7/03/05 Reports: Central Plains

Apr 1, 2004
I was on the storm in Reno county Kansas and got one tornado. I was chasing up North yesterday so I spent the night in Nebraska last night. I over slept this morning and didn't wake up until 11. I did my forecasting as quickly as possible and realized central Kansas was going to be my new target so I had to haul butt to get down there. I got on the first tornado warned storm near McPherson. It had a low base and looked pretty good. About 15 minutes later it started to fall apart. I checked radar and thought that the storm to the SW near Hutchinson would have some tornado potential. The storm was moving NE at the time and I was hoping that it would get rooted in the outflow boundary that the McPherson storm was tracking down or I figured the McPherson storm had put out a nice OFB when it collapsed. The storm went tornado warned when I was about halfway to it (15 minutes away). I intercepted the storm by Hutchinson. Here is a picture of the storm about 10 minutes after I got on it.


Shortly after this picture, it became very obvious (from where I was a couple miles ahead of it) that the storm scale low was rapidly developing/intensifying directly West of me. You could see the RFD surging forward and you could see some low level clouds getting pulled into the occlusion. I was on the top of a hill and could see a couple cars about two miles West of me (I would assume they were chasers) and one truck North of me a mile. Other than those three cars, I didn't see any one within 3-4 miles of me so I seriously doubt anyone other than the local(guy parked North of me) and I saw the tornado. The people to the West would have had rain blocking their view. I moved North up the road a mile to get in close to where it looked like the occlusion was. Here is a picture right before I moved.


When I was about halfway down the mile section driving North I saw a rope tornado form rapidly and touch down West of the road. When I turned the corner there was a local parked on the side of the road. I asked him if he saw the tornado and he said there were two of them. After that I saw several more skinny rope funnels. Like Philip said in the other thread, there was a broad area of rotation and it was tough to tell what was going on sometimes. I never got any video of the tornado because I was driving at the time and it didn't last very long. I was just worried about gettig out of its way. It was only about 200 yards West of me and it was moving very quickly to the East. Here is a video grab from one of the other funnels. This was very similar to the tornado and all the other funnels. They were all skinny ropes.



This storm had probably the fastest vertical motion I have ever seen when there wasn't a tornado on the ground. It was pretty incredible. I kept on getting pounded by the gust front which was packing very strong winds. At different times throughout the evening I was in winds that I think would have been over 70mph. I never got out the anemometer so I don't know exactly how strong they were. I checked SPC storm reports and saw that there were 4 tornado reports out of this storm. I could have missed one or two, but I am going to have to call BS on 4 tornadoes. The gust front kicked up dust at times and I saw one gustnado. It was a very tough storm to chase. Lots of wind and rain and the tornado and funnels were wrapped up in rain. I was pretty pumped to get another tornado and the funnels were nice too. The vertical motion during a 15 minute span of time starting with the tornado provided the best show of the night for me. The vertical motion was intense and it was really incredible to watch. The rope funnels would form very rapidly and would twist and turn before falling apart as quickly as they appeared. There was a point around the time when I was seeing funnels when you could hear the wind. It didn't really sound like a tornado, it was more of a jet engine and a whistling sound. It was the first time I had ever heard that before. It was a great chase and it was close to home which made it even better.
IA may not be central plains. But it was on the only cell in Iowa north of Mason City. I had a few really good rotating wall clouds. It cycled through its phases rather fast it started about 6:00 pm and completly disapated by 8:00PM

Around 6:36PM i witnessed a rope funnel that was very hard to see. There was a short lived debris cloud under this for about 5 seconds non of which you can see on tape. The Rope its self is not worthy of any video grabs. You can atleast see it as the video plays. That was the first tornado I have ever reported.

I was trying to get some video grab's to post but there pointless. You can't see much of anything. This had a nice vault region. Very supercellular looking but well it only lasted 2 hours so it was a nice little single cell that produced.
Dick McGowan and I jetted to the Wichita area yesterday afternoon intercepting the tornado warned storm just as it began to go linear. Before that though we observed a funnel cloud or two but the real treat of the day was this nice shelf cloud. The lightning with that storm was just amazing with constant cloud to ground lightning. Apparently the winds were nice as well although we didn't get to experience them.

Taken near Wichita
Wow what a day! After being continuously frustrated throughout May and June and not seeing a tornado since April, yesterday finally paid off. My chase partner Chris Foltz and I arrived on the Great bend storm around 1:30PM and followed it to near McPherson, KS. When we realized that it was dieing out we shot south and west for Hutchinson for another cell that was starting to look great. About half way there it went torn warned and we stayed with it until we got to the west side of Wichita and decided to call it a day since it began to gust out and we didn’t want to fight the city traffic. The supercell structure yesterday was absolutely amazing, some of the best I have ever seen. The rotation inside these storms was very intense as well as the lightning. I was a bit afraid to get out of the vehicle due to the continuous cloud to ground lightning. I have by doubts about some of the torn reports myself due to the numerous areas of dust I saw being kicked up by rfd winds, but this thing was very HP and rotating like crazy so I won’t be quick to dismiss them all. We managed to catch the tornado that touched down near Colwich, KS at 6:31PM. It lasted about 2-3 min and just seemed to kick up some dirt, I’m pretty sure that it didn’t hit anything. It was finally good to have a good successful day…

Here are some pictures:
This is the first cell near McPherson.

These next couple of pictures are from the second storm.



This is a picture of the torn.

