07/12/04 REPORTS: Central, Northern Plains, USA, Canada

Larry J. Kosch

Sounds like everyone is holding their collective breaths this morning after a hectic stormy evening last night. Ok, OK, I'm starting a REPORTS thread for those first hand chase reports. Hope we got some good coverage on that NE supercell that dropped several tornadoes and injured three people last night.

Wow. Now THAT was amazing. Was on the first tornado warned supercell up on the NE/SD border north of Spencer NE early. At points it was just this convective beast dropping baseball hail but it seemed to be struggling to have a chance at a tornado. I wondered if this was feeding off the higher T/TD spreads that were in se SD. A new storm went up to my south and I left my tornado warned storm for this one, in part due to roads.

Got on the storm at O'Neill and had to make a decision and fast as it was already producing baseball hail as well. The choice was se for 30+ miles with no real south option or south for just as far with no options. Would this storm move se like the one earlier or move more south? I picked the se road to Neliegh and after a few miles of escaping whatever was in the core of the thing I pulled over and looked back nw up the highway. It kept having two wall clouds the north occluding one with a ground scraping inflow tail and the se one on the forward flank with a low-mid level inflow band racing nw into the storm. I then note the storm is moving more right to left looking nw and realize it's NOT moving se. I wasted soooo much time getting back into position on the only gravel roads around(over an hour with crap views from 20 miles away). I don't think I missed all that much in doing so though.

There was a storm trying to get going to it's south and that was a concern. I got back on the storms north of Bartlet NE as the north one becomes obscured and overtaken by the precip of the southern one. Shortly after the thing went completely nuts. I watched an rfd cut form well south of the precip and this was perfectly backlit. At the same time from the east the nastiest inflow band formed, which was half convective at this point and very tall. Over a few more minutes a perfeclty backlit tornado forms probably 1/2-1 mile to my west and sits there in one spot and grinds away. I shot video of this and as rain began to fall I held my map over my camera mounted to my windshield. My heart for some reason was in my throat(nothing to do with the tornado as I was sitting on a perfect n-s highway). Think it was because it was extremely hot and the ac wouldn't keep running when I was parked. Anyway this proved troubling as it wouldn't stop and half hurt. So if any docs out there have a clue what that is I'd love to hear.

Right as the rain picked up too much for my map(as it was draining on my lap) and hail started to mix I started to move south towards Bartlet. This was when the tornado grew rapidly in size but rain-wrapped hard at the same time. I've heard some viewed it and guessed 1/4 mile wide. I wasn't getting very good chances to view this as it was nw and behind a cluttered part of the car(between windows). I went west south of Barltet to keep flanking it sw as it backbuilt. While going west I have a rain-wrapped wedge just to my north and clear west I see another V forming, soon followed by ground contact. My thought was to take this south option but no, not to be, it wasn't paved...I did not know this. This was a bit of a spooky period as the west tornado was now on the ground moving south and the rain wrapped area was now 100% obscured to the nne and in between the two areas it actually looked like it was going to tornado. This storm reminded me alot of the May 24th sc NE tornadic storm only a much much more nastier version of it. I race further west and op for the next town and try to get close to the western tornado that was now a fully condensed nice tornado. It was about 2 miles west as rain wrapped it racing south. I turn and go south toward Ord NE and get back out of the rain. South of Ord I go back east to North Loup and just barely make it before this hell that is being unleashed. I turn and race se at about 70mph and this surge of outflow is overtaking me. I'm watching the nose of it out my drivers side window go perfectly se with me, but it's starting to pass me with this wall of whatever under it. It slows up just enough to get back ahead.

After a good 5-10 miles I pull over and look back, and OMG. This amazing stack of plates! Best site all day I think. One would think this was just gusting out(and perhaps it fully was), but it had this amazing beaver tail on the ne side of it. This is how nasty this storm was....the beaver tail was basically convection. Small convective towers lined up going west into this monster. And out ahead of this scene the most wonderful dispaly of mammatus, big deep ones covering the sky.

I end the chase around dark north of Grand Island and head for home. On the way home I hear from my parents and they inform me Blair got tore up. I get to Blair....it was indeed tore up by high winds. Zero lights in the entire town as I get back. This is just fantastic as just yesterday I restocked my fridge and freezer that was basically EMPTY. Now it's FULL of warm food! I'm using my parents pc as they have power this morning. I still do not as they are putting up new poles right at my apt. Lots of large trees down all over town. It is entirely no fun trying to sleep in this weather with no ac or fan! What a day. Pics and vid will be up after I get power back. Congrats to the others who bagged today. This tornado near Bartlet did appear fairly strong right before it started to widen and later reports mentioned 2 families lost their homes to it.

The mammatus was visible in Omaha about 8:30 to 9:00. The storm structure was just enormous.

I hope Blair gets their power back soon. My two daughters spent the night with their grandmother there. The 8 yr old does not like storms! She checks the weather everyday to see if there are any forecasted, and then lets me know. When my wife dropped them off yesterday she told her not to worry there wasn’t supposed to be anything in the area. Man, she’ll scold her mother when she gets home. Lol.
LOL! Yeah by the looks of it it had to have been pretty wild here.
Mike Hollingshead tornado/storm pics

Nice tornado pics, and some of the most bad ass storm images I have ever seen! :shock:
Good catch Mike,

Those pictures are truly incredible. I watched your storm's anvil take over the entire western sky that day from a hill in west central Iowa. By the end of the day it stretched all the way past my home town of Ames, IA past the I-35 corridor. It was quite a site to behold. Thanks for the pictures on a truly incredible storm!