Welcome to my storm chase page
Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by storms and severe weather. After graduation from college in 1974 I attended my first spotter training provided by the National Weather Service and began to call in reports of severe weather in my area. A few years later I became a weather watcher for KSN TV channel 3 in Wichita and attended their spotter training. I began to chase storms in the mid 1980s because I wanted to see tornadoes but no tornadoes were occurring around my fixed spotting site. Up until 2004 I had caught only 3 tornadoes, but caught up with 9 in 2004 and 3 in 2005. In the early “dry” years that I chased I did gain experience and my chasing has evolved to the present time where I am a storm reporter for the KSAL radio group in Salina as well as spotting for KSN in Wichita. When storm season arrives, I will post accounts and pictures from my chases.
© Henry Diehl
Best catch of 2004. Southern Russell County, Kansas. July 7th.
February 20, storm chasers convention at Denver.
Liz and I just returned from chaser con. Highlights was conversations Dr. Karen Kosiba and Josh Wurman about the role of the rear flank downdraft and forward flank downdraft has on tornado formation per data they glean from the DOWS. Dr. Wurman and Kosiba command the two DOW trucks so they have the first hand information. Dr. Greg Forbs of the Weather Channel said in his presentation that he thought it would be "normal to active" severe year this year. Jim LaDue explained the F-scale changes coming in 2019. Tim Marshall costumed up as the Tin Man Oz theme to his 2016 chases which is always hilarious. Tom Dolan dissected the Niles to Chapman tornado in his presentation. It was soon apparent that the chasers considered the Dodge City tornado outbreak as the most significant in the US last year, with Niles/Chapman a second place. Friend Tom Dolan from California brought his wife, Kathy, along and she and Liz spent time together during presentations. Liz also helps Roger and Karen Hill with chaser con reservations Friday evening and Saturday morning. I saw lots of old friends made in past years and it was good to see John and Shawna Davies again. Pictures below.
Picture of me and others talking to Dr. Wurman about tornado formation.
A group picture of Drs. Wurman, Kosiba and me.
Tim Marshall making his grand entrance as Tin Man.
Tim beginning his account of the Niles to Chapman tornado. He said that that tornado experience was his best in all his years of chasing.
Tim's funny wizard of Oz Jeopardy question during his presentation.
Tim's positions on the Niles to Chapman tornado. He was driving a scout vehicle with 5 probes but couldn't deploy due to safety considerations.
Friend Tom Dolan beginning his presentation of the Niles to Chapman tornado.
Tom, showing the inner workings of the Niles to Chapman tornado.
Tom's picture of a mangled car done in by the Niles to Chapman tornado"
Group picture of Tom Dolan, his wife Kathy and Liz and I. I met him several years ago at Chaser Con. when he set at my table and now is a friend we look forward seeing every year. That is the essence of Chaser Con., making new friends and renewing past acquaintance.
Feb. 23, storm spotter training, Salina, Kansas.
I attended the spotter training this night. Chance started his presentation with a review of last Oct. Kipp tornado event. He gave KSAL credit for warning the public before the NWS issued a warning. The forecasters at Wichita could not resolve on radar what was going on at the ground. He used this event show the importance of spotters as he started his presentation. I thought this year's presentation was one of his better presentations.
Chance beginning his presentation.
A slide from Chance's presentation about the Kipp tornado in Saline county.
April 15,severe warnings in a severe watch. Hail in Lincoln, Ellsworth and Saline counties.
