© Henry Diehl
Best catch of 2004. Southern Russell County, Kansas. July 7th.
© Henry Diehl
My best chase of 2005. Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas tornado.
© Henry Diehl
Funnel cloud west of Tampa.
Storm chase convention.
I decided to attend the storm chaser convention in Denver Feb. 17-18. This is the first time I've gone to anything like this but there are many reasons why I want to go. First, I want to learn more about storms and tornadoes. Since I don't travel very for from home, I don't see that many tornadoes like a lot of chasers do so don't have seasoned experience and as I continue to spot for KSAL radio group, I feel I need to learn all I can to improve my on air descriptions. Second, I would like to see/meet many of the storm chasers/forecasters I read about or see on the Weather channel. I figured that the date worked well for me to go as it is my last "slack time" before spring calving/field work begins in ernest. I'm really excited and hope to learn more as well as have fun and relax for this upcoming weekend.
Feb. 23--24, severe thunderstorm warning for Saline, Ellsworth, Lincoln and Ottawa Co.
The upper trough that was talked about at the storm chasers convention last weekend moved near enough to affect central Kansas last night. SPC had central Kansas in a slight risk while southwest Kansas was upgraded to a moderate risk for severe storms. During the day (Fri. 23)the wind was ripping from the south, (measured 28 with gusts to 36) and temps touched 70 under clear skies. Watched storms fire in the Texas Panhandel and they moved into southwest Kansas and weakened. Moisture at low levels seemed to be the limiting factor as well as maybe the lack of upper support. At around 9 pm a storm popped up northwest of Great Bend moving north northeast. I wanted to work around a storm with my new laptop/GPS/radar software so Jeremy got things started for me and I took off alone. I parralled the storm north of Lincoln for an hour learning how to run things (difficult while driving with all the wires ect. diverting concentration) and ended up parking on a hill on the Lincoln/Mitchel Co. line enjoying the zoom capability with the GR-Level 3 on the laptop. Storms then began to move up towards Ellsworth/Great Bend area so I drove to Ellsworth and parked there and scanned the storms visually and with the laptop, (around midnight). I saw a heavy cell west of Ellsworth and hurried back to I-70 and turned west to drive through this storm to see how it corresponded with the GPS. I drove through the core 2 miles east of Wilson encountering heavy rain, 45 mph winds and pea to nickel hail. This was reported to the NWS Wichita and I was pleased how accurate the GPS was with the GR-Level 3. The storms formed an intense narrow north/south line and I drove back through the storm as I headed east toward home. I noticed the part of the line north of '70 intensified and a warning was issued for Lincoln, eastern Ellsworth and northern Saline Co. I called the radio station in Salina reporting what I drove through telling the announcer to caution drivers on the highways of the rain/hail that I'd driven through. The storms weakened and the warnings were dropped a little before 2 am so I went home. Looks like a possible cold core setup this afternoon as I type (8:30 am) for central and eastern Kansas, so we'll see?
Feb. 24, intense low produces hail, funnels and snow in central Kansas!
After looking at the computer this morning, it looked like an interesting day for severe weather. SPC had a slight risk all the way back into north central Kansas with the surface low still back in the Hays area at mid morning. I tried to finish my morning chores quickly but last night's rain (1.5") made for muddy driving, slowing me down some. It was around 10 am when I noticed the sun peeking through the clouds which turned into full sunshine by 11 am. Whow! Got into the house around 11 and called my chase pard then sat down at the computer to see what was happening. SPC meso discussion stated low topped supercell formation was likely thrugh all of central Kansas with tornadoes possible. I then looked at radar and saw storms forming in a "stair step" fasion extending north-northwest from a base storm in Chase county. Jason, Jeremy and I left east bound on I-70 and saw a tornado warning for Chase county with storms strengthing in Marion county. Allright! Then the Marion county storm was tornado warned as it was moving into southern Dickenson co. We turned off at Abeline and traveled south on K-15 to meet this storm. It seemed that the storms would ramp up quickly, then weaken as fast as the next storm in line would "pulse". Went live on KSAL twice describing the storm's rain and hail as we followed them back north towards I-70. We reached the I-70 Solomon exit thinking the storms were weakening (per laptop radar) when Jeremy noticed a lowering of the cloud base southeast of of our position. Looking closer, the cloud base was rotating! We then pulled on 70 eastbound and let this smallish storm pass over us and I thought it appeared to weaken also so we crossed over and returned to the Solomon exit. Several chasers were there and they were looking north as we pulled off 70. As we turned north we saw a V shaped funnel, just to our northeast so I drove a half a mile north and stopped where we jumped out and started taking pictures as the funnel crossed the road a mile to our north. There was incredible rotation with the funnel as well as fast upward swirling motion just northwest of the funnel. This lasted several minutes as we followed the storm north along with ever more chasers converging on this storm. I called the radio station and went on air describing what I was seeing although no warning was issued for this storm! The storm then took a more westerly path and seemed to maybe run into cooler air because the rotation diminished although converging updraft motion continued for a while. We left the storm and stopped in Salina at the radio station to show the pictures we had taken. Now, at 8 pm here at home it's snowing intermittently with rain and northwesterly winds at 20 kt. sustained! What a storm!
