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5/23/06 REPORTS: SD / NE / KS

I'll be curious to read other posts and thought I'd start off the report log. In a word: linear.

Left N Platte and headed into Valentine, Nebraska. Watched early elevated convection steal the show and move rapidly east. Chased the long line of cells spanning from SD down to KS and saw them congeal into a squall line with no discernable features. The propagation of the cells southward along the line was obvious based on a line of towers and weakish anvils in low contrast haze. The cold front was so intense that the scoured blue sky and western winds traveled with me eastward into O'Neil, NE. Despite being in the TOR watch box, being in tandem SVR warns, it was at best a lot of driving for rain. Nebraska rain. But, rain all the same. :)

I guess the things that really blew it today (pun intended) was the southerly winds with little convergence along the rapidly-moving front (would have loved a little more backing). Everything was sort of out-of-synch with the best thermodynamics separated from the best wind fields.

Switched over to "virtual chasing" by the time I got to O'Neil and watched as the tail-end charlie storms on the line got their inflow cutoff by prefrontal storms that had fired in N/C KS.

Hope someone got lucky out there!

***Addendum noted by SPC log: From Union Cty SD at 0126z TORNADO THROWING UP LOTS OF DUST JUST EAST OF EXIT 38 ON INTERSTATE 29
Looks like a tornado could have used my medical services today (if only I could have seen some reprocity, eh?). LOL
Leaving work early paid off today - went SW of Mitchell. Gust fronts and dust were the main feature seen today...then it went into a gustnado fest. Lots of small ones - maybe 30-50 yards across spun up in fields. Got a big gustnado that seriously looked like a wedge. It was sucking up dust pretty high. Called it in to the NWS and they confirmed there was rotation. They went ahead and listed my report as a tornado, but I was really careful with my description to make sure they knew what I was looking at. It was kicking up dust and rotating. I was a little too close so I had to get out of the way before I could get some pictures. After doing some filming north of Yankton, I left a little later than I should have and got caught in the east edge of the gust front with a protusion on my south side. Saw some 2-3 inch branches get snapped off. Sped up and got out of it. On the way home, another small gustnado spun up and was probably 20-30 yards across and it went right across I-90. Will post the link to the blog entry and some pics here tomorrow.

Blog entry



A very long and frustrating chase. I was stuck with my flight arriving in Oklahoma City at 10:30PM Monday evening. My preliminary anaylsis suggested a Day 2 target of Grand Island. I had a long drive ahead. I made it to Salina before I was about ready to pass out. The next day, I checked data and shifted my target northward to southern South Dakota. There wasn't much time. I left Salina and blasted northward to York, then west on I-80 to Elm Creek. I was pleased with th southeast winds and dewpoints in the 60's. As I headed north on 183, a northsouth line of elevated convection formed from just west of Broken Bow, northward to the SD border. I had initially expected more isolated storms to form behind the line near Valentine but nothing much happened. I turned NW on 2, then drove to Dunning. At this point, it was clear that the line of elevated storms would be the storms of the day. I turned east on 91 and drove through the line. I hoped some of the storms would become more isolated. Just north of Bartlett, the storms seemed to be becoming more surface-based but still in a line. I drove east on 70, then south on 14 to target one of the storms. I saw rain and wind. Very unimpressive. I did see couple of gustnadoes in the outflow dust but I wouldn't get any video. In Madison, I turned south on 81 and was briefly ahead of the line. One storm to my southwest was showing impressive reflectivity and intermittant shear on XM. I stopped south of an area significant rotation (per XM) and noticed a brief change to inflow with significant southeasterly winds (7:40PM). I couldn't visualize any rotation. Soon, there was more cool outflow. I decided to bag the chase and go to Columbus for the night where I was treated to a nice lightning show.


Vid still: 7:41PM CDT Platte, CO NE from 81

Bill Hark
Just a quick note, as I want to get to bed, but here are some video grabs of what at the time was the Tail End Charlie, taken just wnw of Sutton, NE. The time stamp is still in standard time, not DST. I believe this was only a gustnado, because the storms were pretty much out flow dominate and going linear quickly. But a couple of the vid captures get you thinking for a moment, maybe wishful thinking.

