I turned on the computer when I came in from chores and saw an ongoing severe/tornado outbreak, especially in south central Missouri. I spent all evening following the storms on my laptop and was amazed at the prominent hook echoes that accompanied many of the tornado warned storms. As we sit here in central Kansas up to our eyeballs in snow ice and mud, I wonder what our storm possibilities this spring will be like. If one relates to last year where the "ice cap" was in western Kansas and an active storm season occurred in the western/central Kansas, I am wondering if central/eastern Kansas will recieve major storms this spring. Jan. 7, was sure a early start and fortunately due to good warnings/public awareness only two people were killed. The picture I posted below of one of the storms on radar says it all.
Rotating storm with hook located southcentral Missouri---one of many!
February 5, mostly nightime killer tornado outbreak starting in Arkansas through Tennesee, Kentucky and Alabama.
February 5,morning SPC convective outlook highlighting the area where the killer tornado outbreak occurred. In the afternoon the high risk was expanded into Tennessee.
Radar image of one of the killer storms that devestated Tennesee. I watched three main supercell storms like this one parade through the state during the night of Feb. 5, on my laptop computer.
My wife and I attended the storm chasers convention in Denver this last weekend, Feb. 16-17. I always have this thing about mountains---I just want to climb every one and turn around and view the scene. Crazy, I'm sure, but I envy you chasers that live next to the Rockies. As for the convention, my mission was to round out my knowledge about the Greensburg storm, which I was on in it's later stages and was the only time I was truely afraid in my chasing career. I had many of my questions answered at the convention. Best of all, was meeting all the folks that I met last convention, (my first). I remember faces and not names (old age?) but I enjoyed talking to all you chasers and seeing you all again! Also it amazes me how at the convention, you can sit at a table with complete strangers and talk about a storm that all were on. I just really enjoyed visiting with you all!
It is April 13, and central Kansas has not had a severe warning yet. We are persistantely caught on the cold side in a northwesterly flow aloft. This picture shows about as much convection as we have had---the morning sun heating the lower levels causing cumulus clouds to form with frigid temps aloft. The persistant northwest winds helps in one way I guess, it spins the wind generators well that are located 4 miles northwest of home (along I-70).
April 17, early morning severe thunderstorm warnings.
I was awakened around 12:30 am. by the weather radio alerting for a severe thunderstorm watch streatching from southwest through central Kansas. SPC had a slight risk circle for southwest/southcentral for possible hail/high winds Wed. evening/Thursday morning. Then at around 1 am. a thunderstorm warning was issued for Barton,Russell and western Ellsworth counties. I got up and loaded my laptop into the pickup and headed west on I-70, punching through a non-severe storm before turning off at the 156 jct. and headed for Ellsworth and the warned storm. I discovered that Wichita radar was down on my laptop radar program so I switched to Hastings Neb. radar and set up 2 miles east of Ellsworth and waited for the storm to move in. It did,pounding me with heavy rain and pea hail and not too much wind. It was obvious to me after watching the radar, that the worst part of the storm was south of Ellsworth down to almost Lyons. I made multiple reports to KSAL which the DJ talked about when he broke in with warning info updates. I also made reports to the NWS Wichita and KSN TV. I drove ahead to Brookville on highway 40 and set up again and let the storm pass over to see what it had in it---more of the same, heavy rain and a few plinks of pea hail. Reports of wind damage and large hail started coming in to my south along and south of the highway 4 corridor where the storm was bowing out the most. I drove to west of Salina on '40 and watched the heaviest part of the storm pass south of Salina then pivot east of Salina and clear the area. I made it home at 3:30 am. but at least I got to work around some severe storms.
Intercept of the April 24, night time super cell/tornado north of Beloit Ks.
