4/18/05 REPORT: Central/Southern Plains

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Fun day to chase! Caught a wall cloud up by York, Nebraska. The northern storms went from popcorn convective crap to linear severe, with a transitory phase in which the tail-end-charlies were chaseable. The storm north of York that produced the wall cloud I saw must have been an embedded supercell, as there were already storms firing to the south.

I drove through true deluges of rain and a massive amount of small hail. The streets of York were coated with hail as if it had just snowed. Winter driving in the middle of a thunderstorm -- insane! I also observed the closest, coolest CG I've ever seen. It struck about 70 to 100 yards away and hit a pivot. The pivot then proceeded to flash, arc, and spit green sparks for about two seconds. I think that farmer is going to be really upset when he checks his pivot tomorrow. Those things aren't cheap.

I went south from there to try to get beneath the southern Thayer county storm (which looked really impressive on radar with, at one point, a nice gate-to-gate), but it turned out to be very elevated. I couldn't get around the precip core (which seemed about two counties wide and as thick as a brick wall) before the sun went down, and once I lost the sun, I headed home.

On the way home, I hit a deer on I-80. So much for that car.

All in all, other than totalling my car, it was a fun chase. I did learn one thing (other than four legs bad, two legs good): in addition to all the other spare parts and fluids you pack into your truck for your car, don't forget to pack extra wiper blades. I had a nice gust completely rip the blade off of my driver wiper during a Noah-Class-Downpour (NCP). Nothing more fun than trying to drive to the nearest autozone (15 miles away) while leaning over the passenger seat to look out of the only part of the front window with any visibility. :oops:
 
Sorry about the car, Ryan - that's too bad. Lots of wildlife in Nebraska today evidently. We saw two beautiful pheasants, a racoon, a fox, calves that had gotten out of their pen, and a beautiful and colorful coyote pup that was eating something alongside the road! Can definitely tell it's spring!

We sat near Seneca, Kansas most of the afternoon waiting for something to happen. Convection fired between Seneca and Marysville, so we followed up into Nebraska, where nothing came of it beyond some brief rain. It began as promising-looking cumulus but with minimal heating available during the afternoon and light forcing, significant updrafts were unable to sustain themselves and become rooted at the surface. We could see the anvil on the cell in Thayer/Saline county to our west but broke off an initial attempt to intercept it when we realized that by the time we arrived it would be dark ... had fun in spite of it being the first bust of the season for us ... hopefully the last ...
 
I am having a lot of trouble trying to get my pictures from my editing software to the web. I will put pictures up as soon as I figure it out.
I wasn't planning on chasing until the last minute. At about 3:30, I left Wichita targeting Concordia. I got on the internet South of Concordia and started looking things over. Some time around there is when the Nebraska storm went tornado warned. I really didn't want to go that far North and I was still anticipating an isolated storm South of the Nebraska storm. After messing around for about an hour I decided I might as well go after the Nebraska storm since there wasn't going to be anything else. I got to the storm in Fillmore county at about 7:30. It had a thick rain/hail core that butted right up to the updraft base. I never saw any organized rotation. Every now and then there would be some decent vertical motion and a slight lowering but it looked like it kept getting undercut by outflow. No tornadoes, but it was still nice to get out and I got some pretty good pictures. At the end of the chase I saw a lady that came throught the hail core driving South on 81. It looked like she got a few nice hail dents out of the deal.
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I got bored and made a circuit of Jefferson/Washington/Gage/Pawnee Counties just to see what I could see. While I was out in Pawnee I saw some towers try and shoot up in Kansas, but outside of that I really only saw a turkey (which I nearly hit) and a few roosters.

Had I stuck around in Jefferson County I might have been able to play some tail-end Charlie action, but it was getting late and I had to work in the AM.
 
Left Wichita early Monday afternoon around 1pm. Targeted the general Hebron/Fairbury region. Storms initiated by late afternoon and I was in York to intercept the first tornado warned storm of the day. Took some stills/video of a defined wall cloud East and NE of York which produced a obvious funnel once, possibly twice (have to review video). This funnel appeared to be about 1/4 condensation to the ground, no apparent contact of the ground was ever observed. Watched the storm as it moved newd into NE York county, meanwhile reports were coming in the storm was/had produced golf ball/slightly larger hail around the York area causing some damage. Other storms were forming of to the SW and I decided to head back down towards E of York. Hmm... a nice... county road... with a nice hill to observe a developing wall cloud near the city of York? Hmm, it looked to be an excellent place to observe for a few minutes the wall cloud near the town of York, bad idea. Travled to the top of the hill and had no problem first 1/4 mile... about a minute later, a strong, 30-40mph gust of inflow knocked my van and pushed me into a rain pit that had developed on the edge of the road, my tires quickly sunk into the very very VERY muddy/clay like substance. Tried hopelessly for the next 20 minutes to get my van out, no luck. I was sitting in a stuck car hearing reports of a tornado on the ground.. blah blah blah about 10-15 miles west of me, and this was about 30-35 min after I was stuck, I was going to intercept Charlie if the wall cloud near York failed, which it did quickly. VERY luckily a local stopped drove by about an hour later to *knock on wood* observe the storms at the top of the hill. He had a chain with him and a truck and was going to try to lift me out, however he could not find a place to hook his chain on my van. Called a couple local tow places and they wanted 150-200$ for the job, which did not sound attractive at all. Luckily, he found a place on the back end of my van to attach the chain and after about 3 hours of being stuck, near Sunset I was back on the road. I was very gracious of the local (who lived just east of York) who helped out, it was not a pretty job. The mud/clay was probaly the worse I have ever seen and my front seat mat looks like it's had enough mud/clay to last years. If you walked on the clay, you would literally get about 6-10 inches of thick clay stuck to your shoes. Decided at Sunset it was not worth core punching the storms to try to intercept (hearing reports of very large hail and XM indicating 2.5 +) and I didn't want a broken windshield to go along with everything. Luckily, no damage or anything done, just wish It woulden't of happened so I could of intercepted. If it haden't been for the local, probaly would of had to spend a night in York.. maybe longer... to wait for the road to dry.
 
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HP supercell hailer in sc NE.
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Orange coloring at sunset due to wind blown dirt.

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Flooding near my appartment.

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At least this hit where it did.

http://www.extremeinstability.com/05-4-18.htm
Report and more pics at above url. Sorry about your vehicle Ryan...dang! Sounds like this wasn't a great day for chasers with that, Philip getting stuck, my windsheild, and the brave spotter getting glass in his eye.
 
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