Funnel cloud one mile north of Solomon.
March came in like a lion, went out like a lion!
March 31. I was looking at the radar on my computer at noon after coming in from morning cattle feeding, wet--cold--and muddy from almost 2" of rain last night and this morning. Seeing tornado watches for eastern Neb. and Iowa on east it made me think about how active the month has been at the beginning and end. I remember the large storm system that exited Kansas around March 1, leaving us wet, cold, and windy, just like today. What I missed was the tornado outbreak of last Wed. due to commitments that evening, although I followed the action on my laptop throughout the duration. The main thing for me on this event was that there were broken clouds all day over much of the outbreak area telling me that in certain conditions you DON'T need full sun to "boil the tea pot over." Had this outbreak happened in central Kansas, my laptop/GPS/radar software would have greatly assisted my coverage live on the KSAL radio group out of Salina. We've been really warm and wet through much of the month of March which makes me wonder what April and May will bring. Last year March was quiet and April was active and May was non existant for severe weather. I'm beginning to think that May will be the "month" for activity this year, it's due.
Friday, April 6. Yesterday we recieved up to 7" of snow as a smallish upper low passed over an artic plunge. Forecast was for 1-2" so when it started to snow when I left for Salina, I didn't think too much about it although I had my laptop in the truck and looked at the radar from time to time and saw the snow continuing, not ending! It snowed heavily from time to time in Salina, accumulating on the grass and elevated objects, but melting on contact on the roads and bare ground. I made some reports to KSAL while in Salina covering the accumulating heavy snow bursts then headed for home. On the way home, driving west, I encountered more and more snow, both falling and on the ground. Wichita weather service called, wanting to check snow depths which I gave at my position---2". After a few more miles heavy falling snow covered even the blactop road, so I called this in to the NWS Wichita as well as the radio station. Upon reaching home I measured 5" on the ground, but 7" on all elevated surfaces where no melting occurred reflecting the true amount of snow that fell. This was reported again to the radio station, NWS and KSN TV. Now, Friday morning, the temp is 28 and its snowing lightly again!
Snow depth on warm ground after snow settled.
April 24, high expectations---meager results.
The upper level system that was progged to move into the central plains arrived Tuesday. For days in advance, SPC had issued highlights and moderate risks for the Kansas area with some tornadoes forming Monday night in south central/northwest Kansas, it seemed that central Kansas would take it's turn this day. I canceled my plans to work cattle as storms were expected to form early so I would be ready. A tornado watch was issued over the noon hour for all of central Kansas and two storms popped up on radar south southwest of Salina. Jeremy, Meghan and I left immediately from home towards Salina and set up on the north side of town at I-70 and Ohio St. The storms moved through with heavy rain and pea hail and was reported to KSAL, KSN and NWS. We then followed these storms east on '70 as no other storms were forming back to the southwest, nothing was severe! I soon opted off these storms as they were moving northeast at 45 mph---a fruitless catchup situation. I was having problems with my new cell phone/headset combo so stopped in Salina to try to fix this problem at the phone store while waiting for development expected back to the west. Never could get things to work right like my old phone setup! Storms began to form in Russell/Lincoln Co. and intensified so we drove west to west of Lincoln and set up there. These storms were heavy but were undercut with cold outflow so tornado chances were low. We had been watching storms forming south along this line from Lincoln Co. and a storm looked promising east of Great Bend so we went for this storm. Jason, my chase partner called to say he was off work and was headed toward this storm also. Soon, a tornado warning was issued for this storm with the radar showing a fair hook echo. After some "swift" driving, we caught up with Jason in the Langley area of southern Ellsworth Co. in the vicinity of the warned storm. This storm showed meager rotation then weakened some. From here, my chase decisions sucked! We were watching a storm with promise south of us northwest of Hutchison on the laptop as well as the storm we were on in Ellsworth Co. I tried to play the middle ground between these storms and took dirt roads east instead of taking highway 14 south towards the tail end "anchor" storm. This storm "hooked" and became tornado warned and it was a race south through rural sand roads to intercept as the Ellsworth storm weakened. Due to the roundabout way we took, we missed the mini tornado-fest around Nickerson, Ks. arriving only to see some broad scale rotation with a wall cloud then gusting out. Phone reception was bad, and as I made a live report to KSAL my phone dropped the call in mid report. The main thing going on then was a HUGE chaser convergence, the largest I've seen, including a visit with Roger Hill and watching the DOW, TIV, and others pass by. Well, hope to get this bungle behind me, fix my phone/headset combo, learn from my mistakes and br ready for the next time.
