5/12/04 Reports: KS,CO

A wild night across the Plains including multiple tornadoes in south-central Kansas. Damage reported in Attica. Many chasers were on these storms and some had very close encounters. Please submit your reports.

Bill Hark
Had to work all day so missed out on the KS fun.... was sad at first, but decided to give the dryline a shot in W. OK. MAN DID IT PAY OFF!!! Got an amazing LP storm near Gotebo, OK which is simply one of the best supercells I have seen. It also displayed some funky splits.... check out the pictures... there is a mirror backwards looking LP attached to it on the backside.

Very weird stuff, I gotta go back and look at radar and try and make some sense of it all. At anyrate, the cell gave us an impressive show.


Sneak Peak:
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Well this isnt a report for Kansas or Colorado but for North Texas. I chased some crappy storms compared to the Kansas stuff in Western North Texas. There were some big hail reports in Southwest Oklahoma of up to tennis balls near Gotebo. I chased the cells in knox & Wilbarger counties but these cells were high based & outflow dominate. The Knox cell did briefly become HPish but soon died out. Ill have some pics later at http://www.texhomastormchasers.com

I did just get off the cell with Kenneth McCallister who chased in Southern Kansas today along with half of the resident stormchasers of Oklahoma lol. He said he had the best chase of his life with as many as seven tornadoes two of which were large & lasted as long as 20 min each! These were from the cell near the Attica area where damage was reported. Im sure Kenneth will have pics & vidcaps posted soon as he says he took a ton of pics. Yeah you can rub it in Kenneth.....alot of us should have went to Kansas including myself. Looks like the added kick these cells needed occured at the right place at the right time....Kenneth also reports Karen Rhoden, Tim Marshall, & The DOW team were on these cells......YEAH KENNETH! YOUR MY HERO! :p
I have way too much to post right now, but wanted to say WOW!! Seven tornadoes on the day, 6 before dark, one after dark. Here's a sample of what's coming.. this was taken near Sharon, Kansas about 7ish this evening. Much much more later!

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Amos, Scott, and myself among others enjoyed an incredible show.. its going to be the weekend before I get all of this up, but 7 confirmed tornadoes through south Kansas. Wow wow wow!
Kyle Poage, a forecaster from Topeka, and I chased a line of storms from Sitka to the east,
and intercepted a low contrast tornado at 714 pm. We think the tornado was about 5 miles
south of Medicine Lodge. It lasted into the rope stage until 722 pm. We then went north
to chase a lowering near Pratt that did not produce. So we missed several more tornados
on tail end charlie from Sharon to Attica.

See my quickly made picture page at:
As Tony posted, we had an amazing chase day, observing one of the great supercells I've ever seen from early initiation through rapid cycling that produced between 5 and 7 tornadoes, including three large tornadoes, of which the Attica tube was one.

I'm very tired but will begin my report and post at least two or three images before I go to bed tonight.

Thoughts are with the people of Attica and other communities in south Kansas tonight. Hope all the chasers made it across State Road 2 safely--more on that later.
Well, I'm glad everyone had a great chase in south Kansas.......I on the other hand want to pull my hair out at this moment. There were two cells that initially popped west of Medicine Lodge, Kansas.....a cell to the southwest of Sun City and a cell to the southwest of M.L. Guess what, I chased the storm southwest of Sun City..... :cry: and we all know what happened with the storm to the southwest of M.L. That's all I have to say. I guess everyone makes the wrong decision...and I based my decision on the idea the shear would be greater to the north....big time ERROR!
I hope everyone made it out ok today, people who lost homes and chasers. Well get after it tomoroow.
Barber and Harper county Kansas

