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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!"

May 7, 2008

Chase Acct: May 6, 2008 (Southwest KS)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 10:30 am

My chase target on Tuesday, May 6th was west-central Kansas somewhere with a starting point of Scott City in mind.  I set off for Scott City around midday, reaching the Scott City area around 2:30pm.  There were already storms developing between Lamar and Holly where convective temperature was being reached in the 83-85F range.  A cluster of small storms had eventually evolved as they moved into the Syracuse, KS area.  This activity was moving into 2500-3000 J/kg surface-based CAPE environment with dewpoints around 58-59F or so.  I expected an organized severe storm to form out of this stuff.

After monitoring things for a while just outside of Scott City, I drove south to intercept the primary strong updraft north of Highway 50 between Syracuse and Lakin.  I eventually reached a stopping point about 5 miles north of Holcomb where I got a pretty good view of the high-based updraft at around 4:00pm.  The storm rapidly strengthened by this time and took on supercell characteristics.  Inflow was excellent into the storm with south-southeast winds around 25-30 mph.  A high-based wall cloud showed periods of interesting rotation to my northwest, and as long as the rear flank downdraft wasn’t cold enough, tornadogenesis would be possible.  Of course, that wasn’t to be.  Around 4:15pm, I started to get nailed by cooler west winds denoting the more stable rear-flank downdraft.  Once I felt this, I knew tornado prospects were done.  I drove east a few miles before noticing a number of dusty spin-ups (RFD gustnadoes) at the inflow-rear flank downdraft interface.   I was fairly close to a couple of them and got a few photos.  It was time to keep heading east and focus on the structure of the storm.

Around 5:00pm, the storm developed another classic RFD clear-slot, albeit still high-based.  Around this time, looking to the north-northwest, the rotation in the wall cloud was probably about as good as it ever got with this storm, and a nascent funnel (albeit quite brief!) developed beneath this rotation.  This feature quickly fell apart, and I continued east along Hwy 156.  By 5:30, several other storms were developing immediately northeast of the initial supercell…all spewing out cold outflow as well…so it wasn’t long before this whole system was severely outflow dominant.  Around 5:45, I manged to stay far enough east to get one decent set of images of the original supercell updraft with a long high-based shelf cloud extending northeast.  I wallowed about western Hodgeman county through 7pm photographing the storms along and north of Hwy 156.  Another strong updraft surge developed northwest of Jetmore around 7pm or so which revealed interesting structure, of course about 10-12 miles north of the outflow boundary.

I drove back to Dodge, but instead of heading home, I continued west to Cimarron then north a few miles to photograph some lightning at the west end of this complex.  Not much success with the lightning, but managed to get a couple images.  I was back home by 9:15pm or so. 




  1. Mike,
    I understand that you spent some time stormchasing in Hodgeman County (in the Jetmore area), could you direct me to the blog/file for that information? I’m the Eco. Devo. in Hodgeman County — and would love to read about your experience.
    Lea Ann E. Seiler

    Comment by Mike — May 8, 2008 @ 7:37 am

  2. Niiiice! You sure got better images than me! I can’t wait to see the ones from today near Jetmore.

    Comment by AJ Dome — May 8, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

  3. Beautiful work. I am a KSU alumnae (forgive me) from Texas and I remember driving back and forth from Dallas to Manhattan with the wonderful yellow ocher colors of the plains and deep grays and blue grays of the sky during storms. Are you familiar with Peter Brown’s work? He is a photography prof. in Houston at Rice U and has some beautiful photos of the western plains. Do you sell your images? Thanks, Camille in Houston

    Comment by Camille Warmington — May 25, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

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