June 10, 2002

The last partial solar eclipse to be visible from Oklahoma until 2005 was scheduled to occur today, so this was an unusual late spring day that I DIDN'T want storms to occur. By early afternoon, storms indeed had begun to fire over the Texas panhandle. Fearing these storms would spread out a huge anvil that would ruin the view from Norman, I got in my car at 4pm and headed towards the Oklahoma panhandle. Not only did I want to get an unobstructed view of the eclipse, but I also hoped I would get a good view of storms over the Texas panhandle and in southwestern Kansas.

By the time I got to Slapout at 7:30pm, the sun had cleared from the anvil created by the Texas panhandle storms to my south...which were weakening. I also had a great view of a supercell about 60 miles to my north over southwestern Kansas, which had a nice vertical updraft and a rounded, backsheared anvil. So I stopped at a rest area about a mile west of the bustling metropolis to view the eclipse. To safely view the eclipse, I projected the sun's image through a tiny hole in a piece of cardboard. Ferocious south winds gusting to at least 40 mph kept me inside my car most of the time, as I was having trouble holding on to the pieces of cardboard. In addition, the winds were practically ripping my loose fitting shirt right off my back. But by 8pm, the sun angle became low enough that I could no longer view the eclipse well from inside my car, so I had to go outside to brave the elements. Sure enough, the wind ended up knocking one of my projectors out of my hands and blowing it who knows where. I tried to make another projector, but this one suffered the exact same fate. It was no big deal, as before long sunset would be approaching. And what a sunset it was, with a bright red ball with a distinct "bite" out if it's left side sunk below the northwestern horizon!!! Add some Accas streaming overhead from the dissipating Texas panhandle storms, as well as the supercell churning away to the north-northeast in southwestern Kansas, and you have a sunset that would be very difficult to beat!!! Once the glow of the setting sun faded, I started up the car and made the long drive back to Norman, and was treated to a nice lightning display to my north for much of a way back.

This chase gets a 10 out of 14. Except for the wind, this was a very enjoyable chase filled with unforgettable sights. The Kansas supercell ended up being tornado warned at times, and under any other circumstances I would have tried to get closer, but I will have other opportunities to see tornadic supercells up close in the near future. I won't have another opportunity to see a sunset solar eclipse on the plains until 2012, so I have absolutely no regrets trying to get closer to the Kansas supercell. Until then, here are some video captures for you to enjoy.

Total Mileage: 426 miles
Total Driving Time: 8 hours, 49 minutes

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