The SPC had a moderate risk outlook for north central Kansas for today/tonight. I was thinking that a storm might form out west and track into central Kansas along I-70 but a significant supercell formed farther north around Goodland/Colby area and tracked east through Hill City-Stocton-Beloit-Concordia. I watched all this unfold on my laptop at home, thinking that I won't chase, but eating my heart out with all the continuous rotation this storm displayed. As I was laying in bed watching KSN breaking in on the Tonight Show on the TV with severe reports, it looked like the storm might be building to the south maybe brushing the northern part of Lincoln Co. That was it, I was going! Of course it was the storm's way of suckering me out. I drove north on highway 14 through Lincoln and up to Beloit as the storm never built south at all. I stopped on the hill one mile south of Beloit just as the south edge of the storm was about to hit the town. At this time the storm was not tornado warned but I could see a shelf cloud with two significant lowerings just west/northwest of the town. I remembered the NWS text on the storm earlier in the evening stating numerous circulations were located on the front of the storm. At this time I was startled to see a large powerflash somewhere on the north side of the town, then immediately another powerflash in the same area. The lights in town went out with this second flash and I'm wondering---tornado or straight line winds?!!! I called in a report of what I saw, powerflashes near a lowering of the cloud base. Spotting was tough, simillar to Hoisington Ks. supercell--very little lightning below the cloud base. I then drove through town to see if there was and where was the damage finding no damage in town. As I was about in the middle of town I saw another powerflash to my northeast, WHOW! I turned east on highway 9 and saw better structure to my northeast, a bowl lowering quickly changing to a ragged funnel then back to a smooth bowl. At this time the weather radio stated that a house was destroyed 3 miles north of Beloit on highway 14. I decided to backtrack and check this out for the radio/tv newsies because I was behind the storm and probably could not catch up with it. Just as I pulled up to highway 14, police were setting up a road block and I talked with the officer learning that a house had been unroofed, power lines were down but no injuries. Certainally this was where I saw the first two power flashes, and after talking with the officer, I cleared the the area, called in reports to the radio and TV stations and went home.
May 1, LP supercell Lincoln/Ottawa Counties.
I had been watching the severe warned storms in Oklahoma, southeast and northeast Kansas on my laptop Thursday evening as I worked around the farm. By just before sundown, the cold front was plowing through central Kansas and some thunderstorms were developing from Ellsworth through Lincoln and on north. I was putting out cattle mineral in the Lincoln Co. pasture when the Ellsworth Co. cell intensified just to my west. I watched it develop into a low precipitation supercell and as the south part of it moved over me I recieved pea hail for a moment. As the storm raced to the northeast, I snapped some pictures of a wispy hail shaft and then a inflow tail coming in from the south side. Soon a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the storm as it moved into Ottawa County and a small hook echo apeared on my laptop. Jeremy and Meghan was 5 miles to my northeast and saw some mid rotation as the storm passed them. All in all this was a neat storm to see, I was suprised to see it form waaaay behind the dryline though. It's been 2 years since I've seen a LP supercell.
Wispy hail shaft looking just to my northeast.
A later pic. of LP supercell with inflow tail, looking northeast.
Radar image with hook echo taken right after I snapped the picture above.
May 5, severe thunderstorm warning Russell through Rice counties.
Storm Prediction Center had a slight risk outlook for central/western Kansas this day. It rained all morning and part of the afternoon here at home. Around 5 pm. a storm formed north of Hays, (on the west side of the morning's remnant rain area) and was severe warned. Jeremy and I intercepted this storm east of Russell on I-70 encountering hail to quarters. We followed the core through Dorrance then south finding pea to quarter size hail pouring down so heavily that we left tracks through the hail on the ground. This was reported to the NWS Wichita, and KSN TV. At times the hail was so loud on the pickup that the NWS forecaster could not hear what I was saying!! To try to keep up with the storm, we drove to Wilson, then south to Hollyrood where we caught up with the back side of the storm. Three miles west of Hollyrood we encountered a blast of wind that shook the truck and then blew off my magnent strobe light from the top. This was reported to the NWS as we drove up to highway 156 where we saw emergency vehicles going south and then saw a semi that had been blown over on it's side. We drove to highway 4 then east and set up between Bushton and Geneseo, watching some downward decending air kick up plums of dust, (an RFD?) just to our west. We drove to Highway 4/14 junction then south back into the core having more of the same---pea to quarter size hail pounding down. At this time, (8:30) it was getting dark, so I pulled off the storm and went home. Today, (May 6) we're in a slight risk with a moderate risk just to our northwest, so maybe more of the same.
Rain/hail shaft north of I-70 at Bunker Hill, looking west.
May 6, severe thunderstorm/tornado warning for Barton County.
Around 4 in the afternoon I noticed severe storms developing north of the Garden City area moving east northeast towards central Kansas. After watching the radar for a while I figured I had time to go to fire training at Bavaria before the storms moved into the western area of central Kansas. Unfortionetely the storms sped up because a half hour into training my chase partner called stating that Barton Co. had a tornado warning just issued. I headed home and picked up Jeremy while Jason (my chase pard) headed for the storm. We got on the storm SE of Ellsworth just as the tornado warning was dropped but a severe thunderstorm warning continued. We saw a spectacular high precipitation mothership supercell/bowing out to our south but saw nothing severe in our area. Jason was about 18 miles south of us and he experienced higher winds and pea hail but the severe part of the storm was still south of his location---the severe reports came in south of Lyons. We initially thought the north end of the storm would require a warning for Ellsworth Co. but the storm just fell apart within minutes---an effective "kill" by our chase team!! After that we met up and checked out our pictures and went home.