Eight tornadoes today. I had one close call with two tornadoes on the ground at the same time, I had to reverse to miss the first one that crossed the road right in front of me and then the second one which was a big dirt filled stove pipe that was about a quarter to half mile to my South. Incredible storm, it just was putting them down one after another. A lot of them were weak, but there was three or four that were pretty impressive. Right at dark there was very large funnel that touched down and quickly became rain wrapped, but I was to the east of it and could see it for several minutes before it became a wall of haze and it looked fairly strong. I sure wasn't expecting eight tornadoes, I would have been happy with a funnel.
I have a remarkable pic of the Attica tornado, from about 100 yards west of the tornado. No other chaser could be seen on this side of the storm. Dave Williams and I videoed it and heard and watched it destroy a barn-- got it all on video and digital camera== how I can upload it on this site?[/img]
REPORT: May 12, 2004 South Kansas Tornadoes

Okay, here's some photos with timestamps. I'm not going to locate these geographically until I'm more certain. This chase will have to be reconstructed with radar loops and GPS log files. I'm sure the number of tornadoes involved will be a subject of debate. If we counted all the rapid dust rotations we saw between the major tornadoes, we might count in the double digits. But I'm convinced these were the same circulations that eventually filled in and produced the big stovepipes and tubes, so I think I saw five tornadoes, the next to last of which I barely beat across State Road 2--something I did not do on purpose.

I can't say I never saw anything in Kansas again.

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Tornado # 1 7:23 PM
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Tornado # 3 8:13 PM
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Tornado # 3 8:13 PM
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Tornado # 3 8:14 PM
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Tornado # 4 8:37 PM (shot this while racing the tornado across State Road 2. Photo is blurry. Video will be better for this one.)
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Many thanks to Steve Miller, Jeff Gammons, and Jeff Lawson for nowcasting, and my chase partners Scott Eubanks, Tony Laubach, David, and Curt.
Best chase of my career thus far.. Saw some awesome structure and baseball hail. Oh yeah, and 7 tornadoes!

Will make this brief since I am tired... Saw the small yet photogenic tornado southwest of Sharron. Then saw a relatively short-lived (1-2min) tornado south of Attica. The RFD was kicking up a lot of dust and dirt at this time also... Was on the east side of Attica on 160 when the third tornado dropped. We actually had to back up, as our position would end up being in the damage path. Tornado passed about 500-1000 feet east of us, with very rapid rotation. Unfortunately, we did see a house on the southeast side of Attica lose its roof and several walls... As the Attica tornado roped out and dissapated, saw another tornado to its east-southeast. This was more of a dirt-nado, but was definately a tornado nonetheless... Was afraid the rotation was going to cross 160, so we headed some and east on some po-dunk roads. Saw another large tornado northwest of Anthony as the sun was setting... Contrast and visibility were quite poor, and since night was falling, we started to head south to get home. However, when in Anthony, saw a beautiful tornado to the north-northwest. While it was dark, incessant lightning behind it made for some beautiful shots...

A couple things to note: This supercell had the most intense RFD I have seen to date... The RFD was quite warm... Cloud bases seemed a little high for strong tornadoes... There was a nice mid-level funnel immediately to the west of the Attica tornado while the tornado was in progress... I'll put up vid and pics Friday, assuming tomorrow is a chase day...
Originally posted by George Flickinger
I have a remarkable pic of the Attica tornado, from about 100 yards west of the tornado. No other chaser could be seen on this side of the storm. Dave Williams and I videoed it and heard and watched it destroy a barn-- got it all on video and digital camera== how I can upload it on this site?[/img]

You can't upload to Stormtrack... you must save it to a webpage/server and link back to it on this board....

I think we saw the same tornado from the same distance as you... We were about 500 ft west of it on the far eastern side of Attica as it was destroying a house...
Dwain Warner and I convoyed with my girlfriend Jo Radel, Chad Lawson, Mickey Ptak, and his bro-in-law (sorry his name escapes me right now).

Here's the gist, cause it's too late and I'm too tired for details:

We observed 3 tornadoes in southern Kansas today (possibly more pending reports/surveys/etc)

First one was a brief anticyclonic dust whirler about 4 miles NW of Kiowa, just across the border. A brief dust whirl developed below an anticyclonically-rotating cinnamon swirl. (RFD prior to this was gusting up to 50-60mph).