SPC had a slight risk for central Kansas for a few days. It was a moderate cape with just enough shear for severe thunderstorms. I prepared the truck in the afternoon, then went to Salina to get turn signal lights for the back module that were not working. I topped off fuel and started the chase from Salina. Storms were ongoing up in the Concordia area extending down southwest where in our area west, they would build and die. I made my first correct chase decision just north of Salina. Cell towers were building very well just northeast of Minneapolis. I intended to chase them but saw a small cell right on I-70 north of Ellsworth. I turned west on '70 to close with this storm. As if sensing I was coming, the storm said "sucker, I'm dying". Just before I got to the storm area, it ramped back up and showed a red center on my laptop. This center was just west of highway 14, a few miles north of '70. I got in line with the heaviest part of the storm receiving heavy rain and some pea hail. At this time the storm was severe warned, southern Lincoln county. I repositioned and ran into a mile swath of dime to quarter sized hail that almost covered highway 14. I gave the National Weather Service as well as KSN info reports. I did that all evening. I think my reports helped the forecasters in their warning decisions. I had hail three different times on highway 14 as I drove back and forth in a roughly 4 mile area. The severe warning was extended to Saline county and KSAL started coverage which I joined live. I repositioned east at exit 233 driving through quarter hail again. The storm tried to form a hook but never could get that act accomplished. Cells kept forming back in the highway 14 area where I had been earlier. The cells trained over the same places so a flash flood warning was issued. After that, the thunderstorm line started to move southeast away from the I-70 area and weaken. All severe warnings were dropped around 9:45 so I went home feeling pretty good about my chase and info calls.
This was the picture of the storm I was heading to on I-70 westbound from Salina. After this picture was taken, the storm weakened but then rebuilt more robustly than before and became the dominate super cell in central Kansas.
Lightning started this grass fire south of I-70. I also saw my first lightning strike on a wind generator.
This picture was taken around the time the storm tried to hook. A rounded shallow cloud feature south of the precip. area. There was not enough upper shear to support any more development.
April 19, severe warnings in a severe watch.
SPC had a slight risk out for central Kansas for many days. There was a lot of talk, off and on, about landspout tornados for central Kansas. Around 4 pm. in the afternoon a severe watch was issued for all of central Kansas. I loaded the truck and then Pastor Kent came out to ride with me. We headed west, then north to north of Lincoln where storms were building. Soon they were severe warned and back built into Ellsworth county. A call to the National Weather service indicated that the storms had out ran the boundry so little chance for landspouts. We dropped back south to Lincoln, then back to I-70 as a large hail core nailed Lincoln. Kody, who was behind us got caught up in serious hail that banged his vehichle up. A really nasty storm developed in northwest Ellsworth county and was tail-end-Charlie for a while. The storm tried to hook, but didn't get the job done. The severe warning was extended to Saline county and KSAL went continuous coverage. Kody took the Ellsworth storm while I sped ahead of the Lincoln hail core, setting up north of Glendale. I wanted to get between Salina and the oncoming hail core so to tell Salina what was coming. The storm weakened as it passed over us so Salina was not so much threatened. All this time hail reports came in from Ellsworth from the super-cell there. We drove to Brookville then west to intercept the Ellsworth storm. Just outside of Ellsworth we saw lots of hail in the ditch, but it was small. We then punched the core of this storm north of Kanopolis dam. Just blinding rain and dime hail was encountered. I kept giving info reports to KSAL's live coverage. We finally set up at Marquette and let the core pass over. A wall cloud/updraft area was spotted by Pastor on his side of the truck. It had weakened by this time as well as the entire storm so we had no severe to report. The warnings for Saline county expired so we went home. High lights was meeting Mikey Gribble from Wichita, a very well known chaser for channel 12 as well as a really cool updraft feature that pastor saw. Lots of driving and reporting about the storms---not much excitement.
Picture of one of the first rain/hail cores to develop. Soon after this picture, this storm was severe warned.
As time went on, the storms back built south, including the Ellsworth super cell.
Picture of a updraft area/wall cloud that pastor saw on the Ellsworth storm. There was rapid motion upwards but not much twist with it. Really cool to watch though.
Kody's picture of the Ellsworth county super cell. This storm became the dominant storm for the next hour or so.
Radar reflectivity shot of the hail core ready to smack Ellsworth.
Picture of portion of the Ellsworth county shelf cloud. There was no wind reports from this storm though.
May 16, my first tornado of the season.
