Silver Lining Tours vans rolled in Kansas

May 1, 2004
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Springfield, IL
www.skip.cc
I hope you guys can realize how much anguish it causes me to potentially contest the understanding and actions of people in this community that I greatly respect, people who have been sharing their knowledge decades before I was even around. This stuff keeps me up at night. I could just keep quiet and not get involved, but I believe that there are literally lives on the line here. It would be immoral not to say something.

On a meteorological level, at no point did I indicate that any mesocyclones in the area southwest of Lawrence on May 28 were moving "southeastward" (not sure where Skip got that impression). On NWS Topeka radar images and from the tornado tracks I surveyed (even walking into some wooded areas), the two mesocyclones involved were both moving toward the east-northeast.

There's also been some assertion that the large EF3/EF4 tornado on May 28 came from the same mesocyclone that crossed into Douglas County KS southeast of Overbrook, and that the mesocyclone visible west of Lone Star Lake around 6:00 pm CDT was only "inflow" to the occluded meso wrapped up in rain to its south. Storm-relative velocity and other images below show that's not the case, where _new_ inflow velocities, convergence, and meso formation are evident _north_ of the original meso, causing the original meso (and small tornado) to interact and merge with the new and intensifying meso.
Thanks to Jon for correcting me here. I totally misremembered the plots he posted on his blog. Before Jon responded here, I had made my own plots of the high velocity areas to the north of the EF2 and SLT, and came up with a similar track direction for this developing part of the storm referred to as the "new" or "primary meso" (white line).

north meso track.jpg

I want to make sure I get this right before I publish a video on this. So I went back and redid everything I had for the evolution of the storm, analyzed the velocity data again, and replotted the storm's track.

Chasers in the area were focused on an area of higher velocity, north of the ongoing (yet unknown by most) EF2. There is a rotation signature here:
north meso.jpg

However, if you look at the orientation of the inbounds and outbounds you can see there is a convergence signature here too:
convergence.jpg
The inbounds and outbounds aren't oriented parallel to the radar beam, and this region starts out nearly perpendicular to the radial indicating strong convergence.


I plotted the orientation of the inbounds and outbounds on KTWX storm relative velocity for thirty or so scans from 22:28 to 23:11 UTC, about 20 minutes prior to the start of the impacting EF2 to a few minutes into the start of the EF4.

supercell track.jpg

There are a couple patterns that really stand out here:
A. There was a continuous, nearly linear track of rotation from southwest to northeast that existed well before the tornadoes, and both tornadoes closely followed this linear track.
B. Prior to each tornado there was an area of strong convergence to the north of this rotation track line. The convergence signature became a mix of rotation and convergence signature, and then mostly focused rotation as it appears to get "pulled in" or merges into this southwest to northeast track line. The tornadoes develop at about the time of these mergers.

My interpretation of what this means:
A is the track of the main supercell updraft or primary mesocyclone, and the supercell is cycling along this line.
B represents an inflow surge into the next supercell cycle, likely convergence on an inflow band, that is curling (yes with rotation) into A. Once this converging and rotating inflow surge becomes rooted to the updraft represented by A, a significant tornado spins up.

It's interesting to see that there was a velocity couplet due west of the start of the EF2 track, just like there were couplets west of the Lawrence EF4. It's as if the circulation is arriving on the inflow band, and the tornado is hooking left around the back rim of the mesocyclone as it's developing before settling into the center and being carried off to the northeast by the parent updraft.

Calling this the track of the primary, tornadic mesocyclone can be misleading or even dangerous from a storm chasing perspective.
north meso track.jpg
It makes it appear as if this is a distinctly different part of the storm, largely disconnected from what is happening with the EF2. SLT and other chasers are actively trying to stay south of this track line, which turned out to be a critical mistake. However, without the track of the EF2 here, it looks as if this would be the correct thing to do. It's important to remember that the velocity is not necessarily showing the tornado producing structure of the storm, but instead the winds flowing into and around the storm. Dangerous misinterpretations of the radar are possible here, which is why chasers shouldn't be relying o such data for their safety.

Instead, I think it's better to think of the primary tornadic mesocyclone track like this, even if there are distinctly different mesocyclone cycles on this track:
linear track.jpg
Why? Because there is not only a continuous track of rotation along this line, but there is continuous physical structure along this line. The chaser can see this visually in the form of the RFD gust front and Bear's Cage region, which is maintained along this line. That visual identification is most important here in chase making decisions.

It's also readily apparent on the reflectivity. The end of the HP hook exhibits a commahead circulation, the head of the comma I'm interpreting as roughly corresponding to the supercell's main updraft, the tail of the comma as the flanking line updrafts. The storm maintains this commahead along the above linear track. Both tornadoes appear to be rooted to the center of it where the commahead curls in on itself:


SLT is no longer south of the mesocyclone in the above velocity plot. They've crossed its path, and have effectively made it into the storm's inflow notch, before turning around and crossing it again. To their northwest there are areas of strong converging rear flank downdraft (purple arrow) and surging inflow (yellow arrow).

Focused rotation arriving along the inflow band into the rear flank gust front is not present yet as SLT is making the decision to turn around. There is instead a broad area of rotation and convergence to the west corresponding with a surge on the storm's inflow band. This storm was like a breathing entity moving down a set of tracks. It took a deep breath before each tornado.
turnaround.jpg


So what does all of this nitty gritty detail matter in what is likely just a subjective interpretation. Do I expect chasers to come up with this in the heat of the moment on the chase? NO

Do I expect chasers to note that readily identifiable tornado producing structure is moving in a mostly straight line northeast? YES

That big RFD core/Bear's Cage is a train coming down the tracks. Get out of its way.
 

