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4/18/04: Reports: IA/NE/MN/WI/SD

George Tincher

Started at the request of Melissa who is returning home at this time (from a very hectic, chaotic and confusing chase I might add). Her report will likely follow soon.
Drove west to Columbus then north to Humphrey Nebraska, then west of Humphrey, then back east to Humphrey, then north of Humphry, back to Humphrey and on south....then back north to Humphrey...then south again..then back north to Humphrey again...LOL chasing dissapearing severe warnings via elevated as all get out crap. Get in position for the 60 mph "storms" only to hear the warning go "the storm had weakened...". The dl was a joke in NE. Wound up on the tornado warned storm ne of Norfork NE and really really have my doubts anything up there produced. They were still issuing tor warnings as the shelf was miles infront of the 'core' filled with VERY cold air.
Got hailed on fairly good in Wayne NE and moved to Pender to do it again. Did it again. Sun was getting lower and I had hopes of mammatus so I took my little gravel road west to get out of the line and behind it. That was until a missed minimum maintance road sign "got" me doing 60 in the rain. I didn't see it as it was slanted over and it was poring. It went from normal sandy gravel to snot. From control to NO control. Slowed it down in about, oh a 1/4 mile somehow keeping the car on the road. As soon as I rolled to a stop I was stuck for good. Stuck ontop of the slime on flat ground. Tires didn't even dig down in this stuff, just sat on top and spun like it was ice..worse then ice actually.
Got ahold of Randy Chamberlain again who I'd been talking with around Wayne. The road was even too bad for his 4 wheel drive and here I am 1/4 mile down it in a mustang. So I had to get a tow truck to come out. It would of been alot easier had we just driven to town, but we figured we'd ask this farm house if they had a phone book. OMG this was a HUGE mistake. I doubt there was much of a worse farmer in the state we could of asked. He was drunk though. I'm just glad we got out of that driveway without a fight as this guy seemed to want one. I was like, "Randy....lets just get in the car now". I was waiting for the daughter to come up with his shotgun..."here dad". Seriously.

Tired here so won't go into a lot of detail. At the very last possible second I decided to go west instead of north ... had taken a look at the latest soundings at 2:00, which showed decent convergence and backing along the dryline near the KS/NE border so I shot west on 36 ... arrived in Belleville around 4:30, went north on 81 toward Hastings (Mike H.'s chase sounds really familiar ... I went north and back south and back north on 81 about four or five times) ...

The tor-watch was issued about 30 minutes or so after I got there, but nothing was going on yet. A couple of turkeys tried to break the cap but it was a no-go. Then ... I noticed to the west of 81 near Hastings a cell that looked healthy. To my south another cell had managed to come to life and had developed an anvil, so I had to make a decision whether to go with the one to the west or head back south into KS. I stuck with the one I was on ... it was close and it was growing. And the anvil on the southern storm looked a bit whispy and flimsy, not nearly as hard as the CU I was chasing.

The wind was FIERCE - one of the biggest battles I've had in a long time. Clocked a gust on the Kestrel at 45 mph! ... and they were sustained at 35-40. My car was getting pummeled with pebbles and corn stalks picked up from the fields and hurled at it. Temps in the warm sector came up 10 degrees to 80 after coming out of the grunge in the east, and I recorded a dewpoint in Chester, NE of 64.7 degrees.

So I managed to stay with this cell as advisories concerning a dust storm came across the weather radio that had developed from all the wind in western KS. The dust made visibility poor for the most part. But the cell blew up nicely - and showed up on a Swift download. It went on to develop a high, blocky meso that went through several occlusions as I followed. Clear RFD and one funnel that occurred just before dark, when the tor-warning was finally called on it. Was a high-based and blocky excuse for a storm for the most part - very little lightning. Stopped chasing it northeast of Seward, as it got dark - cheesed me off to finally hear a tor-warning called on it only after dark ... eh.

I'll have pics up tomorrow after I get some rest. Still had fun ... I feel good about the target, anyway, and glad I got to see something. Good night -

Mike P.
Ahh, the beauty of picking a target. I myself had about 5 of them, and after checking, re-checking, re-checking, and re-checking updates and models, I decided that heading west and playing the dryline was the choice. I picked the southern end of the dryline in NE about 2:45, as it appeared that towers were straining to get going between GI and Kearney. But it was early, so I stayed on the area, heading to Central City when the first SVr came out for Hall & Hamilton County. I double-checked with my wife, who was "Guess-Casting" for me, asking her if this was a legit warning, because all I saw was high-based, unorganized crap. Needless to say, it was painful getting useful info. So, after that quick jaunt to Marquette, I got back to Central City and hauled it to Columbus, where it seemed as if things were really explosive from there north to Norfolk. I rolled up Hwy 81 to Humphrey where the shelf was rolling in, around 6:30ish. Everything was linear at this point. I figured I was 45 minutes too late, but after reading Mike H's report, maybe I didn't miss much.

I slowly made my way back south, catching some cool vid of the tailing edge of the line, the sun backlighting the convection. (my first experiment with video!) On the way back to Seward, nearing dark, I noticed more and more lightning to my west (Location is Hwy 15 south of David City). I figured what the heck, and pulled it over again to experiment with the nightshot video feature. Worked pretty slick, but I didn't really get what I was seeing. A big dust "swirl" or a very odd-looking rain shaft along a bulge in this line. This was the storm that promted the TOR for Butler Co. I doubt it was much, if anything, and I'm sure there was never any touchdown, but I can probably see why the radar-indicated warning was issued. Best storm of the day, actually. Then the driver's side wiper blade went for the long ride.....in the middle of the deluge along Hwy 15. Not as desperate a situation as Hollingshead's drunk farmer escapade, though.

