5/11/05 REPORTS: Plains

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Let's see ... woke up this morning too early after virtually no sleep ... tornado watch was issued early over us as one of the more lively gust fronts passed overhead. Chased the Leavenworth/Platte Co. storm, which was a downdraft nightmare. Then booked back north and west to head out to the original target of Republic-Washington Co. Saw Tim Stoecklein out there so we teamed up for a while waiting for a cell to do something near Washington, Kansas. After the base cleared, a nice meso appeared complete with rotation, containing a funnel with rapid upward motion. For a minute or two it really looked like it was going to come through ... then it started raining through the meso. Not good ... no upper level ventilation perhaps? - Then the storm went through cycles of pouring, then clearing, then pouring again over and over. The storm seemed unable to sustain a strong mesocyclone, forming a broad shelf-type feature on its southern flank ... lots of llvl shear ... scud were racing under the base like nobody's business. Saw one of the better scudnadoes around ... will post a pic of it, along with some grabs from the rest of the day. Pretty disappointing after last night. Spent most of the day just being soaked with rain after getting in and out of the car. Hope someone out there had more success today - - -

Pics (guess what ... lost most of my still pics today ... that's nice):

This is one I call "I wish" ... today was a scud-lover's dream:


Inflow into Platte City storm - pretty impressive to watch, believe it or not:


Rotating funnel on Washington Co. storm ... wish it could have lasted:

Chase near Mindon, NE May 11, 2005

Also didn't get much sleep after yesterday. Ended up near Mindon, NE watching explosive development of multiple supercells. Followed one for quite some time while it tried to produce a tornado on several occasions. Photos posted at www.gustfront.smugmug.com Hope to get a good night's sleep tonight!
Left Beatrice around 3:30 headed for Washington County. Ran right into a massive downpour and hail outside of Washington, KS. Pulled off of 36 at Cuba to check out what may or may not have been a couple of attempts at a wall cloud. Didn't take any pictures because it was too far away to bother with. I may have seen the funnel Mike is talking about, but I'm not sure. I was in the Cuba area at about 4:15-ish. Does that sync up with you, Mike? Drove to Bellville and decided to call it a day at about 5:15 because everything went to crap and I had at least an hour or two drive home. The entire drive home on 136 was an exercise in not hydro-ing off the road. Serious downpour all the way to Fairbury with some pretty close CG strikes.

I was really hoping the warm front was going to pay off, but it didn't. I did find that The Mars Volta's "De-Loused in the Comatorium" is the ultimate chase album.

So today's totals:

Supercells: 1
Wall clouds: maybe one or two
Funnels: possibly 1
Rain: Build it 30 cubits by 30 cubits
Hail: Missed the reported larger hail of Washington County, but did get hammered by pea - slightly larger hail.

I'm not totally disgusted.
We chased the isolated supercell that fired near Colby and maintained strength through Oberlin and across the Nebraska border. However the front didn't seem to have the same effect on this storm as it did other and we dropped the weakening storm and shot north toward McCook and up state road 83 to intercept a storm which may have caused tornadic damage around Curtis in northern Frontier County.

We saw a large metal grain storage facility that had been ripped from the foundation and thrown across the road. It lay crushed and twisted on the wrong side of the road, as well as downed fence posts and pieces of large metal piping strewn through the fields. However, the storm that caused this was quickly escaping into a larger convective cluster; a typical warm front grungefest where, because temperatures and dewpoints are so close (usually a good thing) and storms are so widespread in coverage (always bad), it becomes very difficult to maintain position or orientation for chasers and supercells alike. This front held fog and racing low clouds on a 700mb jet streak that pushed our storms well left of the morning's estimated storm motion of fifteen knots northeast.

We dove southeast to escape the rapidly closing cluster, hearing reports of large hail and passing parked cars with shattered or missing glass, and found another storm near Holdrege that produced a lowering with tail cloud and RFD notch, but no tornado. Too cold and too fast for that.