About 2-3 minutes after the anticyclonic tornado dissipated, the storm put down a 20-minute beauty , easily the most spectacular tornado of my career. It formed about a half-mile NE of us, appearing as a white nub funnel with an orange dust column working its way up to the funnel base. Eventually, the funnel worked its way down to form an amazing, slender truncated cone.....which was perfectly sunlit and ghostly white. After several more minuts, the funnel filled in completely to the ground, then became shrouded in orange dust. The surface rotation was quite intense, I'd estimate low-end F2 if it hit anything. This tornado was a dream.

Unfortunately, tornado number three hit the east side of Attica. We sincerely hope the injuries weren't life-threatening.

Quick update....I was wondering how we missed 4 of the tornadoes that everyone else saw......we were stopped in Attica (we were west of town following the tornado from probably 5 miles away) by a police roadblock and forced to turn back....so hence our miss of everything along the KS 2 corridor. I had a feeling that fat cop was costing us more. LOL, came walking up to the car yelling at me to turn around, while standing right in front of the car and I've got other vehicles immediately to my right.....I needed room to turn a uie. I wasn't pleased with his shitty attitude and I let him know it by spitting gravel as I whipped the car around headed back west. I know this may piss some of you off, but there was no reason for the guy to scream at me....I was one of about 100 cars in that line.

Other than Attica being hit, this was an awesome day. Looks like round two tomorrow.....
It was a great day, saw 4 tornadoes and tons of meso's. Lance and I got a lot of pics and will post an account tomorrow, for now I need to go to sleep. Here is one of my better pics of the day.

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*EDIT: Darn, I don't know what I did to that pic while trying to down-size it but it looks like crap now. I will have the rest of my pics on my website probably on Friday.
My goodness!!

Not sure what else can be said about this day, but I'll try! Everything's pretty much a blur right now. I also saw 3 tornadoes, including one very dramatic-looking one from the Chapparal (sp?) High School parking lot right at nightfall about 9 to 9:10pm.

#1 was perhaps 5 miles south of Medicine Lodge. Didn't see it start, but got some video once we got up on a hill and looked to the east southeast.
#2 was very intense for me. I was behind two other chasers and we headed east into Attica. A few miles outside of town, sporadic golf balls with a few tennis balls started up. Once into town, I noticed their vehicles ducking for cover wherever a spare carport was available. I found mine off the main street and was scanning around for a clear view. I didn't like having the trees around at all. I looked up into an opening and saw a clear slot developing basically overhead. With no hesitation, I bolted west out of town in a *hurry*. Got about a mile west of town and started shooting video of the entire (at least to my eye) life cycle of the Attica tornado. I couldn't quite see the base due to trees and I was very concerned about the town.
After it dissipated (just guessing elapsed time was about 10 minutes, it will be interesting to see what the tape says) I filmed a local who picked up a legitimate baseball on the side of the road. I needed a little time to regroup and eventually I crossed past the roadblock on a couple of dirt roads to the north and east of Attica. There was very little rain and no lightning that I noticed.

Kept hearing ALL SORTS of chasers on some storm off to the east/northeast of Attica. Drove east for a while and from the back, we got in heavy rain and quite dark conditions. Now it wasn't easy at all to make out what was going on. Unsure of what time this was. Perhaps 8, 8:15? After the close call in Attica, I wasn't willing to try punching and seeing the other side.

Bailed south at the Hwy 2/160 intersection and by now it was almost dark. Saw some lowerings in the thin slice of dull orange off to the west. Pulled into the Chapparal HS parking lot and filmed. At 9pm, a new tornado formed (estimated) 3-4 miles to my west. Called it in to 911 just in case. It looked like it meant business. Had nightshot on and again, I'll be curious to see how it looked. This tornado became a real nice elephant trunk and got closer as it moved to the northeast. Not sure who might have seen this one. My impression was that most chasers had gone off to the northeast a ways.