Rotating wall cloud north of Nickerson, Kansas.
May 3, cold air funnel surprise!
I was mowing grass at Mom's around 6 pm when Jeremy drove in and said that there were funnel clouds reported in southern Saline County! I called Todd P. from KSAL and visited about what he was seeing in that area and about a report from a listener that a funnel had touched down a couple miles south of Assaria. He did not see anything too serious so I decided to go on with my mowing. When I got home around sevenish Jeremy called and said to get the camera and look south, he was watching a wall cloud!! I hopped into the pickup and dashed south up on a hill and wow, there was a wall cloud/funnel. I stopped and snapped some pictures then dashed down 29 rd. to highway 40 so I could get closer to the action. The funnel was initially blocky but stretched out to a thin white cone as I approached to within a couple of miles of the rotating cloud base. My pictures of this funnel were poor due to rain drops showing up on the camera lens. I watched the rotating cloud base to my east move north across highway 40 and I drove east a mile and watched the rotation increase again just to my north. Funnels started to appear again and I tried to get structure shots but that was hard due to the closeness of the action. I then drove to Brookville, then north and parked on a hill where I watched downward descending air on the south side of the storm with a rapidly rotating wall cloud/funnel. Contrast was excellent as I was looking west with the setting sun in the background and I got a couple of storm structure pictures from this angle. I compare the rotation with this "mini" storm with what we saw Feb. 28, north of Solomon, Ks.
Funnel/wall cloud observed shortly after leaving home.
Closer shot as funnel changes into whitish cone as rain falls.
Needle funnel north of highway 40.
Looking north--a structure shot showing a forked beaver tail to the east.
Looking west at the rotating mini storm.
May 4-5 night time chase/intercept of Greensburg super cell and escape from Barton Co. tornado sandwich!
I was watching the storms in southwest Kansas/northwest Ok. Friday evening and decided to chase when the lead storm moved into western Barton County. My plan was to jump on I-70 westbound to the Wilson area then south to get on the east side of this storm. Jeremy, Meghan and I left home around nineish and promptly killed the storm southwest of Wilson. All the time we were watching the storm in the Kiowa Co./Greensburg area and when we ended up north of Great Bend, I decided to head south to intercept this storm. A big complication happened at this time as my cell service for my laptop dropped and we were blind to the storm except the FM radio and Jeremy's cell phone radar. We were halfway between St. John and Great Bend southbound when we heard that the tornado was near Macksville to our southwest! I decided to circle around to the back side of the storm by driving to Larned, then south, then east back to Macksville. Fortunately Macksville was spared bad damage and as we drove through it was eerie as all power was out we could see darkened houses on both sides. Two miles east of Macksville we drove through the damage path of the tornado, trees were stripped with branches for at least a half of mile! We turned north and drove through St. John following the backside of the storm, encountering 75-80 mph rear flank down draft winds rocking the pickup and causing me to turn into the wind to keep from tipping over at one point. We never saw a tornado but saw the Meso circulation once through the wrapping rain. I wanted to get ahead of the storm so to be in position to broadcast for KSAL when the storm moved into Ellsworth /Saline county areas. We shot through a gap in the storms at Great Bend with a radar indicated tornado on the west side of town along with a reported large tornado in the Ellinwood area to our east! Streets in Great Bend were curb to curb with water so making speed was impossible. We then sped north to the Cheyenne bottoms area when another problem developed. K-156 was closed north of highway 4 blocking our escape route! I turned east on 4 after consulting on the phone with my sister who was nowcasting for us and lo and behold my computer came back up! Checking the radar update showed that we were driving into the path of the tornado north of Ellenwood! I turned around and drove back to 156 with a tornadic circulation approaching Claflin, to my southwest! Jeremy "naved" us back to the same road north bound to Wilson that we origonally came down on earlier in the evening and I floored it even in heavy rain reduced visibility until we drove out of the storm at Wilson. I drove to Ellsworth and broadcast live several times about the approaching storm and finally it weakened east of Ellsworth after being tornado warned from near the Oklahoma border clear to southwest Ellsworth county. Now as I type Sat. morning we are in a high risk with a PDS tornado watch already in affect. Stay tuned and stay safe!