Attachments

Nov 13, 2007
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Maplewood, NJ/New York City
There was a tornado warning and a tornado was on the ground for some time. The tornado warning was spot on for the area to be hit. And this was not the first time Roger got “too close.” There appears to be some YouTube videos and major media articles where he did something similar. Why beep a horn and speed in a van loaded with people as if you’re an emergency vehicle dispatched to a call fighting traffic? Why suggest “don’t stop for nothing” when we all know chasers have a high risk for traffic accident fatalities from crashing into someone else as in not even from a tornado but the traffic itself? Have we not learned anything? Besides getting hit by a tornado, Silver Lining Tours seems to be at high risk of a traffic accident based on numerous videos of them and news articles that described past events. Has anyone seen the videos or read the articles like the one from Joplin KSPR?

Quote: "We're not stopping. I don't care what happens. You gotta go gang, you gotta go! We're about to get wacked right here." Does not stopping mean for stop lights and stop signs too?

Quote: “Roger Hill, lead storm chaser, came over the intercom in the van saying ""Don't even stop! Just go! Go! Get the hell out of here!" This is when Matt says he thought he was going to die.”

Here we have it again… don’t even stop. To any reasonable person that means a suggestion to run stop signs and red lights. What kind of a reasonable person thinks this is a good idea with vans loaded full of people rushing around inclement weather situations? And then now we have the Douglas County, KS situation. Surprised?
Going to make this my only post here, because I really wanted to avoid this discussion. I was with Roger and SLT in Joplin, and making a judgement based upon a six-minute video you've seen on youtube is pretty silly. I've seen Roger's safety record called into question based upon Joplin so many times, and its pretty frustrating. So here are some facts:
  1. When we first pulled into Joplin, the storm that would go on to produce the tornado was not yet supercellular, let alone producing a tornado. We were not chasing it, but rather, we had stopped to get gas in town.
  2. There was no tornado warning for the storm that would go on to produce the tornado in Joplin at the time we pulled into town. There was a tornado warning for a different storm that we watched become completely undercut and posed no tornado threat to the town.
  3. Every storm we watched that day previous to the tornado-producer was massively HP and the rotation was fairly transient. We watched several storms develop, spin and cross an OFB before dying. There was no reason to believe that one wouldn't do the same.
  4. When the storm did undergo tornadogenesis, we attempted to escape. But at no point did Roger do so in a manner that would constitute breaking the law. We did not run any lights, we did not blow any stop signs. In fact, the amount of unlawful behavior I see on any one given chase by scores of other chasers today far eclipses the behavior Roger displayed that day.
  5. We were stuck in traffic in a town of 50,000 people, moving at ~35 mph moving from red light to red light, while what was very clearly a violent tornado producing mesocyclone began to move overhead. I'm not exactly sure what you think you'd do in that situation Anthony, but I promise you your reaction would likely be similar.
I won't weigh in on the rest of this discussion, but the Joplin arguments are entirely silly. You weren't there, and your knowledge of the event is entirely based upon youtube videos and news articles. I challenge any other chaser who says they would behave differently in that situation to reflect on their own chasing practices. It's really easy to sit behind a computer screen and say what you would do when you're staring down certain death.
 
Many thanks to @Skip Talbot for the recent analysis. Appreciate the hard work and update. However, just a few questions:

Chasers in the area were focused on an area of higher velocity, north of the ongoing (yet unknown by most) EF2. There is a rotation signature here:
View attachment 19493

Undeniable and 100% accurate. However, there was also a classic BWER (at that time) And In looking at past events, this would seem highly accurate and normal in regards to the BWER considering the distance, beam elevation, height etc from TWX. To me, this wasn’t a highly noticeable feature once things evolved (not something that I would look for during the “heat of battle” but it should probably be noted IMO)
Again, I’m wondering if we are getting caught up in the semantics rather than the true meteorological aspects. No matter what you call it or how you slice it, Entropy is Entropy.

...look at the orientation of the inbounds and outbounds you can see there is a convergence signature here too:
View attachment 19494
The inbounds and outbounds aren't oriented parallel to the radar beam, and this region starts out nearly perpendicular to the radial indicating strong convergence.


I plotted the orientation of the inbounds and outbounds on KTWX storm relative velocity for thirty or so scans from 22:28 to 23:11 UTC, about 20 minutes prior to the start of the impacting EF2 to a few minutes into the start of the EF4.

View attachment 19496

There are a couple patterns that really stand out here:
A. There was a continuous, nearly linear track of rotation from southwest to northeast that existed well before the tornadoes, and both tornadoes closely followed this linear track.
B. Prior to each tornado there was an area of strong convergence to the north of this rotation track line. The convergence signature became a mix of rotation and convergence signature, and then mostly focused rotation as it appears to get "pulled in" or merges into this southwest to northeast track line. The tornadoes develop at about the time of these mergers.

My interpretation of what this means:
A is the track of the main supercell updraft or primary mesocyclone, and the supercell is cycling along this line.
B represents an inflow surge into the next supercell cycle, likely convergence on an inflow band, that is curling (yes with rotation) into A. Once this converging and rotating inflow surge becomes rooted to the updraft represented by A, a significant tornado spins up.

It's interesting to see that there was a velocity couplet due west of the start of the EF2 track, just like there were couplets west of the Lawrence EF4. It's as if the circulation is arriving on the inflow band, and the tornado is hooking left around the back rim of the mesocyclone as it's developing before settling into the center and being carried off to the northeast by the parent updraft.


