04/15/06 Reports NE KS IA

Mike Hollingshead

Saw the Beatrice supercell from near Adams. It was quite the big round barrel of an updraft when viewed to the ne. I tried to go ne with it but the stupid road was not good. I turned around and had to drive right into the bear's cage. As rain screams east I get a call from another chaser reporting he'd just see the tornado in there and some damage from it and it was extreme rain-wrapped at the time he saw it. I get out of there and head to the storm that moved nw of St. Joe. The Beatrice storm was much more impressive structurewise. But anyway, on the way back and thought I'd "confirm" that tornado through another chaser and note the impressive structure of the storm at that time.

EDIT: Holy crap!!!! I just had the most fear all day. I sent this and looked up and this object is RIGHT at my windshield. It took me a second before I realized it was a cat looking right at me. lol
I got two tornadoes. The first one was South of Beatrice and I am guessing it was high end F2 low end F3. It was on the ground for about five minutes and was a very impressive cone. My video should be on CNN shortly. The second one was a short live rope 2 miles North of St. Marys. I will post pictures tomorrow morning.
I caught this cone tornado just se of Beatrice, NE about 4:37 CDT. I have several minutes of video with the tornado on the ground with a nice debris cloud. I’ll try to post some vid grabs later and maybe a small clip. I stayed put with the tornado coming towards me until it dissipated and the RFD started to wrap around. Right after I took off to the east I was blasted from the south with very intense winds, and a large Cotton Wood tree just to my left split in half and crashed to the ground. Scared the Sh*t out of me. This became very heavily rain wrapped and it was hard to anything else. I stayed with this storm quite a while, but finally gave up as they were heading into Iowa.


Hopefully images will come out all right this is my first attempt to add images via photobucket.com.

Left Omaha at 1:30PM targeting Fairbury, NE. Drove past that bad accident on I-80 just as first patrolman arrived. It appeared that an SUV traveling east crossed the median and flip several times ejecting the driver. I pray they survived, it looked real bad. Well back to the chase, my chase partner and I arrived in Beatrice around 3PM. we could see towers going up along the dryline to our west and northwest. Checked WXWORX, decided not to go after any storms that were moving NW do to reduced storm relative shear. We headed west on NE route 4 for about ten miles as we watched the towers build to the SW.

As soon as we determined the motion of the storms, near Fairbury, were to the NE we doubled back keeping just east of these storms being sure to avoid the "traffic" in Beatrice. Today luck bounced our way. We were planning to continue east but the road, that according to De Lorme went through to the east, was gated and we could only go south. We had been watching what appeared to be an inflow band protruding from behind the rain core for several miles. As we moved south, more and more of it was revealed until we came over a big hill NE of Beatrice and then we could see the entire wall cloud and meso.


It took about 5 min or so for a funnel to develop and touch down. This shot was taken about 5 miles ENE of Beatrice.


As we watched this tornado for 5 or 6 minutes we noticed it was not moving left or right and we had to travel about 3 miles east to reach a N-S road, coincidentally the same road we traveled on 4-6, we had to jet. We raced north now being chased by this HP monster moving NNE at 50mph. This shot was taken about 10 miles S of Adams, NE


It finally caught us in Adams, NE. Thanks to WXWORX we were confident enough to go west into the NW fringe of the core. We encountered some .75" to about 1.25" diameter hail, no dents fortunately. As we emerged from the core we looked back to see what we left behind and we were treated to on more beautiful view about 6 miles W of Adams, NE.

I can't seem to get this photo to upload properly, it is a beautiful double rainbow, very close and very bright.

I found it interesting that my chases have been more successful when I rely less on WXWORX. From the time we decided on which storm we were going to chase to the time we reached Adams and needed an escape, I never looked at WXWORX. Don't get me wrong it was very helpful in deciding which storm to go after and in determining an escape route, but last week when I couldn't get it to work and this week when I made a concerted effort to use it as little as possible; I caught tornadoes on both chases for the first time since before I had WXWORX.
This seems to be my year for getting spooky nocturnal twisters. I caught a tornado tonight about 20 mi east of St. Joe. It was another case of being a completely inadvertant catch, but this time I avoided the imminent death scenario.