May 5-6 HIGH RISK chase/Bennington St. Lake night time tornado!
After getting 3 hours of sleep Sat. morning still hyped after the Greensburg super cell encounter, I saw that SPC had a high risk for west central/central Kansas. My cousin was coming to chase with us as well as my chase partner and his friend who would follow us in their car. While waiting for them to arrive, I contemplated yesterday's chase---the magnitude of the storm and the damage it did---my narrow escape, what happened to all the sheriff deputies/volunteer spotters--firefighters who were standing in the way of the storm when we blew by. Soon my cousin arrived as well as my chase pardner, and when storms developed from Dodge City to Hays in a PDS tornado watch we headed west bound on I-70. Arriving in the Russell/Hays area, we watched several storms pass us with none of them being tornado warned. Hmmmm! A high risk, 30% prob. of tornado, PDS tornado watch, it's mid afternoon and storms are dieing! Soon, strong storms developed in the Greensburg area again moving northeast and tornado warnings began. We drove south to Great Bend, then east toward the Ellinwood area as a tornado was reported near Raymond. Using my laptop radar we punched the rain core east of Ellinwood and saw two wall clouds just to our south! Both wall clouds were rotating and produced funnels but neither touched down. This was reported to KSAL and KSN as one of the wall clouds dissipated and we watched the other pass just to our east across Highway 56. This wall cloud maybe produced a short lived funnel/tornado to our north, I couldn't see if there was circulation on the ground behind a tree row. This storm weakened and we headed back to Great Bend to intercept a tornado warned storm northwest of town. We arrived in the Cheyenne Bottoms area with ever increasing numbers of chasers and watched two areas of rotation to our west. The nearer flat cloud base rotation diminished but the farther one west of Claflin developed a double circulation for a while, then morphed into a large V funnel which touched down and turned into a large stove pipe tornado. Light was diminishing as it was getting late and the tornado soon became rain-wrapped. We took the same road to Wilson as we did the night before, trying to catch up with the reported tornado a few miles south of Wilson. Heavy rain masked this tornado and we did not see it. Stopping at a gas station at I-70 north of Wilson, folks told of a tornado passing just to the east of the gas station, shaking the awnings of the pump area as it went by. Through all of this I made reports to the radio station about unfolding events. We went home from there as my cousin needed to head for his home in Alma. My chase pard and Jeremy and I ate a quick snack as more tornado warned storms were moving back into southwest Ellsworth County we once again headed out to intercept the Ellsworth Co. storm. I made reports live to the radio station from just east of Ellsworth and we followed this storm into northwest Saline Co. just to the south of Glendale. Although tornados and funnel clouds were reported in our area all we saw in the dark was a lightning illuminated shelf cloud and some SLC's (scary looking clouds). We did see a lowering of interest in the Tescott area and drove to a hill 2 miles south of Tescott to watch. At this time while looking at the radar returns on my laptop, I noticed a storm pop up just north of Salina and it increased in intensity with each scan forming a small but definite hook with a velocity couplet right over Highway 18 just south of Bennington. We charged east to the 18--I-35 junction but couldn't see anything due to blinding heavy rain. Tornados were reported at the Bennington State Lake as well as near the Minneapolis Speedway to our north but we couldn't see anything in the rain. We turned back towards home as the storm was moving out of the area when Liz called stating that she heard Lincoln Co. fire give an all call to assist Ottawa Co. for search and rescue at Bennington State Lake area. My chase pard called his friend, who was a volunteer fireman from the Bennington area. He said a tornado had destroyed some houses and people were missing. I reported this to KSAL and Todd P. urged me to go to the scene and report what I found. My chase pard knew the area, so I followed him to the scene. We found dozens of fire trucks, ambulances, law enforcement vehicles mixed with personal cars in a wooded area by the lake with debris scattered all over. Talking to some firefighters we got some information about what was happening and I made my last live-cast at 2 in the morning to the radio and TV stations. The next day we heard that there was one fatality and several injuries with several houses, cabins and campers destroyed. I got to bed at 3 am with rain still falling. Since my cousin accidentally took my digital camera home with him I will post pictures of this day later. What a long weekend but it still was not over. I'll post an account of the flooding in on another page.
