February 9, high wind warning for central Kansas.
I was in Salina getting a new starter for my feeding truck when the wind was reaching it's peak velosity, blowing out of the southwest, gusting up to 50 mph. I left Salina en route to Brookville to stand by at the fire station due to the red flag warning in effect at the time. West of Salina, driving into the wind, I met a semi on highway 40 (a two lane highway). The resultant buffet caused by driving 58mph into a 50 mph headwind plus the turbulence by the semi, ripped the hood loose on my pickup and wrapped it back over the cab and shattered the windshield with a sudden crash! I was able to slow down and pull off the highway safely and bend the hood back down temporarly and limp into Brookville. Luckily, no fires started today. Still, what a blow!
February 14-15, storm chasers convention.
Liz and I attended the convention in the Denver area and had a very good time. In addition to renewing friendships from previous years, I got to see presentations about severe weather and tornadoes. Also neat, were chats with Dr. Greg Forbes from the weather channel, Rich Thompson, lead forecaster for the Storm Prediction Center, and Tim Marshall, who gave me more insight on the June 11 Salina tornado. Tim, probably more than any other person, has motivated me into this chasing "habit". Favorite presentations were Josh Wurman's and Howard Bluestein's radar images of tornadic storms, as well as Rich Thompson's tornado parameter forecasting. I learned about a large research project, Vortex II, which will begin in May and focus on severe storms anywhere in the plains. With 40 vehicles in this chase armada, as well as free-lance chasers converging around significant storms, safety and logistics are going to be compromised! Covering severe weather for KSAL could be more difficult to do this spring with this project happening in the area but I understand why it is nesessary. Also neat at the convention, were Texas chasers who sat at my table. They had pictures of the Lone Grove Ok. tornado that killed 8 or 9 people February 10. Tim Marshall was also on that one. Anyway, I had a great time.
March 16, making many storm chase presentations.
It's mid March, severe weather awareness week. I have been asked to do lots of severe storm/storm chase presentations to different enities. I did a storm safety talk to our church via parish nurse severe weather week. I followed that up with a 3/4 hour live program on KSAL radio last Thursday, talking about June 11, 08, my trip to the storm chasers convention and some severe saftey tips. Saturday I give a storm spotting/positioning talk to our rural fire district volunteers and follow that up on Tuesday by giving storm spotting tips to the Ell-Saline/Southeast Saline bus drivers. After spring break I will do Ell-Saline Jr. High/Sr High school classes with all day saftey talks. It's a busy time to prepare for all of these talks but I enjoy doing it and hopefully people remember to be safe during the upcoming storm season.
Picture of me giving a storm positioning talk to the fire fighters at district 3's Hedville station.
March 23, High wind warning, tornado watch, severe thunderstorm warning SE Saline Co.
An intense low moved into central Nebraska today and created insane wind speeds here in central Kansas. By 10 am. Wichita NWS issued a high wind warning for us and I know of 4 semis that were tipped over in the Salina area. SPC had a moderate risk for central/southeast Kansas with a 15% tornado prob. from Salina to Topeka south to Oklahoma. Around 1 pm storms started out in Lincoln Co. and a tornado watch was issued for central Kansas. I called Cody T. to come out so he could ride with me,(Jeremy had a 3 pm bus route and couldn't come). We drove up into Lincoln Co. and checked out these storms but the wind shear was tearing them apart. We also watched an isolated storm down in the Medicine Lodge area that was very strong and racing northeast. I decided to chase this storm as the track would take it through the McPherson area. About this time we were paged to a potential large grass fire so we broke off the chase and battled this fire for a short hour. After helping put the fire out we rechecked the radar---nothing much was happening except the isolated severe warned storm from Med. Lodge had moved to southeast of McPherson. Due to storm speeds, I told Cody we'd drive down I-70 east bound and get ahead of it (hopefully). We fianlly got in front of the storm a Junction City and turned south and got southeast of the storm and set up on a hill 15 miles southeast of Junction City. We saw some good structure with a wall cloud forming at times but it just couldn't quite get the job done. After the storm raced across I-70 we called it quits and started home. At this time a storm intensified and became severe warned in southeast Saline Co. We pulled into Abilene as the storm approached from the southwest pelting us with heavy rain and pea/dime hail. I made a live report on KSAL from south Abilene, describing the rain and hail we were getting, warning drivers on I-70 to be cautious. We then drove south then west towards Salina encountering hail piled up on the road high enough that we made tracks and skidded at times! Soon after this the warning was dropped as the storm weakened and we went home. Not bad for the first chase of the season.
Picture of a ragged wall cloud with tail, southeast of Junction City. This looks like a shelf cloud/outflow type feature but was anchored to the cloud base.