Picture of HP mothership/bow echo looking south. Shortly after this picture was taken the storm started to weaken.
May 22, tornado southwest of WaKeeney Kansas.
SPC had a moderate risk outlook out for northwest/westcentral Kansas this day and upgraded to a high risk for the area from around WaKeeney through Colby to around McCook Neb. Storms developed in west central Kansas and a Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado watch was issued for about the western third of Kansas. I called Jeremy and Andrew G. and decided to chase any storm around Hays. After waiting for Andrew to arrive from Salina, Jeremy, Meghan, Andrew and I jumped on I-70 and headed west around 5 pm. We watched a tornado warned storm on my laptop, moving north in the Ness City area and decided to try to intercept it at WaKeeney. We arrived at WaKeeney with a reported tornado on the ground northwest of town so we drove north on Highway 283 trying to see through the low clouds and haze from all the moisture that was in the air. We turned west off of 283 and headed toward the tornadic part of the storm per radar, and closed in. At this time a wall cloud with a funnel came into view to our west and we watched it move towards Hill City where it dissapated. The interesting thing about this storm was the 40 mph inflow into it, making standing and holding cameras still difficult. Jason, my chase pard was catching up with us at this time as he started a little later from Salina than we did. We visited with some chasers from England for a moment as I decided to not pursue this storm as we were far behind at this time. Jason joined us and was somewhat "grumpy" for missing the show we had already seen and we decided to go back to WaKeeney and check on other storms moving up towards us from the south. I topped off the fuel tank in WaKeeney and we made pit stops as a storm became tornado warned 25 miles to our southwest. Jason lead us south on 283 for about 6 miles and turned west. I missed this turn and went a mile farther and turned west one and a half miles to a hill top where we pulled off the gravel road. At this time we saw a large wall cloud with a tail about 12 miles to our southwest and I was afraid a large tornado would develope. Instead, it almost completely dissapated as it continued to track straight for us. Visibility was good,(suprisingly) as vicious lightning bolts began to pop around us and the area where the wall cloud was, began to reorganize. Soon a funnel developed approx. 1 mile to our southwest and looked to just pass by to our west---but it was going to be close! There were several chasers parked around us as well as students from The College of DuPage in two specialized buses. At this time we all got to witness a wet RFD wrap a rain curtain around the front of the funnel. It immediately narrowed and touched down one half mile west of our position. It grew in size and wrapped more rain around itself making it harder to see. I saw a "curtain" of rain/hail and RFD wind approaching just to our south and we bolted back east to 283 getting slammed by heavy rain, dime hail and 60 mph winds. I reported this to KSN TV and was really afraid for WaKeeney as the tornado was heading towards the town. Jason was farther north and got longer video as the tornado went by him still increasing in size. Fortunately it missed the main part of town doing minor damage. A second tornado warned storm came on the heels of the first and was headed directly towards us, (per laptop radar)so we backtracked 2 miles east of 283 to get out of the rain/hail and let this storm pass us by. It passed on the east side of WaKeeney and never tornadoed that we could see. We quit the chase as it was dark and went home after comparing pictures. This was Meghan's first daytime tornado and also Andrews' first tornado so a very sucessful chase!
Funnel cloud with rain curtains swirling around, a wet rear flank downdraft, looking southwest.
Tornado touching down one half mile west of our location. Upon review of our video at a later time shows a second tornado to the right of the centered tornado!
May 23, Tornado outbreak!
The Storm Prediction Center had a moderate risk outlook today in the same area that they had a high risk yesterday, west central/northwest Kansas. By mid afternoon severe storms developed in northwest Kansas building down into the Garden City area. As they did yesterday, the storms raced northward, but with more of a northeasterly movement. Soon tornado warnings were coming fast and furious from scattered large supercells from Oklahoma to Nebraska. I had elected to stay home to get some farmwork done today but my chase pard, fresh on our sucesses of yesterday, wanted to go again. So at 5:30 Jason and Jeremy took off westbound on I-70 to intercept the Ness County storm hopefully west of Hays. They arrived in the Ellis area just before the storm hit, supposidly with a large tornado in attendance!! They turned south at Ellis and hugged the east edge of the storm finally spotting a thin elephant trunk shaped tornado just south of town then loosing sight of it in the darkness and rain. When the tornado struck some power lines on the west side of Ellis the power flashes illuminated the tornado and the guys caught this on the video. A second tornado was following on the heels of the first part of the storm but the guys did not see this reported large tornado due to rain and darkness! I relayed the guys report immediatley to KSN as they were on full time covering 6-7 active tornados "on the ground" warnings. I watched a tornado warned storm move through the Greensburg area taking a similar track as a year ago. I left home at 10 pm. to cover this storm as it moved into southeast Barton county and into the edge of KSAL listening area. I "flew" down through Kanopolis dam through Little River--Lyons to get on the southeast side of this tornado warned storm. Luckily when I arrived near the storm, it weakened to below severe limits and the warning was dropped so no coverage was necessary on air. Tornado totals on this day added up to the mid 60s mostly in Kansas with two people killed in a car in Pratt county and a few other injuries elsewhere.