May 6-7, FLOODING! 1993 revisited.
With all the severe weather passing through central Kansas during the weekend, very heavy rain fell on already saturated ground. Sunday morning, at daylight, I was awakened from a fitful sleep by the phome ringing. A friend living west of Salina called to see what our creek was doing, (a tributary of Mulberry creek)since Salina had 6-9" of rain Sat. night and he had high water already! I got up and dressed, looking out the window, seeing water running everywhere. Our creek was out of banks, covering the road between mom's place and ours. Since I didn't know how much rain fell during the night and how much higher the creek would rise, I jumped into my 4-wheel drive tractor and crossed the water covered road to Mom's and moved Jeremy's pigs and some equipment to higher ground. The water quickly receaded, since we live at the upper end of the watershed and I thought that would be it. That afternoon more severe storms moved in with more heavy rain! Liz said we got 1" in 20 minutes with a total of 1,75". I got back from storm reporting around dark and went to bed exausted from little sleep from all the active weather covered through the weekend. At 10:50 mom phoned saying she had water coming into her basement! I dressed and checked the road between our houses--logs were floating across the road! No tractor driving across this! I had to take a circle route through the pastures to get to mom's and spent the entire night bailing out a leak along an old septic line into her basement with a 5 gallon bucket! Next day I went to Salina---there was only 2 routes not flooded into town, with emergency folks busy with rescues and evacuations. Totals for Salina were 6-9" for the weekend, with 1,57" falling in 18 minutes at the airport. We had over 5.50" for the weekend. Flooding levels east of Salina in the New Cambria area was higher than 1993!
Funnel cloud northeast of Raymond. Picture by Jason Schulz.
Tornado on the ground northeast of Raymond! Photo by Jason Soden.
Large tornado on the ground northwest of Cheyenne Bottoms. Picture taken by Jason Soden. A second circulation is developing to the right of the tornado and as the first tornado died this circulation went on to produce a large stovepipe tornado.
Water over the road between our house and "Grandma's".
Ottawa St. lake tornado damage: board came through window and impacted above bed seconds after occupants left bed!
May 22, Ellis Co. evening/night time chase.
SPC outlook had a slight risk for west-central Kansas with tornadoes included in the discussion, especially for the tail end storm (anchor storm). Around 6 pm a anchor storm developed and became tornado warned just north of Wakeeny, supposedly moving northeast at 45-50 mph. After watching the radar for a while I could see that the anchor was holding fast so headed west on I-70 for an intercept. It seemed that there were sightings/radar indications for St. Peter area for almost an hour! I figured I would head for Hays, then either go north or on west then north depending on where the storms were at the time. Arriving at Hays, there were confirmed sightings of tornados around Hill City, but I could see new development back down towards I-70 so I continued west on to Ellis. I went north of Ellis on a 2-lane blacktop road and set up 7 miles south of Palco, Ks. just east of the new intensifying cells. Other chasers were setting up in the area and I was pleased to meet Gene Rhoden for the first time as he and his chase partner set up behind my truck. He showed me some of his pics. of the tornado around Hill City as well as impressive structure shots of that storm. I also chatted with chasers from Michigan as well as a photographer from Hays paper at this spot. We watched a wall cloud try mightly to organise fighting outflow from "lineing" out storms on either side of it then as another wall cloud approached from the southwest the two "walls" almost merged and again rotation increased, forming short funnels from time to time. This was reported to KSN as the storm evolved into a large high precipitation beast. I kept dropping back south toward Ellis as the tail end storm south of I-70 became tornado warned. I set up on the north side of Ellis, watching lightning illuminating lowerings just southwest of that town. Funnel clouds were reported as I drove east down I-70 to Hays, where I made a report to KSN with the tornado sirens blareing in the background. It seemed that the storms lined out and gusted out enough that the mid rotation could not progress any further which was good since some of the rotation moved directly over towns in the area. All in all, it was a fun chase, just calling in reports to KSN and not having to go live on radio.
May 24, the BIG flood.