SPC had a slight risk for central Kansas for many days, then upgraded to an enhanced risk in their morning outlook. Southwest Kansas to the Texas panhandle had an even higher risk for tornados. Looking at the models showed storms moving from the Ok. Texas panhandles northeast into southwest/central Kansas. Storms fired off the dry line in the panhandles and became tornado warned. Other storms formed around but mostly east of Dodge City and became severe warned. I watched all this on radar at home. What fooled me all through the evening was the storms actually moved more northernly instead of northeast as the models said. When the severe warned storms moved to the edge of central Kansas, I headed west on I-70 to intercept. I drove to Russell, then south to Hoisington, punching through a severe storm but nothing severe happened. I gave the NWS Wichita a call about this and thinking the storms to the south would move northeast, I drove east on highway 4 to Claflin. I then drove north to Ellsworth to get ahead of the storms. For some reason the whole broken line of storms weakened and no warnings were in affect. Only a storm down in the Greensburg area had a warning. This storm hooked and became tornado warned. So, I waited at Ellsworth to see where this storm would move to, if it would weaken like the storms north of it did and how long the tornado warning would remain. The NWS kept extending the tornado warning northward. When Barton county was warned I decided to head south back to Claflin again. Watching the radar showed the storm getting HP messy and again I thought the warning would be dropped but it didn't. All this time I was feeling blah from picking up a stomach bug attending many graduation parties. As the storm moved northwest of Great Bend, I turned back on highway 4 and drove west to Hoisington. At this time, the storm didn't look very robust on radar but the tornado warning was extended farther north. Clearing Claflin, I could see ragged protrusions on the far south side of the rain free base. Then I could see a wall cloud a little farther north and what I thought was a precip. shaft extending out of it. It was around sunset so darkness made spotting from a distance tough. As I approached Hoisington visibility got a little better and with the wall cloud just west of town, it looked like the precip shaft was actually a large tornado. I then saw a rope funnel drop almost to the ground. It was just south of the larger tornado. I called the NWS reporting the funnel I was sure of and the possibly of a larger tornado with the storm. Then I reached Hoisington and heard the tornado sirens going. I called KSN TV and passed that info along with my funnel sighting. I wanted to take the Russell highway north to follow the storm but the police blocked my way. It was some what surreal to see people standing outside of their houses in Hoisington, looking west. Emergency vehicles going everywhere lights and sirens and the deputy who blocked my way said "you need to go back east, the tornado is coming"! I'm thinking "Dude, the tornado is 5 miles north and moving away." I didn't press the issue and turned around and went back to Claflin, then home and walked into the house and piled into bed. Today, I heard that the NWS rated the tornado as E-F-3 with a 27 mile damage track. The track ended northwest of Hoisington, so I really saw the tornado as it passed west of town.
Picture of the first series of storms to move through Hoisington.
As the tornado warned storm moved past Hoisington, I tried to snap a picture through the windshield at the storm when it was clear of trees and buildings. I know the picture is blurred, but I wanted to show the late evening visibility. I was just east of town a ways when this picture was snapped.
May 18, high risk, wind damage in the Salina area.
SPC upgraded southwest Kansas and western Ok. to a high risk in their overnight outlook update. They maintained it today. Around 3 pm. PDS tornado watches were issued from northwest Texas to northeast Kansas. A warm front was supposed to lift through central Kansas and a dry line was to move through western Ok. I think the surface and upper lows didn't move as fast east as forecasters thought it would. So, the warm front never really made it to the I-70 corridor mitigating robust tornado development here in central Kansas. Storms began on OK along the dry line then storms developed northeast of Wichita, extending west almost to Dodge City. Lane came out and we took off southwest where a storm exploded south of Great Bend. As we headed south from Ellsworth, storms were tornado warned east of Larned, then just south of Great Bend. I was in the Cheyenne Bottoms area and didn't want to punch right into a tornado so we back-tracked to Claflin to Hoisington then south to Great Bend splitting between the two tornado warned storms. During this time the storms were moving slowly to the north northeast. We got on the back side of these storms, out of the rain and into better visibility. We saw nothing important as we followed them northward. Soon the tornado warnings were extended northeastward and included 3 storms. Also the storms sped up to 35-40 mph. We were back into the Claflin area again when our chase got screwed up. We had turned on highway 4 eastbound when we heard of a tornado sighting