Powerflash illuminating the tornado located on the west side of Ellis, Ks. looking northwest. This is a video capture off my chase pard's camera. Photo by Jason Schulz.
May 25, Tornado warnings for central Kansas.
SPC had a moderate risk for parts of central Kansas this Sunday and storms started early in the afternoon out in western/southwestern Kansas. We got home from church/stopping by cemetaries a little later than usual and I still had to organize the program for our Memorial Day service at our local cemetary! Storms were already moving into central Kansas at this time and a tornado watch was already in effect. My chase pard was already enroute towards a tornado warned storm south of Russell where he bagged a brief tornado later on. A storm intensified in eastern Russell Co. and was then tornado warned before I finished with my paperwork. I left home towards this storm, (by myself) and got in position north of Lincoln, setting up on a hill just off of highway 14. I had a "fluffey buldging" shelf cloud to my northwest and a wall cloud to my distant west, (where there was another tornado warned storm in eastern Russell Co.). I then had extreme cell phone issues and either couldn't get on live or couldn't stay on live with the radio station! When the shelf cloud passed over I had very gusty winds beginning and got out of the truck to measure the current speed. When I pushed the on button the first reading was 50 mph and kept working up as I struggled to stand in the buffet and stinging rain. I finally got my phone to work enough to give reports to KSAL and the NWS Wichita about 56-58 mph winds I measured and I dropped back south to Lincoln and followed the storm east on highway 18 until the warning was dropped. Jeremy called and wanted to ride so I went south to I-70 and picked Meghan and him up at our exit and we charged west as another tornado warned storm moved into northwestern Ellsworth Co. We set up northeast, then south of Ellsworth, where I sent in multiple reports to KSAL useing Jeremy's cell phone, (which worked much better)describing only flat cloud bases and gusty winds. At this time the weather radio toned a tornado warning for northern Saline Co. stating a funnel sighting north of Salina. Todd P. was on this storm and saw not much either although there was some "scrambling" and excitement by folks in Salina! Soon the warning was dropped as all these storms except the Lincoln Co. one was undercut with outflow and had little chance to tornado in my opinion.
Memorial Day severe thunderstorm chase.
SPC had a moderate risk outlook just to our southwest this Monday and by mid afternoon issued a tornado watch from central through southwest Kansas. I had some friends who attended our Memorial Day service and always wanted to chase with me once so when a thunderstorm developed west of Ellsworth, I loaded them up and we went on the intercept. Today, storms were moving very slowly, (15 mph) so I drove through the core twice encountering nickle hail the second time. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued as the storm intensified while moving over I-70 on the Lincoln/Ellsworth Co. line and the warning was extended to northwest Saline Co. KSAL went on live and we made multiple reports as we drove east on I-70 encountering quarter hail and blinding rain. I pulled off our home exit and let the storm pass over again with rain and hail the theme again with increasing cloud to ground lightning. I dropped off my "passengers" at home and Liz jumped in as I was using her cell phone for reports. Liz and I drove back up north of I-70 to check out high water from the heavy rains and as I was making a live report on the radio we were paged to a house struck by lightning fire call and at that point I broke off the chase.
May 29, intercept of the tornadic super cell that hit Glen Elder Kansas.