I lost this account earlier to an editing error so am trying to recount the event. Around 10 in the evening, storms moved into southwest Ellsworth County and were severe warned. I set up on Old Highway 40 about 6 miles east of Ellsworth to watch and report on the severe storm in the Kanopolis area. There had already been heavy rain occurring at home as well as new storms developing, moving in from the south. These were the storms I was reporting on. After midnight, the warnings were dropped but rain continued as I started for home from north of Brookville. I found that Armstrong Rd. had high water over it so drove up to I-70 to try to get home from the north. On the way home, I called Saline Co. Dispatch, telling them about the high water in the western part of the county with the potential for flooding downstream on the Mulberry Creek. I also talked with the NWS Wichita, warning them of potential massive flooding on the Mulberry west of Salina. I got off I-70 and made it home through steady rain, noting the creek I passed over was already bank full. Around 5 in the morning, the fire pager went off awaking us and stating that the small towns of Hedville and Bavaria had high water and needed to be evacuated. I looked out the window and saw nothing but water, our creek was out of banks rivaling the massive flood of 1973-74. Needless to say we were landlocked and had to listen as our fire district friends tried to evacuate and rescue people. Grandma called and said she had water coming into the basement again so we "circled" through the pastures to help bail out her basement. By mid morning our creeks went down some and I was able to make an appointment in Salina at noon. After my meeting, I drove to Bavaria to see if I could help friends with the flooding but the water was too high to do anything at that time. Areas west of Salina experienced the worst flood in history, with massive damage done to homes, roads, bridges, railroad tracks and fields. As of today,(June 30) I can't use a road two miles from my house as well as a bridge 3 miles from my house. We have friends that still haven't moved back in their house. Our 6" rain gauge was full from the night's rain and a chore bucket had 7.5" in it! Luckily no one lost their lives in this massive flood!
Road washed out two miles from home. This is why one never drives into water over a road!!
Water flowing down street of Bavaria during height of flood.
Flood crest has arrived on west side of Salina looking southwest from flood control dike east of I-35.
May 31, severe thunderstorm warnings/door yanker winds in central Kansas.
This day was highlighted with strong dynamics but limited moisture. Things started early in northwest Kansas, I was in Salina on business but watched a large rotating storm move through Norton-Phillipsburg-Smith center on my laptop. Other storms formed west of Hays and moved southeast to a line from Russell to northwest of Great Bend and were warned for hail and winds. I left home alone and traveled to the Claflin area, (I hate 156 highway south of Ellsworth closed due to construction) where the heaviest storm was showing weak rotation. Setting up on the 156 highway 4 overpass I watched a low pulsating shelf cloud move over me and as the winds picked up, I measured a 50 mph gust. Seconds later the winds picked up faster and I measured 55 mph gust out the truck window. This was reported to KSN and the NWS in Wichita. I turned the truck around to be able to get on highway 4 and drive ahead of the storm when heavy rain and dime hail hit with winds increasing even more, making a queer moaning through my radio antenna and strobe light. I really wanted to measure instead of estimating the wind speed so when I opened the door to get out, the wind ripped the door from my hand and bent the hinge so it wouldn't close right. So much for measuring wind speed. I needed to get ahead of the storm and drove east in zero visibility on highway 4 actually running off the road once! I very stupidly waited too long letting the storm overtake me and it took 15 miles of white nuckle driving to get out of the "estimated" 60+ winds, hail and blinding rain. This was reported to KSAL, and KSN and I drove ahead of the storm north across Kanopolis dam then east through Brookville. Since these storms were moving fast, we got only .70" at home and flooding was not a problem.
Picture taken of the door-yanker storm looking west with Claflin grain elevator in foreground.
July 22, severe thunderstorm warning/pulse storm, southeast Saline county.
The last few days there was an instability axis located over the flint hills area that was sparking a few thunderstorms in the Manhatten--Wichita area. Dew points were in the 67-70 degree range, temps were in the middle 90s with VERY little mid level shear. I was baleing hay around 7:30 pm and watching a storm to my east hoping it would move my way so we could get some needed moisture. As I watched, the updraft got more robust with knuckles on the back shear side and overshoting top! Then I noticed an upper level ring/banding coming around----could there be rotation?? Minutes later my fire pager toned for a severe thunderstorm warning for southeast Saline county mentioning Gypsum for some strong winds and hail. I called Liz to step out and snap a picture of this evening backlit storm, then called NWS Wichita and talked to Rob L. about what I was seeing. He said there was some mid level rotation with the storm and the storm was dropping with height indicating weakening was beginning. I called KSAL and talked with the on duty DJ describing the wicked lightning bolts coming out of the anvil and mid levels of the storm, even though I was 20 miles away. At sunset the storm died with wind damage reported from the town of Gypsum.
Severe thunderstorm over Gypsum, looking east/southeast.
August 20, a short evening run.
