As everyone else, I will work on pics and try to get some up tomorrow. However, I may have the unfortunate distinction to be the last chaser to ever drive through Protection, KS the way some of us remember it. After having my route blocked off due to damage south of Bucklin, I found a small paved county road that took me straight through downtown Protection. Managed to get east to Coldwater for gas and then south of the highway 160/highway 1 intersection where I stopped for a few pics of the structure I was viewing to my west. Without data or cell connection and knowing a beast was coming at me, I chickened out due to self-preservation and headed south on 1 very quickly. Apparently at that point something managed to hit Protection. Last I heard, heavy equipment was being brought in to clear the highway in order for emergency crews to get in and start helping the people there. Of course these were preliminary reports, but the last quote I heard was that downtown Protection "was completely destroyed". Anyone have news on this? More later.
TORNADOES - More tornado madness!! We knew that today's setup had as much tornado potential as yesterday and it certainly panned out for us with several tornadoes witnessed.
We started heading towards a developing supercell, south of Interstate-70. We waited for the storm to get closer to the highway because we didn't want to face the terrible dirt roads that were left muddied by yesterday's storms. As the rotating portion of the storm approached the interstate, we found ourselves in the hook of the supercell with a large, dark cone tornado fast approaching. We pulled off and filmed as it got closer and closer. I prepared myself for the possibility of having to dash out of there at full speed but the tornado dissipated before it made it to our location. Just east of where we were, a new tornado formed. This time a big, ragged multiple vortex tornado that shifted shape and morphed until it eventually became a huge wedge. At one point, it was so big that I could only see one side of the tornado.
We pushed on to the north to try and cut ahead of the storm and make another approach on the tornado but the only paved roads were few and far between. We eventually cut across through the storm near Hill City as we "threaded the needle" in between 3 different TVS markers (tornadic vortex signature).
As the light began to fail we watched yet another tornado warned supercell from a hilltop when we were jolted by an extremely close lightning bolt. We believe it hit behind the house we were parked beside and it was a good thing that everyone was inside the vans at the time. The shockwave almost startled the pants off of me!
On our way back to Hays for the night, we heard about another possible tornado approaching the town of Ellis. We were close by and tried to make an intercept. The problem was that the tornado was wrapped in rain and it was getting dark. As we got closer to the town, we noticed the winds shifting and we remarked about how stupid some of these big rig truck drivers are, they'll drive into anything. A few second after we said that, an 18 wheeler passed us and pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway. The tornado was fast approaching and we watched the winds flip the truck over onto its side. Charles spotted the tornado and saw more rain wrapping around it as it closer to our location. We had to get out of there and fast! The big problem was that we were on the divided highway with no way to turn around. We ended up circling back and drove the wrong way down the interstate for a mile or two with our headlights flashing to warn any oncoming motorists of the danger. The tornado crossed the road close to where we had been and damage was reported in Ellis.
When the danger had finally passed, we drove back east again and noticed 4 different trucks overturned, some in opposite directions which was more evidence of the tornado passing through.
I photographed a very brief tornado about 20 to 22 miles northwest of Jetmore at around 6:25pm from a supercell thunderstorm that initated east and northeast of Liberalâ€¦which tracked across western Gray Countyâ€¦and eventually through extreme eastern Finney Countyâ€¦clipping far northwest Hodgeman Countyâ€¦before moving across Ness County when I eventually said to hell with that storm and left it about 7 miles south of Ness City. Of course, it went on to produce tornadoes once again, after there was a funky and complicated cell merger that I really did not like at the time (which was one of the reasons I abandoned it). The other reason was I had developed "fatigue" with that stormâ€¦ as it teased me for such a long time with "oh my God" rotating wall clouds and nascent 3-second funnels and whatnot. I would have had a beautiful front-row seat to a high-contrast tornado at one point when I got up into Southwest Ness County, but it just wasnâ€™t to be. I got real deflated after that "false alarm". Rather frustrating to be on a nice supercell like this and only get a brief 30 second tornado whereas other supercells all around seemed to be tornadic machines. I really shouldnâ€™t complain, this one image (below) is the first tornado photograph Iâ€™ve taken since October 26, 2006:
Observed the tornadoes in and north of Dighton, KS. (Reports 1 W and 1 NNW Dighton were ours). We got to town and set up on the north side, well before the storm arrived. We didn't move for over half an hour, as what had been a persistent but benign wall cloud suddenly came to life, producing the most dramatic and violent merry-go-round rotation I've ever seen. Eventually it produced a multi-vortex tornado inside wrapping rain curtains. This tornado lasted a minute or two, then the RFD really cut in and began to rip out the original circulation. We moved north and witnessed a second tornado develop from the old meso as it continued to occlude, looking very similar to the May 15, 2003 TX pan wedge tornado. It was spectacular to watch, as this tornado persisted for several minutes while the parent storm began to move away, leaving this cut-off meso/tornado just going bonkers in its wake.
