Uprooted Magnolia

Terror on the Flats

Posted in Photography, Stormy Skies by leahyetter on June 8, 2012

I was driving home from town after picking up some groceries and had my eye on the sky. It was dark and spooky and I just figured it was from the mountain fire burning near Laramie Peak. I thought maybe we’d get a sprinkle or two and that was it. Patrick left town after me and was about 6 or 7 miles behind. As I went through the entryway of the ranch, Patrick called and asked where I was. I told him “at the entryway” and he said go to the main house and take cover in the basement, there is a tornado on the Mule Shoe Ranch Flats. I looked to my right and saw this:

©Leah Yetter Photographer

He said he was turning around to go back to that ranch and take cover in their barn. I kept driving, pushing my little Honda hard on the rocky road. Scared, breathless and full of anxiety, I stopped for another shot.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

The wind started to blow harder and I could hear the roar of this funnel in the distance. Even though this was a couple miles away, the sound of it was clear and was kind of like a constant thunder roll.

I stopped for another shot and then pushed the pedal to the floor and ran inside our house to get my kitty cat.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

I put Matilda in her carrier and went to the main house and watched to see if it was getting close to us. It didn’t make it to the ranch. This was the first time when shooting an event that I’m glad I didn’t get a close up.

Once I knew we were safe, I took Matilda back home and watched the storm move all around us.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

It was a spooky hour in the afternoon, we are all okay and I’m so glad no one was killed. There was some structural damage closer to town and one injury but not a serious one. I heard this morning that a cow as killed. It could have been worse and I’m thankful that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

We had these storms in Georgia but I was fortunate enough to always sleep through them. I’ve never been this close to actually see the funnel. And out here, as a friend of mine pointed out, you can see a storm miles away and have time to take cover. Some towns aren’t so lucky.

If you were in or around Wheatland yesterday and want to share your tornado experience, please do so in the comments. Or any of you out there, if you have a storm story, share it. I’d love to hear from you all.

Godspeed Wheatland. Thinking of you who were closely affected.

47 Responses

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  1. ameliaclaire92 said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Wow. What a storm!


  2. eyes cast down said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Hair-raising shots. Fortunately this storm didn’t cause very much trouble. The power of nature…


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks! She is a powerful thing isn’t she… and finicky…she just won’t lay these rain storms down on the fires out here. It’ll hail and rain everywhere but our ranch and on the mountain fires.


  3. cravesadventure said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I am glad to hear everyone is safe – great photos by the way. Have a Great Weekend!


  4. ken said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Wow exciting! That’s what scares me about those things in Georgia. You wouldn’t be able to see one until it was on top of you. I did watch the hook on radar of a confirmed tornado go directly over my house a couple of years ago.


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Exactly Ken. The lack of trees out here is an advantage in some cases. We got a reverse 911 call saying to take cover. I heard it on the answering machine as I came inside to get Matilda, then the power went out and I couldn’t watch the radar like I wanted. And really, I had not time. Very exciting and terrifying!


  5. theimaginationmuscle said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Glad to hear y’all are safe! Great shots! Take care, Anna


  6. manoy maniniyot said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

    i know the feeling of being close to it. it’s such a rush to try to capture its might, and yet scared at the same time. there was a storm that went through town earlier this year but I took cover once it was raining golf size hail for more than 10minutes (they say was the longest hail storm ever experienced in this town). I never got to capture the funnel…well, maybe next time.. 😉


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      There was hail in this storm too. It didn’t reach the ranch though. Yeah, I never thought I’d capture a funnel. Like I said, wish I could have been closer but my brain got the best of me! 🙂 Glad you made it through your storm. And hopefully someday you’ll safely capture a funnel too!


  7. idiosyncratic eye said, on June 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Terrifying! Isn’t it rare to have them far west and north? I’m glad that you and yours are all well and safe, I hope others are too. 🙂


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Well, folks spotted a funnel cloud about this time last year but it didn’t touch the ground. Patrick has been here most of his life and he’s never seen anything like yesterday. We get powerful winds even on a sunny day that you would think would be the result of a tornado. But nothing like yesterday. It’s beautiful and calm today.