I caught the remnants of the Brown Co. storm north of St. Joe, with a great horseshoe that was close to producing north of Fillmore (poor Fillmore) ... it didn't quite seem to make it, and then I got clobbered by rain as I decided to go ahead and try to keep chasing northeast of Savannah.

Followed the storm up 169, where it remained organized, but lost interest and decided to set up to get some lightning shots ... so I came south on 169 toward St. Joe, then east again toward a little town called Helena. I set up to shoot lightning as the backside of a new cell passed to my east. Then through the strokes under the base, a perfect cone tornado formed and moved off to the northeast slowly. It was on the ground for every bit of five minutes I'd say (though my view of the ground was obscurred). Hoping that at least one or two of the shots with lightning behind the funnel came out.

This turned my evening around. I had been royally hacked off all day, after having a broken down car for the last two days. I spent all afternoon working on it, then gave up completely a little after 4:00 ... finally at 5:30, when I saw the radar signatures being returned, I knew I just had to use all the elbow grease I could muster and got it fixed at 6:00, just in time to head north and intercept the first cell near St. Joe. I'm still filthy and covered in grease ... as I was through the entire chase. But it was worth it.

Pics coming soon ... stay tuned. The lightning pics will be better than the tor ---

Big thanks to Mike Johnston for a great job nowcasting again tonight, too - thanks Mike. I was chasing completely blind tonight ... no maps, no GPS, no wx-radio. I listened to a St. Joe station for info. and then just used my memory of the roads up there. What a wild night.


Ok - here are a few pics ... we'll start with the tornado ... I have a feeling it was actually pretty good size - but I was quite a distance, as you can see. Have several other photos of lightning going off up in the updraft that shows that the storm was turning a pretty sweet corkscrew maneuver at the time. Also notice the single leader CGs pounding the ground around the meso ... lots of that again with this storm.



These lightning shots have me convinced that I need to use a different lens -



Here is a shot of the backsheared anvil coming off the original St. Joseph storm - taken north of Savannah:


This is a shot of some mammatus in the anvil of the St. Joe storm as I was coming up I-29:

Caught a cell and funnel SE of BIE about 20 mins after the tornado that did all the damage.

Kinda hard to shoot stills *and* take vid while in 40MPH inflow...the vidcaps hopefully are better. Timestamp isn't adjusted for the recent time change :-(

This was the storm that moved from Jackson Co, KS through Nemaha/Brown/Doniphan counties. I was just E of Robinson, KS about 710PM. I was listening to a radio staition out of Hiawatha that did a great job of nowcasting and interpreting radar--except for this storm. According to their nowcasts, this moved from 10 mi. S of US-36 to 10 mi. N within ten minutes...I went from worrying about being in the bear's cage to tsk-ing about missing the storm!
I have no clue as to what this is--but I saw no debris while driving on US-36.

Ran into Gene Moore at Fairview, KS. Glad to finally meet ya! And thanks for the look at your laptop--I had no idea that there was a line of storms west of us...I was about ready to park and let what was going to happen come to me.

Remind me not to buy property in Beatrice!
Pretty good chase day for me in spite of missing all the tornadoes. I caught two very impressive supercells. The first pic is looking W from, uh, I think KS Hwy16 just W of US75 (N of TOP) at 2235z. I left that one as the base seemed to get higher and higher, and the lowerings went away not too long after shooting that pic. I figured the storm was drifting over some lower Td's, and there were more storms developing to the S, so I headed S, then E, to Lawrence.

The second pic is a wc directly over Lawrence at 0050z. There was no obvious rotation to it. I then chased that to Linwood, where I sat watching some rotating cone-ish lowerings for about 10 minutes before the sirens suddenly sounded. Soon after, things got boring, and it was almost dark, so I called it a day.

I had kind of a rough time today with construction, cities, trees, rivers...and got blasted by dust with the windows open several times...but sometimes that's just how it goes.


