Thursday, May 17, 2012

From Canyons to Oz

Wednesday we woke up in Amarillo and went to Palo Duro Canyon.  It is the second largest canyon in the United Sates, after the Grand Canyon.  Its name translates to 'hard wood', after all of the Mesquite trees that are found there.  To quote Georgia O'Keeffe,  "It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color".  It gets as deep as 820 feet in some areas.  We went to the visitor's center to get some information and take pictures from the top of the canyon.  We then got to drive down into the canyon, through water crossings, bushes, cacti, and camping areas.  

After a delicious lunch at Fat Boys (it has its name for a reason), we headed west of Amarillo to Cadillac Ranch.  It is an art exhibit in the middle of a cattle field consisting of 10 Cadillacs stuck halfway into the ground and meant to represent the angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza.  They were moved to their current location in 1997 and the cows seem very happy with the arrangement, as cow pies were prevalent surrounding the sculptures.  There has been graffiti accumulating on the cars since they were set up and we felt the need to add our own contributions: "MSU Storm Chase 2012" and "8 students came to Amarillo to storm chase.  We didn't find any storms, but we did find Cadillac Ranch.".

We went to the famous Big Texan Steakhouse for dinner, home of the free 72 oz. steak.  A total of 5 people attempted it while we were there- and they all failed.  Most of us ended up with  the Man vs. Food special- 18 oz. steak, rolls, baked potato, and salad- that's a lot of food!  Plus 3 deserts around the table.  Everything is bigger in Texas- especially the meals!
This morning we headed north from Amarillo through the panhandles of both Texas and Oklahoma to get to Garden City, Kansas.  Along the way, we stopped in Liberal, KS, the home of Dorothy's House and the World of Oz.  We spent some time playing on the kid's playground before joining a small tour through the house and Oz land!  The tour guide was a young girl who basically reenacted the movie as we moved through a building containing replicas of movie scenes.  We also visited the saddest Subway in the world- we don't recommend that part of the trip.

Storms were developing to our northwest when we left, so we went after them.  We found an area on the edge of a huge wheat field to park and watch the storms move across the area.  The winds were really strong- playing frisbee was impossible.  Evaporative cooling allowed for dense air aloft to descend, creating strong downbursts, which helped create gustnadoes on the leading edge of the downburst.  There were at least 4 or 5 that passed through our area, making the wind even stronger and whipping dust around the area and eventually mixing with very cold rain.  While the storms were shallow with high-bases and low-tops, they were prolific wind producers.  The Radar image below shows numerous fine-lines indicating horizontal rolls.  These horizontal tubes can be pushed into the vertical with strong outflow winds creating brief gustnadoes as seen below.

We managed to get on the other side of the storm so we had a great view of the lightning as the storm passed us again.

No comments:

Post a Comment