just west of Claflin. A sheriff deputy screamed by us going west towards Claflin then blocked the highway. I asked him about the sighting because our radar showed little return in that area. Soon he began letting traffic move and we took off to try to catch up with the tornado warned storm in eastern Ellsworth/western Saline counties. The increase of storm speed and our delay with the Claflin sherrifnado left us far behind the Saline county storm. Salina was warned for tornado due to a report of a tornado east of Brookville. I doubt if there were many real tornados with this storm due to a surface temp. of 59 and rain worked over air. Lane checked velocity on my laptop and saw a broad area of strong northwest winds and no couplets. I was giving a live report of water over highway 40 west of Brookville when a report came in of a tornado just west of the Salina airport. Also there was a report of a house unroofed at Burma/Waterwell roads. We were closing (finally) with the storm and turned onto Burma still in heavy rain and no visibility. We began to see wind damage (trees snapped and a power pole snapped) as we drove south on Burma. Arriving on Waterwell/Burma jct. we looked for unroofed houses finding none. I decided to turn back on Waterwell Rd. and check west of Burma Rd. We found numerous trees down both snapped over and uprooted. There were also trees laying on houses in a sub-division. We found a house with lots of shingles blown off so I think that was the unroofed report that came in earlier. We also found lightville road blocked with a large tree across it. I cut up the tree with my chain saw then got back into the truck. All warnings were dropped and live coverage ended on KSAL. Going home westward on Waterwell we came across several power poles in a row snapped off laying on the middle of the road. I shifted into 4x4 and made it down the ditch and we went on home. So, it was a frustrating chase and when I got home my rain gauge had 2.75" in it. We'll see if the NWS does a damage survey to determine whether the damage was straight wind or a weak tornado. PS. The Saline county emergency management called the storm damage straight line winds as there was little twisting with the down trees. Although several people claimed to see rotation, the damage path was around 2 miles wide or better so probably not a tornado. The power poles thrown to the north separate to the other damage makes me wonder about that though.
Picture of SPC's high risk outlook first given out at 1:30 am.
30% tornado probability probably was verified but really no long tracked tornadoes of violent nature happened.
Straight line wind damage west of Salina.
More straight line wind damage west of Salina, west of Burma Rd.
More straight line wind damage on Crest Lane, west of Salina, same area as pictures above.
Shingles blown off house west of Salina.
Power poles snapped on Waterwell Rd. around 3 miles west of all the other damage pictures above. Was this a inflow jet or possibly a narrow tornado? This damage was the only damage thrown to the north. All other debris was thrown to the east/southeast.
This is Kody's picture of the tornado south of Great Bend. Lane and I were north of Great Bend with rain between us and the tornado making it unseeable to us. When we broke through to the south side, the tornado had dissipated.
May 27, severe warning for Barton, Rice and McPherson counties.
I can't remember what the outlook was for this day. I know it was low, probably a marginal risk. A low cape mod. shear day. Jeremy and I were working on farm equipment by the house when Kody called by C-phone. He asked if I saw this storm pop up over Great Bend and intensify. It became severe warned and I took off after it. Initially, it looked to move northeast towards home, but it turned right and traveled east down 56 highway. As I closed from the north, the warning was extended into Rice county. I could see that it was very low precip. super cell. KSAL broke into regular programing for a moment which I joined in stating that I was closing with the storm. I drove to Little River with the storm just to my west. Lots of times large hail falls near a "meager" precipitation shaft with these LP super cells. I turned west on highway 56 and traveled 2 miles when I encountered half dollar sized hail. I pulled off the highway and called KSAL. Clark, at the station broke into regular programing so I could warn Little River about the on-coming hail. I also mentioned that McPherson could be in line for the storm to hit also. I turned around and drove out from under the hail area, heading for McPherson. I gave the Wichita NWS an info call about the storm and they extended the warning into McPherson county. At this time the storm "reshuffeled" and a hail core appeared just south of McPherson. I talked about this live on KSAL again with their update of the warning. After the storm passed McPherson, I called it good and went home.
picture of the LP storm to the west. Not much of a precip. shaft but there was large hail falling.
This picture was taken just before I turned west on '56 highway to check out if there was hail falling. There was.
While I was under the storm checking out the hail size, Kody was back in the McPherson area and snapped this picture looking west.
June 20,severe storm over our farm.
