structure timelapse of the storm. When I told him it would be a minute, because I was actually currently driving North of Seward, He gave a blatantly honest "Get the hell out of there and head South!" Very thankful I had cell service at that time by the way.


4-5:30 PM

  • This is where the shit hit the fan for me. I didn't take any photos during this span of time so thats why the I don't have an accurate time line of the events that went down.

    I was driving west on a dirt road just South of Friend and since I didn't have service, I had no accurate radar of the storm forming but I could see that it was clearly North West of my current location. Right as I turned North, my tire pressure sensor light went on. This wasn't too big of a surprise to me because my front drivers tire valve stem has an extremely slow leak that usually only becomes a problem with overnight cold weather. Luckily, I was just outside of Friend so I stopped at the gas station to fill it up. 

    The tire I assumed would be the problem was fine. So I walked around my car to check the pressure on others. As soon as I knelt down to check the pressure on my rear passenger tire I could hear the hissing sound and saw the head of a screw sticking out. "No problem" I thought, "I've done this before, the gas station I'm at more than likely has a plug kit". I was right, but oh so wrong about how easy it was going to be to plug that hole. I asked a guy for a wrench and he helped pull the screw out and gave it a shot at plugging the hole. Since he was with his son and they just came out with a stack of pizzas I told him not to worry about it and thanked him for his help.

    After about 10 minutes I decided to jack my car up to take off of some of that pressure. Thant didn't help any. And it was becoming evident that I was not going to get any help from people and they were just pulling up next to me to take instagrams of the #clouds. 

    Then the winds started to really pick up and it was starting to rain a little. I looked towards where the storm was and could only see extremely low scud clouds moving rapidly and then the sirens kicked in. Thats when I backed out of operation tire plug and commenced operation swap-2-spare. If you know my Jeep, you know that I have a 4 tier shelf in the back that holds my camping gear and some camera stuff, this shelf is strapped to the interior and isn't the easiest to unhook and remove. Once I ripped the shelf out, and tore appart my interior doing so, I was able to get to the tire and swap everything out and was on the road within 5 minutes. This was a huge releif for me because I didnt have any service and was frantically trying to get out of the way in case the stop spit out a tornado. Well it did, but it was about 5 miles North in Beaver Crossing.

5:30 PM

Some extremely sped up video from my go pro.

  • So im back on the road and was able to get service just a mile or so East of Friend. I pulled over to regroup my camera gear and setup my gopros for some possible video footage as well as check my lug nuts to make sure they were tight enough.
  • I took a few shots of this rather large and sketchy scud then decided to move further down.
  • The amount of people on the roads was outrageous  but I honestly didn't have to deal with any traffic problems nor did I feel like it was really an issue other than they were either in my shot or holding me up from getting back on the HW to get to my next shot so I can't really cry about that because I'm doing the same damn thing myself.

This is a screenshot from 2:48 pm each marker is a person  and those markers are just the people on that chaser streaming network. That doesn't include other networks, chasers without tracking units and people just out there taking photos.


6:30 PM

  • After a few pit stops on the HW-6 I decided that I really shouldn't try to persue the storm anymore since I was limping on a spare tire and shouldn't have been driving far or fast with that thing. So I pulled onto a dirt road just before Milford and kept heading east.  My hopes was that I could get to Lincoln and find an autoparts store with a better quality plug kit that I could use to fix my tire and make the trip home since I was way behind the storm and it was already getting dark.


7:15 PM

  • I found a O'reilly Auto parts store and got myself a plug kit, without looking at my map, I took off in the direction I believed to be downtown Lincoln.

    Apparently I was wrong and I drove 20 more minutes out of the way, during a flood warning. All I was really worried about was hail, so I flipped a U-turn and headed for downtown to find a free parking garage so I could work on my tire out of the horribly high winded downpour. 

8:00 PM 

  • Finally found a parking garage that I could get out of the downpour and either work on my tire or wait out the storm until I could limp myself home

8:30 PM

  • I decide that I am going to limp myself home because my plug is still pushing air out and its not worth the risk.


9:45 PM

  • Arrive back at home after driving 55-60 mph on i-80. Imported my photos then passed out.