It makes it appear as if this is a distinctly different part of the storm, largely disconnected from what is happening with the EF2. SLT and other chasers are actively trying to stay south of this track line, which turned out to be a critical mistake. However, without the track of the EF2 here, it looks as if this would be the correct thing to do. It's important to remember that the velocity is not necessarily showing the tornado producing structure of the storm, but instead the winds flowing into and around the storm. Dangerous misinterpretations of the radar are possible here, which is why chasers shouldn't be relying o such data for their safety.

Instead, I think it's better to think of the primary tornadic mesocyclone track like this, even if there are distinctly different mesocyclone cycles on this track:
View attachment 19498
Why? Because there is not only a continuous track of rotation along this line, but there is continuous physical structure along this line. The chaser can see this visually in the form of the RFD gust front and Bear's Cage region, which is maintained along this line. That visual identification is most important here in chase making decisions.
Is there any video that you might have or be able to share that might help support the concept or CLEARLY delineates “continuous physical structure” that is “visible”?

Focused rotation arriving along the inflow band into the rear flank gust front is not present yet as SLT is making the decision to turn around.
I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble understanding the verbiage here. By saying that the “inflow is not present yet as SLT is making the decision to turn around” would indicate that there was no UDI area present. Are you referring to the “new convergence” area and associated new mesocyclone? The reason for asking is because you’ve previously highlighted and detailed the inflow regions as getting “rooted” prior to tornadogenesis and a “spin up” occurs.

I don’t know that saying, assuming or even hinting that the inflow was not present is accurate in any way and IMO completely negates previous theory/posts. I am totally confused as this is something that we apparently did not study in college.

Maybe it would help me and others if I could just to see your video analysis to understand it visually. When do you think you might have that available to us @Skip Talbot ? Just trying to understand. FYI, good job on the graphics.
 
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Nov 13, 2007
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Alex, have you learned anything on the extensive article posted above that provides expert analysis? You're not being honest here and nobody is making any opinion based only on a short video. There's a lot of evidence floating around online, not just radar data. You better tell those NWS meteorologists that they aren't so special "sitting behind their screens" too. Sometimes radar data gives you enough clues to make a confident decision, only if you have that expertise, I guess? I'm not sure what you're trying to do here but I'll stop you in your tracks with your own words... you mention "every storm" "massively HP" ... that's what your fellow meteorologists and storm chasers are telling you... keep your distance. Don't even play around with these storms, especially if you have van loads of people. I wonder how many times all of us need to say this before the denial and arguing stops? No legitimate meteorologist should be defending getting into a Bear's Cage in an HP supercell situation with a van load of people. I say that, but then here you are with the old "you weren't there."

You have a PhD in Atmo Science? In science, many times a scientist can render an opinion based on the body of evidence (which is overwhelming in this case and not based on a single 6-minute video but a plethora of evidence including their own statements, video, radar data, damage path, witnesses, etc.) without being there. Examples of this would include what climate was like 1,000 years ago somewhere on Earth. You weren't there? No problem, we have evidence and if you know how to interpret that evidence, you can render an educated confident opinion. Another includes the great example of a doctor coming in and testifying about a death in a court case. He or she wasn't there but can tell you how someone died based on the body evidence and their expertise. Note: BODY. Not a single 6-minute video as you wrongfully suggested everyone's analysis is based upon.....

At this point, I see no further reason to comment on the analysis that is already out there and obvious. There still seems to be a small handful of people on the wrong side of science, safety, and common sense. "Roger is a good guy" is like a broken record. We're not talking about Roger's people skills or how nice he is to hang out with according to his supporters. We're talking about the radar data, obvious, Bear's Cage, the event that lead to 12 injuries (some allegedly serious), safety, damage path, past events, witnesses, their own video, tour participants, etc.


  • We were stuck in traffic in a town of 50,000 people, moving at ~35 mph moving from red light to red light, while what was very clearly a violent tornado producing mesocyclone began to move overhead. I'm not exactly sure what you think you'd do in that situation Anthony, but I promise you your reaction would likely be similar
You can't promise me that because I wouldn't put myself in that situation WITH vans loaded full of people. I don't know what kind of experience you have but this is a really bad situation you shouldn't get yourself into with vans packed full of people in an HP situation. This is what we're trying to say. You didn't know the population or anything about an area you were chasing in ahead of time? Plan much? You don't know the speed of the storms ahead of time? You don't expect or plan for changes? You don't plan on escape routes? Vans packed full of people? I would never put myself in that situation.

If I ran a tour company and had 2 vans flip with a dozen people sent to the hospital with varying injuries, I would take some time to stop and take in what happened for a few weeks, take some time off, reflect on myself and the situation, take responsibility, learn from my mistakes, and move on to something better. That's not what appears to be happening in this situation, at least publicly in clear view. And these few people coming by thinking they are doing Roger a service by attacking the obvious, downplaying, deflecting, remaining in denial, and repeating like a parrot that "Roger is a good guy" aren't helping anything IMO.

As people have said before, I too hope you and Roger or whoever you represent learned from these "alleged" mistakes. Getting too close could have killed you all. If/when that happens, it will have an impact on the entire chase community. I really hope everyone learned from this and that the talk here pressures tour operators to increase distance/awareness and just don't play around with HP supercells anymore. People will give you the benefit of the doubt in general, but there's just too much happening in this case to downplay it or pass it off as nothing.

Alex, are you serious that after this entire thread, articles, videos, witnesses, damage paths, analysis, and more than one event you can't possibly fathom why Roger's "safety" record might be challenged? You can't understand why nearly every meteorologist practicing right now said driving into the Bear's Cage with vans packed full of people is......... bad? Seems a bit off.