Hail covering the road south of Solomon.
March 28, March goes out like a lion, Blizzard!
We had a blizzard develop during the night into this morning. I called in around 10" to the Wichita NWS but was probably deeper---too much wind! The only way we could get around was with 4 wheel drive tractors this morning. In the afternoon the snow stopped and the sun came out and the wet snow settled some so travel was some easier. This was the first good moisture since last Decenber.
April 26, early morning tornado warning.
Saturday night, SPC upgraded Kansas to a moderate risk so I was thinking that a significant chase day would happen in the afternoon. Friday the 24, we used the air conditioner as we hauled cattle to summer pasture, Saturday we used the heater while hauling cattle. The cold front was supposed to lift back to the north over us by Sunday morning (26th) and I thought things would not pop untill the afternoon. Unfortionately at 5:30 am, the weather radio toned for a tornado warning for Barton county, then toned again for a tornado watch for central Kansas. I looked at the radar on my computer and saw a classic hook just southwest of Great Bend with a severe warned storm located south of Ellsworth. I loaded the pickup and headded south then west towards Ellsworth. The lead warned storm weakened so I turned south intending to get on the south side of the Barton Co. T-warned storm. Due to my computer missing a couple of scans on radar I realized that the storm was west of Ellsworth and only severe warned. I made a mad dash north on highway 14 to Ellsworth where I stopped and got some much needed fuel, (I left home with half a tank!) then headded north to Lincoln where the severe part of the storm was located 15 miles SW of Lincoln. I had already made some live reports on KSAL and as I set up on the north side of Lincoln, I called KSN and talked to Dean who said the hail core was only a mile to the west of Lincoln. I drove west on highway 18, encountering dime sized hail 1 mile west of Lincoln pulling off on a side road and set up. The hail increased to nickels then quarters to occasional golf balls so I rediled KSN to give this update which they relayed to the Wichita NWS. At this time I went back on live on KSAL describing the hail that was pounding me and when I looked at the radar to tell folks who would get the hail or not, the warning box went from severe thunderstorm to tornado warning! The guy at the studio hadn't even got the warning yet so I said the warning was upgraded and folks in Lincoln needed to take immediate cover as the "hook" part of the storm was one mile away! I could not see any structure to my south due to rain and hail so I drove back east to get out of the precip. for a better view. I called the NWS to give them an update of what I could see to my southwest when the forecastor said there was velosity NW of Lincoln. I looked north and told him I could see a lowered cloud base and after I hung up I saw disorganized rotation as the storm moved northeast away from Lincoln. Soon the storm weakened and the warning was dropped so I went home and then to Salina to church thinking I had time before the afternoon event happened. Halfway through church storms again intensified southwest of Ellsworth and was severe warned. I jumped on I-70 westbound to cover this storm when again, the tornado warning box appeared, and I'm 20 miles away! I speeded west on I-70 then north to east of Westfall in eastern Lincoln Co. where I met up with Jason, Cody and Michael H. I made two live reports on KSAL from this position but saw nothing threatning as this storm was linear and undercut. The warning was soon dropped and we moved just west of Salina, positioning ourselves for other storms moving in but none went severe. After 3pm or so I grabbed some dinner in Salina and went home.
Ragged cloud base lowerings north of Lincoln,taken during the tornado warning looking north.
May 15, tornado warning Reno/Sedgwick county.
The storm prediction center had a moderate risk outlook for south central Kansas through Missouri today. I had decided to chase today's action yesterday as I saw there was nothing coming for next week and so far we've had little in the way of storms in central Kansas so far in May making me ancsy. At 1 pm the front had passed my home area so I knew storms would fire just to my south soon, similiar to what happened May 13. I decided to drive south to MacPherson to first, get south of the front and second, pick up Cody T. at Mac. as Jeremy was tied up driving the school bus. I left home when I saw towers blowing up southeast of Salina and met Cody on the east end of MacPherson. We watched storms develop along the front northeast as well as southwest of Mac, forming a broken line. We opted to chase the storms to the sothwest as all the significant storms became severe warned and I thought the southwest storms would remain more discrete. A tornado watch was issued for all of south central Kansas at this time. We headed towards Hutchinson to get on the south side of a promising storm northwest of there at that time moving east. We got "cored" by this storm as it turned south and we got held up by a nasty car accident on the northeast side of town. Although golf ball to tennis ball hail was reported in Hutch., we only had hail up to quarters. We finally broke out of the storm 7 miles south of Hutch. but could tell on my laptop that the storm was beginning to "hook"! We pulled off highway 96 at Haven and looked back at the hook area of the storm seeing a rounded shelf cloud with a rain wrapped wall cloud in the middle. For a minute, the wall cloud produced a cone funnel, then rain masked the wall cloud as the storm moved right at us. I made reports to KSN and the NWS during this time then we drove back to highway 96 and distanced ourselves from the approaching storm. At this point our chase went bad. I completely lost my sense of direction, which I never do! Cody also got turned around some but he was running the GPS and was not as lost as me. I honestly thought the pickup had an electrical malfunction and the GPS and the direction compass was giving wrong readings. Although funnel sightings continued on the radio (KFDI) we made wrong turns and missed all this action. We ended up in west Wichita where the supposed circulation weakened and moved by and the warning was dropped to a severe warning. We decided to call it a day and I finally regained my direction when we passed the airport driving down highway 54.