Frustrating day, but I have no regrets about our target; it was a good choice and the company was great. I chased with some of my favorite road pals: Tony Laubach, Scott Eubanks, Scott Currens, Eric Nguyen, and a few others. We had a good time despite not seeing the sort of storms we'd hoped for. Don't know where tomorrow will take us, perhaps AMA from the looks of tonight's ETA.
Quick report from our chase. Left York around 11:30/noon, then swung down in to Kansas for the afternoon before getting on the storms in SW KS that went tornadic this evening. Saw a couple base lowerings, maybe a wall cloud. It was really dark and hard to see so I have no pictures.

We kept on hearing reports of a large and dangerous tornado in Ulysses, but I have yet to see any pictures. Was anyone else down that way? We may have gotten there a little too late. Who knows.

There are ALOT of chasers here in Garden City tonight. The Red Baron Restaurant got worked over.

I am tired. That's all. Hope everyone had a safe and happy chase day.
Ben Prusia and I arrived in Hays about when the first PDS watch was issued. Then we checked data and found out that we needed to be further north along the front. By the time we got very far north the first storm of the day was already racing north at 35-40mph. We decided that chasing that storm was pretty pointless. We decided to go to Colby and hang out at the "Oasis" for a while to see what fired along the dryline. After watching and waiting for a while it was pretty safe to say that none of the storms were going to get their acts together. Not wanting a complete bust we decided to get as far north as fast as we could to try and salvage the day. On our way north a new storm exploded about 20 miles to our west and shortly after a severe warning was put out for Cheyenne Co. KS. We then moved across the state line towards Trenton, NE. It was at this time that we could start to see the RFB on it and then a few minutes later a weak wall cloud formed. Soon after dust started being kicked up underneath it and someone called it in as a tornado although it obviously wasn't rotating at all. After this the storm fell apart as the cold front moved through and that was all she wrote as far as tornadic potential. The temperature dropped what seemed 30-35 degrees in a matter of minutes. The storm continued to have a severe t-storm warning on it but we decided to break off the chase since we had a seven hour drive home and early classes tomorrow. Will put up a few pics tomorrow because I am writing this report as we are heading back on I-70 right now.
Well...just got back into Woodward tonight...very tired...blah, blah..long chase...blah, blah. Anyway, target the Grand Island area, I don't like chasing warm fronts. Followed a couple of crappy storms west of there around the lakin, went every direction out of that town, the locals knew my car well. Finally the first tornado warned storm formed south of Ulysses. Flew south out of Lakin, intercepted it just NE of Ulysses. That is where we saw a nice elephant truck nado, although it was several miles west of us, the visibility was poor bc it was around 9:30. Followed it east on dirt roads, but ran into the debris path, stupid telephone poles. Oh, well, nice way to end a frustrating day. Still need to check my video of grab a good still of the tornado. I will do that as soon as possible.
I was late getting done with the final I had this morning and didn't get out of town until around 10:45. Storms were already going up in SW Nebraska when I was about 100 miles away. I tried to catch the same storm Amos was on North of Oakley. Those things were flat out moving. After chasing it all the way to the Nebraska border it collapsed. I decided to haul West to intercept the tornado warned storm on the tail end of the three cells coming up the Kansas/Colorado border. The last cell was moving NE so I knew I had a chance of getting to it before it got too far North. Shortly after getting to the storm it developed a small mesocyclone and put down one of the weakest tornadoes I have ever seen. It was more of a stiff breeze with rotation. Here is video grab of the meso right after the brief tornado touched down near Parks. You can see the dust it is picking up off the right side of the road.

Here is another video grab from when it was a little more defined at the surface.

Here is one more picture of the mesocyclone near the end of the tornadoe's 15 second life span. You can see a little bit of corckscrewing in the meso from rotation too.