2006 05 23 Sutton, NE - Gustnado
For my first chase, this wasn't a bust. Our target was Hastings, NE. We held off on the widespread stuff to the north until some discrete cells started firing ahead and south of the squall line. We intercepted a few elevated updrafts, and got rained on a few times. The backbuilding squall line's bases appeared to be lowering, and we were seeing some inflow features. We pulled over on the side of the road near Hebron to watch for lightning. As the sun set, the lightning increased rapidly, and there were more inflow features rising into the cloud bases. Dick McGowan, JR Henly and several other chases pulled over with us. Soon, a two tiered shelf cloud developed. and quickly brought severe wind gusts, and blowing dust. As we headed south toward Concordia, KS, we were treated to a spectacuar light show.
After spending the night in North Platte, we drove east on I-80. We stopped for lunch in Kearney, Nebraska, and looked at the latest data. Decided to push on east, and stopped further along in Grand Island. Storms were building to the north-west, and we expected these to back-build down the cold front/dryline through the afternoon and evening. We met up with Stu Robinson and the Silver Lining Tour group for a time.

A large chaser convergence seemed to be occurring at the truck stop where we were, but after a while most of them left (some following the Doppler on Wheels!). We stayed for a little while longer, but then decided to head west to the look at the developing storms.

We spent the remainder of the day investigating cells which popped ahead of the main band of storms. None of these individual storms seemed to be able to organise - a lack of low-level moisture/instability was probably the main reason. All the while, the line of storms along the cold front became stronger. After dog-legging south-east we ended up in Geneva, Nebraska. The line of storms was moving in rapidly from the west, with individual cells moving up the line from the south-west. We decided to let them pass over, and they did, with vigour! Winds increased dramatically - probably to 60-70mph at times. 15mm hail rattled against the car, as well as torrential rain - visibility went down to about 50 metres during the heaviest rain. At the same time, continuous cloud-ground lightning was occurring - at least 3 strikes were within a few hundred metres of the car, within about 1 minute!

The storms passed away to the east, and we decided to head to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the night.

A few pics on the website - URL below.

On a day where 2 new states were stepped in and a third state added to the 2006 chase list, our group of chasers scored well on a day which spoiled many chasers scattered across targets from the Dakotas into Kansas. Three tornadoes were reported in South Dakota on this day, one of which was reported twice in SPC's records, and another gustnado seen by us make at least the three. Verne and company picked up the day's last tornado on I-29 while heading south. Chris and I continued east on 90 into Minn to get further ahead of the advancing squall line which ultimately lead to us missing the day's biggest tornado.

Out gustnado was great, and while not technically a tornado, will go into the records as one. A strong circulation spun up southwest of Letcher as we took a well paved Bob's road as it crossed less than half a mile in front of us. That was the high point of the day which took me into a total of four states, starting from Nebraska and working our way through South Dakota, briefly stepping into the corner of Minnesota, then are last stop in Iowa where we bunked down for the night. We ran into Chris Collura off I-90 south of Kimball and he joined us for the trek through Dakota.

A wonderful third day to my trip with excellent close video of the gustnade which was spawned at the leading edge of the incoming line of storms. The video and stills are below.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o0Zma89cxg - Video of gustnado!

Kim Klockow and I started the day in York, NE, and headed west to Grand Island, where we met up with Mike Kruze and Geoff Fink and waited for several hours, hoping against hope for srn NE discrete supercells. Got fed up around 5 pm and blasted over to Wood River, where we watched as the line congealed. Raced out front and stopped ahead of a nice turbulent shelf for an hour or so, finally stopping in Aurora to let it overtake us at the truck stop off I-80. Observed a small gustnado in the field just across the street, and then enjoyed the view as the line raced overhead. Got some great mammatus and sunset shots shortly thereafter, and enjoyed the lightning show after dark.

All in all, a day that went from cautious optimism at 11 am, to pessimism at 4 pm, to a pleasant surprise at 8 pm. Just another chase day. :D
Chased in Nebraska today with Joe Nield (see his report above), Kim Klockow, and Geoff Fink. All four of us congregated at the Comfort Inn in Grand Island shortly before noon, and found a reliable wireless connection. We chose Grand Island because of its central location- there were good road options to go north, south, or west as needed. We also had not yet decided if we wanted to play the northern target in north-central NE and southern SD, or to remain in south-central NE. We had some debate on whether it was worth it to head to the northern target due to the more favorable upper level winds and earlier initiation. However once seeing how quickly the convection was becoming linear, we decided it wasn't worth the trip up US 281. We decided instead to wait for initiation farther south along the boundary, and held on to some glimmer of hope that there would be isolated cells to chase. Around 5 PM we left Grand Island and headed west to Wood River, where we intercepted several small cells that were well on their way to becoming linear.