Picture taken in the Haven area south of Huchinson, looking northwest at the oncoming T-warned storm. A shelf cloud is located on the left side of the picture and the wall cloud is towards the right side of the picture. The wall cloud is hard to see due to rain falling around it,(outflow dominate) and just a few seconds after I shot this pic. it produced a cone funnel but did not touch the ground that I could see. I lost my sense of direction after we left this position, driving back to highway 96 to get ahead of the storm again. We never got a good look of this storm again but I guess I should be happy that I was on the only T-warned storm in the area.
June 6, severe thunderstorm warning, Barton/Russell counties.
SPC had a slight risk outlook for central Kansas today. While I was planting forage sorghum in the late afternoon,I watched a cumulous tower up 3 times to my southwest before it broke the cap and became established. Soon a thunderstorm warning was issued for Barton and Russell counties with the storm track pointing right at the town of Ellsworth. Jeremy and I left home around eightish and met chase pard Jason at Ellsworth. We then went south down highway 156 as the northern core of the storm weakened so we drove into the path of the southern core. We set up 3 miles northeast of Holyrood and let this weakening core pass right over us. I made two reports to the Wichita NWS and soon thereafter the warning was dropped. We followed the storm back to Ellsworth, then to Brookville, where we set up and took some lightning video. A friendly sheriff deputy checked us out and we decided to call it a night. Little rain, no wind, no hail was observed.
June 9, Severe thunderstorm warning, eastern Saline county.
Storm Prediction Center had central Kansas in a "moderate" risk outlook when I woke up and looked at the computer at 6:20 am. They then moved the moderate risk down into southeast Kansas with their 8:30 update, and left central Kansas in a slight risk. At 9 am. strong storms built southward through central Lincoln county but were not severe warned. I drove up to Berverly which was located under the stroungest part of the storm, finding only heavy rain and not much wind which I reported to Wichita NWS and KSN. I followed this core eastward along highway 18 to I-35 when I saw a storm blow up right over home and move towards Salina. NWS put out a sig. weather advisory for Saline county as I charged south to intercept. I drove under the core of the storm on the west side of Salina and pulled into the parking lot where Vortex II had spent the night and made reports to the NWS, KSN and KSAL about heavy rain with a few dime sized hail stones that fell. Soon after this, after the storm passed Salina, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for eastern Saline county. I drove to I-70, then east to try to get ahead of this storm but it moved southeast passing ahead of me south of Abilene. I gave up the chase at this point, making a "prediction for the afternoon" recording used on KSAL's next half hour report. Late in the afternoon, Cody T. (Jeremy's friend and budding chaser) talked to me about his "tornado warned" storm catch southeast of Wichita. That was where all the action was for the rest of the day, pretty well in the SPC's moderate risk area.
June 14/15, early morning tornado warning, southern Saline/norhtern McPherson county.
SPC had a slight risk for central Kansas Sunday afternoon and evening. I watched a super cell move through southwest/southcentral Kansas like they have done the past several evenings. This one was tornado warned for most of its path. At around 11ish (night) I watched on the radar if Medicine Lodge was going to be hit by this storm when I saw new development a county to my southwest. I went to bed to try to get some sleep thinking warnings would come and at around 2:30 the weather radio toned for a thunderstorm warning for the area 25 miles to my south. I looked at radar and saw the warned storm forming a thin hook! I grabbed clothes and computer and left home to get on this storm when after 10 minutes the radio tones for a tornado warning for Saline and McPherson counties. A glance at the computer showed a full blown super cell with a huge hook and a velosity couplet 5 miles south of Lindsburg! I blasted to I-35, then south to try to get ahead of it hopefully before it crossed I-35. I made multiple reports on KSAL as I was charging south and was talking to the NWS in Wichita when the hook and I met 3 miles northeast of McPherson. The wind was strong out of the west with heavy rain and dime hail, then suddenly shifted out of the southeast! I drove out of the core and parked, watching the storm move east of I-35 and weaken. There was a flat wall cloud and some scud bombs for a while to my northeast but the storm continued to weaken and the warning was dropped. Luckily no touchdowns occurred as far as I know.