You could see a small nub above the rotation at the surface. Right after the weak tornado fell apart, there was a better defined cone funnel that peeked out of the base, but it didn't last very long. There is a small chance I could be wrong on the funnel though because I was looking out my back window which had mud all over it, but I am about 90% sure it was a funnel and it makes sense since there was decent rotation in the mesocyclone at that point. The 800 mile drive wasn't worth the dust devil I ended up seeing, but it is better than nothing I guess. I couldn't believe how fast the storms were moving today. I wasn't expecting storm motions of 35-40mph.
With limited range due to work obligations of chase parter Derek Deroche, We could only target as far up the dryline as Matador, TX just west of CDS.

Textbook blue-sky cap-bust... nothing else to say really.

Targeting in the same general vicinity tomorrow which will make three days in a row.
Same here...opted to play the dryline in the Texas Panhandle, and was rewarded with bad food and a long drive home. Oh well...if I had stayed at home, there would have been an outbreak.
Left OUN around 10:30am, heading for nc/nw KS. EVerything looked awesome as we data-checked in McPherson by early afternoon. We continued to Salina, and then west, where we saw numerous strong TCU building. We decided to continue to head west, into an area where the various severe weather and tornado parameters were excellent (EHIs 3-6, Siggy Tor Param 3-5, Supercell Composite 13-18, etc) and convergence was strong. Got a radar pic of a storm NW of Hill City, so busted towqards that one... However, we jsut kept driving and driving and never saw it. Hmm. Figured that it had either crapped out or headed N into NE. We meandered around the area near Osborne by early evening, though it was quite apparent that the cap was going to get the best of us. Stopped for IHOP dinner in ICT, and just got home here a little bit ago (it's 4am currently).

Despite incredible convergence in nc KS per SPC mesoanalysis, the cap that the mesoanalysis/RUC showed to be non-existant never broke. It seems that the RUC handled this situation horribly and was completely clueless regarding the cap, as even the 21z run broke out convection in nc KS in it's 1hr forecast. It would have been nice to see a sounding from this area, as all the surrounding locations aren't really representative of the area between I70 and the KS/NE border.

Another very frustrating day in a season that is rivaling 2002 like no other. At least we had a FEW days in 2002 worth chasing (Throckmorton, Happy, May 7th in sw KS, to name a few). Save for April 21 in se KS, there really hasn't been any good tornadic supercell activity in the warm sector this year. Despite being in an incredibly favorable environment for significant tornadoes, no storm was able to develop south of the front enough to develop a healthy meso in order to turn right and avoid crossing into NE. If we had gotten a storm to first south of I70, it may have had time to develop a good meso, turned to the east, and been a tornado playground. Of course, you need storms for that to happen.
Started out the day in Hooker, OK with no luck. Saw towers going up to my west but I think the cap kept suppressing them. Got tired of waiting around and went to Liberal and then shot north on Hwy. 83 to Garden City. Saw a good storm with a very nice backsheared anvil and a pretty descent base but it was trucking to the NE at around 35-40 knots! Decided it wasn't worth trying to catch up with that one so I decided to target a storm forming to the south near Deerfield. Went west on US 50 and got a view of the storm which had a very nice updraft and a very well defined mesocyclone. Had descent rotation with it and even saw a couple of very brief funnels. It was getting dark and I was still 4 hours from home so I began the treck back. On the way I heard about a tornado warning near the city of Holcomb so I decided to give one last ditch effort to chase before going home. I went south out of Garden City and then went east on parallel road which turns back to the north to Holcomb. As the road started to turn north I pulled over to get a view of the wall cloud to my west. For some reason I turned and looked to the SW and there was a nice lightning illuminated tornado a couple of miles to my SW! It was a long slender type of tornado form what I saw. This wasn't good at all. It was dark and I had a tornado to my SW moving to the NE so needless to say I booked it very fast into the town of Holcomb as the sirens were going off. I never did get a look at the tornado again so I waited until the storm passed and came on home. It would have been so nice to see these storms in the daytime instead of in the fading light of dusk.

3dece796021ac8cb08538c973f1d4fad.jpg Storm NW of Garden City, KS on 5/11/05

41550ca31c99bc7e64c1e36e82922561.jpg Storm near Deerfield, KS on 5/11/05
My target for the day was the Concordia, KS area northward. Plenty of cells started to fire but none had the strength to survive so I started working my way back east toward Washington Co.