You also seem to indicate this was a surprise during Joplin but then you indicated supercells existed "very HP". Was there a tornado watch? "Be alert to rapidly changing weather conditions. Severe storms can and do produce tornadoes with little to no warning." This used to be something taught to grade school kids since the 1980s. It was taught in every severe weather course as well. You would think someone with a degree in meteorology would have this thought in the back of their head more so when they are part of a tour with loads of people in vans getting close to something like this, right?

Based on numerous videos I've seen, there was one in particular where the van was beeping it's horn and someone said don't stop for anything. They were close to another HP supercell tornado I believe, vans loaded full of people. Why the need to beep a horn and say don't stop for anything if this is safe? The context is very interesting here. In rainy conditions during a tornado warning, it's not safe sometimes to try and rush through traffic that is appropreately moving slower for the inclement weather conditions (slick, less visibility, etc.). Common sense.

Gist: I would not put myself in that situation, it was unnecessary. There was ample warning as to this event before the vans drove into the tornado. This is not the first close call. The fact that the vans rolled and injuries happened means it was time for this discussion. I have been chasing for decades and would never do this with cars or vans loaded full of people. I can't believe some lawsuit hasn't already started against SLT for a variety of causes. We will have to wait in see because it takes time.
  1. As I said above, I'm not commenting on what happened with Roger this year. I'm merely stating what happened during Joplin, which you have used as evidence while making your point. Please don't put words in my mouth or make assumptions regarding my feelings about that event. I've made no assertions there, nor have I tried to refute any of the above evidence.
  2. Yes, I have a Ph.D in atmospheric science. I don't need the patronizing, "You would think someone with a degree in meteorology would have this thought in the back of their head..." crap. I don't represent anyone, nor am I employed by or affiliated with SLT. Let's get that straight now.
  3. I am not commenting on Roger as being a good guy (until now -- he is), but again, thank you for putting words in my mouth.
  4. There's a substantial difference between an argument about climate change, where we are synthesizing data from inter- and intra-model consensus, ice cores, satellite imagery, etc., etc. and you reading a few articles on the internet and watching a couple of youtube videos. Your body of evidence, no matter how much you might believe it to be, is simply not enough in this case. Yeah, those climate scientists weren't there, but the volume of data is a little different. I'm giving you a first hand accounting of something that you are purporting yourself to have knowledge about. As you said, you watched a video where someone was beeping and saying don't stop, etc. I was in that van. We stopped at every light, every stop sign. Did you ignore that part of what I wrote? You talk about what you're hearing, which is different than what actually happened. See the issue here?
  5. Tornado chasing is inherently dangerous. If you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself. As far as Joplin goes, we were getting gas. We weren't even chasing. There was no exceptional risk, there was no getting too close. Chasers stop to get gas in the middle of watches all the time. In fact, chasers often stop to do other things to. Were you out during the high risk this year? There were traffic jams in Mangum when the tornado was approaching. People stopped their cars to take pics. I assume when you're chasing while in a tornado watch you never stop?
  6. Every single chase company out there chases near HP storms. I saw it chasing on May 23rd in the TX PH for instance. The number of 15 passenger vans out there was staggering. If you think this is limited to just Roger and SLT, you're kidding yourself. If you think that this happening to Roger couldn't have happened to another chase company, again, you're kidding yourself.
  7. I totally understand theres a difference between bringing a tour van full of people into a situation like that and doing it on your own, but I sure as hell hope nobody here has ever gotten too close before. That would be pretty hypocritical, no? The number of videos we see of people doing incredibly stupid things like driving into tornado or wading into waste deep storm surge is astounding. Where's the outrage there? There was a certain chaser during Michael who literally drove his car into the ocean and had to bail into a house as the eye wall was coming ashore. I get thats one individual, but a whole lot of people thought that was pretty cool. Videos like that normalize it, they make it seem ok to do. Are you going to condemn things like that? If you're going to talk about safety, best make sure you talk about all aspects of it.
I am not here to refute the evidence provided about this event, defend or indict anyone involved. I'm merely here to tell you that you are patently incorrect regarding your assumptions and conclusions regarding Roger's actions in Joplin. At the end of the day, much like with the event this year, there's about 20 people who know exactly what went down. Everything else needs to be pieced together. When it comes to what happened in Joplin, I'm one of them. You're not.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
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Oct 7, 2008
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Staff note
Due to frequent departures of many recent posts from the main topic of this thread (as well as some unnecessary rehashing) we are temporarily closing this thread until folks calm down and some new information arises on the progression of this event.

Update: The thread has been reopened. Please do not post unless you’re offering facts or opinions directly related to the thread topic.
 
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anthonyj

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Sep 16, 2019
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So what was Roger doing during the Lawrence, KS May 28, 2019 HP supercell "rain-wrapped" tornado event? Nearly every local storm spotter, storm chaser, helicopters, and local TV meteorologists had been saying (before it arrived) that this was rain-wrapped. I know of meteorologists that gave over 1 hour of warning for this specific cell/tornado event.

What some were saying is that the few that seem to be denying the overwhelming facts/evidence in front of them seem to be frequent customers or friends of or otherwise associated with Roger Hill. Nothing wrong with being a friend and he might be a good guy in your opinion, fine. But we are discussing the facts of this matter and historical background based on his own statements, witness statements, chaser witnesses, radar evidence, watch/warning evidence, forecast data, their own videos, and damage assessment data. There's a lot more than what was said here as far as evidence. I encourage everyone to Google and read all of these previous statements, interviews, blogs, radar stuff, expert analysis, case studies, and weigh all of the evidence, not just bits and pieces. However, it should be noted whenever there is a conflict of interest that exists, especially when attempting to provide impartial analysis in any public capacity. This is still a very valid point and universal standard that would apply in court or any science research publishment.

