Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bust, War Wound, & End of Trip 1

Today started off at the Budget King motel in Salina, KS. I have to say that the stay was not that bad considering how cheap we got the room. Anyway, it was evident at the beginning of the day that we were going to have to head south and west to catch nice convection during the day. Our initial target was Greensburg, KS although we ended up just east of Greensburg in Pratt, KS so we could grab some food and some internet data. As you may remember, Greensburg was the town that was devastated by an EF-5 tornado on May 4th, 2007. We began heading towards Greensburg after noticing that an outflow boundary from early morning convection was sagging southwest through our area. It was a nice cool down, but we knew we wanted to catch the initiating storms to our southwest and then follow them as they interacted with this mesoscale boundary. These storms were again outflow dominant for the most part, as well as large hail producers. In fact, while chasing the only good looking storm on radar back towards Pratt, we were munched by the core of another developing storm. This was by far and away the largest hail I've ever encountered... We were pounded by hail anywhere from about penny to egg size. The vehicle sustained a small windshield crack just above the drivers side, as well as other small dents on the roof. Fortunately for us, we were able to get out of the large hail core and head east of Prat and eventually called it quits in Wichita, KS. Numerous chasers stuck in the hail core behind us reported tennis to baseball sized hail in the location that we were just able to get by. Unfortunately, many of those chasers suffered broken windshields and windows that immediately ended their chase. Overall, a great chascation with a cooperative weather pattern and some great supercells as we will call an end to trip 1 while a ridge dominates the central plains for a couple days. Will post pictures of the war wound tomorrow, and unfortunately we do not have pictures of the large hail because we were trying to get out of it!
Initial Convection...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Outflow + Scud = No Tornadoes!

Last night we camped at Cedar Bluff State Park with about 10,000 little bugs that looked like ticks. I'm not sure exactly what they were, but I can tell you they were very annoying. After cleaning up camp, we migrated to back to the headquarters this year (Hays) and soaked up some data as well as some Sonic breakfast and Arby's lunch. Mmmm...healthy! While choosing a chase target in Hays, we sighted a small storm on radar developing off to the west of were we had just been camping the previous night. Around 12:30 P.M. this storm became severe warned, and 2 radar scans later, tornado warned. We were in very good position to intercept this storm, in fact, we were one of very few chasers of the many in the plains this week on this initial storm. In short, this storm produced a very picturesque wall cloud and very intense inflow. We got caught behind this storm after photographing the most beautiful inflow band I have ever witnessed. While behind this storm, we were munched by quarter to golf ball size hail. I was amazed we didn't break the windshield or sustain any damage to the vehicle! Overall the day was marked by outflow dominant storms and low hanging scud that prompted sherrifnadoes and eye catching structures that you swore would go tornadic. Tomorrow will be another chase day as our chascation has been marked by 1 slight, 4 moderates, and 1 high risk from the Storm Prediction Center. I think we picked the right week :)
Beautiful wall cloud
Golfball hail anyone?

Inflow band

Friday, May 23, 2008

Frustrating day!

We awoke to a great severe weather set-up across west central KS and headed back to Scott City, KS after staying in Phillipsburg last night. After a PDS tornado watch was issued, we were able to get on the first storm that initiated near Dighton, KS. I have to say, we have been making very good decisions as far as initiation is concerned. This storm produced a photogenic supercell with attendant wall cloud, but just couldn't develop enough low level rotation for a tornado. After drifting north all the way to Wakeeny, KS with this storm we learned about a tornadic supercell that was crossing I-70 just to the west of Wakeeny. This storm produced several tornadoes and I have already seem some great pictures from other chasers of what appears to be a large wedge tornado. Overall, we were basically bouncing back and forth between supercells and ended up not seeing a tornado. The storm we followed to the north had LCL's of nearly 100 m and was very hard to tell what was going on. We later found out this storm was producing a rain wrapped tornado. Oh well! Looks like we will camp in KS tomorrow and sit out the chase in eastern NE and western IA tomorrow and try to catch some storms in southern KS on Sunday. Frustrating day, but to be expected every once in a while...

Severe thunderstorm near Scott City, KS.
Intense inflow sucks up dust from a field.
Funnel cloud just north of Scott City, KS.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Long haul pays off!

We awoke in Goodland, KS to a classic climatological severe weather outbreak set-up in which a warm front was rapidly lifting northward, while a dryline was mixing eastward. We decided to head south to Scott City, KS around 12:15 P.M. and noticed the first reflectivity echo starting to form just south of our target. After gassing up and realizing the show was going to start early, we played with an outflow dominant cell just to the east of Scott City just before noticing that a cell was quickly becoming organized to the south of the original storm. This cell had a beautiful wall cloud and ended up producing a tornado in southwest Gove county. A funnel was extending to the ground and we were able to see attendant dust clouds at surface for a solid 5 minuets. We were playing catch up to this storm for most of the day, and ended up watching it cycle many times before calling it quits in Phillipsburg, KS. Overall a great day, and looks like we will have another chance to catch supercells along the dryline in either KS or NE later day.
First tornado in SW Gove county KS.
Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Moisture Please!

Tuesday was largely a travel day as we drove nearly 900 miles to Scottsbluff, NE. We camped near Scottsbluff National Monument which I have to say was pretty nice compared to what I was expecting. We awoke in the middle of the night to the lawn sprinklers shooting water into our tent! Argh! After waking up in the morning we dried out the tent and headed south to Fort Morgan, CO. The first storm initiated around 2:00 PM and we were on it shortly thereafter. It was very high based as many storms in these situations tend to be. We were hoping for some high plains magic with low dewpoints, but unfortunately the upslope flow just didn't have enough moisture to realize any highly organized supercells. I was pleased that we picked a good target and managed to get on the storms that looked the best on radar. We are currently staked out at the Holiday Inn Express in Goodland, KS and will be anxiously awaiting what appears to be a significant severe weather outbreak on Thursday; or so we hope!
Some high based, moisture lacking crapvection.