June 15, busted chase in south central Kansas.
SPC had central and south central Kansas in a moderate risk bullseye for this afternoon/evening with a 10% tornado prob along with it. After having excitement the night before, I finally thought we'd intercept some tornadic super cells here in central Kansas in the daylight! Cape and shear were good and there was no clouds here in the home area to hinder development. Around 3:00 pm. storms developed around Dodge & Garden Cities and started moving northeast---EXCELLENT, just what I like, storms moving towards me into KSAL listening area. These storms grew, and became severe warned, then two became tornado warned, just like I scripted the details. Jeremy and I left home around 5 pm. intending to meet the storm in the Great Bend area and start covering it for the radio station, NWS and TV. Cody T. was also hedding towards this storm in front of us and Jason, having just gotten off work held back around Brookville for a while. From this point in time, things started to go bad for us with these storms. First, the tornado warned storm in Edwards/Pawnee county slowed and almost stopped, (making us take more time to reach it). Second, the storm turned east after the hesitation so it was no longer moving towards us. Third, many storms began to form around the main super cell, especially under the anvil, which extended up to Ellsworth. When we got to Great Bend, I made the decision to commit to the T-warned storm located one county our southwest, hoping the new development behind us did not become severe. At this time, we could also see the Marion county/Butler county storm towers exploding way to our east (both these storms were later tornado warned with the Butler storm producing multiple tornados! I called Todd P. that I was going southwest (out of the KSAL listening area) so he would know where I was, (I was determined to catch a tornado at this point). We drove south to St John, intending to get southeast of the oncoming storm with a confirmed tornado southwest of Macksville (the tornado was 13 miles to our southwest at this time). As we drove south of St John, our view was masked by new storms forming all over the place forming a a huge blob of precipitation instead of an isolated supercell! We saw some interesting outflow clouds/scud/dust come out of the storm but no tornados while the high precipitation mess passed just to our north, now producing macro bursts and severe outflow winds,(derecho). We drove back north on highway 281 to highway 50 and turned east, dodging tree limbs laying on the roadway while driving in heavy rain. Although the storm was tornado warned with embedded circulations in front of us (east), the storm "bowed" out, extending from south of Salina to Wichita with straight line winds the main issue. Cody T. discovered this fact as he was trying to stay east of the mess of storms and was caught by the high straight line winds on the west side of Hutchison (estimated at 80-100 mph). He told me that the trees suddenly bent over 90 degrees when the wind overtook him! Hutchison had structure damage, trucks blown off the road, power out and trees down all over. Jeremy and I took highway 14 north, behind all this not wanting to get tied up in traffic snarls but seeing treelimbs down all the way north to Lyons where we stopped for a pit stop. As we drove home, I tried to join severe coverage on KSAL, talking about what we had witnesed, but my calls were dropped twice while I was on live, a bad ending to a frustrating chase.
Picture of a wall cloud being under cut by cold outflow from the storm transitioning to a high precipitation mess---an effective tornado kill when we arrived on scene around 10 miles south of St. John.
June 20, tornados all around!
I was suprised when I saw SPC's convective outlook at 8:30 am. showing a slight risk circle in central Kansas with a 10% tornado 0% hail probability! Their text stated excellent low level instability and shear with minimal mid level instability. It had showered during the late morning but by mid afternoon the skies cleared with some broken sunshine. Jeremy and I were working on my semi trailer in the shop. I was watching my lap top radar off and on while working in the shop and by late afternoon a storm popped up SW of Wichita and became severe warned. It moved NE and later became tornado warned SW of the Topeka area. Soon new storms devoloped NW of Wichita and became severe warned. A tornado warning was issued for Rice and Reno Counties with a storm moving NE. Jeremy, Meghan and I decided to chase this storm. We loaded up at home and started out. At this time a second tornado warning was issued for Barton County on a storm that was doing damage in Great Bend moving directly towards us. We opted to switch to this storm. Chase partner Jason called and said that he was headed for McPherson to get ahead of the Rice County warned storm. We did not drive more than 15 miles when the Barton County storm divided and weakened and the warning was dropped early. This left us out of position to get on the Rice County storm that now was moving directly towards McPherson. McPherson was now under a tornado warning. Jason called stateing that he saw a wall cloud just west of town. We could see a bright velosity couplet with this storm just west of McPherson. At this time we were driving thru heavy rain and winds on Highway 4 towards Lindsborg. I relayed Jason's wall cloud report to KSN and then joined KSAL's coverage of the severe storms. Jason called and told Jeremy that he had been hit. We thought the storm had hit him but it turned out to be another vehicle!! The small car crossed the center line and hit him head on. He tried to get out of the way to no avail. I continued with KSAL's storm coverage but now was driving to the accident scene. I was allowed on the scene to retrieve personal equipment from Jason's vehicle. At this time we found out that he was transported to Hutchinson Hospital. We then stopped out storm coverage and went to the hospital. On the way we discovered that the old Barton County storm had redevolped and was dropping tornadoes in the SE Lincoln County area just 7 miles NW of where I live!! All in all just a very tough chase day. Jason will be alright but it will take time to mend.