I won't bother with a description as Mike P. has done a good job of describing the event. Great to meet him and his brother! Lots of rain and clearing, just enough to keep us hanging on. His first and third picture are exactly what I've got to share, lol. That was a great scudnado! I stopped and took some pictures of it just so I could show the folks at the office exactly what NOT to report. All in all not a bad day, certainly better than sitting at my desk!

Sorry for the size of the pictures, didn't get a chance to resize them this morning.


I found the Cyclone Ln. sign along Hwy 77 just into Marshall Co. I believe.


Plenty of rain fell from our storm. Great for the farmers and their corn!

Same song second verse as others in NE. I started watching a cell that I believe was the one others have said went up near Colby. I was a good distance from it so I set up my camcorder and took some nice structure video. I was to the NE of the cell and thought storm motion was going to be NE so I stayed put for a bit. Until, I heard on weather radio storm motion to the N. So I raced off N and then W. I caught up to the RFB around Orleans and heard NWS report of rotation however I could see none. I stopped where a few chasers were and they suggested finding another storm, I think b/c that cell crossed the WF.

So I followed a couple of other storms for a while bouncing around in the grunge. I ended up in Holdridge around 1900 and was hit by a monster gust front that seemed to be traveling to the W. I then headed N and saw some of the greatest inflow ever. To my N and W was an inflow band moving at mach 2, the surface winds were probably a good sustained 40mph. This inflow band seemed to congeal into a suspicious looking formation for a bit. However, the inflow was very cold and did not produce much more than that. I followed this cell for a while up to I-80 and decided to call it a day.

Drove down the Hays, KS and slept for a few hours. I am going to head the the TX panhandle for today. I will try to post some pics from yesterday when I get to my target area this morning.

btw: while writing this I saw your pics Justin, they look great, congrats on the tube!
>> Click here for full report <<

Katie Burtis and I broke from the group out of Colby, KS and shot north on 83 to try and catch up with the storm north of McCook, NE. Got there a day late and a dollar short though as the tornado had already moved through the area causing the damage below that Amos describes above.
On the way back to Denver we watched in awe as the dryline finally fired down by Gardern City, KS. Kudos to those who were on those cells! A somewhat frustrating chase but there's no such thing as a bad chase! We had alot of fun! :D :D

Grain bin tossed across the road.
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One of the numerous irigation pipes tossed all over the hillside.
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Trees snapped but house spared - luckily!
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Some of the golfball size hail that also hit the area
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>> Click here for full report <<
Here's my short log:

Went after the NW CO/SW NE/NW KS supercell that was supposedly dropping tornadoes... And by the time we got on it ( :roll: ) it was beggining to turn to crap. Although it had rapid rotation when I first intercepted it...

We wait around with it for about a half hour and then we shoot down to Garden City to prepare for the next day (today)...

It was now afterdark, and I was noticing the SW KS supercells (that we were driving into) and that Garden City sup really pumped up by the time we got on it. Guess where I saw my tornado yesterday? 4M NW of Garden City... LOL, I'll get vid caps on my site later!

Now on to OK...
Targeted Hays Ks to start. Stopped and got data at the library. CU field was increasing and i decided to head north. As i was driving there was a warning by Norton KS but there was no way to catch it. Drove to Phillipsburg and met up with Kelsey and Eric from KWCH. They showed me the stormhawk. Neat piece of equipment. ANywyas the cap finally decided to go at 645 or so. Up in nebraska near holdredge. I went there unprepared with no nebraska map so i had no idea where i was going. Ended up headed east to hastings. The downtown there got mega damage from hail and wind. The emergency folks had 6 blocks downtown blocked off, with numerous roads under water also. I heard a report that they got 4.91 inches of rain in 20 minutes on the west side of town. Anyways it was about an 800 mile bust for me as i got home around 230am.