:eek: Ok i bet one can wonder how i sat at beatrice but went west then came back, and i end up chasing the stuff up by Rising City and ending up in Columbus NE... on a serious note i had gotten a call that my grandma was feeling ill and the rescue squad had to be called and someone need to be at the house to lock it up and stuff... i tell you its HELL! getting old anymore .... so to the chase part... i topped the tank off at Rising City sat and watched as storms approached.... took some pics and followed it to columbus, it looked like it was intresting for awhile got some small hail but i stayed out of the precip core.. until im on backgroads going North and East i had to stop and check the map to see where my nearest Hwy was, at that point the storm quickly got up to me and i got blasted with rain.. it was nice to see it coming horizontally with the wind, after it calming a bit i hauled but north on county road V and thats when reality quickly set in.... i headed back stressed out about things... got on Hwy 92, took 77 south from Wahoo, shot East on I-80 to take 66 to louisville, and then took US 50 to Hwy 34 east and dropped south on 59 to Hwy 2 in hopes of catching the tornadic storm, well i continued east on Hwy 2 and i stopped in Creston IA, watched the lightning show, and headed home congrats on those who bagged...
all in all im just ready for SLOW MOVING STORMS!

NOTE( might as well call funnels tornadoes now"... thats all i heard on the radio stations, a funnel was on the ground , sherrifs and local spotters were reporting a funnel touching the ground , at the point the NWS had a severe thunderstorm warning for Aubdoubon IA , but local law enforcement reported a funnel on the ground moving ENE at 45 mph.... you figure NWS would issue a tornado warning right?.... nothing came out , but then again sherrifs eyes view of something , is there word.... i feel a couple reports were nothing more then low scud moving through the heavy rain/hail area, and the others were actual funnel cloud/ tornado reports..

Oh well no ones perfect ;-)







I'll try not to make it too long.

Left Hutchinson kind of late, around noon, so we weren't able to make it all the way to the beatrice storm. We did however intercept a nice supercell NW of Topeka and watched a rotating wall cloud (and I estimate 60 mph inflow winds :eek: ) until it put down a weak tornado south Onaga, ks. Road option east however were non-existant so we weren't able to stay with the storm when it produced the brown county tornadoes later that evening. After that just drove through a little hail and decided to call it quits for the day.
Not much to add as everyone seems to have been on the Beatrice tornado. It reminded me a lot of Laverne '91. Saw a possible second tornado later on somewhere between Burchard and Steinauer at 5:14pm CDT. I looked over my shoulder while driving north and saw a skinny funnel about 1/3 to the ground, complete with RFD notch. It was well underway when we first saw it and lasted about a minute or so after we stopped to watch. We had trees along the ground so we couldn't see below it. This came from the storm south of the Beatrice storm. If anyone can confirm this or not, I'd appreciate a PM.

Aside: Passed Mike Hollingshead in Brownville, NE just before the river, making this the first time I've ever seen him on a chase. But I don't think he saw me LOL.
I also made it out today from Denver. Missed the Beatrice tornado by 5 minutes, but the structure was magnificant! Caught the cell down the line south and observed a gorgeous white tapered cone tornado as it moved into Otoe county, near Julian. I'll have an account and pics on line later today. Right now, it is 5:30 and I JUST got home! Mike H, I agree, the St Joe storm didn't hold a candle to the Gage county storm.

Roger Hill
I completely blew a tornado in my own backyard. I left home around 3:00 or so headed for the Fairbury area trying to get in position, but by then the storms had moved north of there (moving faster than I thought). From there I went to Plymouth while still trying to keep up with the storm. The whole time the storm had a fairly impressive structure that convinced me it wanted to spin. From Plymouth I wound up heading into Clatonia where the tornado sirens informed me that I was a day late for the show. From Clatonia I went to Crab Orchard in an attempt to catch up with another impressive looking cell, but I couldn't catch up with it. On my way to Crab Orchard I did pass near Adams and saw where the tornado had knocked down someone's kiddy play set. After farting around at Crab Orchard (and getting lost on good ol' Nebraska dirt roads) I decided it was time to call it a day. Just east of Beatrice I saw where the tornado had caused minor damage to some homes and tried to yank an "X miles to Beatrice, X miles to Wherever" sign out of the ground. The thing was leaning to the right real bad and had bowed out, but it didn't pull it out of the ground. A friend of my brother lives about five miles east of Beatrice and his home received much more serious damage. It tore off part of his roof, moved part of the house off the foundation, blew out the windows on his truck he bought yesterday (and moved it 40 feet, but didn't do any real damage to the body), and took a grain bin and relocated it a ways down in a field. Somehow his dog went through the tornado without a scratch.

