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Storm Chase Account August 1-2, Nebraska – Kansas

Morning of August 1st I woke up in a fog. Literally! A foggy truck stop in Nebraska City, Nebraska. If I could play guitar I’d write a song called Truck Stop Fog to describe my mood that morning…

Soon I was on the road again but an hour into the ride my vehicle made a horrible shudder when the front driveshaft broke a CV joint. From the side of the road I posted my plight on Facebook and the community immediately responded with advice regarding area auto repair shops. Some people offered accommodations while others even stopped to help me out! For this assistance I was truly grateful. I then proceeded to creep along the shoulder of I-80 at 5-10 mph. For an hour I hobbled at this agonizing pace until finally arriving at a Ford dealership in York, Nebraska.

The mechanic put my truck on the lift. This is the sound of a bad CV joint.

The offending driveshaft after removal.

Ousting the front driveshaft meant my 4WD Explorer was rendered 2WD but I was on the road again in pursuit of storms!

Sand Hills Supercell, Click image to view gallery / purchase print

West of Mullen, 7:26pm. Deep in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, a largely uninhabited region with no radio stations, telephone or internet data. Worst of all, few roads! The area is untamed yet beautiful. Look at the wildflowers! The supercell above is marked by an updraft base on the right and a bright luminous hail / precipitation downdraft on the left. Very large hail was confirmed in that core.

Sand Hills Supercell #2 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

7:31 pm.

 Next day- The Great Northern Plains Biker Migration was in full swing. (Sturgis)

I‘m in Kansas now waiting a couple hours for storms to fire on an outflow boundary. To pass time I entertain myself making images of signage I see around a truck stop.

CG Barrage, 2013 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

CG Barrage (cloud to ground lightning) 9:23 pm southwest of McPherson, Kansas. I’ve been in a few of these but this was the most terrifying. I was located at a critical time and place beneath a rapidly developing updraft resulting in a 360 degree onslaught of cloud to ground lightning- the kind of bolts that break into beads as they dissipate. A particularly close one shut my computer off! No damage, just turned it off. It straddled me, striking the ground on both sides of my truck. That was a little disturbing.

Please leave comments below!

☯ Stephen

Lynda Whitfield - August 5, 2013 - 12:39 am

Love the Nebraska Sandhills…

Linda Wineteer Eckhardt - January 31, 2014 - 6:50 am

Was the one shot up around Ogalala, NE? I know what you mean about lightning striking near you while you were in your truck. Back in 75, I was at a stop sign in Guymon, OK when lightning hit a tree on the NE corner, catty corner from where I was stopped. Scared the bageebees out of me. All the hairs on my arms stood straight up. I had to go to the police station to have them check on the people that live there, for the tree was right up next to there porch. As it turned out they were ok, and gave the officer $20.00 to give to me, for checking up on them. It scared them as well.


Watonga Supercell; A Retrospective

The Weather Guide Calender is a quality publication. More than a calender it’s almost like a soft cover coffee table book.

Inspired by my recent publication via Andrews McMeel Publishing, I thought I’d revisit the amazing Watonga Supercell. Photogenic storms are rare on the Southern Plains in August. This storm developed on an outflow boundary created by storms the previous night/morning. It was stationary for an hour due to light upper air flow. CG production (cloud to ground lighting) was such that I dared not leave my vehicle.  The storm rotated in place until a bowing line of storms wiped it out from the west. Images below chronologically describe the event. A brief mesoanalysis is included for those who are meteorologically inclined. The Watonga Supercell will always be special to me as it also resulted in my first supercell time-lapse movie included below.

Watonga Supercell August 17, 2009 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

8:01 pm

Watonga Supercell August 17, 2009 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

8:03 pm

Watonga Supercell August 17, 2009 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

8:19 pm

Watonga Supercell August 17, 2009 Click image to view gallery / purchase print

8:33 pm

1) satellite image 2) satellite image annotated; red = Watonga,Ok. blue = outflow boundary 3) surface map description of outflow boundary

500 mb Map; Paltry 15 kts in western OK explains why this storm did not move for an hour. Radar Image; See the line of storms to the west that ultimately wiped out my stationary supercell.

As mentioned above the Watonga Supercell will always be special to me as it also resulted in my first supercell timelapse movie. Shot way back in 2009.

Please leave comments below, Thank you!

☯ Stephen

Chris Sanner - July 31, 2013 - 5:30 pm

I’ve gotta be the guy to chime and say what a beautiful storm that truly was. Would have to be one of my top 5 chases of all time still.

Allison Marshall - July 31, 2013 - 11:59 pm

One of the most beautiful storms ever. Nicely done! 😀


Sarah and Jake

I arrive early at the Intercontinental Hotel and locate the brides room. People are still dressing but the shoes are ready…my first image of the day.

I find additional shoes and these are more animated! Sunlight streaming through the window was hott, hott, hott.


Bridesmaids nearly ready. Faces!
Zoe the flowergirl contemplates her next Zoeism. If you know Zoe, you know what a Zoeism is.