SPC had a slight risk for our area for a few days. Then around 3 pm. a severe watch was issued. Storm steering winds were out of the northwest. Storms built to the southwest of Lincoln. It still looked like the storms would miss us while I was cutting wheat. Then a couple of new storms built east of the original storms and moved right at me. They weren't too big but very intense and they were hooked on to the weakening storms to the west. As I was covering the wheat on my combine, I looked northwest and saw A two mile wide precip shaft almost to my location. I ran to the truck to leave when hail began to fall. Then it rained and hailed and the wind came up to around 50 mph. I got pelted when I shut the property gate. On the way home there was no visibility and I drove into the ditch. I waited for the storm to pass then shifting into 4x4 I was able to drive out and go home. We found that our old cattle trailer was rolled into the wheat field and was destroyed. Hail cut down wheat stubble, oats and alfalfa. There was still hail in piles at 11 pm. The next day we found out that there was lots of tree damage to our northeast. Huge oak trees were snapped and cottonwoods were uprooted/tipped over. A classic wet microburst.
Our cattle trailer got rolled and pushed into the wheat stubble. It was destroyed.
Picture of hail damage to a 4 acre wheat field that would have yielded 45.
Picture of our neighbors yard. She lives 3/4 mile to our northeast.
Jeremy is standing by a snapped oak tree by our neighbors house.
Outhouse is out. Our neighbors outhouse was thrown by the wind.
June26,tornado warning, eastern Saline county.
SPC had a "marginal" risk outlook in the morning for central Kansas this morning. When I checked at noonish, they moved it slightly back northwest. I drove to Salina to pay bills and deposit wheat monies at the bank to cover checks I wrote. As I was leaving Salina around 5:30ish, I could see a storm north of town. As I cleared Salina west bound with frozen groceries, I stopped on a hill and looked north. I saw a large bowl lowering on the west side of the storm just west of the dark rain shaft. Naaa it can't be. Nothing was said on KSAL and the upper levels of the storm was not looking robust. Still a bit of doubt crept into my mind. "Was there a boundry in that area?" I called Jeremy and asked what the storm looked like on his smart phone. He stated no warnings and not much velocity couplet so I felt better. After a few more miles, I stopped on another hill and was relieved to see the lowering gone to a flat cloud base. I looked farther east where the dark precip. was and WHOW! There was a blocky wall cloud over half way to the ground! This was in spite of a high cloud base. The sides of the wall cloud was smooth, straight sided and had a tail cloud. This feature lasted a minute or so then morphed into a shelf cloud. I continued on home relieved that nothing happened with me so far away. All the cloud features were north of Salina so far. I got home and Jeremy called that district 5 firefighters were calling in about a tornado east of Salina. Our power was out so I couldn't turn on KSAL or hear the weather radio. I fired up my laptop and inter net modem and looked at the storm. As I turned it on, the storm was tornado warned. I called my cousin who lives in southeast Saline county. He saw no tornados but had lots of cloud motion to his east and north. I ran out to the truck and joined in live coverage with KSAL stating what my cousin saw---the storm was going to hit Gypsum and extreme southeast Saline county. A severe warning was issued southeast of the advancing storm and the tornado warning was dropped. The pictures I've seen so far shows potent microbursts but no tornados. After seeing what I saw north of Salina, there could have been a tornado. I wished I could have seen the surface obs at that time as a hybrid landspout/tornado could have formed under the right conditions.
June 30, severe warnings in a severe watch.