I would say, don't chase HP supercell tornadoes or get anywhere near them with vans packed full of people. Problem solved. In fact, ironically, that's what Roger seemed to tell the Weather Channel (see above link) in an interview from 2013. Seems like he agreed with me back then. Unfortunately May 28, 2019 happened and it needs to be a learning/safety event for all storm spotters and storm chasers. And 12 injuries is a really serious event that shouldn't be downplayed by anyone especially because they were all from a single storm chasing group that almost got killed during the Joplin event as well.

There will probably be more evidence coming out soon. I think there was another person getting ready to post a video? Skip? Looking forward to what he found interviewing tour participants and what not.

We should look at this as a safety opportunity. None of the above sounds like the best safety or situational awareness. You are very lucky to be alive, despite constantly praising Roger for saving your life in your blog. Given the recent traffic deaths, it's also really risky (forget the tornado) for vans packed full of people to rush in traffic during low visibility, slick roads, and public panic. Don't put yourself in that situation. Either way, this could have been bad.

Fast forward, May 28, 2019 happened and now there's injuries (alleged) and some were serious (alleged). I can't imagine several vans of storm chasers getting killed at once but it almost happened this year. We need to talk about this and do all we can to avoid it. There shouldn't be an argument from any legit meteorologist on this matter.

When the May 28th event first happened, Hill passed it off as a satellite tornado. Now that all of the evidence is out there will he make a public statement acknowledging what happened? It was not a satellite tornado. Will there be a correction to this? It's factually incorrect. This was another case where visibility was low because this was an HP supercell tornado. It was not a surprise, tornado watch, tornado warning, multiple reports, strong radar indications, existed for some time before they drove into it, did they miss all of this, and if not, why did they get so close? Roger said he wouldn’t take his tours towards rain-rapped tornadoes in the above article/quote from him in 2013… but then there’s this recent article:

Quote: “On May 28, we drove toward eastern Kansas. A large front was supposed to develop, and there was a possibility of a super cell. Hill predicted a large tornado and spotted the beginnings of one, a mesocyclone, to the south of our vans. We kept changing position to be in front of the turbulence and to watch the tornado formation. Heavy rain made spotting difficult.”

Link: Santa Barbara Storm Chaser Recounts a Close Call

Here we have a public acknowledgement of an HP supercell tornado event being expected and Roger purposely being positioning them in front of it with the very low visibility he “swore off” in the past because of Joplin? This event was preventable.

In the same article, it says “The van behind us was hit harder. It was picked up and carried over a fence, and its passengers were more seriously injured. Twelve of us were taken to emergency rooms. Two days later, two were still in the hospital. All others were released that night.”

Here we also have a participant refuting that there were not only minor injuries. I asked a physician friend of mine if they would keep someone in a hospital for days without any serious injury or illness. His quote “Not unless that person wants to pay cash and not be covered under insurance. The only way to stay is to be admitted formally with something significant enough to warrant a stay.” That was striking to me because it means this entire storm chasing event involves some level of dishonesty, unethical behavior, just getting too close and being unsafe IMO.

Maybe more tour participants will post unedited videos for us to watch? But what would we learn from them that we don't already know now?
 
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So what was Roger doing during the Lawrence, KS May 28, 2019 HP supercell "rain-wrapped" tornado event? Nearly every local storm spotter, storm chaser, helicopters, and local TV meteorologists had been saying (before it arrived) that this was rain-wrapped. I know of meteorologists that gave over 1 hour of warning for this specific cell/tornado event.
Anthony, please forgive me as I have no idea who you and am not familiar with you. I’ve never heard of you and I’ve not had the pleasure to meet you or chat with you in the last 29 years while I’ve been in the field or in the “classroom”.
But I felt the need to reply to your recent post to hopefully help you understand and clear up a few things. To answer your first question:
Simply stated: He was doing his job that he has done for 30+ years.

What some were saying is that the few that seem to be denying the overwhelming facts/evidence in front of them seem to be frequent customers or friends of or otherwise associated with Roger Hill. Nothing wrong with being a friend and he might be a good guy in your opinion, fine. But we are discussing the facts of this matter and historical background based on his own statements, witness statements, chaser witnesses, radar evidence, watch/warning evidence, forecast data, their own videos, and damage assessment data. There's a lot more than what was said here as far as evidence. I encourage everyone to Google and read all of these previous statements, interviews, blogs, radar stuff, expert analysis, case studies, and weigh all of the evidence, not just bits and pieces. However, it should be noted whenever there is a conflict of interest that exists, especially when attempting to provide impartial analysis in any public capacity. This is still a very valid point and universal standard that would apply in court or any science research publishment.
Somehow the dialog (your dialog) keeps going back to a “conflict of interest “ and “the few that seem to be denying the facts”.
I don’t believe anyone is denying facts. We are questioning because Roger is a 30+ year veteran. And if it happened to Roger - it could happen to anyone one of us. I suspect this is why ALL of us want to know how it happened. We all may not agree (obviously) but we should be respectful IMO. This shame game is getting out of hand. Even those who have voiced outrage or sit on the other side of the isle ALL want to know what exactly happened - so we can avoid it hopefully in the future. Doesn’t matter if you are a friend of Roger and Caryn Hill or not. They are human beings and should be treated as such.
As I mentioned, and explained in great detail, I have no hidden agenda here. While Roger and Caryn are friends, they are also a competing tour company. That should speak volumes.