  8. melissakoski said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    How scary and exciting! Everytime I read “and I stopped to take another picture…” I yelled, “You turd!” (: Great news on the injuries or damage considering the serious event. Glad y’all are safe!


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      You crack me up Melissa. Yeah, I know, it was intense but I wanted pictures!!! Like the comment from Seasweetie, I’m a storm chaser at heart. But my brain won yesterday. 🙂


  9. David Goorevitch said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Wow that’s cool. I grew up in Edmonton Alberta, Latitude 54. There was a blizzard on the day that the Beatles “Rubber Soul” was delivered to our local drug store. They’d called me to tell me that they were holding the album I’d ordered late the previous day. The authorities has issued a severe weather advisory, and schools were closed. But I was 13 or something and I was on a mission. I didn’t even know if the drug store was open, and chances are they weren’t. I covered myself in wool and down and proceeded out the front door, then south. By the time I was even with my next door neighbour the cold was hammering my forehead like a jackhammer. I tried to run back inside but my joints felt like the Tin Man’s. It was -54 that day but the wind was so bad that they called the wind chill at -92.


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      OH MY! We get brutal winters here but nothing like -92 wind chill. But you know David, I too would give it a try.. I mean Rubber Soul for goodness sake. Of course I’d attempt to get that in my hands ASAP! Thanks for sharing!


  10. Seasweetie said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Holy cow! (Maybe that’s the wrong thing to say to a rancher, but it was my first thought.) I’m so glad you are all okay. How uniquely terrifying and exhilerating to see such a thing. In my heart, I’m a storm-chaser.


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Me too! In my heart I wanted to turn around and chase it but my brain (and my man) told me to take shelter. So of course I did the latter.


  11. nutsfortreasure said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Glad your OK


  12. Gracie O'Tripp said, on June 8, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    What fantastic cloud shots. Looks like what we call a blue norther. I can feel the chill
    I raced a storm home one day. It roared through the trees along the road beside me. When got home i slammed the door shut and heard sticks beating against it. It was only the next day that I learned it was a small tornado that tore up the trees along that road I was on. I know the noise you heard. So glad you were all OK including your animals.


  13. Debbie said, on June 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Glad you are ok! I am so impressed (and terrified) that the funnel is so close, you are in danger, and you stop to take pictures!


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      What can I say?! I’m a sucker for the excitement and I don’t go anywhere without my camera. I have to capture anything and everything that happens out here! Thanks Debbie! 🙂


  14. FeyGirl said, on June 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Wow… It’s a beautiful sight (and lovely images), but I can’t imagine being confronted by the quick ferocity and devastation of these storms. Nature at its most amazing, for sure. I hope it passed through safely….


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks FeyGirl! It passed through with a good bit of damage but nobody lost their lives. Phew! 🙂


  15. Tiberius Botescu said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I’m from SC and will be traveling to Camp Grace. Should be there by Wednesday. I heard about the fire in that area. Do you have any local news about that? Great pictures BTW.


    • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Hey there! It looks bad from our ranch. The smoke is plentiful and we are hoping it is from back burn (burning it into itself). I just found this article:
      It’s tough to find good coverage out here but from what I read, they are trying to keep it from getting to that camp site (obviously). It may be pretty smokey there. We can’t buy a raindrop these days. Good luck and feel free to email me uprootedmagnolia@leahyetter.com .


      • Tiberius Botescu said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm

        Thank you for the quick reply. I’m WY bound. I’ll be riding my motorcycle all the way there and back. I was supposed to stay and help with the camp for one week. If the fire keeps burning and we won’t be able to stay at the camp, are there any options in Wheatland?


      • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

        WOW- very cool!
        Hmmm, the hotels may be full because of firefighters, land management crews, etc. and I think the power company has people out here for some kind of outage or something. Unfortunately this isn’t a guest ranch and I don’t know many around that are. But once you get to the camp, I’m SURE someone will have answers for you. This place is full of friendly folks.