SPC had a slight risk outlook for many days before, stating Thursday (29) would be the big day. They increased southwest Kansas to an enhanced risk during the day. Afternoon temp. was 89, with a dew of 70. The outlook was complicated by many outflow boundaries laid out the night before. The mid morning HRRR model outlook showed a one two punch of storms moving through central Kansas. Another look in the afternoon showed only storms moving in from northwest Kansas. I took off the afternoon to chase if needed. SPC issued a meso discussion about storms building from 5--7 pm in central and mainly southcentral Kansas along an old outflow boundary. A few storms developed in east central Kansas and one storm formed west of Wichita. Also a cluster of storms was coming down I-70 from northwest Kansas. I figured those storms would manage to miss us like they had so many times before. It was still hot and sticky. By the 10 pm. news a look at radar showed all storms were gone except the ones at Hays area, I-70. Disgusted, I went to bed. Around 10:45, the weather radio went off for Rice, McPherson and southeast Saline counties. What! There wasn't anything there 30 minutes ago. I fired up the computer and saw a broken line of red centered storms extending from east of Dodge City through McPherson to roughly Topeka. Also there were strong storms east of Russell on I-70. Then a severe watch was issued for all of central Kansas. I gathered my stuff and quickly installed them in the pickup and took off. I made my first chase decision almost immediately. Southeast Saline county was 40 miles away while just as nasty storm was 15 miles to my west. I headed west on I-70. I met the storm at the 156 junction. It had blinding rain and 50 mph winds. Visibility dropped to nearly zero twice causing me to stop until I could see. I went live on KSAL warning motorists of the wind and rain plus no visibility. I drove off at 156 and went back east bound, using the middle white line to stay on the highway. I gave the NWS Wichita a info call on conditions of the storm. The storm was moving slowly so after 10 minutes I drove out from under it. I pulled off at the Brookville exit and joined live coverage on KSAL. The McPherson storm became less intense and lined out. The I-70 storm kept its strength. I drove north of Glendale to see what the core of the storm had in it then went on KSAL describing sub severe conditions. Then the warning was dropped for Southeast Saline county. At the same time the Glendale/I-70 storm weakened. KSAL went off of live coverage and I headed for home. Two miles from home, a severe warning was issued for the eastern half of Saline county! The dying storm threw out an outflow and the Salina airport measured a 65 MPH gust. I turned around and gave reports from the back side of the storm of what I could see. I saw a ground to cloud lightning shot that was really cool. It was like a tree, with the bottom like a trunk then branching out in the cloud. Wish I had my go-pro set up to record that. The storm moved out of Saline county and the warning was dropped on time with several power out reports in Salina. I had warned Salina on KSAL about 3/4 of and hour before to expect possible fallen tree branches and power outages. After the warning was over, I fueled the truck and grabbed a bit to eat in Salina before going home at 2 am. Only on one other occasion that I can recall, did storms erupt so fast in such a large area. That happened at night too.
August 10, two days of severe thunderstorms, deviate motions.
There were severe thunderstorms in the Hays/Russell area the afternoon of the 9th. They were moving southeast. I figured they would move into western/southern Ellsworth county. On radar I could see the beginnings of a MCV (Mesoscale convective vortices, A thunderstorm generated upper low pressure). A couple of storms had rotation from this. I decided to chase because you never know!! Besides, I could keep Wichita NWS informed on the status of the storms. Now the storm turned right, moving straight south which turned into a tail chase for me. I boogied south of Sterling before I passed the storm and got in the inflow area. Of course by then, the storm weakened and the warning was dropped. Today, (10th), I was working in the hay field because of the potential for rain. I heard on the tractor radio that all hell was breaking loose at WaKeeney. When I got home from baling, I saw a tornado warning was issued for western Ellis county. Looping the radar showed the storm complex moving east down I-70. I loaded the truck and left, planning to intercept in western Ellsworth/northern Barton county. As soon as I left home, the storms turned hard right again. Again it was a tail chase with a southward moving storm. I gave up the chase at Claflin when the warning was dropped as the storm weakened. It became severe warned around St John again but I would have never gained position and although at times it looked good on radar, it never tornadoed.
August 16, early morning severe storms.
I went out around 4 am. to cover a severe line of storms moving through. I drove west on I-70 and met the line at the Lincoln turnoff. I then reversed direction and finally got ahead of the rain just west of Salina. The warning was extended to Saline and McPherson counties. I made a few live reports to the coverage an KSAL as well as info reports to the NWS Wichita. The warning was allowed to expire around 6 am. so I headed home.
September 18, severe thunderstorms Lincoln through Dickenson county.
