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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!"

April 26, 2009

Chase Acct: April 24, 2009 (KS-NE Border)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Latest Chases,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 11:01 pm

I photographed a couple severe thunderstorms, one of which becoming a marginal supercell with striated updraft structure, near the Kansas-Nebraska border from near Belleville, KS points east towards Washington, KS. A more detailed account will be written on this blog post, but for now, here are a few images from the chase:

(edited 5/20/09 at 12:20am CDT):

Full chase account:

April 24, 2009:  Cold Front Severe Storms Along Kansas-Nebraska Border (Chester, NE to Mahaska, KS to Hollenberg, KS)

I targeted the Kansas-Nebraska border on 24 April 2009 where I thought the western extent of severe storm development would occur along an advancing cold front.  Typically, cold front storms are not exactly photogenic, but I thought I would try my luck.  “Tail-end Charlie” storms, regardless of whether they are along a cold front or not, can sometimes be fairly productive from a photography standpoint with at least decent storm structure.  I wanted to target the nose of the warmest air, also at the nose of the mid-60s dewpoints that were expected to move up into the area from south-central KS.  A look at the forecast hodograph showed a clockwise curved wind profile on the hodograph, which was promosing for perhaps supercell structures.  I left Dodge City late in the morning for a target between Belleville, KS and Hebron, NE by 4:00pm or so.

I arrived in Hebron, NE to a clear sky devoid of any cumulus growth at 3:00pm {2001}.  Where was the western extent of development going to be?  The latest RUC and NAM models seemed to suggest that the western edge would be just a bit east of Hebron, so once cumulus did finally grow along the front to my northeast, I began to head in that direction at about 4:20pm {2126}.  I guess part of this decision was based on the fact that after sitting in one place for over an hour, you start to second-guess your target.  I drove east to Fairbury, reaching that location at 5:00pm or so.  By this time, small storms were beginning to develop — first to the northeast of my location, then north.  Once I reached the small community of Harbine, I took a few photos of the initial cumulus congestus growth to my north {2223}.  Looking back to the west-southwest, all of a sudden there was fairly substantial towering cumulus growth in that direction…as far west-southwest as the Hwy 81 corridor to the south of Hebron where I was sitting between 3:00 and almost 4:30pm {2236}.  I quickly realized that I should have just stayed there, but there was no time to dwell on that — it was time to get back southwest.  I decided to take Hwy 8 through Reynolds and Hubbell, NE to get back to my original target.  There was fairly aggressive development into a severe thunderstorm between 5:40 and 6:00pm very near the Kansas-Nebraska border southwest of Chester, NE {2300}.  The storm was moving to the northeast, which made for a perfect intercept given my location to the northeast of the storm.  The problem was, the storm was moving in an unfavorable direction with respect to the cold front.  While the storm was moving northeast, the cold front continued to move south, and rapid undercutting was inevitable.

I managed to make it to Hwy 81 at Chester, NE about 10-15 minutes prior to the core making it to the highway, and off to the south I went.  I crossed the frontal zone about 5-7 miles to the south of the strongest radar echoes, so this storm was very undercut by the cold front by this time.  At the interface, I noticed a few gustnadoes swirling in the farm field to my immediate southwest, but they were extremely short-lived and very weak at that.  I called the Topeka NWS office to let them know of this observation.  I stopped a few times south of Belleville to get some structure photos between 6:35 and 7:00pm.  By 7:00pm, the development to my west was becoming a bit more interesting to my northwest {2356}, although north of the front.  I finally headed east on a farm road between Belleville and Agenda, following the eastern storm (there were two storms of interest by this time:  one northwest of Belleville and one near Narka {0009}).  I liked the overall structure of the Narka storm so I continued to blast east to stay in a somewhat reasonable position.  I got back on paved Hwy 148 and continued east toward Agenda.  I stopped just east of Agenda to shoot structure to the north, some 20 miles away {0028}.  I had to be at this distance to get the structure shots I wanted since the storm was undercut by the cold front.  Even though the storm was undercut by the cold front, it still revealed some marginal supercell structure with a somewhat tiered elongated updraft structure.  The storm looked less supercellular with time as the structure was becoming more linear in appearance as another cell was forming in the immediate wake of the first.  Nevertheless, there was still decent, somewhat photogenic storm structure at sunset as I was positioned southwest of Washington {0105}.  I photographed the structure of this elongated activity up until shortly before 8:20pm {0115} when darkness was beginning to set in and the best of the structure was fading.  All in all, not too bad of results considering what I was up against (fairly strong cold front causing severe undercutting problems).



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