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Old 04-23-2014, 09:58 PM   #1
rystjohn OP
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Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Asheville, NC
Oddometer: 79
Riding through Tornado Alley?

Fellow inmates! I desire your collective advice:
Come Monday I will be in Salida, CO visiting with a dear friend of mine. From there, however, I have a conundrum.

I have two options as I see:

Option 1 - ride due East from there, go through Pueblo, and then down to the Cimarron National Grassland where I can camp for free. Then I keep heading East until I reach Joplin, MO and stay with a fellow Inmate. From there it's East through Springfield, and eventually reach Shawnee National Forest to stay the night at Garden of the gods. Pros of the route are - smaller, slower roads, more scenery, more fun on the bike. Cons are, I'm terrified of tornados, and I keep worrying that I'm going to encounter one while camping in Cimarron or pumping across KS.

Option 2 - I head Northeast and up through Denver, and to North Platte, Nebraska, where I will figure out where to stay. Couchsurf or sleep at a hotel or on the side of the road or something. From there I head to St Joseph, MO, where I figure all that out again. Then on to Shawnee National Forest...etc. Pros of this - I stay nearer to major/bigger cities where I guess I can run and hide? I figure tornados are just as prevalent up there, however. Also I can mark Nebraska off my list of states visited. Cons - basically everything else: the ride will mostly be interstate (and BORING) I have no idea where I can stay, and there will be more time spent in the saddle at high speeds. Oh, and also the possibility of tornados. I let the (hopefully minute) risk of tornados threaten me that much to change my route? Do I man up and take my original route through KS? Do I opt for a marginal increase in safety by heading further North, only to slightly negate that by sustaining interstate speeds and battling interstate traffic? What would you do? I'll be monitoring the weather. So far the weather predicted for Hugoton, KS (closest town to where I'll be) is 57F with a 54% chance of rain and wind up to 39MPH from the NNW. However this can change, obviously.

Map shows both routes- slightly red one is Northern route, Green is Southern...

Link here:

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Old 04-24-2014, 08:38 AM   #2
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Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Northwest Ozarkistan
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Is your name Dorothy?

Your chances of getting into a tornado are extremely small. You'd stand a better chance of hitting the lottery probably. Just keep an eye on the weather, and pick your route accordingly. Usually you can see the weather patterns that will trigger strong storms well in advance, like today will not be a good day to be on the road around OKC, just due to the line of strong storms heading east. Also be prepared for some strong straight line winds anytime you are on the plains. They can be lane changers...

As much as I hate crossing the plains, the route you picked thru Pueblo and to the Cimarron NG is the one I would do. Not that Nebraska doesn't have it's own merits, but I came to a new appreciation of the Llano Estacado after reading Empire of the Summer Moon. You're going to have some long boring roads anyway you go east, but imagine crossing that in a wagon or on horse back.

Couple of things might help. Wagon Box Springs in SW Kansas, or Washita National Battlefield near Cheyenne, OK. Then if you are pressed for time, you could jump I-40 to I-44, basically the old route 66.

One more thing, is you go thru Boise City, OK, it has the distinction of being the only city in the USA bombed in WWII. They have a marker on the town square (hard to find, but it's in front of the box car on the east side of square).
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:04 AM   #3
Joined: Apr 2014
Location: Denver Colorado
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I vote for 1

I would pick option one. Danger is everywhere.
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:45 AM   #4
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Location: Stasis.
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I've lived in ternader alley all my life, heard hundreds of tornado sirens, and to this day I have personally only witnessed:

1 tornado (EF1 while driving on I80 in Nebraska, 2 miles away, no big deal),
Maybe half a dozen true funnel clouds (not just scuds)
1 scene of devastation (1974)

Your chances of getting shot by some idiot with a gun are about 1000x higher than your chances of actually seeing a tornado, let alone being hit by one. Your chances of being run off the road by a moron texting on their iDiot phone are a million times greater.

Don't sweat it. While you may very well experience some strong thunderstorms while riding in the midwest (gust fronts, hail, lightning), your odds of even seeing a tornado are very rare.
"And then this one time at banned camp ....."
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:56 AM   #5
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Location: Cave Creek AZ
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Eek what kind of bike are you riding??

I ask because if you are riding a Goldwing with full Wind protection you can be swept of the ground and fly for miles before landing. if you are on a Harley don't worry they are heavy. Hogs!!!!

seriously some guys have been blown off the road during high winds. I saw a Semi just tip over on the interstate because of wind and this was in AZ.

Danger everywhere got to take chance's. Route 1 looks more fun Plus Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois is a good stop have fun!!!