There was no outlook risk areas for central Kansas today. The temp was 88 with a dew point of 60. A warm front was waving north and south across central Kansas. There was a pseudo dry line just west of Salina with a weak wind shift out in western areas of the state. Jeremy and I were driving home from Salina when I showed him some towers around the Russell area. These towers would build up then collapse. We got home and I was busy in the house with the weather radio running in the background. Through the noise I was making, I heard significant weather advisery mentioned. What! I checked radar and saw a narrow strong storm in northwest Lincoln county. I thought that I would chase towards this storm and kill it. The closer I came, the thicker and stronger the storm became. It was now severe warned. I set up northwest of Beverly. I also had Liz's car as my truck was being repaired in Salina so I couldn't test hail size under the strongest part of the storm. So I would let the storm just reach me and then scoot ahead of it a few miles and set up again. KSAL was not doing coverage at this time so I gave the NWS Wichita info reports of what I was seeing. The storm produced a "flat" wall cloud that changed shape from time to time as well as producing good looking rain foots (possible microbursts). I lingered too long at one stop and the storm ran over me. I got dime hail and severe northwest wind (which I think was a RFD augmentation with the outflow). During this, I reached highway 18 and busted east to get ahead of the storm. This was hairy as I was buffeted by 50-60 mph crosswinds. I set up again east of Beverly and watched cloud base rotation form a doughnut in a convergence area. Nothing came out of this circulation but a tail cloud and it didn't last too long. Still think that the strong winds were wrap around RFD associated with the cloud base rotation. The warning was extended to Ottawa county then northern Saline county. KSAL broke in for live coverage which I joined twice. I paced the storm by driving to Culver, then I-70 east to 135 (new 81), north on 135, back to '70 east to Niles exit east of Salina. Many other storms popped up around Salina as I drove through and in my car mirror I could see a large rain foot with a curl in the rain on the north side of Salina. On my live report on KSAL I stated of the possibility of strong winds in the north Salina area. Finally the warning was dropped and as I drove back home on I-70, I came on a semi that wrecked in the medium just northwest of Salina, right in the area of the rain foot (microburst).
Picture of the storm when I arrived at my first set up spot northwest of Beverly looking northwest.
A flat wall cloud started to form.
Rain shafts are slanting to the left indicating potential of high winds.
Picture of a forked inflow tail flowing into the super cell.
The storm produces another rain foot with a stair step half way up the rain shaft. There would be high winds around the base of this slanted shaft.
A tail cloud has formed almost to the ground. Some people would mistake this for a tornado. It was attached to the flat cloud base where there was rotation. The rotation was cool to watch but was never threatening to create a tornado. Some of the strongest winds I encountered was just before this picture was taken.
Another rain foot was produced just northwest of Salina. It even had the tell tale curl on the bottom---a real microburst. I missed taking a picture of the curl as I was driving away from the storm to maintain distance.
I saw a semi wrecked in the medium as I came back home. This scene was right in the area of the rain foot taken in the previous picture.
Storms in a severe watch.
SPC had a slight risk outlook for central Kansas and an enhanced risk for southwest Kansas. Their text said that storms would be super cellular at first, then with the upper jet winds would force them to line out into a squall line. Most all the cam (convective available models) models I ran showed super cells forming around Dodge City as well as one south of Russell. Around 3 pm. SPC wrote a meso discussion for a potential thunderstorm watch for southwest through central Kansas. I readied the truck watching the radar. A storm developed southwest of Dodge and a storm was starting northwest of Russell just as the models foretold. I headed to Lincoln to get into position on the Russell storm and as I closed, it died. A second storm formed over Russell and moved northeast. I "sampled" this storm underneath finding only heavy rain. I gave an info call to the NWS Wichita then snapped pictures of scary looking scud clouds and tornado look-a-likes. My hope through all of this was to catch a tornado in the storms early development. (We had southeast surface winds where Dodge City already had southwest winds a tornado downer). By now a lot of Kansas was covered by a severe watch. The Lucas storm that I was on, scooted into Mitchel county but yet another storm popped up around Russell. I dropped south to I-70, then to Bunker Hill exit to view this storm. Through all my chase so far, I kept an eye on radar of the dodge city Super cell. It steadily moved east while all other storms moved northeast. It also constantly had a "hook" or a "pendant" echo with some rotation. Never tornado warned though. It was severe warned all the time and Kody gave me periotic reports on it. The warning