Jay Antle and I ended our 2005 chase vacation on a good note. We intercepted 3 supercell thunderstorms near the Southwest KS-Eastern OK Panhandle border on Thursday 16th. We left GLD and decided to head down to DDC for a mid-afternoon data stop. Midday short-fuse composite (weather.gov/ddc/short.html) was pointing at far NW OK area south of DDC right along the state border for several hours… and it was based of this information that we pretty much committed to heading south of Dodge. Hard towers went up to our SSW through WSW by the time we got to Dodge. We stopped by my place for data real quick, only to find my damn cable was out. So much for that idea… we had to get back on the road.
We targetted the storm with a developing overshoot southwest of Englewood. We had to punch through some marginally severe hail, but after emerging on the south side we had a great view of the supercell updraft base along with a western supercell updraft over Meade County. We watched these two storms from a high spot on US283 right along the state line (maybe a mile south into OK) for a good while. Our eastern storm was becoming increasingly stretched out/linear and outflow dominant, yet producing Softballs near Ashland to our northeast.
We had northeast outflow winds at our location, but what was interesting was the fact that the winds were actually fairly warm. These winds became more easterly and ESE as the southeastern Meade Co. storm to our northwest began to really crank. A very organized wall cloud developed… classic blocky one at that… with relatively modest rotation… nothing violent, however. We let this action approach our location from the northwest…and the wall cloud itself began to take on a liberty bell appearance on the downshear side with great upward motion. Transparent rotating rain curtains were developing signifiying the presence of a "radar hook" and a classic clear slot developed.
Stacatto CGs then began bolting near us (deja vu of June 12th in Kent Co. TX) and we had to get back in the car. Rotation increased further and we did get a persistent pencil-shaped funnel looking almost due west… probably a couple miles south of the state border north of Knowles. This funnel was in the right spot in the occluded wall cloud with wrapping rain curtains. In my book, based on recent events in Trego County 6/9 captured by Jim Leonard on I-70 (rotating rain curtain invisible multi-vortex tornado) this was probably a weak tornado… I’ll leave it to Jay to review the video.
It didn’t take long for the storm to gust out with small dust foots and the like. We also heard of the tornado reports near Knowles that Rob Satkus mentioned after the storm had "gusted out" and believe these were only gustnadoes/dust foots and nothing
Based on the evolution to outflow dominance, we decided to head west on 64 to catch the Sublette-Tice tornadic supercell. It also gusted out somewhat, however, it developed excellent supercell updraft structure once again as it approached our location near Forgan, OK.
This would be the last supercell intercept of the chase, and a close to one awesome chase vacation that included tornado intercepts from Montana south to Texas.
Wednesday the 15th marked the 2nd to last day of my chase vacation. Jay and I spent the past two days in the southern Rockies. We started Wednesday in Gunnison, CO heading east on 50… stopping at Monarch Pass for some excellent views via a ride up the gondola… well worth the $7.
We then headed east on Hwy 94 out of COS and noted some towers trying to go up on the Palmer Divide south and southeast of LIC. We drove to Kit Carson and realized, looking at the sky and radar (I tapped into WIFI, somehow, in BFE Kit Carson CO!)…that the "show" wasn’t going to materialize like we had hoped and the "cluster-F*" was fully materializing by 5pm. We did get one decent view ahead of one of the storms northwest of Kit Carson… but this was it before the gates of outflow dust HELL opened up.
The following couple of hours were the worst experience of convective dirt storms Jay and I had been on during a chase. Dry microbursts every direction, including numerous gustnadoes… there was no escape.
We went through the small town of Weskan, KS and noticed at least one foot diamater tree limbs/trunks snapped off. We then decided to stop in Sharon Springs to decide how to escape this dirt hell. After topping off the tank we found a nice hotel, believe it or not, in Sharon Springs with a next door old 50s style diner. Not 30 seconds after getting a Wifi connection to look at radar, the entire town of Sharon Springs became one dirty hurricane scene. Visib went to ZERO with dumpsters full of trash tossed around at the hotel and numerous other loose objects being thrown around. We estimated gusts at least 65 to 70 mph… but the dirt was the big issue. What a mess. Power went out in town as we sat in the parking lot in front of the diner. We decided enough was enough and we high-tailed it north 30 miles to GLD to end this messy convective dust storm. More dry microbursts were visible around GLD as we approached before the storms moved east. Yeesh!!
Tomorrow looks like far SW KS into the OK Panhandle? Nice and close to Dodge, hopefully, for my last chase day.
Jay and I drove through Sante Fe and northwest from there through the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. We had a great Mexican dinner in Pagosa Springs at Ramon’s… then had a beautiful evening drive on State Highway 149 through the Rio Grande Valley and a couple 10,000 to 11,000 foot passes. We arrived in Gunnison late in evening… the next day is a chase day somewhere in northeast Colorado or far Northwest Kansas.
On Monday 13th, Jay and I parted ways with Matt Crowther and Jim Leonard in Abilene, TX and drove west to spend the evening in Ruidoso, NM. It was a long drive, but worth it for the mexican food and evening relaxation. The next day we planned to drive north through Sante Fe and northern New Mexico.
I chased with Jay Antle and Matt Crowther, along with Jim Leonard on June 12th. Once the tornado frenzy ensued, Jim Leonard did his own thing, as usual, and got some spectacular video of the large cone with the collar cloud from hell. Jay, Matt, and I remained on Hwy 208 the whole time, and observed the large cone from a distance (after the first truncated cone >> stovepipe event (1 or 2 tornadoes?) in lower contrast before wrapping in rain. Right after this, we figured we needed to keep going south to get out of the CG barrage and forward flank rain (shear vector had some northerly component)… and this decision cost us the following wedge… as we began to note awesome inflow tail to the growing supercell due southwest.