Jeremy snapped this picture of the McPherson county storm when it was several miles east of I-35.
June 25, severe thunderstorm warning, southern Ellsworth then Saline county. Spotting from the combine!
I was finishing up wheat harvest, cutting wheat in my combine this afternoon. Around 3 pm. cloud towers starting popping up all around central Kansas. I watched these towers struggle for a while as the temps. hovered around 101 degreese. One storm got going to my south and Liz called to tell me it was warned for southern Ellsworth county. This storm kept backbuilding for an hour before it weakened. I then saw some cumulus towers to my east explode as outflow from the southern Ellsworth storm reached them. Soon a isolated cell "blew up" right over Salina. Up to now, I had no working am. radio in the combine, but recieved cell calls from KSAL & KSN on what was happening with the Salina storm. Golf ball hail and 60 mph winds was reported south of Salina and as I took a truck load of wheat to the elevator, I went live on KSAL's storm coverage. I described what I had seen from the combine and why the storms were doing what they were doing. The warning was extended for a half an hour longer but I stated that I thought the storm would not last too long. About 8-10 minutes later the contract meterologist stated that the storm was weakening. A few minutes later the warning was dropped early. YEAH, I called it right, live on the radio!
July 3, tornado warning, southern Ottawa Co. northeast Saline Co.
The Storm Prediction Center had the northern third of Kansas in a slight risk in their morning outlook. By mid/late afternoon, thunderstorms developed from Beloit to north of Dodge City. A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for Lincoln/Ellsworth counties back into western Kansas. I had finished baling hay around 4:30ish and saw that northern Lincoln Co. was severe warned. What really caught my attention was SPC's meso discussion that a tornado watch would be issued for a small (5-6 county) area just east of strong/severe storms currently located from Beloit to Russell. These storms would move into much higher energy/shear values as they moved east. I left home intending to get on the Lincoln Co. storm then follow it into the tornado watch area. I caught up with the severe warned storm just east of Barnard. Of course, it promptly weakened and the warning was dropped, an effective kill made by me! I drifted back south to highway 18 by Beverly because the storm line was moving south and discouraged, I was thinking of going home. At this time a significant weather advisory was issued for Lincoln for a moderate storm moving toward that town. I set up on the northeast side of Lincoln, checking out gusty winds, a intense rain core and increasing lightning strokes. I followed this storm east on highway 18 as it intensified. Between Beverly and Tescott a wicked shelf cloud formed just over the highway east of me, extending north. Parts of the shelf cloud were caotic, rolling and swirling and at one point a funnel organised just to my northeast a half of a mile away! It happened so suddenly I didn't have time to snap a pic or video. Now, I wanted to get ahead of the line so I sped through Tescott and set up northwest of Culver off of highway 18. The storm was severe warned at this time and I shot video of the oncoming shelf cloud as well as INSANE lightning bolts. I talked to KSN tv and they said the NWS was watching rotation in the storm! I could see a wall cloud forming to my distant north and as the shelf/gust front moved over me a tornado warning was issued! I drove east again to get ahead of the rain and lightning, trying to dial KSAL, when a lightning bolt hit the fence 15 yards from my truck, instantly creating two separate fires where the fence was grounded! Incredible! I took the blacktop road north to Minneapolis, keeping the wall cloud north of me in sight. At this time I went on live on KSAL describing what I saw, pulling over at an intersection 3-4 miles north of highway 18. The storm passed over me with wicked lightning bolts as well as hair raising warm outflow. A warm rear flank downdraft? I drove back to highway 18, then to I-35 cloaked in heavy rain and gusty winds. I set up on the on ramp of I-35 talking live on the radio's storm coverage when I saw a velosity couplet on my computer located east of Culver as well as a couplet south of Minneapolis (the origional wall cloud). The Culver couplet passed south of me and cleared I-35 without dropping anything to the ground. Later, as the warning was moved to northeast Saline county, a funnel was sighted in the New Cambria area, then a brief tornado touchdown occured in the Solomon area. The storm moved on and finally the tornado warning was dropped. Cody T. was in the Solomon area but didn't see anything due to heavy rain. A really nice chase for the fourth of July. For once, I was in the right place at the right time!