So that is my manual on How You Too Can Screw Up A Chase In Your Own Backyard.

Total miles: 140
Peggy and I had targeted Beatrice for a couple days ahead of the event BUT we still didn't make it there on time! We arrived just 5-10 minutes too late for the touchdown south of Beatrice. Congrats to those who were there! We were coming in from the WNW and saw the lovely back side of the storm while the tornado was on the ground. There was a beautiful, very low rainbow at least. We finlly got under the meso immediately East of Beatrice and followed the cell for a while. We saw a very nice wall cloud and funnel. Then we went south and caught a rotating storm coming up that eventually went through Nebraska City and warrented a tornado warning. Next we dropped south to St. Joseph and saw a very well defined wall cloud before feasting on lobster (since we didn't earn a steak dinner!).

Pics from the day:






Melanie Metz
Targetted Beatrice and saw the un-mistakeable Cone from a distance and then managed to find a decent viewing angle as the ground circulation seemed to weaken. After which the whole area got wrapped up in rain, their were some very omnious signs like cloud material moving into the rain curtain towards where the tornado had been. Also, a WC stubby tail was sticking out of the curtain for a while as well as a strange lowering to the side for about 10 minutes. There was at least one more funnel with this storm as I followed it NE and then as I saw the upcoming southern cell on radar (and it's strong convergence) I went east between the two cells and hit slightly larger than pea size hail. I went through Nebraska City and then east through Waubonise State Park (about a 4 minute drive which made me nervous since it's hills and trees) as I emerged to flat plains I heard the report of a tornado south of Nebraska City. As I neared Riverton I stopped and could just barely see a dinky little rope moving near I-29 and into IA.

About ten minutes later the cell attempted another funnel but by this time was becoming increasingly high based. I followed it for another hour and it as it cycled across the spectrum of structure.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:27 am Post subject: Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post Delete this post
Here is an actual chase report from yesterday.
We started out in St Joseph and decided to head west towards Marysville KS to get a better idea of how far we wanted to go, do to the moisture situation. We sat there for a couple of hours and waited for initiation. some stuff started popping by Grand Island NE. We went north after seeing some towers go up. We watched 2 or 3 storms go by, waiting on one to deviate and root. Finally the plan panned out, and the storm which had gorilla hail started moving toward us on the East side of Beatrice. The initial wall cloud was huge and fairly high based. It started to lower in and the low level rotation was very strong. The tornado lasted about 3.5 minutes. The storm became very rain wrapped and started moving right towards us. We pulled up to a little farm house and prepared for the RFD. This was the scariest part of the day. There was Debris and road gravel being thrown around everywhere. Our windows were pulsing and the back end of the 4 runner was trying to lift off the ground. We then tried to get next to a large barn, figuring that it would shield us fdrom the flying debris. At this point we all were starting to really worry as to whether we were in another tornado, which seemed possible because the meso that occluded from the original tornado moved right over us. Bob then stated that we had "2 options, we are either going to die or we are not going to die." For some reason that made us feel a lot better, knowing that we had no control over the sitution. Bob will post all the HD video and audio of the situation later. anyway after 4 minutes of shear terror, we moved on. We looked at a couple of storms after that and everything looked to be outrunning the instability we then preceded back to St Joeseph and intercepted the storm that had a tornado about 5 min before we got there. All in all it was one hell of a chase. the rfd video will be up later.




Mileage: 1350
First Chase into Iowa!

Well yesterday was a bit frustrating but you make your forecast pick your target area and roll the dice and hope you come out within range of a tornadic supercell. With all the talk about a Cold Core setup I think I had this firmly in my mind when we left Grand Island, NE and headed northeast to Central City on HW30. It looked as if the 'string of pearls' storm chain would setup but wiser heads prevailed and we continued to keep our eyes on development to the south. We did our best to get east and south and did we ever! We ended up three counties into southwest Iowa - first time for many of us chasing in Iowa. Still I can say it was a fun chase getting to be out again with most of the Colorado Gang as well as new friends from CSU!