I would say, don't chase HP supercell tornadoes or get anywhere near them with vans packed full of people. Problem solved. In fact, ironically, that's what Roger seemed to tell the Weather Channel (see above link) in an interview from 2013. Seems like he agreed with me back then. Unfortunately May 28, 2019 happened and it needs to be a learning/safety event for all storm spotters and storm chasers. And 12 injuries is a really serious event that shouldn't be downplayed by anyone especially because they were all from a single storm chasing group that almost got killed during the Joplin event as well.
I don’t believe anyone is downplaying anything. Once again, we are trying to understand it. As a tour owner myself, a meteorologist, a weather engineer and a 29 year veteran - I think I can speak for many when I say it one more time...we are trying to understand.

I drove over to Doulas County yesterday to validate what damage I could (that is still present in my own dime) Trying to get the big picture. Using 30+ year Meteorologist, Jon Davies analysis, trying to visualize the situation as it unfolded. I noted damage 3 miles west of Globe north of HWY 56 - 1/2 mile north 300 Road and East 300 Road. I do not see this damage in any DI listed. This could be RFD damage, however it does not appear to be. I was able to gain access from a landowner and found trees what should have been listed as a DI. In reviewing the data from TOP, there is a small CC drop near this location. It’s questionable but it is there.
I would highly caution you in throwing the verbiage of “the few” “friends” etc....it serves no real purpose and does little for the cause.



We should look at this as a safety opportunity.
I agree 100% and I *believe* that’s what the majority of us are trying to do, no matter what our thought process is.


We need to talk about this and do all we can to avoid it. There shouldn't be an argument from any legit meteorologist on this matter.
I also agree - but IMO it should be done with couth and without the blame game. As a meteorologist who has documented well over 500 tornadoes, 14 major hurricanes, I’d also throw EXTREME caution using the verbiage “legit meteorologist”. It is unbecoming and reeks of implications that some of us (who may not agree with the status quo) simply don’t know what we are talking about because of our thought process.

When the May 28th event first happened, Hill passed it off as a satellite tornado. Now that all of the evidence is out there will he make a public statement acknowledging what happened? It was not a satellite tornado.
The issue and question of the “satellite tornado” is WELL documented in this thread. In fact, I clearly said that “we all knew pretty quick that it wasn’t a satellite tornado”. To keep bringing this up is simply argumentative and adds no real value.
I’ve mentioned why I believe he truly *thought it was*. Which IS and was viable at the time. And if you understood storm mechanics, you should clearly be able to see the same.
With little separation between the respective mesocyclone’s and “mergers/handoffs”, small ever changing dynamics, sometimes you can get little separation between the hand off and or merger. Thus, making things even more difficult under the situation. Please see my above post regarding my interpretation of Rogers thought process.

I’m not going to respond to the other comment regarding the Joplin event as it was clear they DID NOT PUT THEMSELVES IN THAT SITUATION. They stopped to get fuel. You mention folks picking and choosing but you are cherry picking just bits and pieces of past events. And I don’t know why. No need in answering, it is rhetorical.

I asked a physician friend of mine if they would keep someone in a hospital for days without any serious injury or illness. His quote “Not unless that person wants to pay cash and not be covered under insurance. The only way to stay is to be admitted formally with something significant enough to warrant a stay.” That was striking to me because it means this entire storm chasing event involves some level of dishonesty, unethical behavior, just getting too close and being unsafe IMO.
I do not understand what value this comment has in this thread or anywhere else for that matter as it is only speculation and certainly continues to try and paint Roger/SLT Negatively... “I asked a friend of a friend” type thing. Moreover, I would HIGHLY ask the mods to make an announcement to keep this thread on track so as not to derail it.

In closing, while I agree that we all need and should learn from this, I don’t believe in the shaming, abusing, negative and downright slanderous comments regarding the Hills/SLT. Nor the hashing and rehashing.

After spending about 6 hours in Kansas yesterday looking at damage and trying to visually piece things together, It is my hope that @Skip Talbot gets his video analysis done soon. I also hope that Job Davies might post or have some additional insight. But in the meantime, can we at least stay on track and refrain from bashing? I don’t want the thread to be closed down as I truly would like to know the intricacies of that event - if for nothing else than how to be better and safer in the future.

If @Quincy Vagell and I can communicate as adults (even though we may not have the same thought process) it seems to me that we could stay away from the bashing and negativity. -LFD
 
Sep 5, 2019
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Cutting through the verbiage in recent posts:
1.) SLT deserves criticism for downplaying the extent of the injuries. In a statement issued the day after the incident, SLT reported: “Two vans were rolled resulting in a few minor injuries.” In fact, 12 people from the 2 overturned vans were transported to the hospital with cuts, sprains, broken bones and possible concussions. I’m aware of at least 3 guests with broken bones, including a tour guest with a broken neck that required vertebrae fusion surgery. That’s not a minor injury.
2.) There’s a legitimate question about why, despite the warning signs and previous near misses, 4 vans filled with tour guests were driven 3 miles north from the relative safety of Hwy. 56 into the heart of a poor-visibility HP storm that was showing rain-wrapped circulation on radar in an area with few paved escape routes to the east. Speaking from firsthand experience, Joplin wasn’t SLT’s only close call with a rain-wrapped tornado from an HP supercell.
3.) More from SLT’s statement: “Two of our vans were not effected [sp]. With any luck at all and if there had been any more space in between the vans, there wouldn’t be a need to write this today as the small tornado would have passed in between us.” That “small” tornado was 100 yards wide – big enough to take out 2 vans. Taking 4 vans into that mess and trying to excuse it with the hypothetical possibility that the tornado might have passed in between the vans is disingenuous and ludicrous.
 