Picture of organising wall cloud/shelf cloud looking north.
Wall cloud, looking north from highway 18.
July 13-14, early morning severe thunderstorms in the area.
The weather radio alarm awakened me at around 1:30 am. July 13 for a thunderstorm warning for Barton and southern Russell counties. I checked the radar and saw a large intense cell just northwest of Great Bend moving east/southeast. I gathered my computer and took off for Ellsworth. My plan was to drive south and meet the storm in the Claflin area. I arrived at highway 156-4 junction after driving through bands of heavy rain and intense lightning bolts. I called in reports to the NWS as I drove east on highway 4. It was always heavy rain, no hail and not much wind. The heaviest part of the storm was south of highway 4 so I made two reports live on KSAL warning people between Lyons and highway 4 to expect maybe damaging winds in that area. The NWS in Wichita was questioning me about possible flooding and I reported seeing little water running in the ditches where I had driven. I drove parralel to the warned storm all the way to Lindsburg where the warning was dropped and I went home. I had just been to a swim party in Lindsborg at 10 pm., 5 hours before! The next night, or early morning (the 14), storms once again rolled in from northwest Kansas. The weather radio toned a severe warning for Russell Co. moving east. These storms were more lined out with a damaging wind threat. I left home at 12:30 as Lincoln Co. was added to the warning. My goal was to drive to Beverly, let the storm roll over me and measure it's winds. I noticed a multi--tiered cool looking shelf cloud to my west as I was driving to Beverly. The gust front hit just as I reached the north side of the town. I measured 38 mph gusts before jumping back into the pickup as rain began to fall. The wind picked up more but never reached severe speeds. This information was passed to the NWS and live on KSAL. Soon after this the warning was dropped early as the storm weakened and I went home.
July 20, severe thunderstorm warnings Russell,Ellsworth,Lincoln and Saline counties within a tornado watch for all of central Kansas.
The storm prediction center had a slight risk for all of Kansas today and upgraded to a moderate risk this evening. I was raking hay around 5:30 when the rake broke. This unfortionate incident cost me time in fixing the rake back to workable condition. While I was doing this I could see storms exploding all around, especially towards the east, south and west. I called Jeremy and he loaded my laptop in my pickup while I baled the hay I raked. When I got home I grabbed clean clothes and headed out the door to the truck. The NWS had a severe thunderstorm warning issued for Russell and northwest Ellsworth counties which was right down I-70 to the west. Looping the radar I saw that there was a storm split with the right split becoming tornado warned in the Barton county area and the left split heading east down I-70. At the Ellsworth highway 14/I-70 exit, I was amazed to see a twisted sculpted storm to my west. I grabbed my camera and shot some pictures through the windshield of this rotating storm. At the Vesper exit, I jumped out and snapped more pictures of the mid level striations. I then made reports to KSAL, KSN and the NWS about quarter sized hail that was now falling 1/2 mile north of I-70. I drove ahead of the storm, pulling off at the Ellsworth exit and noticed that the storm was rapidly weakening and soon the warning was dropped. I then headed toward Abilene where a storm was severe warned and was joined in the chase by Cody T. We stopped at the Solomon exit and decided to travel north toward a strong storm moving south towards us. We drove through heavy rain to highway 18 then turned west to Bennington, still having heavy bouts of rain but no hail or wind. We arrived on the north side of Salina, stopping for some fast food at around 9:30. I told Cody to bring his weather radio inside while we ate since storms were backbuilding northwest of Salina. Sure enough the radio toned for a severe thunderstorm warning for Saline Co. I wolfed the rest of my food down and ran to the truck. KSAL was beginning live coverage of the storm which I joined in with what I was seeing on the north side of town. I then made multiple live reports of conditions west of Salina. The storm moved quickly southeast and soon cleared the county and the warning was dropped. Other storms developed southwest of Salina to Ellsworth on the nose of the nocturnal jet and became strong. In spite of these storms, I called it a night and went home. The earlier left split storm was a rare treat for me as I usually chase right movers. In this case though, due to the breakdown earlier, I didn't have time to reach the right split storm. This storm made up for a dull '09 chase season so far.
Rotating left split super cell, looking west down I-70. This picture was taken through my windshield as I was driving toward the storm.
Picture of low and mid level banding on the rotating storm taken almost underneath of the storm. Dime to quarter sized hail was falling out of the front of the storm at this time.