This day started with very high dew points/relative humidity and as the temps climbed over 100, the lid popped off the tea pot. Storms developed in western Kansas and built northeast into southern Nebraska, many becoming severe warned. The southern edge of the initial broken line moved southeast through northern Lincoln/Ottawa counties causing gusty winds here in northeast Ellsworth county as I was moving hay bales. Damageing winds was reported in Clay/Geary counties east of these storms. I came in the house after 8 pm and heard that NWS had issued a significant weather advisory for Ellsworth-Lincoln-Russell county areas due to rapidly developing thunderstorms east of Russell moving southeast. Figuring that these storms would create outflows like the earlier storms did, I took off westbound on I-70 to intercept. I ended up just south of Vesper Ks. on the east side of some very intense cells (65 dbl on my laptop). There I was supprised to find no wind, only light rain and constant grumbling thunder to my west and unlike earlier storms, this storm cluster was not moving much. As the storm built back to the south, I made reports to KSAL radio and KSN tv, then charged back to I-70 to check out the strongest part of the storm. Using GPS I parked under the strongest cell at the Sylvan Grove exit--no winds, no hail, only heavy rain. I talked to Andy K. at the NWS Wichita about what I was seeing and he was glad to hear some reports from that area as they had issued a flood warning for the area just to my west. After that I went home where it didn't rain like I had hoped. Fun to get out and move around some storms after a long quiet time. SPC is moving a "slight" risk down to our area in their day 2-3 outlooks so we'll see.
Reading the forecast discussions with my grand child, got to start them learning while they're young!
September 6, evening thunderstorm chase turns into deer collection agency.
SPC had a slight risk for central/northcentral Kansas this day with good cape but minimal shear. I was moving hay bales in Saline county in the afternoon watching the clouds for any updraft plumes would turn into storms. Around 5 pm the atmosphere got started with a "bomb" forming around the Manhatten area---too far and going away. Then a moisture axis seemed to retreat back through my area and six o-clock magic began with a storm popping up to my southwest. I hurridly moved the remaining bales then drove home and looked at the computer to see what the storm looked like. Scattered storms were on going through the Lincoln---Barton counties with the strongest storm located south of Ellsworth. The NWS Wichita issued a significant weather advisory for Ellsworth Co. so I loaded the truck and started out to intercept this storm in case it became severe and I would be on scene to talk about it for KSAL radio. At 8 pm I was on highway 40 west bound from Carnerio receiving a splattering shower from the thunderstorm anvil when a buck deer appeared to my right bumper and WHAM. Due to light from the just setting sun showing glare on my rain splattered windshield coupled with the evening darkness, I never saw him till he was on me. This highlights storm chaser's biggest danger---driving on rain slick roads in reduced visibility. Anyway, the estimate of damage after a bent bumper and totally bashed passenger door plus some other minor fix-its was $3100.00! Luckily the storm didn't go severe so I wasn't needed on the radio, although we got 1.40" of rain at home with 7+ inches falling in northern Ottawa county.
I snapped this cool picture of what I think is cirrostratus puff clouds with tails.
October 12, morning flooding plus close encounters of the lightning bolts.
I awakened at 6 am to the scanner carrying Lincoln Co. Sherriff dealng with incrasing high water in the town of Lincoln. Storms were rumbling just to our north as I dressed and went out and covered my fertilizer spreader with a tarp. I ate breakfast and heard more thunder to my north so I checked the radar on the computer and saw another large red return just north of of I-70, north and northeast of my home. Figuring that flooding would result, I packed equipment in the truck and left heading for the Glendale area. I drove through the core of this storm (according to GPS on GR-level 3)around three miles north of Glendale, encountering heavy rain, no hail but increasing amounts of vivid,close lightning bolts. I pulled off the blacktop road on a gravel road to gain some altitude to try to video the lightning bolts. There were at least 4 bolts striking within a quarter mile, seemingly rocking the truck with chrashing thunder. I was always pointing the camera in the wrong direction, missing a power pole that was shattered just to my southeast along Brookville rd. I then drove back on the blacktop to check out potential flooding as the NWS had issued a flash flood warning for areas just west of my position. I pulled off the road again to study the laptop when our neighbor drove by (unbeknownst to me due to the heavy rain) and called on the cell saying she had passed a house on fire just south of Tescott. This was approx. 5-6 miles north of my position so I decided to turn around and check it out since it was "just" outside of our fire district area. Driving north I encountered rain swollen ditches with water over the highway in two places just before the Ottawa Co. line. Two miles into Ottawa Co. I came upon the fire scene with several fire trucks surrounding a fire-gutted house with the fire pretty well under control. I went on live on KSAL radio describing the water over the road and the house fire, warning drivers to beware on this streach of highway. I then made reports to the NWS and KSN describing the lightning and high water and a flood warning was issued for northern Saline Co. The storm total precip. was 6" at Lincoln 3-4" north of Glendale and we got 1.80" at the house. SPC has issued a slight risk outlook for northwest Kansas today, (Oct. 13) then a slight risk for all of central Kansas tomorrow afternoon. So, we'll see.
