5/21/06 REPORTS: WY / KS / CO / NE

Apr 7, 2006
Bernville, PA
Today we targeted NW NE in hopes of intercepting a decent storm in an area progged by the ETA/RUC to have the best Theta-E and surface wind convergence. Surface observations throughout the day also indicated higher dewpoint values in this area. We eventually ended up on a storm with promise north of Lusk, WY (hey...didn't we do that yesterday!?)...but meager moisture values once again kept this storm from reaching severe limits. Oh well...maybe tomorrow.




Was nice to finally get out today as Verne Carlson, Michael Carlson, and myself ventured out of the Denver area into Wyoming, then over into Nebraska. We met up briefly with Katie Burtis who was heading back to Idaho before we separated on I-80. We then ventured south towards the McCook area on several severe warned storms which were moving at a snail's pace. We danced in, out, and around McCook before finally settling for the night. We took several shots at lightning photos before finally calling it a night and checking into the Holiday Inn in preparation for tomorrow. Can't complain with today as things were marginal to begin with. A nice sunset storm and decent post dark lightning.






Targeted western Kansas for some upslope activity today coming from Colorado. Went up to Dodge City initially, arrived there about 3, but no cellphone coverage to get on the Net. Managed to get an Internet connection courtesy of the Comfort Inn parking lot :) - pulled down a satellite pic, and there were two storms blowing up in Colorado – the southernmost storm (next to extreme southern Kansas) had a 50,000 ft top, and had blossomed quite quickly, and had a nice round shape, so I chose that one to target. The one further north, getting up to next to northwest Kansas had better moisture and better easterly winds for inflow, but it was too far away for me to get back to OK City at a reasonable time. (notice late tonight that this location still has a 55,000 ft Meso at 1:00am!)

Storm I chose was an LP ordinary thunderstorm (in the vicinity of Guymon), but had great views of virga and downdraft clouds (mammatus), and several very pronounced dry downbursts blowing up dust to quite some heights – very dramatic. Got some good pics with the setting sun behind the virga and downdrafts.

There was another storm blowing up south of Amarillo, so I decided to go south, on 136 from Guymon – I think a combination of the downdrafts from the earlier storm moving SE from Guymon, and an outflow from the storm to the south of Amarillo, fired up a great storm in front of me in the vicinity of Fritch, Texas , moving north from there – I made it into Borger, Texas just in time as the storm was severe warned on weather radio, with nickel size hail and 60 mph downburst winds. Sheltered in a gas station, heavy rainfall, great lightning and strong winds – then went off south after the storm moved through – then witnessed some more really strong microbursts stirring up dust in almost vortices fashion on several occasions.

All in all a good day after so many days with clear blue skies – not a supercell or tornado, but satisfactory nonetheless after such a long “break†J Drove about 800 miles, just getting back into OK City at 12:15am – was worth it! :)
It was sure nice to see storms again in SW Nebraska after such a dry spell. The pictures pretty much tell the story from the Stratton, NE area. These were the kind of storms that you could just stay out of their way and let them entertain you.

These little guys...

soon became big guys.

Lots of dust and lightning.

No organized rotation, but a brief mini funnel anyway.

A pretty sunset with lightning. I shot this thru a window sheeted with water as I wasn't about to leave the windows open with lightning almost on top of me.

After dark, there was still plenty of lightning to play with.
Our 12-member group made up mostly of Virginia/North Carolina students finally ... FINALLY (after a week of chasing North Carolina, Illinois and some dead days) ... made it to the High Plains for some storm chasing on a Sunday afternoon filled with virga, mammatus, gustnadoes and lightning. We chased storms in the region from Yuma to Holyoke, Colo., and then into SW Nebraska ending up at McCook for the night after a blazing sunset under an approaching storm. We tagged along with a severe-warned storm on the Kansas-Nebraska border, but ended up on the wrong side of it and couldn't really see much structure. But, a great introduction to the High Plains for about a half-dozen of our group who had never been here before.

Here is a video still of a "gustnado wedge" in Colorado.


More on our chase trip on my weather blog at Roanoke.com.