Fortunately, Dighton avoided disaster; we could not believe there wasn't a violent wedge right in town, the parent rotation was so intense.
The storm moved north and we trailed it, but eventually lost it. So we then dropped south and east to pick up the next sup coming up into SW Ness county. We intercepted this one about 7 or so miles SW of Ness City, and were treated to an awesome rotating wall cloud with several white cone funnels and attempted TG, but nothing we could see on the ground. This storm kept wrapping its circulations in thick rain, and eventually we had to bail out, as we were on backroads only a few miles east and were in danger of getting stuck. We bailed out back east to US283 and headed south and east again, looking for the sup headed to Greensburg. We finally caught up to it west of town, but the hook/precip wrap just would not move north of US54 before dark, and we wanted no part of trying to punch in through the backside in the fading daylight. We were watching velocity and knew what was going on, but it just wasn't worth the risk; after reading the reports page, I'm glad we backed out when we did.
Like yesterday, we were on several tornadic storms, but missed a lot of tornadoes because our timing was off with road networks, storm cycles, position, etc etc. But also like yesterday, we saw some tornadoes too, and they were spectacular.
Just wanted to say that we had two very good experiences with LEOs these past few days; yesterday in Bucklin and today in Dighton (of all places). I spent quite a while talking with a local deputy in Dighton, and he gave me the direct number to the local Lane County EM, that has direct access to the sirens. He took my name and said he'd give it to them, and for me to call that number if we saw anything threatening in Lane county. I never used the number, because the sirens were blowing in Dighton several minutes before the wall cloud was even rotating (great lead-time warning), and once the tornadic threat started, we called DDC directly.
I almost feel guilty, as he asked me what to expect and when I told him "a repeat of yesterday" he was like "sh*t man, don't tell me that." A little over three hours later we were observing a tornado in the same area where I'd talked to the deputy.
Full report: This was another busy, extremely exciting, and terrifying chase day in nearly the same area as the day before, in west-central Kansas. The day began by leaving Hays at around noon and heading west towards Utica.
Above: The monster supercell as a "baby" after initiation near Utica, Kansas.
Doug Kiesling and Brandon John also accompanied me on this chase in separate vehicles. Conditions were similar to the day prior: A Colorado low pressure system, strong winds aloft with directional shear, high CAPE, and a dryline / warm-front boundary "triple point". The Storm Prediction Center had a nearly identical moderate risk outlook with the tornado probability at 15% hatched, hail at 45% hatched, and wind at 30%. By about 2 PM, the SPC issued mesoscale discussion #986 and then PDS tornado watch #341 for most of western Kansas. Storms initiated southwest of Utica in Ness County, Kansas and quickly became supercellular by 3 PM.
Above: Tornado SW of Quinter, Kansas.
Above: Satellite tornado (yes, this was a satellite)!
Above: The wedge toroado (can't fit it all in the picture)!
One supercell was tracked from Ness County and north into Gove County, until it finally intensified near Quinter and produced very large tornadoes. Doug Kiesling and myself were separated after documenting the tornadoes (one was a mile-wide wedge), and a window was broken on my vehicle.