Day after Thanksgiving---first snow..
It started snowing Friday evening and snowed lightly all night. Warm ground melted most of the snow on bare ground and roads but this morning (Sat. 24) there is 2" on the grassy areas! Very little wind with this one so no drifting ect.
December 9, cold snap with ice.
We've just finished up with a freezing drizzle/snow/sleet event this Sunday noon that started last Thursday morning. I was surprised Thursday morning at 6 am. that there was a glaze of ice and sleet on the ground when I awakened. Thinking that people in central Kansas would not be aware that they would face a treacherous drive to work or school, I drove out to check out the driving conditions. The driving conditions were bad on all secondary roads with I-70 just beginning to be treated! I went on live on KSAL describing the conditions and urging folks to start early for their drive to work due to icy windshields and slippery roads. I also left a message with KSN about conditions too. The ice/sleet all melted in the afternoon but by Friday/Saturday real artic cold moved in and there was drizzel falling all of Friday night and most of Saturday. Ice has accumulated on everything, making "off" roads slick but the treated highways were not too bad. The temp. is holding around 18 degrees today (Dec. 9) so no melting will happen. My fear is the next system forecast to arrive Tuesday with even more freezing rain to accumulate on what is already on trees and power lines, causing long power outages! Hope it snows instead but we'll see.
Dec. 10, 11 pm. Ice storm ongoing!!!
Significant ice storm happening here incentral Kansas---trees breaking and increasing power outages as rain continue to fall. Still have power here but lights blinking so will post more tomorrow.
December 11, 8 pm, Ice storm vengeance!
We lost power early this morning, around 1:30 am and I'm not looking for it to get going again for several days. Total precipitation was just over 2.25", all freezing rain except for the last 3-4 hours where we got a light dusting of snow. Massive damage was done to the trees (we could hear the branches breaking off all night), and by light of day it looked like F-1 tornado damage with trees still popping! We got the portable power plants going this morning to maintain heat in our 3 houses and I have just enough output to run the computer with all other things switched off in the house this evening. We spent most of our time clearing tree branches from the roads so we could get to our livestock. We cut a path into "Grandmas" with chain saws this morning and later, had to recut a path to get back out! Liz and Jeremy and I snapped pictures of the event but don't have computer time right now to post them with limited power. Thats all for now, I'm tired, aching, and discouraged will wrap up in a blanked by the wood stove and catch up with some sleep.
This ice accumulated on a snall bush.
Powerlines hang low with ice between us and Grandmas.
Ice on barbed wire fence.
December 13, 6:30 pm. still no power.
We still have no power this evening---generators keep running. Did see some power company trucks this afternoon in the area and they told Jeremy power may be on by tomorrow. Temps got up into the upper 30s today and melted ice off the lines but actually caused more outages as the ice fell. Snow in the forecast tomorrow so can't get power back soon enough.
December 14, 8 pm. heavy snow falling---still no power.
Got home from Salina at 7:30 driving through heavy snow all the way. I measured 4" of snow and reported this to Mary S. at the Wichita NWS. Driving into Salina at 4:45 I taped a report about the snow falling and roads getting slick west of Salina and this was used as the lead story on the 5 pm. news on KSAL. We still have no power as the melting ice dropped lines yesterday afternoon and pushed the avalible power farther away from our house. Looking at radar, the west edge of the snow band was located at Hays so more to come! Certainly the heavy snow will hinder the power company's efforts to restore electricity.
Long time-no power, power pole snapped by ice laden lines.
December 17, 4:15 pm THE POWER IS BACK ON!
December 22, snow and blow!
We recieved 1-1/2" of snow today with the wind howling at 20 to 40 mph! Still have some snow left over from the previous storm so todays snow all drifted. Biggest problem with this storm was low visibility due to blowing snow. Talked to the NWS Wichita about conditions as well as a call to KSAL stating auto wrecks occurring east of Salina being storm related. The sky cleared off around 3:30 pm and the wind finally let up some.