High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

July 15, 2006

Chase Acct: July 11 (Southwest KS)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 1:13 pm

Marginal supercell updraft looking west near Ensign, KSWell this was about as impromptu of a chase as I’ve ever made… a day where I worked this particular event issuing severe weather warnings/statements during the early evening hours… followed by a short chase. I worked the day shift on the 11th, but I stayed over two hours until 6pm to help out with a severe thunderstorm watch in effect over our forecast area along with a few ongoing storms. At 6 o’clock, it was determined that the activity was isolated enough that my services were no longer necessary for overtime, so I went home. When I left to go home, there were a cluster of storms persisting over the Garden City area… and I could see these to the distant west. I didn’t think much of the storms as they were sub-severe at the time, and it did not cross my mind to go chase this storm given the lack of strong shear to support well-organized structures worthy of photographing. It certainly wasn’t a supercell…. at the time.When I got home I took a nap for about 45 minutes… waiting for the MLB All-Star game to start. I got up a few minutes after 7 and noticed Finney County to the west was under a severe thunderstorm warning. I pulled up a radar image and was surprised to see this storm had organized into a much healthier looking storm with supercell characteristics… an inflow notch and all! It was a quarter after 7pm and I was thinking about chasing. I think this would be the latest I had ever departed home for a daylight storm intercept! Sunset wasn’t until about 9:05pm, so I had plenty of daylight left to get to the storm and get some photography in…barring the storm held together.

I filled up the Jeep with gas in town and headed south out of Dodge. When I left, the storm was exiting the Garden City area moving south-southeast. I already had a great view of the updraft base of the storm from within the city limits. I had to get closer, of course, so I headed southwest on Hwy 56 a few miles to Road 107. I went south on the this dirt road until I got to Saddle Road where I continued west a few more miles. The storm revealed pretty good structure for the environment it was in with little in the way of wind shear. There was a band of 40-45 knots of flow in the upper troposphere around 250-200mb, and this seems to be critical for storm organization in the summer…whereas winds at all other levels were 15 knots or less. I would consider this storm a marginal supercell, as it did have some rotation to it, as evidence by the structure and organization, but it wasn’t really a full-fledged supercell producing golfball size hail or larger. Regardless, it was a beautiful little storm in a pristine atmosphere all by itself… perfect for photography! The storm bit the dust at sunset, but the remnant storm structure persisted long enough to get great, deeply saturated colors (1 2). Very rewarding for the total round trip of around 40 miles!

Photo Gallery >> http://www.underthemeso.com/gallery2/stormchase/chase06/2006jul11/

Mike Umscheid

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