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Old 04-24-2014, 12:00 PM   #6
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Location: Where ever the motobike is
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another option

if you want to click nebraska off, look at hwys 34(wray and yuma I believe then 6 to 136 runs through benkleman, NE and McCook and a bunch of little towns about every 30 miles so lots of shelter. Big lake and state park at Alma you could camp at. Then keep on 136 all the way to the border of misery. Also lots of these little towns have state parks close by to camp at----man-made lakes for irrigation water storage usually have a camp ground or 2 and this time of year would be basically vacant. But with towns ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 population, you'll have plenty of shelter should you need it, and you are in small town u.s.a. so everyone is willing to help out should things go wonky with the weather. There are some split offs like down to 159 and through falls city on the eastern end-this drops into missouri instead of extreme southwest iowa. and could hook up with some highways down through eastern kansas-also pretty neat area-hills etc...

You'll be surprised its not all flat. That route will have a lot of rolling hills and canyon areas. I think it takes you through Holdrege and Minden-Minden has a big museum called Pioneer Village museum. If your into old things past its cool, if not don't stop.

Oh ya, one more thing - with the small town u.s.a. and rural folks, camping just about anywhere out of site is an option!!!!!

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I may be a poor rider, but my bike sure is SLOW

Montek screwed with this post 04-24-2014 at 12:48 PM
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:48 AM   #7
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Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Concord, NC
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Looks like a good trip. Im going to visit my daughter in Austin Texas next week. Hope to weather holds out ok. Im curious about your trip. How long? Favorite places to see or you are looking forward to seeing? Im in Concord, NC so we are really close if you are in Asheville.

If you don't have a method of checking weather , WeatherBug is a good app for the smart phone. It will show radar and also weather alerts so you can avoid the bad stuff on your trip.

This weekend is supposed to be bad in Texas through Louisiana and Arkansas. I don't thing it will be bad north of there.

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Old 04-25-2014, 11:57 AM   #8
High Country Herb
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Location: Western Sierras
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Fearing tornadoes is like fearing earthquakes.

Hell, some people chase them and can't catch them.
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Old 04-26-2014, 09:22 AM   #9
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: SW Kansas,No trees, No water, No people
Oddometer: 9
Lived here all my life, seen a bunch of tornados but it's just part of living here. If you choose Option 1, there's good camping at the Wilburton Ponds in the grasslands. Free, vault toilets and water. Also, Point of Rocks is close by. Rode through the grasslands yesterday, roads were a bit wash boarded but not a bad trip. If you get close and weather is an issue or you need a hand yell, I'm only abou 30 miles east. If you need additional info PM me and I can get you more information on the area. SafeTravels.
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Old 04-28-2014, 03:13 AM   #10
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forces of nature, absolutely need to be respected.

But as was pointed out, people live in tornado prone areas, just like others live in earthquake areas, and even coastal areas, where earthquakes can cause tsunami waves. Just passing by such risk areas, is FAR safer IMO. Good idea to watch the weather forecast of course.
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Old 04-28-2014, 06:55 AM   #11
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About this time of year in 2011 I was riding east and ducked into a motel in Oklahoma City. The air was very humid and thick. I got up at dawn next morning and continued east on the Interstate. I noticed a lot of debris along the road and some ripped up trees and one demolished barn. Turned out some tornado's touched down overnight.

Good thing I had no clue about any of it.

I've had some tough trips across the plains in both directions because the winds can be huge and gusting, but I've never seen a tornado. Spent about half my life in California so I've experienced plenty of quakes. Those are not things I ponder either.
Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
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Old 04-28-2014, 10:32 PM   #12
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I'm in Chattanooga at the minute with lightning illuminating the living room of my hosts house haha! Got a message on my phone telling me to get inside, tornado warning!! Waiting til Weds for the warning areas to pass by and then I'll head west with a little haste
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:57 AM   #13
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Location: Kentucky-Eastern that is!
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When it comes to a tornado the is not the way to think. Also, "getting inside" is only part of the smart plan-a basement corner with no windows works best,etc.. Latest news is testament to the seriousness of this stuff...
"If I had my life to live over,I'd dare to make more mistakes next time...I'd relax,I'd limber up.I'd be sillier than this trip, take fewer things seriously, I would take more chances... take more trips...climb more mountains...swim more more ice cream." Jorge Luis Borges, at age 85
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Old 04-29-2014, 05:30 AM   #14
Joined: Apr 2013
Location: Western Mass.
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I also am afraid of tornadoes. Not sure why since I have never seen one in person. Probably their power, randomness and my inability to "control" them. However, the chances of riding into one are small, and there are other things much more likely to cause one to die while riding (eg. texting teen)!

These stats attest to that:

Total deaths in USA caused by tornados (2012): 69

Total deaths in USA for motorcyclists in road accidents (2012): 5,000 (est.)
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? George Carlin
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:49 AM   #15
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The is for the image of me running away from a tornado as fast as I can on a loaded strom!!

We already had the ... oh s**t, this could actually hit us ... talk! The plan is for everyone to squeeze in to the lil walk in wardrobe!
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