Thanks again to Mike Johnston and Marcus Opitz for the nowcasting. Wow, what a powerful storm, and we avoided all of the hail and most of the wind. Here is a shot from the other side. We also drove through this; visibility being 3 feet for about a minute.

It was very long night for me. I moved up to Wellington Kansas and simply waited for the storm to move my way. Had a nice conversation with one of the Deputies in Sumner County. Listened to Spotter reports of high winds in the West Wichita area but it seems they basically ignored the storm forming to the south, where I was. As the storm moved over me I experienced about 66 mph winds on the leading edge. I also had a rotating wall cloud just inside the gust area that lasted about 5 minutes. I knew it was getting undercut by the high cold winds, but there was some really impressive movement for a while.

I moved to a point about 4 east of Wellington and listen to reports coming in the OK/KS border of even more high winds and heavy rain. I never did hear very much in the way of hail though. Again, I let the strom overtake me and made the mad dash to get out in front of it again. I cut south on a paved county road to Ashton, KS and again, watched some amazing movemt with the clouds. Though there were several very short lived rotations, no funnels nor even anything that could be called a 'gustnado' Lots of dust from various fields made for some very ominous, but harmless dust drafts as the leading edge kicked up the speed. These were very black since farmers are burning off the wheat chaff.

I haven't mentioned the lightning. This was absolutely tremendous! Nearly constant cloud to ground strikes in the vicinity of the embedded cells. In fact, that how I watched for these areas as they were much more active with lightning, than areas between the embedded cells.

Anyway, from here, moved to Arkansas City and then cut south again to just south of Chilocco Indian school. Here it was pretty dark at this point though there was enough lightning to see what was going on. Again, high wind event overtook me and I scooted to Newkirk where I finally ran into some small hail. About nickel sized it certainly had my attention banging on the truck roof. From here out to Kaw City. Here I saw what appeared to be two well defined wall clouds moving in a southerly direction. I never could tell if there was any rotation with this pair, but they were certainly well defined and very visible for almost 20 minutes. Washunga Bay camping area (north of Kaw City) was getting hit hard with winds in the 60 mph range and was having some real trouble keeping the truck from bouncing off guard rails.

From here I moved back into the Ponca City area where we are experiencing heavy rains and 45 mph wind gusts. I needed gas at this point but couldn't get into a station anywhere as they were packed up with people trying to keep their cars from getting hail dings. BTW, we were having some dime to nickel sized hail at the time, but nothing that would have hurt a car. I finally did find a place to get gas, but got soaked by the wind driven wind.

Round two was well on the way....

Got a small respit here and moved off towards Medford, OK. I could see as I approached Medford, that the Squall line I trying to intercept was moved much faster than I had anticipated. It got me square about 4 miles east of Medford. Here I found a field cutoff where I could get off the highway and just hunkered down for the ride. 88 mph winds were what I measured though I suspect gusts that didn't record were higher. After getting slammed here for a bit, I decided I better make a break and headed back to the Blackwell area. Bad plan. Visibility about 20 feet and sustained winds of 65 mph made driving more than difficult. Add to this mix, almost contat CG lightning very close and power line flashes all around. well, let's say that I was still spitting out seat upholstry this morning.

I hunkered down again in Deer Creek. Where again, I was pummeled with winds, small hail and heavy rain. The mistake here was staying in the twonship. I was accosted by a 2X4 about 3 feet long that bounced off my roof, to hood then on down the highway. A transformer decided to take that particular moment to blow out quite loudly and with a very specatular flash and a power line dropped right beside me. This motivated me to move yet again. Moving into the Blackwell area and I-35 and still expereincing sustained winds of 60 mph and gusts in the 70 range, I counced yet more power lines. I didn't see them until I was on top of them Sparks everywhere and I believe I needed to clean out my shorts very soon after. Blackwell was experiencing winds to 100+ mph and lost the Coomunication tower atop the Police Station and the whole town was dark.

Again, I was prety much behind the line throughout the rest of the morning and very much the same story all around. Very exciting, a few mistakes made, but I did survive.
I got to leave Tulsa shortly after 7:30 PM and headed west to work my way to the stuff moving into Oklahoma. Got off the Cimmaron TPK on 77 and headed North. Thoughts in my head had me dreaming of making it to Wakita to get a lightning shot with the water tower but in reality I stayed with the Kay County stuff.

i backtracked to hwy 156 and headed east to avoid going straight into what was in front of me. From there I headed to Ponca City watching some lowerings to the north of Ponca.

Went on into Ponca and topped off the gas tank and headed back west on hwy 60 to a storm that was coming from the Blackwell area(not the wind maker one ) This one had more suspicious lowerings



After that one I headed east and followed an area that was non-stop lightning. I then headed north on hwy 11 towards Shidler . Heard the reports on the radio (John Diel)of high winds from a storm coming through Blackwell and then the warnings , while setting watching lightning. Decided to head north to Shidler to hopefully avoid the worst winds.

After the winds passed where I was in Shidler I headed back south on hwy 11 only to run right into it again a few mile south. I found a turn off so I could turn my vehicle into the wind , just in case. After this episode passed I continued to hwy 60 . and on back to Tulsa. i never did catch back up to the gust front.

Wind videohttp://stormdriven.com/sitebuildercontent/...0305wind512.wmv
W. of Ponca Video

300 plus miles and another after 3 am return home, glad monday was a holiday and not much electric was out in Tulsa so no calls into work.

Thanks to 104.7 for some in a way nowcasting . If your in N.C. Okla or S.C.Kansas tune them in and listen for fellow Stormtrack member John Diel

More Pics Here http://www.stormdriven.com/07032005pics.html