Whow! Where to start on this one. I was checking severe prospects for central Kansas around 8:30 am when SPC upgraded Nebraska to a "high risk" and extended a moderate risk into north central Kansas. During the afternoon a Particulary Dangerous Situation tornado watch was issued from Ellsworth Co. up through central Nebraska. Storms developed in the late afternoon in northwest Kansas and southcentral Nebraska and moved east-northeast. I watched the storms on radar occasionly but they were moving outside my chase area with several being tornado warned. Eventually, a storm intensified south of the broken line of warned storms, in the Plainville area and the storm track showed it to be moving towards the Beloit area. I called Jason, (chase pard) and Jeremy and they came out immediately. The time at this point, was around 7 pm. We drove up to Lincoln, then west on highway 18 to Sylvan Grove then turned north towards Hunter/Tipton. With a two lane blacktop with little traffic, we "FLEW" north to Tipton. South of Tipton we began to see storm structure to our north---a striated mothership! As we drove through Tipton there was a report of a large tornado northeast of Tipton and what little sun there was, was blocked by the storm making for very reduced visibility of what was going under the cloud base. We drove 2 miles north then 5 east on a dirt road ending up on a hill where finally, we could see the wall cloud then the tornado to our north-northeast! The tornado was very large but it "morphed" to a multi-vortex, then a coneshape, then widening to a wedge and lifted, only to go back to a multi-vortex to begin the cycle all over again! Contrast was poor at all times during this period and I called KSN TV for a report. They wanted me to go on live to describe what I was seeing and it took a while before the direct link was brought up to my cell phone. By then the tornado had submerged in the gloom and I described what I saw minutes before on the live feed. We then took some muddy roads to the highway that went over Glen Elder dam, where we began to see tornado damage to a farm stead just below the causway. On the north side of the dam, we drove into Glen Elder, hoping to go east on highway 24, but was blocked by law enforcement due to power poles/lines down. The trouper said we might circumvent the damage on the highway by driving through Glen Elder to the east side of town. WRONG! We encountered large trees down on streets, houses, and vehichles throughout all the town as we winded around trying to find open streets to drive through. Luckily there was no structure damage where we went, (other than large trees laying on houses) we finally made it to the east side of town only to find the way blocked by downed power poles. I stopped and called KSN and KSAL with information of the damage we saw while Jason, Jeremy and Meghan tried to find a pathway through with other stranded chasers and drivers. There was a farm kid that drove up and wanted to check to see if there was damage to his farmstead so I took my chain saw and cut one of the snapped power poles off so he could drive down the ditch to his farm and when he made it through, we followed, clearing the obstructing poles and lines and headed to Beloit. On the way home, south of Lincoln, we ran into both TIV's pulled off the road with the new TIV out of fuel! We talked with the guys there a bit and went on home arriving at around 11:30. Even at that hour the storm we were on was still producing tornadoes in Nebraska!
Striated mothership beast, looking north. We were south of Tipton at this time.
Large tornado on the ground, probably in the Glen Elder area at this time.
Radar image of storm over Glen Elder. I guess that about says it all!
June 5, HIGH RISK chase. This was Darren Kern's last storm chase and this chase account is dedicated to him. Darren, rest in peace.
For days, forecasters and chasers had been highlighting Thursday as a significant outbreak day for the plains. Yeah, it seems that Thursdays in the past, this spring was THE day for action. So, Thursday morning I was checking the weather on the computer over breakfast, when SPC upgraded central Kansas to a HIGH RISK in their 8 AM. outlook! Ok, guess this is serious, I thought. Then I saw that there was only a 15% tornado probability for the high risk and thought that was low being a couple of weeks ago they had a 30% tornado in a high risk in west central Kansas (WaKeeney). They stated due to mid level winds screaming parallel to the dry line, storms would line out soon after initiation and not stay discreate. By 12:30, storms developed east of Dodge City and immediately "lined out" but became severe. Mark L. and Darren K. came out and we left home at around 1 pm. to go on the intercept. We drove west on I-70 to Wilson, then south and set up, letting the first two warned storms pass by to our west. As the first rain core passed I mesured a 45 mph gust out of the storm and got back into the truck with the wind then increasing. I relayed this info to the NWS Wichita, KSN, and made multiple live reports on KSAL whenever they broke in regular programming. I kept expecting the storms to break out into individual cells and then become tornadic but the shear was too strong. Storms blew by at 50+ mph! A storm in the line around Stafford Co. to our south became tornado warned, so we dropped southeast to highway 4 then east to be on the east side of this storm as it passed by but it was too fast. The tornado warning was extended to Ellsworth Co. and we core punched the storm west to east, letting the small hook and inflow notch pass right in front of us per laptop radar/GPS. This was a loosing situation all around since west of the storm we could not see any structure and core punching limited visibility due to rain, and after we got on the east side of the line the hook area was already 10 miles north of us and submerged in rain! We turned north on highway 14 but could not see structure due to rain wrapping and could not catch up with a storm moving better than 55 mph! This was somewhat disconcerting as this storm was heading straight to where I live in northeast Ellsworth Co. I called mom and told her to head for the basement as the storm would be on her shortly although no tornado was sighted. We turned east on highway 40, intending to get in place around Salina, due to a tornado warned storm in Rice Co. that was embedded in the line of storms moving northeast. As we drove through Carnerio I was supprised to see sizeable tree limbs scattered across the highway from the storm's passage and once again was scared for my home area as we were only a few miles south at that time. I had Mark call mom as I was on the radio live and she said there was no damage at home. We drove to Burma road and turned south and set up south of Smolan and covered live the severe warned storms that moved through Saline Co. All day it was the same---reporting wind and rain and some hail, but nothing excessive. KSAL did live, continuous weather coverage for more than two hours as these storms trained through central Kansas, with interupted coverage that lasted for a total of 5 hours! In all of this only minor damage and no injuries occured.