At this point the bride’s family presents me with a gift! I felt so honored, particularly because it was a recognition of my passion for storm chasing! Play video.

Now there is an artistic flurry of activity around the bride.

Donning the veil. Silhouette against window light. Eyelashes…


Meanwhile- Jake and the Boys are loosening up outdoors.

Soon to be a Band of Brothers!

Jake decided he did not want to see his Bride until the ceremony in spite of occupying the same room with her during the 20 minute Ketubah ceremony. He exhibited great discipline and never laid eyes on her!


Sarah… simply radiant.

The wedding ceremony begins with the Groom and his Parents- Jake’s Mum beaming with pride!

The Bride and her Father walk down the aisle as a refreshing breeze animates Sarah’s veil.

Hobbs Building Patio

Jakes boots were awesome. Mazel tov!!!


The relaxed Wedding Party.

Never a dull moment when brother Thomas is around. He briefly dons his sisters veil.

Sarah and Jake… ever graceful and romantic.

Like I said, ever graceful and romantic!

…And of course the reception party was fabulous and fun for all!

Maia Burnard - July 25, 2013 - 3:49 am

I was smiling all the way through the pictures! Great wedding and photos!

Kendall Warr - July 25, 2013 - 3:52 am

Absolutely a marvelious display of happyness, and creative photo capture. Very nicely done.


First Blog Post- Where in the Universe Am I Going?

‘sacred’ by stephen locke, click image to visit gallery.

Having made the commitment to blog I now venture into uncharted space. The intention has been set to boldly go where this man has never gone before! This will be a personal blog but as a visual artist my work is a lifestyle. Thus, my professional images will often be blogged right here.

‘shock and awe’ by stephen locke, click image to visit gallery.

The blog will afford me space to begin writing storm chase accounts again. I look forward to telling the story behind these images…

… as well as documenting visual moments and odd encounters. I never know who or what is going to greet me!

As a ponderer of ponderances I find philosophical dilemmas everywhere such as this sign in southern Kansas. Which would you choose? Freedom or Protection?

Supercell time-lapse cinematography is an important aspect of my work. I’ll be posting new work here. Play the video!

Storm chase videos… some of these can get rather adventurous!

 I shoot weddings. It’s a process of visual story telling and I’ll share those here.

At the end of last year I made a commitment to living nutritionally. This has been very successful for me so I’d like to share and document the details of my effort and progress.

 Living… I like to visually explore ordinary scenes such as this.

Inspirational moments…. sometimes I look at the sky and this stuff just comes to me.

‘the milky way at dawn’ by stephen locke, click image to visit gallery

So I end with this; The universe is so big, the schoolhouse so small. It’s a metaphor- I’ve got much to learn and vast space to explore. I’ll document and share what I can right here on this blog. How am I doing so far? I’d love to read your comments below.

Allison Marshall - July 21, 2013 - 4:09 pm

Your first post! Your first post! Yay! 😀

Brian Johnson - July 21, 2013 - 6:49 pm

There is a favorite quote of mine from Richard Bach, “Remember where you came from, where you’re going, and why you created the mess you got yourself into in the first place.” Revisit this from time to time. When we stop changing is when it’s all over.

Dennis Mattson - July 22, 2013 - 12:32 am

you cant fail.

Eric Rothrock - July 22, 2013 - 12:33 am

I look forward to more!

Lynne Thompson - July 22, 2013 - 12:34 am

Auspicious beginnings, Stephen. Well done!

Ryan Hitchcock - July 22, 2013 - 12:40 am

Well done Stephen!

John Colbert - July 22, 2013 - 12:48 am

Well done Sir, I look forward to checking in from time to time to see where in the Universe you are going!

Carolyn Silsby Paterson - July 22, 2013 - 1:36 am

Looks really interesting!

Shane Kirk - July 22, 2013 - 1:36 am

Well done! I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin building something like this! LOL

Sharon Martin Hopkins - July 22, 2013 - 2:24 am

You did great! Awesome
Photos too, as usual..

Jami Pope Felver - July 22, 2013 - 2:29 am

Great stuff! Looking forward to seeing more.

Clay Swatzell - July 22, 2013 - 3:04 am

This looks good. I like the first post. Also an answer to a question posed, I would chose freedom. I also like metaphors and am undecided where I fit in in the universe.

Georgia Jones - July 22, 2013 - 4:23 am

love it Stephen! Really love your line “difficult to be simple” sooo get that!

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg - July 22, 2013 - 5:19 am

Wonderful juxtapositions and flow of all the angles of your life caught by the camera and now,for our delight, in your words too. Welcome to blogotopia.

Larry Rasmussen - July 22, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Good job, Stephen!

Cathy Thomas - July 22, 2013 - 10:06 pm

Nice!! Looking forward to reading it.

Ally Devine - July 22, 2013 - 11:54 pm

an amazing bit of work. please keep us posted. milky way in Australia in winter is to die for. congrats on the blog. well done.

Kendall Warr - July 25, 2013 - 4:02 am

Wonderful job. Will return for more, and boardcast your work to friends near and distant.