Above: Another funnel / tornado east of Gove.
After this storm weakened, attention was focused on new development to the south, and another tornado was intercepted east of Gove, Kansas. After this storm moved north, my companion Brandon and I attempted to follow it, but got stuck in deep mud on a country road north of county road 466.
Above: Stuck in da mud!
We had to walk 2 miles to a local’s home and ask if he can help. He was more than happy to help, and tried to haul our vehicles out, but called friend of his with a farm tractor to finally get us out. This took about two and a half hours, and finished chasing for this wild day.
Above: Freeing us from the deadly Kansas quick-sand!
Doug Kiesling continued to Salina, Kansas for the night while Brandon and I spent the night in Hays at his place after dinner with MANY other chasers in town. Forecasted for the next days target and also put into perspective that it is a miracle no one was killed near Quinter on this extreme chase day!
Full log and chase account in the works at the link below...
The king of out of focus and far away tornado pictures, me, strikes again!
I intercepted a few tornado warned storms, but silly me, didn't stay long enough to watch them produce! I first intercepted the first tornado warned storm of the day that moved north of Dighton and into eastern Gove County. I dropped the storm halfway between Quinter and K-4 as I felt that the storm would move into very low instability and would just grunge itself (mistake #1).
I then intercepted the next storm after I headed south. This most notably will be the storm that produced an elephant trunk tornado that was visible on K-4 between Shields and Utica. I stayed around there for almost an hour and when I left and headed east was when it produced (mistake #2).
I then headed south towards Ness City to intercept a storm that was looking better on radar. This one I had a little more success with as I watched the rotating wall cloud west of Ness City and then through the town and to the east. I then backtracked and moved north of Ness City when I then photographed, yet another out of focus far away tornado! I followed this storm north and then east on K-4. I witnessed at least 15 power flashes as the storm moved northeastward but could not get a visual on the tornado (most likely rain wrapped). This storm then moved onto Cedar Bluff and I held back for a newly tornado warned storm from the southwest. This storm had some pretty neat looking wall clouds but I never saw anything else from it.
As darkness fell, I threw in the towel and began the long journey back to Gardner. Always a scary site hearing sirens while driving through populated towns (Ness City and Hays). Also a scary feeling listening to NWR on a report of a large tornado near Greensburg... No more of this fast moving low contrast stuff! Seen or met up with a few chasers on this chase including the TornadoLive peeps (Darin B and Dick M), and Fred Plowman.
The attached picture is what I got of a tornado to the NNE of Ness City at or around 7:20-7:40PM. Arrow is pointing at it...
Left Council Bluffs this morning after driving in from Rockford the previous night. Dropped south from I-80 at Gothenberg and fought through a bunch of cells before getting to I-70 at Granfield. I headed east through the rain core with GR3 showing the hook still a few miles my SE, got out of it at around mile marker 108 to see a beautiful wedge a few miles to my south. It became multi-vortex for a short time, maintaining a wide base with apparent strong and multiple rotations. It remained impressive even within a mile of I-70, I thought the Interstate would be spared as the tornado weakened and started roping out. Just as it seemed it was going to dissipate completely it suddenly intensified and crossed the highway, really surprising me considering it looked just about dead only moments earlier. In all I probably got at least 3 minutes of it, hope the video comes out OK, too tired to check now and still room on disc for more wedges.
I got off I-70 a mile later at Quinter to check radar on the stuff to my south. I noticed the 2 T-Warned cells Iâ€™d previously seen to the south now with pronounced hooks, the nearest now with confirmed tornado near Ness City, moving NE at 42 mph. I hopped back on I-70 and exited at Ellis, heading south on 247(?) and setting up about 5 miles south of town. The storm approached and inflow winds were screaming, easily over 60 mph. Not long after I saw a tornado caught in the glow of a powerflash.