June 11, tornados and hail.
The storm prediction center had a slight risk for central Kansas with a moderate risk from north central Kansas to western Iowa. Tornadoes were expected more in Neb./Iowa than here with the hail area covering more in the central Kansas area. Around 5 pm. storms initiated around the Rush, Pawnee Co. line, moving northeast towards Russell Co. I was finishing up some hay baling while listening to the portable weather radio in the tractor tone a tornado watch for central Kansas northward. Russell Co. and then Lincoln became severe warned as I finished and got home with more storms building back behind. I gathered my "stuff" and left home intending on covering the new storms moving towards Ellsworth and Russell counties. Immediately after leaving my driveway, I saw a wall cloud with a tail to my northwest, in Lincoln Co. The wall cloud was a classic with the tail scraping the ground looking like a funnel. I called KSN and they said there was rotation north of Lincoln and a tornado warning was issued. I set up on a hill NE of Westfall, called Jeremy to let him know what was happening and took pictures. Jeremy arrived as the wall cloud dissapated some---it seemed a little high based, then a tornado warning was issued for Barton county. I left the Lincoln storm to back track to the Barton Co. T-warned storm taking I-70 to the Sylvan Grove exit then south to highway 40. I set up there, letting the storm with two lowerings to my southwest come almost right at me. Soon a funnel formed, then after a minute or so it touched down as a pretty elephant trunk tornado about 3 miles to my southwest. It stayed on the ground for two or three minutes while I made reports to KSN and KSAl then lifted. A large, low hanging wall cloud formed to the west of the dissapating tornado, and emerged from the rain as I moved one mile east to clear this advancing menace. This wall cloud passed just to my west, never producing a tornado but close, as I drove east to Ellsworth then northeast and set up again. Again two circulations developed but could not bring anything to the ground. The NWS Wichita had a tornado warning on this storm for northern Ellsworth Co. then issued another tornado warning for northern Barton southern Ellsworth with a "hooking" storm in the Claflin area. At this point I made a terrible error in route planning. I didn't look closely to the radar while I was driving and I thought I could close in on and east of this advancing storm by driving to Wilson, then south to Hollyrood. Instead the storm turned right (east), and as I tried to core punch the north side, northwest of Hollyrood I encountered quarter size hail with an abrupt wind switch which put the circulation just to my south/southeast with no visibility due to rain. I turned around, thinking I would drive back to highway 40 then east through Ellsworth and get ahead of it. The storm accelerated east and was T-warned from southern Ellsworth Co. then Saline county. Even driving 65 mph. I couldn't break out of the precip core to the north of the hook all the way to Brookville! During this time of white knuckle driving my cell phone battery "cheeped" at me as I was talking with Jeremy so I plugged it into the charger. Finally, I broke out of the rain between Brookville and Bavaria with the storm circulation heading straight for Salina. I could see a lowering to my south and when I called KSAL my phone stuck on dialing and I couldn't even turn it off, leaving me with an inop phone!! I turned south on Burma Rd. and set up on a hill just west of Salina. At this time my phone began ringing---it was Jeremy---and my phone worked!! I quickly dialed KSAL and joined live coverage as the wall cloud moved directly over the city. Luckily, no tornados touched down but amother storm was approaching western Saline Co. and coverage focused on this severe warned storm just west of Brookville. I retraced my track back west on highway 40 as it was getting dark, then my laptop radar showed a large classic hook just south of Brookville. As I took my turn live on the radio, I commented that this storm looked bad and had a hook on it south of Brookville. I set up on Link rd. facing south, trying to see into the hook area but couldn't due to rain and darkness. At this time very large hail began to hit around me and my instinct was to try to get ahead of the hail core by driving east on 40. Instead, I was being bashed with golf ball to baseball hail which I broke into live coverage to report on the radio. Fearing my side window would break in on me I turned sideways into the wind/hail, taking several splintering hits to the windshield. A tornado warning was issued for Saline Co. with the hook heading straight for south Salina. The hail let up enough that I drove to Burma Rd. again where I set up before and I watched the swirling clouds pass over south Salina with power flashes to the east side of town, (which I realized later was several miles east of Salina). Soon reports of damage came in from south then east of Salina as the storm exited the area and the warning was dropped. I then headed to Brookville as Rural fire paged us to man trucks for search and rescue in the northeast Saline county area. It was during search and rescue that we heard that Chapman and Manhatten took direct hits from this storm.