August 10, severe thunderstorm warning Lincoln, Ellsworth and Saline counties---the big blow!
The Storm Prediction center had a slight risk forecast for all of Kansas for the last two days. Even knowing that, I was suprised when I turned the TV on at 7 am and saw severe warnings for northwest Kansas. The storms seemed to be marching down the I-70 corridor. After working outside for a couple of hours, I could see the skies darkening to the west-northwest. I went into the house and checked the radar on the computer. The weather radio was shrilling as I looked at the radar---there was a large, intense warned storm east of Russell, moving east. I immediately loaded my pickup and headed for the Lincoln area. I set up on highway 14 approximately 7 miles west of Westfall which is about halfway between Lincoln and I-70. At this time, all of Lincoln county as well as northern Ellsworth county was included in the severe warning. I watched as the storm moved in, taking some video as well as some still pictures. What was wild was the scud clouds under the main cloud base were ripping along at an incredible speed! I was thinking that this could turn into a wind event. At first, when the gust front passed over, the wind was 30 to 40ish, not so bad. A white wall of rain hit with the winds picking up a little more. I made a report to Wichita NWS. describing heavy rain and winds up to 50 mph. Right after that report, KSAL started to cover the storms so I dialed in to give a report. As I was dialing, the rain increased to whiteout and the wind started to rock the pickup! The stop sign in front of me began to flutter like what you see in a hurricane video! I then went on live on the radio warning people driving in the storm to pull over or at least slow down due to wind and little visibility, especially travelers on I-70. I could see the storm was building farther south on the radar, reaching well south of Ellsworth. I remained parked at the same spot enduring at least 3 different episodes of winds conservatively estimated at 60 mph and were more likely 75 mph! When I called in the wind report to Wichita NWS, the forecaster asked if my 60 mph wind was measured? I stated something like" hell no, I'm not standing outside in these conditions to measure, I'm estimating"! As the storm line moved into Saline county, I went on live on KSAL restating severe winds, little visibility and Salina residents needed to prepare for possible tree damage and power losses. I then drove back east to stay with the storm. As I drove through Westfall I saw firefighters opening the truck bays and hurridly donning their gear. I stopped and set up just north of I-70 exit 233 to continue storm coverage on KSAL when the fire trucks sped by and turned west on the interstate highway. Around this time my cousin called telling me he had pea to quarter sized hail at his place as well as water over the road at Reese Rd. and highway 40 causing cars to hydroplane off highway 40! I relayed this information live on the radio and started to drive towards Brookville. The storm had ended at my local and I now could see a semi had overturned just west of exit 233. I snapped a picture or two of this then went back on KSAL to warn moterists to slow down in the accident area. I then drove to Brookville, then east on highway 40 to the area of hydroplaning cars. Due to wind caused mayhem in Salina, no deputys were working this area where water was running over the highway! I put on my fire gear and slowed traffic from the west as three cars were in the ditch already. Soon, a deputy arrived, then two DOT trucks showed up and took over the traffic control. At this time I ended the chase as the storm was leaving the Saline county area moving on east. What a blow! I felt pretty good about my reporting this day. I "sampled" the storm out west and was able to tell folks around Salina what was coming. Salina had trees down, structure damage and power outages---just like I had warned much earlier.
An addition to Aug. 10.
Monday's storm created tremendous damage to areas around Salina and east. Lots of power poles were snapped between Salina and Abeline. If the ice storm hadn't occured a year and a half ago, trimming all trees, I think there would have been power and travel paralysis. Also I discovered that I had hail damage to a couple of soybean fields. I heard that the wind power turbines that are located just north of I-70, west of home, had measured winds of 94 and 104 mph! Of course they are over 100 ft. tall so would catch higher winds than at the surface, but still, very strong! In my semi blowover picture, the wind turbines can be seen in the background. I heard that the semi driver wasn't hurt too bad and his van was empty, making him more succeptible to tipping in strong winds.
Picture of the storm moving towards me at highway 14 and 290th Rd. west of Westfall.
Picture of the semi rollover, taken just west of exit 233. High winds were most likely the cause but I haven't heard any details yet.
August 25, severe thunderstorm warning, Lincoln, Ellsworth and Saline counties.