By 6 PM the squall line was well formed, and we began a process of racing ahead of the line, stopping to take pictures while it caught up to us, and then racing ahead again. All along the way we observed numerous plumes of dust blowing along the ground, all of it straight-line. We continued staying just ahead of the line until reaching Aurora, NE, where we stopped at the Love's/Arby's at the freeway exit. From the parking lot of Love's we observed a brief gustnado in the field east of SR 14.

We ate dinner at Arby's while the squall line passed over us. Through the window we observed reasonably strong winds (though nothing damaging, I would estimate 40-50 MPH) and heavy rain for several minutes.

The highlight of the day happened after the squall line moved through. There was quite a bit of clearing behind the line, and with the backbuilding anvil, there was a spectacular display of mammatus at sunset. We were standing on a county road a few miles south of Aurora surrounded by spectacular lightning to the east, colorful mammatus overhead, and the setting sun to the west. It absolutely made the chase day. As night fell, we continued east along I-80 and stopped east of York to take lightning photos. All in all it was a very successful day considering the convection we had to work with.


Same report as Tony L except that Michael and I decided we would take the favorable I-29 south in front of the squall line and see what we could find. Just south of Bereford, SD in Union County 8:18pm CDT we drove right up on a large dusty tornado that developed right over the highway (where it tossed a 2000 gallon water tank). We pulled over and filmed it as it spun off to our east and then dissipated after 5 minutes or so and we were overtaken by the squall line. A nice little surprise non-supercellular tornado that seemed to have formed in the comma/forward bow of the squall-line. :)

>> Click here for full report <<


Developing tornado as seen looking southeast from I-29


Tornado at it's strongest, east of the interstate


Tornado about to dissipate and we are overtaken by the squall-line and we lose it in the rain!

>> Click here for full report <<
Watched the little cells struggle near Red Cloud NE all evening. Finally around 7 or so I figured I might as well go play with the line and find some photo ops(I hate going home empty handed and at 7 was well on my way). Got ahead of the line after getting in it somewhere east or se of Hastings. I kept thinking about the likely mammatus behind the line as well as the shelf structure ahead of it. The shelf was just too high based and I figured the view from behind the storms was likely to be more rewarding than the view ahead of them. So I flew back west at sunset hoping to clear the rain and have a view with some light left. Mid-way through I got a cool view of a shower ahead of the line from under the shelf. It was just cool looking as everything was orange and the shower's core was dark and falling ahead of this orange sky. Then it got windy. THEN I pull back on the highway and continue to fly west. It took a while but I finally got the view I was looking for. I have a lot of images from the night part but here are a few.






A full account and all the images at some later date. Time for sleep now.
Whew, just got home (OUN)... Gabe, Dan, Brandon, and I headed towards the KS/NE border today (see NOW/FCST thread I suppose). We sat just west of Belleville and Mankato for much of the late afternoon and early evening, watching storms try to persist but ultimately do little. Several updrafts were relatively persistent, but they were, largely, quite small and moved northeastward into NE. We kept hoping that we'd get a good southern-end supercell, but we never really saw any supercell structure at all with any of the updrafts. Several of them had nice, nearly rock-hard towers from time-to-time, but they looked to pulse a little. By 7pm, it was obvious that it just wasn't going to happen.
I made the long haul to Concordia Kansas hoping for a tail end charlie scenario because I have been storm deprived for about 11 days and dont see much hope on the horizon for Western North Texas or Western Oklahoma so I chanced it and got burned. I guess I did get some decent photogenic scenes with towers developing West of Concordia and Salina areas as the sun set but nothing to get too excited about. Looks like the cap was very strong in this area and dryline didnt have a good push further to the South.
I was going to go back to Wichita Falls and be home about 3:30 am or ....now lol. Wouldnt ya know it tho i get one of the few remaining rooms in Edmond ( a PGA golf thing in town) because I didnt want to risk the sleepy eyes syndrome and now I have gotten my second wind lol. Luckily checkout here is noon. I will probabaly stick around the OKC or over towards the Tulsa area this afternoon in case the front decides to fire off and why not.... There doenst appear to be anything worth chasing on the plains after today till.....MAYBE.....Sunday (Friday maybe high based stuff) or Monday? Hopefully we can get some Isolated Texas Panhandle sups starting next week. I am hestitant to dismiss the Memorial weekend totally as it is historic for big outbreaks and surprises.
This was my first chase to Northern Kansas and The chase terrain as you all know im sure is amazing. Too bad there wasnt much to chase. I was surprised how green it is up there. When you get normal rainfall It seems to do wonders. Wheat crops look good as well. Big grainy heads about 5 inches. If no major wind or hail storms hit it should be a good harvest. The harvesters are jsut now getting into the Western North Texas area and will be working their way North im sure.
Anyways chase today was not too good as far as storms but it did kinda help the SDS. (Storm Deprivation Syndrome) for those few who dont know :p.
Our 12-member group of primarily Virginia and North Carolina meteorology students chased north from Grand Island into northeast Nebraska and southeast South Dakota. It was a grungy day that reminded us a lot of chasing back east, but we did manage to follow one cell with some weak rotation and something of a wall cloud north and east of Niobrara, Nebraska. We ended the day north of Vermillion, South Dakota, letting the squall line wallop us as we watched it approach beside a field. We also saw the dusty gustnado that moved nearby toward I-29 to the east.