After getting blocked by someone playing traffic cop and with it getting dark, I headed into Hays to the sound of tornado sirens, a nice musical encore for a memorable day. Iâ€™ll post stills & video after the chasing is done.
Matt Hughes and myself got some pretty good footage yesterday, but the tornadoes we witnessed were not highly photogenic. We witnessed six tornadoes and all. We needed at least something after playing too far south on Thursday! One tornado (after dark) was a large wedge over eastern Pratt County. You can view our video at the link below.
Today...was definately a day to remember!.
Started out the day in Norton, KS..proceeded to Colby...then to
Oakley....then the Dighton area...then to Hays, KS on Interstate 60.
My wife and I(along with Peanut-the storm chasing beagle) chased in convoy today with a group of Michigan chasers out of Grand Rapids and Lansing.(Thanks guys!)
All in all..saw at least 6 different tornadoes..all of them very brief.
1 of them...lacked a funnel but had a damaging circulation and passed
only a couple of hundred yards away tearing off part of a metal roof
to a building just North of Dighton and flinging away like a leaf.
Another looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz...classic Kansas
rope tornado bent horizontally to the ground.
The others were slender funnels shapes. Rain quickly wraped into all of them. There was also likely a few wedges but they were all invisible to us in the wrapping rain curtains.
One of the wall clouds near Dighton we saw had some of the most spectacular rotating motions that I have ever seen. (As Shane Adams already mentioned-that town really lucked out.) Somewhere well North of Dighton..we hit some RFD winds that bordered on crazy. Debris was blowing everywhere.
We called the chase off due to darkness. On the way to our
motel in Hays...we went through a core of a major HP supercell and encountered golf ball size hail for a LONG time. It appeared that a few baseball size hail stones were laying on the road. We were also hit by giant tumble weed(I had no idea it could get so big!)...between the hail and tumble weed...added a few more dents to my truck.
When we got to the interstate...and proceeded East...we missed
another tornado which apparantly crossed the highway 5 minutes before
us in the Ellis area. It blew over several semi's...obvious tree damage
etc...gasoline all over. As we checked into the hotel...the tornado
sirens were blaring right here in town....as yet another storm was
close..but that storm passed just to our West.
3 days in a row of excellent chasing..will today be number 4?
you saw the same two TORs that I did. Will post a report later, I'm hotfooting it back home to Omaha to get ready for today's fun 'n games...notice how the overturned truck furthest west was rolled to the south while the two further east were rolled to the north? Either two different instances or the circulation was about two miles wide...
Got a break from work for 4 hours so headed SW from Dodge City picked a storm near Copland KS had a few to choose from. At first thought bad choice as storms to the North in Finney Co were getting tornado warned. But time and distance made this storm it. At first looked like bad choice, but just west of Copland started to crank up, hail to quarter size and bigger. Started to visibly rotate just NE of Copland, stayed just south of the rotation up to Kalvesta. There had to break of the chase and get back to work. Saw funnels and wall clouds but, can not confirm any touch downs here are a few pictures.
After driving all day from SLC, I drove right to a tornado-warned storm over Cheyenne, WY. There were actually 2 storms, one right over the city and one just SE. The one over town looked fantastic, but the warning was for the other storm, which looked cold and outflowish. It had one heck of a hail core, probably nickel-size or so covering I-80 east of town.
Storm motion was N at about 30 mph so they got away from me fast. Never saw any of the reported tornadoes. Realized after those got away that I should've just kept going to try to make it to KS. Oh well.
Briefly - missed the first Quinter tornado as we decided to head east just before the storm arrived as I wasn't liking the poor vis/precip prior to the tornado. Saw the second wedge along with almost everyone else on I-70! Then headed back east and caught the Ellis tornado as it caused a few power flashes. Called it a night then and headed back to Hays. An exciting chase day, although not as satisfying as the day before.