Thanks to Mike Parker for nowcasting.
Began the day in TOP after driving overnight from Kalamazoo; en route to Quincy to pick up my chase partner Gary Wellman. Arrived to a Comfort Inn at Topeka around 5am. Crashed for a few hours, before making the westward jaunt across I-70 to Hays. Arrived at Hays around 19Z to widespread CU and S/SE winds around 15mph; grabbed lunch, data, and watched the percolating CU prior to issuance of the PDS TOR watch at 20Z.

Due to rapid northward cellular development/movement; headed N on 183 towards Stockton; hearing TOR warnings for the storms interacting with the WF boundary in NE (around/S of I-80). Upon leaving Hays, we hit another Cingular data void. I realized the storms were crossing the boundary; but w/o data -- could not see commiting to the storms already on/crossing the boundary. Continued onto Phillipsburg, then Woodruff in search of a radar image/surface plot.

Finally hit a loose network while "wardriving" in Alma, NE; and wasn't pleased. Continued N into the cold air and towards the TOR/TSTRM warned convection; with thoughts of intercepting the cells entering SW NE. Logistics and a t-storm warning for Gosper Co. led us to forgo that move. Stopped at Holdrege where Gary feasted on Taco John's and I a loose data network. 62/58 and stratified; yuck! Officially discouraged, stopped to soak my sorrows with a Runza burger (ala Brian Morganti). Much to our surprise; a TOR warning went up for Gosper Co. while in the Runza drive-thru (tornado indicated S. of Elwood; N/NE movement at 10mph). This was our last chance; regardless of the sickly surface conditions.

Headed N on 183 out of Holdrege. At I80/HW183 (Elm Creek-SW Buffalo Co.); encountered a low, beastly looking meso/wall cloud; injesting dust just to our W. Supposedly a tornado was reported as the storm left Gospher Co. (SE of Lexington). Shot video and plucked off a few stills of this before continuing N on 183. (due to the projected N movement). Inflow was insane (50-55mph); with the left wiper did a 360 degree turn before slamming down onto the windsheld (made for some interesting video). Overshot our bounds; stopping at Miller. Intense CG's picked up; frightening Gary; quarter to ping-pong ball size hail ensued -- but the meso/wall cloud never fully regained consciousness. Lost of scud, rain, and mud.

Ended the chase 15 N of Kerney; where once again inflow picked up and the meso attempted again. Was actually able to lean back into the 50-60mph inflow at times and remain supported. Meso transition back into shelfy/scuddy outflow garbage. Encountered extended periods of blinding rain, small hail, annoying trucker spray, and amusing severe wx. coverage on AM radio while eastbound on I-80 (near York). Arrived to Omaha around 11pm.

Not a bust by any means, and enjoyed finally getting out to the Plains. Was happy to see "something". Heading SB on I-29 en-route to US-36 atttm. Not chasing today; Gary and I both work Friday.

Bustola in Kansas for me. I even skipped over the Kearney, NE cell on my way south. I have a new chasing philosophy which I will forthwith adhere to: "Who cares what the SPC thinks?"

Which is not to say that I think the SPC doesn't do a great job. It's just that I would have rather busted south of Kearney, which was my original forecast target, than have busted on the western Kansas dryline, which I picked out of trust for the SPC's fervor for a severe outbreak with "strong tornadoes" near the SFC low, even after seeing the SigTor and EHI bullseye just south of the KS/NE border. Live n' learn!

I did see a chase tour company (hello, whoever you were!) south of Holderege. I did a quick U-turn when I saw them and followed them a bit to get pictures when they stopped atop a hill on a dirt road -- I've never had a chance to photograph storm-tourists before. :)

I also saw a big SUV from Texas (complete with cow-pusher) who's occupants were obviously chasers, given the dash-mount camera. I only mention them because I only saw them briefly in Kearney and south of Holdrege -- and then ran into them again 5 hours later on a lonely Kansas highway, near Norton, KS. Gotta love life's coincidences. :)
Like many others, I busted in NC KS. Felt pretty good around 4pm... towers were going up all along the boundary near the KS/NE state line. Then by about 7... poof... all gone! We decided against heading towards the Washington cell... by the time we realized we were hosed, it would of been near dark by the time we got to it.