I will have to say this was the most memorable chase day I have experienced, Because of how the event unfolded. . I am at a loss for words and all the images are still vivid in my mind. It was INCREDIBLE!

I was there! At the point of initiation for the Tornado SW of Beatrice, Yes, I was there. It formed right over my head! I was looking right into the inside of the tornado as it formed!

I have the images, I have the video.

I left KC at around 10AM My target was SW of Beatrice. I went I 70 and then up through Manhattan. Ate lunch in Manhattan then went N. to Beatrice.. Took some friends who wanted to see a storm.. Boy did I deliver.. lol :blink:

Went to the Super 8 for Internet data. Met Kurt Silvey, Chris Wilbur. Which was nice. Great folks! Also met Jim Cross and we found each other at the same target "point of initiation" while he saw the same thing I did.. If you look on the target board you will see that he and I picked the target. Anyways.. Me and my crew left and decided to head SW after everyone started to scatter for the cell moving towards us from the SW.

I set up outside of Beatrice on WPF road and SW61st. I have the pic to show point of initiation and my spot I set up at. at approx. 4:39 it began and then by approx. 4:54 it was all over.

The Meso as it approaches


And another w/ considerable RFD


Pic inside the eye of the Tornado as it is forming, over my head!
Think i should have been in a safer spot?? lol


One of it forming to the ground after it passes overhead.


Another of it as it completes its form and structure.


Call it luck. But im getting better at this Stormchasing thing. Baron Helps alot .. lol

And I have to say, it would be unfair to not share this same experience with everyone else.. So I decided to take the time and give you the video. So you can relive it as I did.. Of course its not the same.. But hey its the best society can offer as a re-creation. Oh it was all shot on my DVX100A Panny.. What do you think?

**** Wanted to add.. A strange anomoly: The smell of the "Fresh Earth" that the tornado had picked up in the debris cloud was unmistakeable.. Nice touch by Mother Nature.

Warning: Some strong language!

Link to video of April 15 tornado
Chase Team: Car #1 (Jeff and Kathryn Piotrowski) Car #2 (Sean McMullen, Katie Lade, Dustin Wilcox) Car #3 (yours truly)

Quick Notes:

From Douglas, NE we ran east to Nebraska City where the RUC model had some fantabulous output of convection along with backed winds near the surface and slightly aloft ... looked like this was the area to be for tornadic storms. Saw elevated convection breaking out towards Topeka and then suddenly storms were breaking along the dryline just south of Beatrice (my feeling is that the capping inversion was cooled and the boundary layer moistened by the elevated convection to the east). So the group raced towards Beatrice, I making it last because a patrol officer felt I floated through a stop sign, gave me a warning, then questioned me on the weather.

The Chase:

Came west on 136 and then south of Beatrice 2 miles on US 77 where the meso was coming up from the southwest ... and I was completely shocked at our position because the developing tornado was coming straight at us. I was scared out of my mind as the debris cloud could be seen to be rotating stronger and a wedge was coming down out of the meso ... It was awe inspiring and crazy at the same time as it was approaching us.

As the meso came right at us at the same time it started to become rain wrapped. I was wiping my camera a bunch, Jeff was getting fantastic footage over a fence (shown on CNN ... see caption "We're in a *bleep* tornado!) while Sean and crew shot out the window of their car. I was dancing around taking pictures. But things were getting nuts and the storm was moving way too close. I started yelling that we had to move and get out of there. I jumped in my car and raced south a mile and Sean to the north ... looking in my rear view I saw Jeff still filming but he later went north.

Heading south I gripped the wheel and had the steering wheel tilted I'd say 15 degrees to the left as the tornado passed right by me in the field about 50 to 100 yards away ... and my car was going straight. I was scared as ever and I really thought I was going to die. At the same time a whole line of 5 to 8 storm chasing cars led by police moved north on US 77. I pulled a U-turn to see the tornado pass over the road and hit the barn that was sitting right behind us where we initially pulled off on US 77. If I had sat any longer ... who knows.