Not quite as strong a day for our Virginia Tech chase group as Thursday. We were on the storm that spun the wedge north of Quitner from initiation, but were trailing south on the muddy roads at the time. We could see the massive rotation in the storm north of us as the tornado was occurring but couldn't see the wedge itself. Later, we briefly saw a wedge tracking through the rural area between Ness City and Ellis, but we were at a distance and it became quickly rain-wrapped. Drove on to Hays, where tornado sirens were blaring, and, just east of town, watched the tornadic supercell past west of us at sunset with intense inflow winds shaking the vans along the roadside. Some Hays firemen stopped and watched the radar and the storm with us.
Drove east to Manhattan, Kan., by midnight. We're planning to follow the diminishing setup over eastern Nebraska today and Iowa/Wisconsin on Sunday to see if we can find a jewel or two amid the rocks, and then probably head back to Virginia.
Great Video Doug! That was some great footage! Congrats to all who where on the Quinter storm. After busting yesterday in SW Kansas I went ahead and met up with Tyler Costantini, Chris Wilburn, Bart Comstock and Genaro Estrada up in Ransom Ks just south of WaKeeny. We chased the storm that went thru Quinter but I missed it since I went the the wrong way on I-70 had to go 6 miles before I could turn around and try to make it back, then ran into traffic so I did not see anything other than all the inflow. Can't really add anything else that everyone has already said. So I left for home around 9:30pm from Hays and desided to go and look at the cells towards Reno Co. I make it to K96 and Hwy17 just south of Hutchinson. Did see a wall could and what looks like a brief touchdown, here are a few video grabs of the storm. Other than all the muddy roads it really was a fun chase day.
Got 3 tornadoes from 3 different KS supercells...got the second tornado cycle of the Dighton-Shields KS supercell with a nice tornado about 5 miles to our north-northwest (same one as in Oliver's report above). Bad road and muddy road options kept us from catching the later show up by Quinter on this supercell. Got second tornado in the Ransom-Cedar Bluff KS area later...and then the late night tornado (Jay Cazel mentions above) south of Hutchinson in Reno Co. Avoided any big hail fortunately so no broken glass. Whew. Melissa...Rich Thies' daughter got her first tornadoes on her very first storm chase. Ended the night-morning chase by moving up to York NE to get into position for today's show. Sidebar note...its was NOT a good thing to come up on the DOW-TIV armada and find them "utilizing" one lane of the road on the 2 lane KS Highway near Cedar Bluff Reservoir. This road clog was pretty aggravating. Non-emergency situation. I am pretty sure that is a major violation of Kansas traffic laws. Enough said.
Chad Cowan, Nick Lockwood and I were on an HP beast that had an embedded tornado in it. We had 50-60 mph inflow windows before we followed into Ellis, KS. The power went out, power flashes just off to our left, and debris started flying across the road as a tornado was moving through the west end of town. It got pretty hairy for a moment before we had our east escape route on 70. Chad has great video he'll share later.
Frustrating day for me. Started out in Oakley waiting for initiation with Steve Pederson. As we watched the first cell fire near Dighton we then headed west. I continued east of Quinter to Collyer, anticipating more of a NE track of the now tornado-warned cell. ALso trying to avoid the core, I hung back east in Collyer, waiting to move west towards the circulation. By the time I got back to Quinter, the circulation had passed. I could make out the RFD notch and extreme motions close to the base north of Quinter. THis may have been the wedge that Kiesling got acquainted with.
Frustrated with the sheer intensity of the cells, and the moisture haze all day, I was growing increasingly uneasy about the realization that if I really wanted to see anything, I was going to have to take some risks that I was pretty much unwilling to take yesterday (more on that in the discussion thread, I think). SO I headed south to intercept the supercell getting its act together SW of Ness CIty. Seeing that i wouldn't make it without getting beaten in the core, I headed east then back north to Hays, where I knew ot would be heading. Again, visibility and the sheer magnitude of the cell prevented a good intercept west of Hays.
Congrats to all who bagged wedges today. My hats off to you!! It was a violent day, with every cell seemingly producing such intense circulations. WIth the poor road conditions, the volume of chaser traffic, and all the other intangibles, it was truly a day for the really good chasers to get the good stuff. I guess I've got some work to do. I had my day on Thursday, and still had a good time learning on Friday.