polygon for it went trough Great Bend pointing more northeast than east. I made my second chase decision to drop south and go for this storm thinking that southeast winds would give it more vorticity. I was just northeast of Great Bend when the core was over the city. Reports of baseball sized hail and 80 mph winds came out of Great Bend. I took a back road to Ellinwood and just barely stayed ahead of the storm. At Ellinwood I looked west and saw a wall cloud on the south end of the storm but more impressive was a seething, menacing shelf cloud that was blue/green in color just to my west. I stayed ahead of the storm driving east down the highway and set up to watch again. The storm shrunk some and the wall cloud dissipated. I though I would drive north and check out the hail core (smaller now) and give an update to the NWS. I took a highway north that promptly turned into a gravel road. Blinding rain and hail to ping pong balls were encountered. I drove out the other side, stopped and gave info calls to KSN and NWS. I drove on north to highway 4. Here I made my third chase decision (one I would regret). I saw on radar another storm in western Ellsworth county with a pendant hook on it. With the storm I had just penetrated moving away it would be easier to position on the Ellsworth storm as it was more likely to hit Salina. I hadn't driven west a mile (I was just east of 156 at Claflin where I could drive north to the storm) when Kody called wanting me to verify on my laptop, rotation on the Dodge storm I had just left. I pulled over and looked---OUCH, rotation, then a tornado warning box appeared around the storm. Terrible of terribles. I left a storm now it's tornado warned with me far behind. KSAL went live coverage which I joined while I tried to catch up. There was a 4 minute tornado but I couldn't see it as evening darkness and rain masked it from my view. I followed the storm up to Salina and it weakened and the warning was dropped. Other severe storms moved in (the Ellsworth storm) and I helped covered that. More severe warned storms came through and finally things quieted down. I ate in Salina and got home at 10:30.
Oct. 10, reflections on the storms of last week.
I've had time to think about the tornados that touched down here in central Kansas. I touched base via computer with Brandon Ivey (who filmed a 4 minute tornado) and he gave me a map of where the tornado was. It touched down on the south side of the smoky hill weapons range, just north of the McPherson county line. It moved northeast. Falun and Salina was in the path but the tornado lasted 4 minutes and that was it. Although Salina was included in the tornado warning, I could not describe any structure that would add seriousness to the warning. Listeners to KSAL probably thought this was another ho-hum warning without much threat. I'm really getting paranoid about night time tornados and their threat to our listening public. There are always things to learn from every chase and I think over my whole chase. I number them in sequence. 1. Getting on the Russell/Lincoln county storms early per short term model output. I hoped that better low level winds would produce tornados. Later, one was tornado warned in Ottawa county but did not produce. 2. Dropping off the northern storms and heading to the Dodge city super cell,(now just southwest of Great Bend). This storm did not adhere to the cam models and remained isolated with great hook echos. So far no tornados were reported and Kody was all over it all the way. Again, I think southwest surface winds mitigated vorticity for tornado genesis around Dodge city. As the storm moved into central Kansas, south, then southeast surface winds could have provided more vorticity. Getting on this storm was a good move. Punching the core was ok as I could relay info about the severity to the NWS Wichita and KSN TV. 3. Leaving the storm I was on was bad for two reasons. Although the western Ellsworth county storm had a hook, (at least a pendant echo) and would move up into Saline county towards Salina and easier to maintain position on. I should have realized the storm I was leaving was cutting off inflow to the Ellsworth storm. Being alone in my truck driving, I can't watch velocity on my lap top all the time so didn't see the V ramping up for a potential tornado. So when the tornado warning was issued (along with the heads up from Kody) I'm around 12 miles behind the storm (due to core punching and driving towards the Ellsworth storm) I can't see any thing on the ground due to darkness and rain masking. Just glad the tornado was short lived. Conclusions. The "Dodge" storm traveled through many counties before coming on ingrediants favorable for tornado genesis. Having a rider to run the computer radar may have kept me on the "Dodge" storm. Having a rider would ensure one set of eyes would be looking at structure or night time power flashes (which there were 2) I saw one power flash I think, but thought it was lightning out of the corner of my eye. Finally, if you are on a "good" storm, stay on it.
Picture taken at the Ellinwood area looking west towards Great Bend. Very active motion with surreal color that the camera doesn't pick up.
Several lowerings of the cloud base. Late evening darkness as well as rain, makes spotting hard.
Earlier, in Russell county, I snapped this picture of a wall cloud look-a-like.