The Chapparal HS tornado got closer and it was fully dark by now. Fairly frequent lightning helped. I didn't like the closeness and bailed back to the south on 160. Ran into some friendly local cops. One guy was from Attica and he confirmed for me that nobody was hurt in Attica. I did shoot video of the house that got whacked. It was on its own, about 1/2 to 3/4 mile east of Attica. Attica itself did NOT get hit. The house had the roof completely gone and a few nearby trees were basically stripped. Looked F2'ish to me. Maybe F3. I'll let the experts debate.

Kept hearing more chaser reports of a large tornado during the 9:15-10pm timeframe. I'd be curious to see their GPS logs. I'm low-tech and don't have that yet. I didn't want any more trouble and I broke off toward Arthur. Found a few folks who were closing up McDonalds. One had a scanner and all sorts of reports of road closures (mostly 160) coming in. Hoped to God that nobody had gotten hurt and no chasers had gotten munched. Lacking radar, I had no desire to go back toward the hot spot. But I bet it was tasty. :)

In Enid, and need to sleep and get ready for tomorrow.

Thanks to those who helped. Special props to Tony for his wi-fi and laptop help in Hays on Tuesday night. Tony, I've got wi-fi here at the Ramada in Enid! It works, LOL.
After a 12 hour drive from a chase in South Dakota on Tuesday, I just finished an incredible chase to the Medicine Lodge, Kansas area. I saw three tornadoes (my first ones!), one within a half of a mile away in Attica, Kansas.

Here are some video captures from Wednesday:

Sharon, Kansas tornado:

Attica, Kansas tornado:

Tornado south of Harper, Kansas after dark:

Here is a video clip, Realvideo 16MB:


First tornado (Sharon, KS) is timelapsed without sound, followed by Attica and Harper tornadoes with sound.

Got pounded with baseball sized hail, lots of big new dents on the truck. Amazingly I didn't lose my windshield.

I'm in Tulsa now resting up for another chase Thursday. More details later!

Doh. Awesome job guys, great tornadoes! No wonder we didn't see any other chasers on our storm near Gotebo. What was really amazing was the repeater traffic almost non-existant. They were actually trying to find people to report (although the storm never appeared to be in danger to put anything down so the only reporting really needed to be done was hail/wind).

Holy cow, what a day. l was in Medicine Lodge from the very beginning, and chased the south storms with some really nice folks from TX A&M-who I just happened to meet at the town library. My tornado pics look exactly like everybody else's, so I'll be posting initiation and structure pics just as soon as I can get a decent inter-web connection. Experienced some of the strongest inflow winds I've ever felt. At one point, you could lean back into it, and it would hold you up. Also saw a lightning-lit tornado about 30 minutes after sunset, since I had to watch and wait for this beast to calm down before returning to Wichita. Definitely never saw that before. It was a day I won't soon forget, for sure.
Just a few pics...

Tornado 1 -- SW of Sharron (others have similar pics as I, so...)

Tornado 2 --
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1-2 tornado south of Attica

Tornado 3 --
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East side of Attica

Tornado 4 --
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Brief dust-only tornado east of Attica

Tornado 5 -- Another small, brief dust-only tornado

Tornado 6 --
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Relatively large tornado south of Harper

Tornado 7 --
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Nice lightning-backlit tornado north of Anthony
here is a different perspective on the tornado near medicine lodge. its hard to see but its there is the bottom right. beautiful storm!! we were about 6 miles north of medicine lodge when this was taken watching a powerful wall cloud just to our west. ill post a full accnt and more pictures later. we also followed the harper county tornado later that night (see jeff's anthony tornado pic).

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Well, this was by far our best and craziest chase of the last two years.....damn those Kansas dirt roads! Anyhow, as Jason Montano and I posted earlier yesterday on the Now thread, we left Norman at about noon and made our way up to Alva. On the way, I noticed Wakita on the map and we decided to stop by to see the Twister Museum and walking trail. A very interesting place and we would both recommend anybody who is in the area to stop by and check it out.