Yesterday was a mess. The atmosphere was grunge, it seemed as if every chaser in the world was on the road going every which direction, the yahoos were out, the locals were confused and upset - understandably - and the contrast was almost non-existant. We drove through everything from thick fog, downpours, drizzle, mud, roads almost blocked with chasers, empty roads, and just about every condition you can imagine but clear skies. However, we ended with the ginormous cell out of Ness City with a rain free base and thought the beast was going to drop one right in front of us heading for Ellis. We saw what we thought was a low contrast tornado, later verified by photos, sightings from other chasers, and damage path. We headed to Hays to our previously booked motel rooms to find that the Whiskey Creek staff had closed the restaurant and was telling everyone that there was a tornado ready to set down on top of them (paraphrase) and they were making everyone go to the tornado shelter. However, the staff was milling around in the parking lot and were uninterested in seeing radar and knowing what was really happening. Many other establishments had also closed as the police had apparently advised. Everyone ended up in Applebees, which did a great job given that they had hundreds of chasers to feed all at once.
All in all, not as good as yesterday - very frustrating with the lack of visibility and the number of chasers. Not surprising that many chasers had close calls. Dangerous stuff out there. Glad to see blue sky and heat today.
Caught at least 3 tornadoes, possibly more. The first was a HUGE HUGE wedge north of Dighton, KS - I'd say at least a mile wide and likely bigger. I'm a fisherman, so I'd say it was 2 miles wide - fully zoomed out it barely would fit in the frame. The whole meso basically touched the earth and rain wrapped, with many mutiple vorticies. The storm looked like it occluded and cycled and a new wall cloud quickly formed east of the occluded meso west of Utica, KS and produced a nice elephant trunk/tube tornado for 5 minutes. Most of the chasers that saw the wedge were hauling tail east on highway 4 and never even saw it as the wall cloud/meso was directly over them. About 4 people stopped where I was and filmed it - Mike Kovalchick being one of them from his pic.
Then, I waited for the storm to get going north of Garden City up towards Ness City. Northeast of there as it really wrapped up and the percip cleared out showing the meso, several nice cone tornadoes touched down.
Since storm motions were 60 mph, I didn't even chase anything, I just planned where to be so I'd be on the east end of the rear flank of the 2 middle storms as they passed me. Plan worked perfectly.
Also chased with Mark Farnik and a couple other guys who's names I can't remember. I can't remember people's names to save my life.
Whew, I'm tired, but what an amazing experience that many many people fantasize about but never get to see.
:edit: After reading the couple of reports here from the Dighton wedge, you guys must have been really close to it. I was a bit farther east of it so I could see it's entirety. It was Greensburg big. Before it really got big, I was zoomed in all the way and it looked like a mile wide meso about 20 feet off the ground with rapid motion and suction vorticies.
Now back in Amarillo after a great day in Kansas yesterday - initial target was Scott City, got west of town for good visibility of the horizon and waited - towers first went up to the east of us about 3pm - sped east to get to Dighton before they went severe and cut us off, then north - cells rapidly became severe warned , then tor-warned - all within an hour of initiation - observed wall cloud near Shields and the signs of rotation beginning - storm moving rapidly NNE - no good roads north in that area, so went east to just after Ransom, then north on 283 to get some quick distance on the storm on paved roads - finally made the decision to get on to county roads to get closer to it again - wet, muddy and very slippery.