Wall cloud with tail located north of Lincoln. The first tornado warned storm of the day.
Tornado southeast of Wilson about 2-3 miles away looking southwest. This is a video capture and was darkened to help image contrast due to rain masking the tornado.
Low hanging wall cloud with funnel northwest of Black Wolf, Ellsworth county just after crossing highway 40 looking northwest. After seeing this I realized that tornado potential had increased as storm bases had lowered. This picture was taken about 10 minutes after tornado above had dissapated.
Picture of a wall cloud with double tails taken by Jeremy looking just north of I-70, southeast Lincoln Co. This storm was the one I was on earlier around Ellsworth, but I was dropping back to Wilson on my ill-fated journey toward the tornado warned storm in northern Barton/southern Ellsworth counties.
Tornado de-roofed part of the house plus the attached garage. This house was 3 miles west of I-35 southwest of Salina. It was the first damage the tornado did and it touched down, then it lifted some then dropped down again east of I-35 in south Salina.
There was a wheat field surrounding the damaged home on the north and west. I tried to show with this pic. the flattened wheat in a semi-circle around the house like it was the outside of the tornado. Really amazing to see!
Two of four "hits" to the windshield by up to baseball hail, recieved the night of June 11.
Some reflections on June 11.
I've been thinking about my chasing and reporting on the night of June 11 for the past two weeks. Actually, I was really dissapointed with my coverage of the storms that night. My thinking was affected somewhat by the sudden death of my chase friend, Darren K. of which I learned late in the night on June 11. I analized my actions and what I said on air, as I always do, noting things I could have done better, both in positioning and reporting. I talked to Todd P. of KSAL about what I said on air as I don't remember everything I say. He gave me a CD of the around 2 hours of coverage we did live that night. After listening to the CD I am feeling a lot better about my input to the total coverage. Here are some points from the event. Salina was really lucky! An EF-3 tornado hit the far south side of town at night and no one was seriously injured. If the track was one or two miles north, it could have been bad. My first action post storm was to buy a new cell phone, one that I can rely on dialing out! After listening to the coverage as a listener would was different for me---I'm locked in in my little space in my truck, driving--looking at storm structure--checking the radar on my computer--planning my route--and dialing the phone so I'm not totally listening to the overall coverage. I was pleased to hear myself state that I did not like the "looks" of this storm as it was moving into western Saline Co. and it had a "hook" south of Brookville! At this time the storm was only severe thunderstorm warned as I was driving back west towards Brookville from Salina. Now I could have gone back east then south to get southeast of this storm but I always feel that I need to be between the storm and Salina, (the greatest population area) so I can tell folks whats coming. Then on my bombarded hail report, west of Bavaria, the last thing I said was I saw a lowering to my southeast---which was probably the wall cloud that spawned the tornado. Also my reports dovetailed with the Meterologist comments live on air. I called a hook at Brookville, he said rotation with the storm was increasing. A tornado warning was issued for Saline Co., he said the hail indicator on radar was "maxed out" west of Salina, then came my baseball hail report west of Bavaria and my sighting of a lowering to my southeast which he said rotation was strong and approaching south Salina. So again, listening like a listener, a pretty accurate picture was painted for people of Saline Co. from KSAL's total coverage of the storms which I was a couple of cogs in the broadcasting gear. I do feel better now but I still hate spotting at night!
Terrible hail storm northeast of Ellsworth, June 11.
Been busy harvesting wheat but slipped up to highway 156/111 to see the devastation described to me by my neighbors. I thought we had hail damage. This was incredible! The wheat fields were roller-packed and the trees were bare making it look like winter. I snapped some pictures around an abandoned farmstead where there was a storm cave still there and the wind bent over a windmill and destroyed a small barn. When I get time, I'll try to post some thumbnails of this area of destruction.
mouse over a thumbnail below to enlarge
August 14, early morning severe thunderstorm warning, western Ellsworth Co.
