Laura: All Bark, No Bite

Barber County, Kansas — Storm clouds started to build on the horizon the evening of June 13. The forecast didn’t show a high probability of storms, but the radar told a different story. Storms in many parts of the country have been exceptionally wicked this spring, so I started to get a pit in my stomach as green began to appear in the clouds while yellow severe warning boxes flashed on the screen.

Just that afternoon, I had taken a combine for a spin while its driver, Thim, ate lunch. The wheat was thick in that part of the field, and the monitor bounced between 50 and 60 bushels per acre. The yield was encouraging, considering this part of the world has been fighting severe drought. A few timely rains can make all the difference, and now hail could ruin it at harvest.

The storm was moving in a less common direction. In this part of the world, storms commonly move from the west or southwest to the east or northeast. This one was coming from the northwest to the southeast. A pronounced shelf cloud made it extremely photogenic, and I felt a little guilty capturing its beauty as I traveled from our southern Kansas crew to our northern Oklahoma crew, about 20 miles apart. I never made it to the next stop, though, as the gust front ahead of the storm hit. For a short time, as the leading edge passed, visibility was nearly zero as dust started to blow.

Thankfully, the storm ended with more bark than bite. It dissipated as it reached our crews, and with the exception of some wind and rain, it was pretty benign. Crews were back running the next day.

Below is a progression of photos showing how the storm advanced.

Calum, getting ready to haul another load out before the storm arrived.
The storm inches closer.
The view as I left one crew to visit the other one.
Here comes the storm!
It looked ominous but ended up dissipating by the time it reached us.

Thank you to our 2024 All Aboard Wheat Harvest sponsors: High Plains Journal, Lumivia by Corteva Agriscience, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Merit Auctions, Kramer Seed FarmsShelbourne Reynolds, and U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. Laura can be reached at

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