FULL REPORT AND PICS: http://weather.ou.edu/~nwilson/chase5.html

I went out with Aaron and others from OU so my report is similar to his. You know its never good when the highlight of your day is passing the Mulvane exit sign on I-35 haha. Little did we know this would be the first of three straight marathon chase days during finals week nonetheless! Suffice to say, I slept a lot on Saturday!

Originally posted by Rocky Rascovich

Finally...my first bonified chase of the 2005 season of which Rick Schulze from the thawing tundra of Upper Michigan accompanied me. Overall, I
counted this as a fruitful chase even though I did'nt see any major tornadoes...In a way thankful for that only because those who did in Texas on Thursday the 12th came at the expense of busted windows and shredded nerves...not my idea of a leisure hobby. Rick and I left Wednesday morning after reviewing the models...I had some concerns about this \"moisture hole\" that was talked about, I knew temps at the 700mb. were going to be close to capping out everything but it was a gamble on my Smith Center, KS. target..Thanks to Rick who is far more
technologically minded than I, he had my new HP laptop up and going as well as my GPS and our data card from Cingular...we were able to access
data in many areas on the way to our target which after reevaluating the latest progs, determined to be between Dodge City and Oakley as the triple point was markedly further south according to the RUC and NAM...Just a note, while I've been told that there are many holes in the Cingular coverage in Kansas..for the most part, we had no trouble as we proceeded north thru Garden City to Scott City and finally up to the interstate. By approximately 5pm, TOR watches were issued, PDS ones to boot ..I thought...been here done this before with PDS boxes as I chased my fair share of them with little or no results in the past.

Reviewing satellite data and RUC data at exit 93 off of I-70, my concerns were quickly escalating over the growing cap..winds were backing though
and surface dews according to my Kestrel were around 57F... Finally, Hank Baker called and was eye balling towering CU but that they were
struggling. Indeed they were as Rick and I met up with Dave Ewoldt and Hank Baker in Leoti in central Wichita Co. of western KS. around 1800cdt ( estimated time) ...one particular cell came roaring up from the SSW at 45kts...looked initially ominous with thick hard convection in the mid levels but the bottom half of the updrafts were being chewed up by the drier air at the 700-800mb. levels...We almost blew this whole day off in disgust ontil one more cell made haste from Grant and Stanton Co's at approx. 1930-2000cdt..this one was considerably more surface based...we blasted south toward it and reached Lakin west of Garden City around 2020cdt..wind was not a big concern but the size of the hail became a little unsettling...I took cover at a gas station in Lakin as 1\" diameter stones fell, some stones approached golfball size. Dave Ewoldt took off in fearless abandon and bagged the tornado in Ulysses much to my dismay...while Hank and I decided that new battle scars on our vehicles weren't quite worth the risk...Dave said the hail got at least golfball size just south of Lakin and knocked a bird senseless out of a tree.

Anyway, that was the highlight of that day...aside from the fact that Rick and I were eating at one of the local diner's in GLD when the sirens blew...turned out that a strong meso went right over GLD at approx. 2200cdt...the same meso that produced the Ulysses tornado...glad for several reasons that did'nt come to fruition, naturally for GLD in itself but because I was busy stuffing my face at the time...would have had a hard time living that one down...an interesting observation at that moment when the meso was crossing the GLD area...We were at the east end of town...and not a breathe of wind...you could light a match successfully without the flame wavering a bit...and a very \"heavy\" feel to the air. Hank Baker was at the Best Western where he was at the time and said there was atomized rain falling although the wind was not exceptionally strong (not sure of the speeds as he did'nt elaborate) ....Overall, a good day...once I got over my lamenting in not hanging close to Dave Ewoldt.

Edit: He meant Garden City (GCK), not Goodland (GLD).
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