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Jun 1, 2008
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www.jondavies.net
AnthonyJ - I'm catching up on this thread and saw your recent posts. I know many chasers and meteorologists, but oddly, have never heard of you. I have one question: What are your credentials? Would like to know more about your work. Do you have a web site or social media presence? Thanks.
 
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This thread has been derailing in recent weeks, even if some of what's being posted has already been used in legal actions/proceedings and I would be shocked if other posts are not going to be used in future litigation.

I almost wonder if we need to start another thread in the Bear's Cage subforum for some of the divergent discussion. There are some individuals who have very passionate opinions about this situation, including myself, but I would encourage everyone to try to be respectful, fair and stay on topic. I don't know what the right solution is, but if you feel that you have something important to say, you should be able to say it. With the caveat that it must be said in the appropriate place.

I'm not sure this thread is the most appropriate place to air grievances and/or cite past actions by individual(s) that may or may not be relevant to the incident in discussion. This is a news forum and I would think that only events, information and other outcome(s) regarding the specific incident on May 28th, 2019 are appropriate in this thread.

I am not speaking for the moderators, but I would think that posts that are off-topic or posts that break Stormtrack.org Terms of Service can and have already been deleted from this thread. I am not questioning this move and the moderators have a duty to ensure that threads stay on-topic and don't break Terms of Service.
 
Jun 16, 2015
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1) Looking at the road network from near Lone Star Lake and the “east option” - it appears the east option turned into a road nightmare ultimately ending up in gravel roads with only a north/south options. For those that took this east option, what was the experience like? In other words, was it truly a safe and viable option in your opinions?
I believe @Quincy Vagell you went east correct? I’m trying to get a bearing on the exacts of this option because it would appear that the entire northern convergence and associated mesocyclone with a non tornadic RFD (at that point) and ultimate LARGE TORNADO engulfed the area just to the east. I mention this because I do not know if going east would have been an option that I would have personally chosen — given the fact that you would be placing yourself into an even worse position? The east option would have left me little to no room for error due to the road network. I would have not chosen this option.
At 5:55 p.m., I turned north on County Road 1029 near Globe, KS. It began to rain heavily and visibility was obscured to the west, so within a minute of travelining less than one block north, I stopped to pull off the road.

Shortly after stopping, I continued north (about 5:57 p.m.) and within one block, realized that based on what I saw on radar and around me, I needed to immediately shift eastward. There was no time or safe reason for myself to turn back south. As a general rule, I don't make a U-turn, unless I am driving toward a storm that is moving toward me, and that 180 degree change of direction would take me in the fastest path away from the storm.

At approximately 5:59 p.m., I passed the point at which the first tornado would cross County Road 1029 only about 3 minutes later.

At 6:01 p.m., I turned east onto North 600 road, as this was going to be the most efficient and least dangerous maneuver given the situation approaching from the west, visibility and storm motion/movement.

I continued east on what was a gravel road, but given the severity of the situation, I would rather drive away from the tornadic storm on a gravel road, than turn around and drive back through a rain-wrapped mess on a paved road. This gravel road was of what I would consider good quality and much better than most dirt roads, in Kansas, for example, that I have used to maneuver in close proximity to a tornado.

Within 10 minutes, at 6:11 p.m., I was entirely out of the rain and observed a large, rain-wrapped tornado to my immediate northwest.

For a large rain-wrapped HP supercell, rapidly moving ENE/NE, the only option I ever considered was to go east. Driving west was not an option. North was not an option and turning back around south would be driving back into a rain-wrapped, near zero visibility mess, which would have continued for the duration of the way back to U.S. 56, then it would have taken more time to drive out of the rain, once traveling eastbound on U.S. 56. Not to mention, the amount of time lost making a safe U-turn would have been factored into the time used.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Well said Quincy. When Jeff Duda locked the thread temporarily, I reached out to him privately and asked him to reconsider. Jeff reopened the thread; I’m not saying he did it just because I asked him to, but AnthonyJ didn’t do me any favors when he made it look like a bad idea with his rant. I completely understand the mods deleting the Joplin references as OT, not to mention many of the points about Joplin didn’t even make sense (I read it before the mod edits) - ranting about being in tornado watches and warnings?!? Isn’t that what chasers are supposed to do?!? Anyway, good idea to have an offshoot in The Bear’s Cage and leave this thread for debating May 28, not Joplin. I understand the point about patterns of behavior etc., but the point of this thread is to understand what happened on May 28 and learn lessons from that specific event.
 
I sincerely hope this thread remains open. I do not believe in removing posts as that has a "censored" air to it. We need transparency. I might suggest to the moderators that instead of locking it down, repeat offenders be removed for 24-48 hours. (No offense). I want to follow this story, but I think we have officially reached the "beating the dead horse" stage. At some point this will be resolved legally and / or otherwise. The other option would be to start a "new information" ONLY thread.
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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Posts that are in direct violation of the rules will be removed whether it feels like censorship or not. Everyone stop replying to the garbage posts and please just ignore anyone who trolls you. The thread was closed for all of a few hours Friday and as soon as it was reopened the bickering started again. Once you have one bad post with six people who respond in kind you end up with 7 posts that need to be deleted. Help us out and we’ll stay out of your business.
 
