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May 15th, 2015

This day looked to be somewhat promising in central and western Nebraska from a couple of days out. As such, Chris and I met up with Jesse Attanasio and headed to Calamus Reservoir near Burwell, NE the night before to get in position early. Weather for the night looked to be decent, so out came the tents and hammocks! Jesse opted for sleeping in the Jeep.

Since central Nebraska is known for its immaculate dark skies, we broke out the tracking mount. Pointed north and managed to find the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51a). While it is relatively bright, this thing is tiny and therefore not really naked-eye visible. This is how small it is in a 400mm frame. Stacked 3 shots to reduce noise. To think that there are literally millions of stars, planets, etc. contained within those few pixels is kind of mind-boggling when you think about it.

Waking up and looking at data the next morning, it was pretty obvious we were going to have to continue west. Hopped back in the Jeep and headed west towards Alliance/Bridgeport. Eventually we managed to get on a storm south of Bridgeport, NE. Not a bad looking base to start out the day!

It actually tried relatively hard to put something down here. Lots of funnels, dangling clouds, rising motion and good rotation... but never enough to condense to the surface.

And just as quickly as it had wrapped up, it fell back apart.

Still, the storm struggled on and continued to fill the sky with some turbulent textures over the western Nebraska sandhills.

After more cycling up and down, the storm to our north produced a nice laminar funnel near Bridgeport, Nebraska. Much more robust than anything we had seen earlier in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it just couldn't get it done either.

After that, we followed some newer storms developing north of Highway 26.

A nice looking updraft. You can see how solid and sculpted the base was, so shear seemed to be more than adequate. Unfortunately, just not enough instability to get the job done.

Not done quite yet though! Storms to our northwest started to congeal into a line. Ominous, but ultimately not a lot behind it.

As with any sandhills chase, road options weren't real great. And with the more widespread nature of storms, many of the roads had already been rained on earlier in the day. Flooding was reported in Bridgeport and Broadwater, though we avoided any road closure issues in town. Dirty side roads make for dirty cars.

After that, the day was pretty much done. Think a few other chasers managed to score a tube out of a storm farther north near Lakeside, NE. We opted to start the drive home. A bit farther east, we stopped to shoot one last scene as storms to the west peppered cloud-to-ground lightning strikes behind a scenic windmill. All in all, not a "big" day, but was happy to come away with a few good images. Any chase where you 1.) Make it home safe, 2.) Don't get a speeding ticket, and 3.) Actually see some cool clouds, is a good chase day.