Once we got to Alva, we found a nice Best Western which allowed us to use their wireless internet connection so that we could watch and wait for initiation. We waited in Alva until about 4-5pm before we decided to head north on US 281 across the Kansas border. We made it to Medicine Lodge at approximately 645pm and decided to head east toward Sharon.

Once in Sharon, we turned south onto what was the first of many hard to navigate dirt roads. About 5 miles south of Sharon, we noticed a rapidly developing meso to our west that literally just came out of nowhere. No more than 10 minutes later, we notice a beautiful slanted cone funnel appearing from the back side of the meso and watched as it quickly reached the ground. By far one of the most beautiful tornadoes I have seen whether it be on TV or in person. We were in absolutely perfect position approx a mile due east of its location. The tornado stayed on the ground for what seemed about 15-20 minutes and then roped out, leaving a cloud of dust behind.

This is where the day got real interesting. At this point, we met up with some acquaintances of ours who had GPS and we decided to follow considering we had no idea where any of the dirt roads led (thanks AAA). We headed about 2 miles north and then about 8 miles east from our previous location and then noticed a large stovepipe tornado to our NE. Unfortunately, we had trouble navigating the roads and were not in great position to see this with good contrast. We pursued that tornado until it dissipated outside of Attica and were able to get through town before the roadblock was set up.

Still really not knowing for certain where we were, we decided to head east out of Attica toward a new, much larger meso that had formed ahead of us. After going a few miles on 160, we noticed another large tornado on the ground to our ESE and once again were in bad position, only to have a low contrast visible of it. It got really hairy at this point as we got caught in between two very large and sustained areas of rotation, one to our east, and one behind us to our west. Continuing on 160, we drove straight into the RFD of this monster and were pelted with pea to golf ball size hail and winds in consistent excess of 60-70mph. We decided to head south from where 160 goes back to the north and thought that our day had pretty much ended.

Now heading south, we drove through the town of Anthony and heard of another tornado on the ground back in Danville (1/2 mile wide from reports on the ham) and decided to turn back north.....bad idea. At this point, there was really no light to speak of beyond the frequent strikes of CG. Once again on another dirt road, Jason and I nearly got stuck in what had turned to mush under the tires just in between Danville and Anthony. We quickly decided to reverse our direction and head back through Anthony and then on back to Norman. Once making it through Anthony and heading south on 179, Jason decided he wanted to pull over and take some lightning pics to our North. To our amazement when we turned the vehicle around, a very large wedge tornado could be seen when lightning back lit it. I got some great video of that and hope to pull some stills off by the end of the weekend to post.

Once this tornado had weakened, we decided to go chat with the KFOR guys (David Payne, etc). They did a live report back to OKC on the 10pm newscast from that location and had some great video to show. David was extremely personable and outgoing and very friendly to chat with. He shared some of his close encounters of the day with us and some other funny stories as well.

At about 1030, we decided to finally call it a day and head back toward Norman, to return at about 1am.

*Pics and video from the whole day should be up by the end of the weekend.*
A different perspective

I had a rather different perspective on these storms - from about 35,000 feet. We were on a plane flying from St. Louis to Albuquerque and passed just south of the S Kansas storms a little after 6:30, perhaps about 15 minutes before the first tornado.

The backsheared anvil and overshooting tops were incredible. There was one area in the anvil where the updraft had turned downward and it looked like the top of a TCU turned upside down. It was hard to make out from above, but there appeared to be a very large lowering under the updraft of the storm farthest to our north. Also what looked like a hail shaft on the south edge of the storm we passed closest to.

I wanted to get some pictures but our food (such as it was) and drinks had just come so I would have had to move everything on my tray and my wife's and raise both trays to get at my cameras, so it didn't happen. :( Did talk to a guy in ABQ who got some pics from the plane, though.

Since I'm here for a while, I am hoping for some panhandle action in the next week or so. Congrats to all who were on these spectacular storms, and keep the pics coming!