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May 4, 2003 Report
Loaded Gun Chasing
website of storm chaser Mikey Gribble
I don't have much in the way of pictures or video to go along with this chase report (or any of the
reports from 2002 and 2003 for that matter) because all my 2003 stuff was on two tapes (not very
impressive) and my brother's jackass friends taped over virtually all of it when they were down at the
lake. I was more than a little pissed off to say the least. I didn't see any tornadoes so the video wasn't
a big loss, but I still would have liked to have had it. Anyways, I have the first part of the chase on
video still so I'll post a few video grabs from that.

This was a huge tornado outbreak day. Even though I was just beginning to be a decent forecaster it
was very evident to me that strong long-track tornadoes were going to be likely. I had chased the day
before and got home late so I was extremely tired the morning of this chase. I had to get up at 5AM
and go mow my parents lawn because they were out of town. After that I loaded up the car and
headed to Lawrence, Kansas to pick up a friend that wanted to chase with me that day.

I will never forget my drive to Lawrence that morning as long as I live. One of my favorite things about
storm chasing is the drive out to your target, especially on a big day. I always get this very peaceful
feeling. I listen to music and daydream about the day's setup and what might happen. I don't even
know how to begin to explain it. It is an incredible feeling. On this chase it was even better. It was
about 7AM when I left Wichita, so it was still really early. The low level jet was cranking as I drove
through the foot hills. Surface winds had to be at least 30kts out of the South. What was really cool
was that is was pumping in so much moisture that clouds were condensing at ground level. It was
almost like fog. I have never seen anything like it. These clouds were flying along at ground level. I
remember seeing that and getting  a really eerie feeling knowing that there was going to be a huge

To my surprise when I picked my friend up in Lawrence he had invited another friend to come along
with us. I didn't really care a whole lot. I knew the guy too and he was alright, so after doing a little
forecasting in Lawrence we got in my car and headed South down the Kansas - Missouri border. The
triple point was going to be up by the Lawrence and Kansas City area, but I wanted to play the dryline
about 2/3 of the way South across Kansas.

As we were heading South a storm fired up to our southwest about 100 miles. Tony (my friend) was
doing the navigating on this chase since I was driving. We stopped just North of Girard, Kansas and
waited for the storm to come to us. Storm motions were really fast that day and by the time we got
North of Girard I knew it would be less than a hour before the storm got to us.

We were parked on a dirt road that we thought was just North of Girard. I didn't have any data
besides internet through my cell phone and I had lost my signal, so we were going purely visual (plus a
weather radio). I had gotten a look at radar about an hour earlier though when I still had a signal and I
knew the storm would cross the highway we were on close enough to Girard that I wasn't worried
about not having any data. I figured we would see the storm coming and move whichever way we
needed to to get in position. At least that was the way it was supposed to work. My first clue that
something was seriously wrong was when a fire truck pulled out of the fire station that was West of us
on the same road. They got on the highway and headed South. The sky had been getting dark to the
southeast but you couldn't see any detail to give away the exact location of the updraft base. Well
after about twenty more minutes I started getting worried because I knew the storm should be on us
and the southern sky was extremely dark. I took the map from Tony and figured out that that
dumbass was off on our location. We were fifteen miles North of where he thought we were. While we
were sitting there an F4 tornado went through Girard, Kansas fifteen miles to our South. The fire truck
we saw leaving was leaving was going to Girard after the tornado had hit. I could have murdered Tony.
We got in the car and hauled ass South. When we came up on Girard we quickly realized what we had
missed. We were totally behind the storm now and could see the updraft on the backside so we tried
to head East out of Girard to catch up, but we got blocked by debris where the tornado had come
through. Below is a picture of debris blocking the road. The second picture is the resident of a house
that got partially hit by the tornado. We checked to make sure these two ladies were OK and then they
came out to our car and were talking to us for a minute before we left. Everybody was OK and I
shouldn't poke fun at tornado victims, but this lady was missing more teeth than she had. She was a
classic representation of a redneck tornado victim.
Look at the Teeth!!!
After we got away from the toothless woman we got on another road to head East to try to catch
back up to the storm. After about thirty minutes of playing catch up we were finally making a little
progress, then we hit another damage path that slowed us down. Below are a few pictures of the
damage path we crossed. This was a new tornado, not the one that went through Girard. It is hard to
tell, but the second picture is of a tractor that got flipped onto it's side and the third picture is of a
house that had been ripped in half. You can see the bare foundation on the left side of the house.
After getting slowed down again it was pretty apparent that we couldn't catch the storm so we decided
to drop South to intercept another tornadic storm coming into Springfield, Missouri. We were coming
in on the storm from the northwest and could see the backside of the updraft. The entire updraft was
corck screwed (barber pole) because it was rotating so hard. I have never seen that since then, of
course I'm usually not on the backside of storms so I don't have many opportunities to see it. Tony
had been demoted after his navigating error and I had Tony's friend doing the navigating with the map
now. As we approached the North side of Springfield I was asking him to tell me the quickest way to
go South through town. I knew damn well there was a highway that ran South through town, but he
kept telling me there wasn't one. So I grabbed the map and showed him where to go and then he tried
telling me we were already past that highway (which was bullshit). I finally got pissed and just started
heading South on a city street through Springfield. As we entered town the tornado sirens were going
off and leaves were raining from the sky. Apparently they were being sucked up into the storm by the
tornado that was southwest of us and then falling back out in the downdraft. I have actually seen this
a few times since, but at the time it was a very eerie feeling with the sirens going off and debris falling
from the sky. Here is where I learned a hugely important lesson. Tony's friend (the one navigating at
this point) starts to totally freak out. He was telling me to turn around and that we were going to get
killed. Long story short he knew exactly where we were on the map when I asked him how to get
South of Springfield, but he was sabotaging me because he was scared (I found all this out later).
Regardless of how somebody thinks they will react to a tornado, you never really know until it happens
and this guy did not handle it well to say the least. Since then I very rarely take anybody with me.
Those guys ruined my chase and I was furious. Tony did it on accident so I could forgive that, but I
couldn't forgive his friend. I had driven over a thousand miles that day and he screwed me out of a
tornado. Lesson learned though. Be careful of who you take chasing. Lots of people say they love
storms and want to see one, but when they are actually confronted with the situation it can be
overwhelming and cause them to break down. I have heard of this kind of thing happening to lots of
other chasers too.