Mar 21, 2005
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What a thread. Just a couple of observations that are only loosely related:

1) Just like the old expression "it's turtles all the way down" ( Turtles all the way down - Wikipedia ) stormchasing tours are RISK all the way down. The customers are putting themselves, by choice, in a far riskier situation than if they had stayed home. They are putting themselves in the hands of a "pilot" who, while experienced, is only human and has probably not experienced EVERYTHING that a meteorological setup has to offer. The Tour Company is assuming risk in that they expect that their income is going to exceed their expenses. They are financially incentivized to attract customers (by their dollars) and to minimize their accidents (by their insurance premiums and the threat of lawsuits). If they fail to do this they will cease to be solvent tour companies. The insurance companies who underwrite tour companies are assuming risk and also expect that the premiums paid in will exceed any moneys that need to be paid on claims. If they fail to do this they will cease to be solvent insurance companies.

2) Common sense would say that stormchasing tours are simply another manifestation of capitalism: Profiting from satisfying a demand that exists (or can be created) in the marketplace. They are subject to the rules of capitalism in another way: If accidents are expensive for them, then they will need to raise prices to cover the costs associated. As long as the market bears those price increases (they continue to sell out) then they will continue to be in business.

3) SLT business/bookings seems to be doing fine for 2020.
2020 Storm Chase Tour Schedule -
As I surmised earlier, this incident probably only enhanced their position as the preeminent Tour Company for people who WANT to have the closest of encounters (that is not snark AT ALL - just recognizing the range of risk-taking types attracted to stormchasing tours in the first place). I have no idea if anything has changed for them (2020 vs 2019) such as higher prices, numbers of seats available, etc. In fact would not surprise me to learn that some of those injured have settled, at least partially in return for vouchers that can be used for a free seat in future tours.

4) Stormchasing (and stormchasing tours) have a lot in common with climbing Mt. Everest, including concerns that it is becoming too popular, leading to dangerous overcrowding on the trails, that it needs more regulation, etc. ( A Mount Everest record-holder says summit 'traffic jams' aren’t the problem — it’s the trek down that kills people ) People understand that they risk death when they go there (and put themselves in the hands of a sherpa with experience - but that experience does not guarantee that even the sherpa will survive the next attempt).

5) Common sense has very little to do with the "justice system", for which actual justice is only an occasional fringe benefit. It mainly exists to draw headlines and keep public order through threat. And it is its own economic engine, keeping lawyers, judges and support staff gainfully employed. Everybody (including the injured) will have a much better outcome if they can avoid a long protracted battle in the courts. Personal injury lawyers have their own motivations and will be pushing litigation "we only get paid if YOU do". The injured should understand that most lawyers get a much smaller percent (generally in the neighborhood of 30%) if the case is settled prior to going to trial. Their fees jump to the neighborhood of 50% of any amounts awarded once it goes to trial.
 
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May 1, 2004
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www.skip.cc

I've published an analysis of the events surrounding Silver Lining Tour's tornado impact from 28 May. Hopefully this sheds light on the incident, and helps prevent future tragedies. I'd like to thank many of you who contributed videos and also provided feedback in this thread that helped direct the discussion. This presentation is the culmination of hundreds of hours of effort. Several of the tour's clients graciously offered videos, photos, and detailed accounts, without which this presentation wouldn't have been possible.
 

Peter Potvin

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May 20, 2018
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I've published an analysis of the events surrounding Silver Lining Tour's tornado impact from 28 May. Hopefully this sheds light on the incident, and helps prevent future tragedies. I'd like to thank many of you who contributed videos and also provided feedback in this thread that helped direct the discussion. This presentation is the culmination of hundreds of hours of effort. Several of the tour's clients graciously offered videos, photos, and detailed accounts, without which this presentation wouldn't have been possible.
@Skip Talbot,

Once again, you've gone and hit the nail on its head. Your analysis of this event really helps those who aren't familiar with chasing learn about the risks that storm chasers take when out chasing, and goes to show how even those with lots of experience and knowledge can mess up.

I can agree that it helps to have the SLT guests and other chasers share their experiences during this event, as that adds credibility to your analysis. Without those experiences being shared, it's nothing but a single person's point-of-view which could look bad on that person, which in this case it would've been you if you didn't have them.

In my opinion, seconds matter while chasing. SLT could've made some better decisions in regards to their positioning, but they may not have known at the time that the decisions they were making weren't the best ones. I can see why there is a lot of criticizing of SLT because of the injuries that their guests occurred, but mistakes do happen. I believe this is why storm chasing tours have their guests sign waivers before they attend the tour, because of the risks that apply in these kinds of situations.

Again, great job on the analysis, Skip. Keep doing what you do best! :)
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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Here's another thing that concerns me...at 15:10 in the video, is that one of the SLT vans popping out of the rain with NO LIGHTS ON?! Whoever that is, they're lucky the car waiting at the stop sign (if they were a fellow chaser, no doubt antsy to punch it due to the approaching "bear") didn't miss them coming and drive out right into their path. The van likely would have then slammed that car right into the camera car.
 
Sep 5, 2019
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Skip, on behalf of those of us whose lives were upended that day, thank you for all the hard work you put into this project. SLT hasn't been transparent or forthcoming with information (other than trying to convince us we'd been hit by a small satellite tornado that couldn't have been predicted or avoided), so it's nice (and also disturbing) to finally find out what happened to us.
 
Jun 19, 2005
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I've wonder how much does the concern for physical damage, and loss of potential chase days figure into the flight to the south? I've played the notch, but it was with a vehicle I couldn't care about, and it was against some urges I had built into my head when chasing with other vehicles about trying to protect the car above all else from hail damage and flee south away from the hail. I could also see a similar concern about missed chase days in the future as a tour. When I provided a guide service, it was absolute torture when we had to get a vehicle serviced due to unrelated damage, and miss a chase day. It's hard to make the appropriate calculation in the heat of the moment. I would not be surprised if that could make you improperly place hail damage concerns over physical safety concerns.