Ended up on Castle Rock Rd just south of Quinter - paved road again to my relief - inflow screaming over our heads from the east - then as we came up over a rise sighted big wedge on the ground to our left running parallel about a mile away - tornado sirens wailing in Quinter - turned onto I70 westbound to intercept it's path and watch it go by - lots of traffic already stopped watching approaching tornado - pulled over, rolled down window - 1st thoughts were "this tornado is not moving sideways anymore!" "it's getting bigger!" - tornado had evolved into a classic cone-shaped funnel about 1/2 mile away, and moving towards us at 30 to 40 mph - "gotta turnaround!" - rest of crew got about 10 seconds of pics/video footage before we did a u-turn and drove down the wrong way on the Interstate <no traffic was moving towards us - and median strip looked too muddy to risk a crossing and get stuck in the path of the tornado> - after 100 yards found a paved strip to the other side and crossed over - pulled over again a short distance eastward on I70 only to see a secondary funnel rotating around the main funnel - decided to put more distance between us and the whole rotation - pulled over again just in time to see the funnel lift off the ground and cross the Interstate just west of the interchange at Quinter.
I was too preoccupied with the driving challenge to get any pics - but rest of crew got some great stuff, including some HD footage.
Briefly tried moving north to track the storm, but roads too muddy and treacherous - narrowly avoided sliding off the road.
Tracked back south down 283 to Ness City/Jetmore on next set of storms - impressive structures, but not in time to chase after too long a pit stop at Wakeeney. Saw hangar damage at small airport south of Wakeeney from the previous day's storm.
Cut westward through developing squall line at Garden City - pea size hail. Then tracked line of storms down 83 - back building down the line all the way into Oklahoma/Texas. Spectacular line of anvil clouds at sunset stretching probably 200 miles from Scott City down to south of Canadian.
After sunset treated to stunning display of lightning all along the squall line - pulled off to watch just south of intersection of 83 & 60 - so intense and frequent that it was almost painful to watch - so much activity that you were not sure where to look next - great cloud structures illuminated by the lightning.
Numerous stars overhead in the clear sky west of the dryline/cold front - saw a shooting star as the final event of the day. Then turned westward for the quiet run to Amarillo.
All in all an amazing day that will be difficult to top for the rest of this chasing season. Full confirmation of why I travel all this way annually to chase.
Kind of late with the report but it was a long night and then a long day driving back home. I had to drive back to Colorado from Kansas after Thursday's action because of my sister's high school graduation, and then did a u-turn and flew right back out. I made it to Quinter just in time to see the first large tornado to barely miss the town. It was almost like something out of a movie - I was sitting about a mile south of the town and the wind was howling like crazy into a wall of rain. Suddenly, the tornado appeared out of the rain and I watched as it moved north towards I-70. Miraculously, it completely evaporated just before reaching the interstate, probably saving several lives. Right after crossing the interstate a new tornado, a cone, formed but quickly moved out of my view.
After driving to the north side of the town to see the storm move off, I spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out a way to get south towards the next storm at Dighton. I decided against either core punching the storm south of Gove or trying the muddy road south of Quinter and patiently waited about a mile east of town for the storm to come to me. At first I thought I was seeing things when the outline of a wedge, probably a mile wide, appeared out of the haze. It was still so far away i had the whole structure of the storm in view. For the next 20 minutes, I watched as it got closer, and closer, and closer until it moved a couple miles to my west and crossed I-70. It seems like each tornado I'd seen up to this point the past couple of days was more intense than the last. This one has already been rated an EF-4 and I completely believe it. The rotation was violent, and I saw several large unidentifiable objects get launched a hundred or more feet into the air. The more I think back about it I'm surprised I didn't go into some sort of shock, but the whole experience at that point seemed unreal.
I finished watching the now dissipating tornado barely spare the town of Quinter again (it still hit a few houses south of town), I decided to head south past Cedar Bluff State Park to catch the next storm coming up by Ness City. It was a harrowing experience in strong winds driving a road atop a dam at the park, but I survived and caught another two tornadoes just west of the town of Brownell. One never fully condensed, but the ground circulation lasted nearly 10 minutes. The second tornado, a small rope, appeared out of nowhere just to the north of the first but unfortunately disappeared into the haze/rain within a couple of minutes.
I've had more than my share of busts it seems the past couple of seasons, leaving me feeling quite frustrated. After a two day extravaganza of a dozen tornadoes including three large/strong ones though, I think I'll be able to relax.