There will be better days.......maybe even this week!
Seward storm

Mike P.

I was chasing the same storm that you were on (near Seward) and I was wondering what was your exact position was when you saw the funnel? I was on Highway 77 with a couple of other guys filming. We also saw a lowering and were wondering if we saw the same thing that you did because we're debating if what we saw was a funnel.
I was on state route 420, near Beaver Crossing (thank god for mapping software) ... the funnel appeared to my NE briefly as a filled in condensation funnel in what appeared to be inflow ... then it dissipated and reformed within a few seconds as a hollow tube snaking down ... going to see if it came out in vid - was having some focusing 'issues' at the time and it was starting to disappear in the haze ... no mistaking what it was, though. The tor-warning was called just a short time after ...

My full route on this storm:

-81 N from state line to 136 W near Hastings ...
-backtrack to 5 N out of Dreshler
-4 E past Carlton to 81 N
-81 N to 6 E at Fairmont
-hwy 6 East to 500/420 north to I-80
eeek.. Mike it sounds like I was pretty close to you when you got stuck... and I had a phone book in the car.

I headed up 275 with my initial target being Norfolk to try to intercept the cell that was booming. I was playing catch up having left the house about an hour too late so I shot up HWY 9 in an attempt to catch it but it was moving way to fast. I decided to continue up 9 to 20 and go west so I could catch the line and ended up stopped in Allen NE where I saw the leading edge of the gustfront. There was alot of low hanging scud and one fairly decent wall cloud trying to get together. It was rotating although very very slowly and only for a few minutes.
I was in a bad area for cell phone reception so I decided to head back down HWY 9 to Emerson for a quick call to my nowcasters and decided to try to catch the tail end charlie near Stanton. I proceeded down HWY 9 to 275 and pulled off the side of the road for a phone call and I guess caught a gustnado/dustnado although I didn't see it until I reviewed my video upon arriving home. By the time I had arrived though the cell had weakened some so I continued on towards home encountering blinding rain and pea-penny sized hail near WestPoint.

Basically I was playing catch up all day. I got some pretty decent pictures up near Allen NE although I stink at video editing software and have yet to figure out how to save the stills in a jpeg or gif format so until I figure it out I stuck it in a slideshow and wmv format.

Just checked your position Darin ... you were to my NE, so apparently what you saw was just after I broke off ... it was likely rotating at the time, so I wouldn't doubt that you saw a funnel ... but not likely the same one I saw.
Coming Home Chase Report

My Saturday chase never evolved to much more than a long 1075 mile joyride through the heart of Kansas. I made a navigational choice from Hays on Saturday to stay close to home when my throat began irritating me really bad. I made a choice to chill down by the dryline in the Oklahoma Panhandle in hopes that maybe something would break the cap. Unfortunately the convergence along the dryline was too weak to get anything going, so after hanging around for a couple hours (and sleeping at the Kansas state sign for an hour), I headed into Dodge City where I stayed the night. As my throat got worse, I came to the realization that sleep would be impossible and I was going to cut my trip short and head home Sunday as something was wrong.

Anywoo, coming home Sunday, I battled the high winds going into Colorado and found myself sitting on I-70 just after the Colorado/Kansas border stranded in a traffic jam as a result of a dust storm that caused a 17 car/20 injury crash on EB I-70. Colorado State Patrol elected to shut down the interstate between the KS/CO border and Burlington. I made use of my hour and shot some video of the traffic jam, then snuck my car across the median (sshhh) and jumped on the frontage road. I actually found myself in the worst of the dust storm and shot some pretty cool video of the dust being blown across the interstate. I also was able to get pretty close to the jack-knifed semi which began the pile up and stuck around a bit to shoot that.

Keep in mind, all this with a throat that had me in total agony.. yes, a dedicated (and/or stupid) chaser I am! :)

Anywoo, I made it into Burlington and chilled at the Comfort Inn for a few hours before finishing my trip home. The very next morning, I was admitted to University Hospital where I spent 12 hours in the ER and that night in the ICU for an absess that was preventing me from swallowing and was growing so big it was significantly affecting my airway. The inability to swallow left me severely dehydrated, too, so I was all a mess.

The doctors looking over me, however, recognized my name from the video they saw on the local news station from the dust storm I shot. I stopped at the TV station before going home to drop that vid off.. and yes, with the agonizing throat...

The overall trip was a bust due in part to my quickly deteriorating medical condition. I played a few odd cards that I normally wouldn't, and had I been better, probably (not certainly) would've taken Blake up on heading into Iowa instead of playing the dryline, but my mind did throw in its say, and I'm glad I was closer to home. I am sidelined til early next week before I will see road action again, but this was my not-so-eventful report from my Bust in the Dust trip to Kansas.
Get Well Please!!!


Consider this a Get Well wish from a fellow storm tracker/chaser. Our storm chases would not be the same without our WX NERD from Colorado.

Stay Cool. Drink plenty of liquids. Hurry back!! 8) LJK.