      • Tiberius Botescu said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        I’ll have my camping gear with me. Hopefully I’ll find a campground.


      • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        Oh yeah, duh. There are plenty of parks. Guernsy Sate Park, and several RV Parks, etc. If stopped in at the visitors center off the interstate, they’ll tell you all you need to know. Safe travels!


      • Tiberius Botescu said, on June 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

        Thank you so much for your help. I’ve noticed you’re a Canon user. I have a couple of them myself. I really enjoy them. For traveling, I grab my SX40. It’s more compact for when I’m on my motorcycle. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my daugther. She works at Camp Grace for the summer.


      • leahyetter said, on June 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        I wasn’t thinking when I mentioned hotels. Of course you would camp! It’s summertime in Wyo and you’ll love it as long as you aren’t inhaling the smoke. Usually it’s crisp and clear. 🙂
        Oh yes. I don’t get into the Canon/Nikon war but I learned with Canon and I like the glass and ease of use with Canon. My dad shoots Nikon so we get testy sometimes with each other. 😉
        That’s great you’ll get to see your daughter out here. Enjoy your time!


  16. trudyleedarman said, on June 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    You made the National News tonight! Not with photos like yours, no quite so close! Terrifying. Pleased all is well, great entry….talk about dramatic!


  17. Katie said, on June 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Being raised in the mountains, I never had to deal with these nasty gobsmackers (my new favorite word!). So when I came to Nebraska, I found out these things are everywhere! My husband likes to stand outside while the sirens are blaring and watch the skies. If I had known he had this problem before we got married, I probably would have insisted on therapy BEFORE the wedding day!


  18. Olivia Slama said, on June 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Wow, great photos!


  19. David Mason said, on June 9, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Wow must have been very scary, great photo’s though


  20. Janet Mackey said, on June 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Hi, Leah. Your photos are phenomenal! I live in Texas, so tornadoes are social occasions for all of us. We stand in our yards and at our windows and watch until it’s probably not safe, then we talk about where they hit and what kind of damage they did or didn’t do for days after! Crazy, I know. I’ve had friends whose husbands jumped in their cars and storm chased just for the fun of it. Thankfully my husband isn’t that crazy. We’ve outrun one in my lifetime, and one was enough for me. Those sirens are pretty terrifying. I must admit to being fascinated by the storms and tornadoes, though. In my heart I think I must be a storm chaser, too.

    Congratulations on your incredible photos. Just like an author who always has a pad and pen handy, photographers are always on the lookout for that next great shot, and the really good photographers, like you, get some really awesome ones. You enrich us by taking the time to share. Thanks.


  21. Lenore Diane said, on June 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Leah, I am so happy the damage was minimal and no human lives were lost. I am sorry the cow died, though.
    The pictures you took are amazing. If I did not have kids, I would seriously consider becoming a storm chaser. These things fascinate me. Thank you for sharing these incredible pictures. Again, I am so happy you guys are OK.


    • Tiberius Botescu said, on June 11, 2012 at 6:08 am

      I’m heading to Wheatland WY, specifically Camp Grace. Do you have any updates on the forest fire?


  22. Beth Ann said, on June 11, 2012 at 6:56 am

    What beautiful work you do!!!!! The pictures are amazing even if the storm wasn’t !!! Lenore sent me over here to see your talent and I am so glad. Going to spend some time clicking around on your blog!!!


  23. Kenda said, on June 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    My goodness! We never have things like that here in my part of Oregon. Sure we have great wind and rain storms but never tornados. Your writing made my own heart beat faster. Glad everyone is okay!


  24. Lynn said, on June 11, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    THANKS for sharing the pictures … and having your camera in hand with you, Leah! I have a cousin that lives a bit north of Wheatland. –Lynn, from tornado-torn, Joplin, Missouri – The Beast F-05, nearly a mile wide year ago last May 22, 2011. We’re rapidly rebuilding!!


  25. underground34 said, on June 13, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Beautiful funnel & storm structure!


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