Storm Prediction Center had no risk area for central Kansas this day. The day was hot and sweltering with 90 temps with 70 dew points. This ramped cape values into the 2000 range but wind shear was minimal (25 kt. at 500 mb.). Storms were popping up around Beloit and the Hays area when I went with mom to a crop appreciation supper in Tescott. When we got out of the building after the program, the sky was dark to the northwest with lots of lightning. I checked my laptop computer which I had brought along and saw Lincoln Co. was under a severe warning. Storms extended from west of Mineapolis down to I-70. Another cluster of storms was located in Rice county, moving northeast. When I got home,new storms developed and merged between the Rice county and I-70 storms, with Ellsworth county now being severe warned also. I had to take my "feeding truck" on the chase since my chase truck was in the repair shop. This situation was not good as this truck had no defrost, only intermittent wipers, dirty windows and weak headlights. Hummn? I decided to travel south to highway 40 to cover the Ellsworth warned storm as it would move into Saline county and Cody T. was on the Lincoln county storm up north. He kept me updated as the Lincoln storm moved into northwest Saline county. KSAL went live coverage at this time and I made multiple reports about heavy rain, dime hail and low visibility from the Brookville area. The storm finally cleared the Brookville area and my phone battery was spent so I opted out of storm coverage. The storm weakened some but still gave Salina a good blow and at 10:15 the warning expired. Again, I was able to give a "heads up" to Salina and Saline county about an oncoming storm through KSAL's live storm coverage.
August 28, an addition to Aug. 25.
Yesterday Jeremy called me to tell me he discovered the pole shed at Bob's had been destroyed by last Tuesday evening's storm. My combine and grandma's grain truck were parked under it at the time. The combine is dented up and part of the radiator is ripped off but grandma's truck just had a mirror turned. We must have taken a microburst from the right direction (southwest), as the big blow of August 10, did no harm (ie winds that day was from the northwest and the shed was protected by trees on the north side). We took pictures today for the insurance company and I will try to pull the poles off the combine before any more wind comes.
Picture of the poles from hayshed leaning against the combine. Did the wind hit the combine horizonal then deflect upwards and rip the roof off?
Picture of some of the damage done to the combine as well as roof displacement.
Roof trusses tore loose the whole length.
Sept. 3, severe thunderstorms with hail in central Kansas.
This morning SPC. had no risk area but upgraded to a slight risk for central Kansas in the late afternoon. Storms developed along and south of the Nebraska/Kansas border moving south. Soon several became severe warned from Beloit to Concordia. I kept an eye on these storms as I was moving and stacking hay. When the southern most warned storm was approaching Minneapolis I left home on the chase. Yesterday I got my chase truck back from a two and a half week stay in the shop so glad to get it just in time. I picked Cody T. northwest of Salina and we headed north towards Minneapols. We set up 5 miles south of that town and got up to quarter sized hail. This storm was moving directly towards Salina and northern Saline county was added to the warning. I joined coverage on KSAL describing the hail I had seen earlier. About 9 to 10 minutes into the warning the storm divided and weakened to thundershower status and the warning was dropped! Cody and I charged west on I-70 as an intense storm was south of Beverly in eastern Lincoln county. My sister and Jeremy both called me about a wall cloud they were seeing south of '70, west of home! There was a velosity couplet in that area on my GR-level 3 and lasted for one update then the wall cloud and couplet dissapeared thankfully. I made reports to the NWS about the pea/dime sized hail piled in the ditches just west of my house. We then returned to I-70 and dashed west to intercept a severe storm moving south through western Lincoln county. We drove into the eastern core of this storm at 70 and highway 14, north of Ellsworth. Copious amounts of dime to quarter hail fell on us aided by 45 mph winds---really an intense time! I forewarded this information to KSN TV and NWS Wichita. We then caught up with the storm core on the north side of Ellsworth getting up to quarter sized hail again. The NWS forecaster said there was golf ball hail in Ellsworth at this time. We took highway 156 south and drove into the core again, this time we took some golf balls off the truck around 5 miles south of Ellsworth. I pulled off 156 and stopped, spotting even larger hail laying along the ditch. I got out and picked up some hail stones larger than golf balls, almost tennis ball size!! I relayed this info to KSN, KSAL and the NWS then we opted out of the chase. I treated Cody to supper in Ellsworth and when I got home at 9:30 the storm was still hailing golf balls down in Stafford and Reno counties! This was a fun chase as most of the severe storms were hailers instead of wind makers.
This picture was taken of the Minneapolis severe warned storm before we hit the first bout of hail. We also met Brandon Ivey near this area. He's a friend and a very experienced chaser from Wichita.
Cody took this pic. of me holding golf ball hail I picked up in the roadside.
Another picture of a handfull of golf ball and larger hail picked up 5 miles south of Ellsworth.
December 8, recovering from a near blizzard and expecting extreme cold.
We recieved 8" of snow yesterday. After dark, the snow stopped and the wind came up gusting to 30+ mph! I am just ready to go out and see how bad the snow drifted. The temp. is 6 above zero in morning sun but the lows tonight is supposed to be -10 a record for the date! We'll see how low it gets.