Here's a shot of the nicely tiered shelf cloud approaching us on South Dakota 19 north of Vermillion.


More on our trip in my weather blog at Roanoke.com.
My experience pretty much echoes everyone else's. I chased C NE to NE NE, Burwell to US20/US81 intersection N of Norfolk, then down 81 to Norfolk as sunset approached. I saw some pretty cool updrafts ingesting quite a bit of scud a few times, but the stacked nature of the wind fields just didn't allow for anything truly discrete.

At day's end, I found a hill E of Norfolk and caught this (New photo technique...get your door frame between the lens and the sun to keep the sun from washing out the rest of the pic, LOL!):

(click for larger versions)

Jay, Stacie, and I targetted the area around Phillipsburg by mid-late afternoon where surface convergence appeared to be maximized. We tried to stay as far south as we could as it appeared most of Nebraska would erupt in too many storms. It turns out that indeed happened. The problem was, storms in our target area were developing out ahead of the boundary layer convergence or the remnant Pacific cold front itself. We monitored trends in radar and the sky, and it just wasn’t clear which storm was the best to intercept. Finally, around the town of Guide Rock, we stopped to let the atmosphere hopefully straighten itself out in hopes that a coherent severe storm could evolve.

We watched a small storm approach us from the southwest near Guide Rock both visually and on radar, which had up to 65 VIL at times. As the storm got closer, we could hear a faint hail roar. We continued east about 5 to 7 more miles to stay ahead of this marginally severe storm. We stopped a couple times east of Guide Rock to photograph the structure of the updraft of this storm, which was somewhat respectable. It appeared marginally supercellular-ish when it was between Guide Rock and Nelson…to the southeast of the main developing SVR line forming on the cold front. We went north on Hwy 14 and our storm became worse looking visually. We met up with Matt Crowther and Jim Leonard north of Nelson and continued east on Hwy 4.

The rest of the chase just sucked.. at least for me. Storms on the cold front began to get much better organized to our west-northwest. We decided to hang out for awhile at this location on Hwy 4 somewhere not too far west of Davenport. The light was getting low, so I decided to set the tripod up for photography. Inflow winds were gusting to about 30-40mph from the southeast… which was promising! I left my tripiod un-attended for about 20 to 30 seconds or so out of reach. You can guess what happened next. I don’t have my heavy duty Manfrotto tripod with me, but more of a lighter-weight landscape photographer’s tripod legs. Anyway, the tripod fell forward, lens-first onto the gravel road. I completely busted my 18-70mm lens. The body is okay, though thankfully. So that was about a $300 lapse in judgement not paying attention with very strong winds. It’s a good thing we are in a fairly decent sized city (and I have some supplemental cash) so I can replace this lens right away. I missed out on some decent low light structure shots as we were driving north on Hwy 81 in Southern Fillmore County…. oh well. It’s only Day 1….

Once linear mode began to take over during late after, I figured that was it for torndo potential. However, we were caught by surprise after 2 well pronounced forward-flank mesos produced 1 tornado in Madison County, NE, and a second in Stanton County. The first near Meadow Grove started as a large plume of dust and appeared gustnado-ish, however, once some dust cleared and visibility was better, it was obviously a large dusty tube with at least a weak parent meso. Sirens were blaring in Meadow Grove as we blasted east, as the tornado raced north and dissipated.

Dusty tornado (low contrast)
Contrast enhanced to show tube from ground to cloud base

The second tornado developed near Pilger (Stanton County). As it moved quickly north of Hwy 275 we began driving east to our north option and an occluded meso with a smooth cone funnel hanging from it persisted for about 5 minutes as it raced away from us.