Trying to keep up I felt personally the storm was too rain wrapped and too dangerous, and the same went for the storm down by Falls City later in the day that I tried to intercept. With my whole body tense, all alone and lost from my group, scared out of my mind that I just nearly missed being hit by a tornado, I gave up when trying to punch through golf ball sized hail and headed back to camp in Douglas, NE.

Keep an eye on Twisterchasers.com for video from Jeff and Sean (I know their video was on CNN and TWC).

Here are my pics: (just some notes: the pictures aren't great contrast-wise because things were happening so rapidly I wasn't much bothering into changing lenses and/or fiddling with my D10. I just kept it on easy and so I'm not worried about copyrights ... there are much better pics out there.

There are multiple picture pages, so be sure to use the arrows at the top of the page ... some images are blurry but are added for chase account purposes)

I left Hastings, Ne at about 11:30 a.m. to meet fellow chaser Tim Blaco in Nebraska City. We met there at about 3p.m. After a short review of the situation, we left right away to go after the Beatrice storm. We took Highway 2 west and then bolted south on Highway 43 out of Bennet toward Adams. As soon as we got to Adams, we went east on Highway 41 a short ways and stopped for some footage of the mothership. Roger Hill and his crew were there as well. Never did see a tornado(congrats to those who did), but plenty of excitement. After seeing what could be seen of the Beatrice storm, we crossed into Iowa and chased until dark. After chasing these faster moving storms, it should be a lot easier when we get some that don't move as fast. Good amount of chaser convergence as well. :)

I missed the Beatrice tornado by a narrow margin too (3 minutes)... maybe we can start a bust club. I came in from the northeast side... the paved roads were not good, so I used gravel which happened to be extremely hilly (making it nearly impossible to finally find a good viewing position). The storm wrapped up into a truly gorgeous HP as it moved toward my location southwest of Sterling.. some of the best structure I've seen this year. Stuck with the storm until Syracuse (a town I'd been sitting in earlier getting data)... then I observed three more supercells along I-29 southbound. The first was near Mound City MO... the second was a tornado-warned HP with a nice sloped wall cloud within the notch, looking west from Amazonia MO... and the third was a tornado-warned supe that tracked very similarly to the 05-04-03 KC storm, ultimately 10 blocks or so north of my current residence (luckily no serious damage with that one).
I left Wichita at 10 for Concordia. I moved to Beatrice after the dryline started to push through and got on the supercell SW of town. The storm had good structure during its early stages and I could tell the storm was about to go tornadic, so I moved West to get in close. I ended up driving North (on a North-South road) when the first signs of ground circulation started. It was only about 200 yards to my West at this time. At first I thought it was the gust front(and it might have been) that was kicking up dirt, but then it rapidly began strengthening. I had to haul butt to beat it to the intersection where I could turn East to get away and I just barely beat it. Here is a video grab looking back right after I turned East.

A funnel took shape and the broad ground circulation tightened up shortly after the last image. Here is a video grab of the tornado as it began strengthening.

For a two minute period, the tornado was quite strong. I would say high end F2 low end F3 based on the circulation at the surface. I am not aware of what structures were hit and where they were located so I don't know that the rating will reflect the true strength of the tornado. Here are a couple video grabs from when the tornado was at its strongest.

I got one more weak rope tornado 2 miles North of St. Marys at approximately 5:28. I am not sure whether or not it got reported, but I will check on that today and report it if I need to. The tornado caught me by surprise and it didn't last long, so I only got about 10 seconds of video from it. Before I got the camera on the condensation funnel was about two thirds of the way down with a debris/dust cloud at the surface.
It was an awesome chase and more importantly it got me out of my tornado slump I have been in for the last couple of weeks. Congratulations to everyone else who was on the storm. BTW if you want to see my video it has been playing on CNN.
I also made it out today from Denver. Missed the Beatrice tornado by 5 minutes, but the structure was magnificant! Caught the cell down the line south and observed a gorgeous white tapered cone tornado as it moved into Otoe county, near Julian. I'll have an account and pics on line later today. Right now, it is 5:30 and I JUST got home! Mike H, I agree, the St Joe storm didn't hold a candle to the Gage county storm.

Roger Hill

We were with Roger on the tornado near Julian. I'll wait for Roger's description (36 hours in a vehicle and...well..I...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). Here are some pics.