We immediately targetted the southern supercell west-southwest of Clairemont. In retrospect, given the awesome structure of this updraft, I don’t regret missing the wedge stage (the wedge could have only been seen from quite close, from some of the other chasers’ images I’ve seen with very low to the ground collar cloud). The southern supercell updraft structure…before it became the dominant storm…was just an awesome barrel. I got some pretty decent stills of the updraft from CR 440 just off of Hwy 70 southeast of Clairemont. This storm rapidly became very interesting with large occluded wall cloud and probable weak tornado. Several other classic tornadoes followed as we headed southeast on Hwy 70 as the "hordes" of chasers were beginning to catch back up with us… since we were out ahead of most everyone. I got stills of everything except the large cone since we were in a poor photography location… did get good zoomed in video though. Great day!
Off to the mountains for a couple days with Jay before hopefully catching some Colorado/Wyoming storms Wed-Thurs before my vacation ends.
It was great chasing with Matt Crowther and Jim Leonard… thanks for the awesome fun guys.
crudely processed digital photography
Jay Antle, Jim Leonard and I started the day in Amarillo and intercepted an LP supercell that formed west of Amarillo on June 11th that almost produced a tornado several times as it approached Amarillo. We had to get on the northeast side of the city to view the storm from a distance, but it ultimately became undercut by outflow… saving the city from a potential disaster scenario… as the wall cloud was hovering over the west part of Amarillo. After some indecisiveness…whether to chase our original supercell or the southern Happy-Wayside, TX supercell…Matt Crowther broke off and chased the southern storm. The southern storm produced a few tornadoes, but nothing really photogenic. We ended our chase south of Canyon after we made a futile effort to chase the backside of the southern storm. We came back to Amarillo after the chase for the night. Pictures will be uploaded later.
This was to be "the big day" that ultimately became "the big dud". SPC forecast a Day 2 Moderate Risk for the 11th, and from this and other forecasters… the hype for this day was very high. The lack of a cap and the presence of strong "forcing" coming out of New Mexico allowed storms to go up everywhere by high-noon. A bunch of crap storms developed from Amarillo south to Lubbock. Jay and I, along with Matt C and Jim L targetted the Clovis, NM area for renewed development on the backside of this early complex, as some moisture was sneaking around the backside to the west along the TX/NM border. Ultimately, the new storms that did develop, quickly became undercut but the outflow from the previous big complex. We were, however, able to squeeze out a brief supercell thunderstorm on the southern end of the new northwestern TX Panhandle complex as it approached Amarillo. The storm had that green look to it signifying large hail, and even had a very impressive, ominous looking wall cloud. I’m glad we were at least able to salvage something out of this day.
This morning, June 11th, we are in Amarillo, with a target probably not too far from here in mind. We are also toying with the idea of Baca County, CO as well for a potential chase target.
June 9th… Wow… okay, this was the most frustrating chase I think Jay and I have ever had in which we did see a tornado… a fairly decent one, too. We, along with Matt Crowther and Jim Leonard, intercepted the Trego County tornadic supercell as it approached I-70 between Wakeeney and Ellis. The tornado developed southwest of our location on the Interstate (our location was just east of interchange 140, the Riga Interchange). From our vantage point, the tornado was a slender cone at times, with "okay" contrast. Jim, on the other hand, drove west further and got incredible video of the tornado approaching the interstate with multiple suction spots.
Our group missed out completely on the Hill City to Stockton significant tornadic supercell that produced a myriad of tornadoes. This was more or less a mis-forecast target on our part, even though we had supercells developing in our target area around McCook. We were distracted by these less-than-significant storms, which delayed our arrival to the real show farther south and southeast. Ahh well, such is chasing… at least we saw a great tornadic supercell, though! The tornado that we saw that crossed the interstate was not too far at all from the Ogallah, KS event back on April 10th that I was on. My 2nd Trego County, KS tornado day of 2005!
After the chase, we all stayed in Dodge City… and departed the next morning for June 10th chase in the TX Panhandle. I left my compact flash card reader at home in Dodge, so I’m sorry I don’t have any photos uploaded at this time of the Trego County storm. I got some great images of the very menacing wall cloud bearing down on west-bound traffic on I-70.
Jay and I met up with "Papa Cyclone" Jim Leonard and his chase partner at Oasis Inn restaurant in Chamberlain, SD yesterday before departure to North Platte. We took a route through the sand hills of Cherry County, and stumbled across this interesting waterfall along the Snake River southwest of Valentine (see photo below). Jim had to take his partner back to Kearney since his vacation ended, and we all met up once again in North Platte. Jim, Matt, Jay, and I met up with Bobby Prentice, Scott Fitzgerald, and Greg Henneman for a nice dinner along with my friend Christina Hannon of the North Platte office. Afterwards we spent the rest of the evening having a little video party of some of the previous days’ action.
Chasing resumes again today with a target somewhere southeast of here from Oberlin, KS to Holdrege, NE. It looks like a big day with high CAPE and high Shear for nasty supercell storms with giant hail. Traditional early/mid-June supercell setup!
Oh my gosh what a day in South Dakota. Jay, Matt, and I watched a gorgeous supercell thunderstorm develop in the southeastern part of Badlands Nat’l Park. The storm moved slowly northeast and revealed some of the most amazing barrell updraft structure I’ve ever seen. To top it off, the storm produced a 5-6 minute tornado near Potato Creek south of the Badlands. Amazing day with lots of chasers around. Not much time for more detail, but a few photos are posted below. Jay and I are in Chamberlain, SD this morning and plan to head southwest into northeastern Colorado to setup for tomorrow; the beginning of another possible incredible stretch of supercells and tornadoes.