07/07/04 REPORTS: Central Plains

Larry J. Kosch

Starting a REPORTS thread for 07/07/04 after severe weather in KS surprised pretty much everyone, including the SPC. A total of 17 tornadoes were confirmed in KS, mostly in the Russell and Barton areas.
Post your first-hand chase reports here. Thanks. 8)
Hey all, Ben here! I'm posting my report from my trip out to Russell, Kansas yesterday (July 7th). This was the storm nobody expected, there was a slight risk of SVR on the convective outlook from 2000Z, a 2% tornado risk, and just a severe thunderstorm watch.

I left Kansas City around 3:30 in the afternoon out to head west (noting the big supercell storm that was between Salina and Concordia was the reason why I went out in the first place). This was my first chase since May 29th. Tornado warnings went up for the storm that was between Salina and Concordia. Spotters indicated a funnel cloud, but I haven't heard of a tornado. After I left through Topeka, and monitoring the doppler radar from both Hastings, NE and Topeka, KS radar sites, that storm was weakening rather quickly and was gone rather fast. Once past Junction City/Abilene, several tornado warnings went up for storms in northern KS, including Lincoln County, and Mitchell County. Driving past Salina, a tornado warning went out for Russell County for a storm that had a possible tornado about 15 miles north of Russell. I pulled off to the rest area along I-70 WB near K-14 for a data stop. I noticed a new storm that developed southwest of the storm that prompted the initial tornado warning for Russell County. This storm in a few minutes dropped its first tornado at Gorham (about 10-15 miles west of Russell, I believe), according to severe weather statements.

I continued west and as I entered into Russell County, there was an abundant amount of mammatus clouds south of Interstate 70, and numerous CG to the west, towards Russell. About 6 miles to the east of Russell, I got first sight of the mesocyclone, which appeared at the time to be over the city of Russell. Rain started to fall as I got to the Bunker Hill Road exit. From there I watched off of at the parking lot at the Total Gas station as events unfolded.

I watched all of the following from the Total Gas Station at I-70 and Bunker Hill Road, about 2 miles east of Russell.

First funnel I saw formed at 7:32PM and appeared to be above Interstate 70, just to the south of Russell. That funnel did not touch the ground. From here I noticed that the storm had an anticyclonic rotation. Second funnel formed 11 minutes later at 7:43PM, looking to be about 1 mile south of Russell. This funnel did make a brief touchdown to the ground. Third funnel formed and touched down at 7:57PM, stayed on the ground for about 10 seconds. Last funnel I saw touched down at 8:00PM just about 1 mile to my south-southwest. This tornado stayed on the ground for about 2 minutes. The storm was moving at about 10 miles per hour to the southeast. One and a half hours of heavy rain and dime size hail followed the viewing of the tornadoes.

Pictures (once I figure out how to get my camcorder working on my computer "Where is the driver disc lol", I'll pull off some better pictures from there):

I am not as good with my 8 megapixel digital camera yet so please excuse the really blurry pictures I have on here.

The Mesocyclone as seen to my west from I-70 and Bunker Hill Road.

Funnel #1 - went close to the ground but couldnt get my camera to focus during the event.

Funnel #2

Funnel #3 (Tornado #1 - brief touchdown noted)

Funnel #4 (Tornado #2 - 2 minute touchdown noted)

Ben Prusia
Kansas City, MO (right now til next month)
Auto Focus Settings

I sent Ben a P.M. explaining to him how his camera may have Auto Focus. And the auto focus is getting out of whack when he shoots his pictures. The camera focus on his windshield or car window, instead of focusing on the storms. I explained to him how to set his camera for Manual Focus and set it on far or infinity for proper cloud focusing.

Good Chase Ben!! 8)