We started the day in Lincoln, NE (Fairfield Inn) with an understanding that there would likely be ongoing convection in/near our area. This essentially meant that we would have to drift southwestward to play a potential outflow boundary leftover from these morning thunderstorms. After watching a fairly unimpressive elevated storm near Fairbury, KS, we booked it west toward Smith Center, KS, where towers were rapidly developing on the nose of steeper lapse rate air advecting from the southwest. We didn't really expect the tornado threat to be too high this day as temperature and dewpoint spreads were unfavorable for tornadogenesis. However, we were treated with nice supercell structure near Beloit, KS by late afternoon. This storm had a "I'm about to do something nasty" appearance, and we were careful not to get to close this HP monster. As we tried to stay ahead of the storm (now heading south on RT. 14), a barrage of some of the most intense CG lightning I have ever seen began to bombard us from all quadrants. It was too dangerous to get out of the vans and try to take pictures but I assure you it was something out of a sci-fi movie.
As these storms began to congeal into a mesoscale convective system, we did our best to stay ahead of them by driving south on I-135. We periodically stopped along the way for quick picture grabs, but the complex was easily keeping up with our interstate speed. We found shelter along a sturdy brick building in Witchita, KS, before finally letting the complex move overhead. Dang! This line of storms snapped a 10" diameter tree branch right in our view (see video soon) and caused numerous power flashes. We estimate that the winds were roughly 70 m.p.h. at this time, but it was hard to get exact measurements with so much surface friction in the downtown area. Overall, not a bad day!
Overnighting in Wichita, KS.
|About as close as this storm could come to tornadogenesis|
|Near Beloit, KS, looking west|
|Interesting shelf features|
|CG lightning as storm begins to surge to the southeast|