I'm currently in the process of getting video grabs to OAX, they were a bit pessimistic of the tornado report, espeically with all the reports of gustnadoes this day (understandable). The stills show an obvious tube from ground to cloud, and it was even more obvious in person. We did witness numerous strong gustnadoes as well, but are convinced there were 2 bona fide tornadoes.
i chased from Plainview NE all the way back to Wayne NE, heard some reports of tornadoes and from others accounts i see there were, i ended up stopping in Otoe Co at 3 am ;-) yes im very tired but i will post some digi pics and video stills when i get time later this evening.. i did see some gustnadoes.. and at one point i could of swore i was looking at a tornado, but after reviewing video it was a breif gustnado but had the characteristics of a weak tornado( ouskirts of Wayne NE) and one the way back it was a never ending rain show, i mean literally 2 hrs of staright rain, and lightning flashes and the occasional c2g hits.. a few let me know dont stick your head out the window while parked... pretty fun chase since its been quiet for a while... congrats to all who bagged the tornadoes. B)( VID CAPS LATER )






Sorry if images are large something is screwy with this computer i had the size set to 267/200 so i apologize if they need to be resized ughh!
Wow! Incredible day! I saw 2 of the 3 tornadoes reported: too bad they were obvious gustnadoes. I do enjoy the company of all the chasers out in the field these days, but I don't care too much for the false tornado reports. There were very strong winds along the leading edge of parts of the squall line yesterday, and strong photogenic gustnadoes developed as a result, but no tornadoes.

Saw some nice lightning after dark from the back side of the line.

Wow! Incredible day! I saw 2 of the 3 tornadoes reported: too bad they were obvious gustnadoes. I do enjoy the company of all the chasers out in the field these days, but I don't care too much for the false tornado reports. There were very strong winds along the leading edge of parts of the squall line yesterday, and strong photogenic gustnadoes developed as a result, but no tornadoes.

Saw some nice lightning after dark from the back side of the line.


Yeah, saw several gustnadoes in NE. Thanks Simon for pointing out a problem. It's amazing chasers can mistake a gustnado (along an outflow-dominated relatively high-based shelf cloud) for a tornado. I guess in a slow chase season, anything that rotates with dust gets some excited.

I would hope those that did observe the gustnadoes that were reported as "tornadoes" would have the courtesy to inform the local NWS so they don't go down in storm data. Just a thought...

Near the KS/NE border about 40-50 miles south of Hastings


I sat in Hastings with a few good chaser friends at Pete McConnell's house most of the afternoon, waiting for something to go up in the "southern" target area... We decided to eventually take off to the south of Hastings, and end up pulling over to watch this at-one-time crappy storm decide to make a nice appearance as it propgated eastward and strengthened -- and eventually gave us outflow winds of 60-70mph. It was pretty cool pulling over, and having like 20-30 other chasers eventually pull over to the same spot as well (many also friends)... Fun day!

High LCLs (as a result of extremely large dewpoint deficits and low boundary layer RH) thanks to the strong afternoon insolation mixing out our low-level moisture during the afternoon, and relatively-weak low-level shear played roles in screwing our convection over today, and eventually we saw an upscale-growth from weak multicellular convection to an organized large squall line.
I knew the “What is a tornado?â€￾ debate would start soon.

Glossary of Meteorology
Tornado -- 1. A violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, either pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.

“I have some anecdotal evidence that a gustnado can evolve into a true tornado [Dave Blanchard, personal communication], but such an evolution is almost certainly rare. Whereas some true tornadoes might initially resemble a gustnado at the start, I certainly would find it easy to deny gustnadoes (as I have defined them) the status of true tornadoes. Unfortunately, it may be hard to train folks to be able to distinguish them from other vortices occurring in conjunction with deep, moist convection. I certainly have encountered a lot of different notions about gustnadoes, even among meteorologists, much less the lay public. There seems to be a disturbing trend to refer to all tornadoes occurring on a gust front as "gustnadoes" whereas I have tried, apparently without success, to confine the term to the shallow vortices on gust fronts that seem not to extend as far as cloud base.â€￾ Charles A. Doswell III[/b]

Yesterday I observed numerous gustnadoes and two non-mesocyclone tornadoes in SE South Dakota. The first tornado was 5 miles NE of Tyndell, SD and lasted 14 minute.



<div align="center">VIDEO CLIP</div>

The second tornado occurred from 6:22 to 6:29 PM 3 miles SE of Menno, SD.


Scott Currens