The weather radio awakened me around 1:30 am. for a severe thunderstorm warning for Russell Co. stating high winds the main threat. After a severe thunderstorm watch for central Kansas was toned on the weather radio, it went off again at around 2:15 for Barton and western Ellsworth Cos. stating high winds were moving east. I left the house and saw on the laptop radar a large bow echo from east of Russell to Great Bend. Driving west bound on I-70, I could see a tiered shelf cloud to my west and set up at K-14/I-70 and let the storm pass over. I recieved only heavy rain and some wicked lightning but no wind and reported this to the NWS and the radio station. Soon after this the warning was dropped and I got home around 4 am.
September 12, nowcasting for my daughter and son-in-law east of Lawrence Ks.
I was checking out hurricane Ike on the computer before going in to the high school football game when around 5 oclock my daughter called from Eudora, Ks. asking why the sirens were going off in town as she was arriving home! "AAHH don't know" but I'll look. The only warning box on the NWS radar was in western Missouri, so I turned on my laptop and called up GR-level 3 and it had a warning box for southeastern Douglass Co! There was a small but "hooking" storm that was tracking JUST south of Eudora. I called my daughter back and she said the radio said there was a tornado touchdown at Baldwin City. I said that it looked like the circulation would pass just southeast of her and asked where her husband, James was which she said he was driving home from Kansas City. Fearing that he might drive into the storm I tried to call him to coach him through the storm but couldn't make connection on his cell phone. At this time the warning box updated, stating law enforcement was seeing a tornado doing damage 4 miles south of Eudora! I called Mary back and had her look out her south window to see what she could see---just heavy rain. Minutes later she called me back stateing the Kansas City TV station was showing a tornado on the ground in the DeSoto area then again in the Bonner Springs area. James arrived home at this time and she said he drove through this storm as he was coming home!!!! Then a second tornado warned storm passed just south of Eudora with the text stating the Eudora fire dept. saw a rotating wall cloud 2 miles south of town!! This storm did not get as large as the first storm that passed the Kids' house. That storm became a full-fledged super cell with periotic "hook" echoes and low level velosity couplets. Luckily these tornadoes were weak, EF-0--EF-1, but pictures I saw looked like strong spring time tornadoes.
September 23, hail--rain--floods, southern Saline County.
There was no risk for severe weather from the SPC outlooks today although there was thunderstorms forecasted for central Kansas. Storms festered all morning and part of the pm. around the Russell-Hays area, then storms intensified in southern Ellsworth county, moving into Saline county around and south of Brookville. I noticed that lightning strikes were increasing to the southeast of my home and when a significant weather advisory was issued for eastern Ellsworth/southern Saline counties I loaded up the pickup and headed for Brookville. Arriving in the area south of Brookville, along the edge of the Smoky Hill Air Guard range, I found blinding rain with a slow moving heavy thunderstorm. Soon, water was pouring out of the fields and pastures and across the dirt roads on the north side of the "bomb" range. Also, lightning activated the tornado siren in Brookville at this time. I reported this to the NWS and KSAL then as the storm moved east and weakened I drove into Salina to fuel up and grab some supper. While in Salina, the storms intensified south of Salina and backbuilt back towards Brookville again! I drove south of Salina on I-35 to the Assaria exit then west towards Burma Rd. encountering water over the road in 3 places. I called this in to the NWS and a flash flood warning was issued after my report. I headed back towards Brookville to check out a storm south of town when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for this storm. The core of this storm was located in the middle of Smoky Hill range so I set up just outside of the bomb range headquarters where I saw more heavy rain and periodic bouts of dime sized hail. A range employe stopped as he was entering the gate I was parked by and we talked about the storms and the potential of more flooding. He took my cell number and entered the range, promising to call me if he saw significant weather. Five minutes later he called stating he had golf ball hail falling about 2 miles south of my position. As I was relaying this to the NWS up to half dollar hail began to hit my position and lasted a minute or two. Later he called back stating that the rain gauge at the "Ops" building had 5.50+" of rain in it. KSAL was covering the warnings with Todd P. located south of Salina and myself, southwest of Bavaria. I went on live with Todd two times, describing the rain, hail, flooding that was occurring in the southern half of the county as well as "clearing" the northern half of the county where little bad weather was happening. Finally the storm weakend at 8:30 and the warning was dropped. I checked on the rising water in Spring creek as I went home, then, when I was north of Brookville, a new warning was issued for northern Ellsworth Co. where a new storm intensified! I drove north to I-70 then west on 70 to the north Ellsworth exit where this storm weakened and the warning was dropped. I got home at 9:45 after covering storms for 5 hours.