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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!"

June 14, 2009

Day 3 (June 13): Southeastern CO-Southwestern KS Supercell

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Chase Trip 2009,Latest Chases,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 8:20 am

Kim to Pritchett, CO to Richfield to Hugoton, KS Long-lived supercell with brief tornado

Evan, Jay, and I had one long day. Intercepted the Kim to Pritchett, CO to Richfield, KS and beyond supercell. We observed numerous gustnadoes south of Pritchett, but as significant updrafting was beginning to occur above these dust whirlies. Soon, without much warning at all, a very nice and somewhat tall translucent dust tube extended from a compact dusty debris cloud upwad a good distance. This was no ordinary gustnado. We all three believe this was indeed a legit tornado, ~15 SSE Pritchett, CO at about 6pm MDT. Bookbinder and I got a few pretty good images, which will be posted by tomorrow morning at the latest. After this, the storm spewed out too much outflow, so we tried to blast east a good distance for structure. Some of the dust back in the storm was really opaque. Pretty hairy stuff. When we got to the KS border, we realized that getting gas was moving high on our priority list. We wanted to stay ahead of the storm though on our way to the next large enough town — Hugoton. So we went north on Hwy 27 from Hwy 51 to Richfield. We stopped a mile or so south of where Hwy 27 jogged east to Richfield to photograph incredible green vault color to our west. Beautiful. But we underestimated how close this was to us, and we figured we could get to the east jog in time. We miscalculated. We ate it. Golfball to 2″ diameter hail overtook us 6 miles west of Richfield. I have some spiders on the glass as a result. D’oh! We took Hwy 51 back south with some jaw-dropping structure to our west. Beautiful bell-shaped updraft with some of that vertical striations that most undoubtedly suggest 2.5″+ diameter hail. Then there was the dust. Wow. Inflow dust was just unbelievable. We drove through a couple inflow jets with less than 1/8 mile visbility. We eventually got out ahead of the storm enough on Hwy 56 to get more jaw dropping, menacing structure to the west-northwest with ground-scrapping lowerings/wall cloud. The kicker was the inflow dust jets — two of them streaming into the updraft from different locations and rising into the supercell. It was something I had really never seen before… two separate inflow dust jets going up into the supercell structure. Wow!!! At any rate, we continued to follow this beast watching a left-split race north as the main supercell was moving east. We thought these storms would merge between Hugoton and Liberal, but the left-split continued to race right on by. Our last photography location was west of Liberal with some shelf cloud structure in the waning nautical twilight. Met up with Scott Blair in Liberal for some fantastic McDonalds (sigh) since no other restaurant on Pancake avenue wanted to stay open past 10. Back to Dodge City tonight with more in store on this trip!


  1. Nice images! The bottom two images are really something, especially the duel inflow dust jets one. Crazy!

    Comment by njwxgirl — June 14, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  2. The photo of the dual inflows ranks right up there with one of the best structure photos I have seen. Excellent capture!

    Comment by Jim Saueressig — June 14, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  3. njwxgirl and Jim S. Thanks for the compliments, it was one hell of a storm! The dual inflow jets was something I had never photographed before in front of a supercell like this. -Mike U

    Comment by Mike U — June 14, 2009 @ 10:23 am

  4. Like the others said above, awesome photos Mike. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Brandon — June 14, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  5. The storm looked impressive on radar…but these photos…WOW. Hope to get permission to use them for spotter training. Can you give more details on location and timing…if possible.


    Comment by Tom Magnuson -WCM — June 14, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  6. Nice images! Plan on posting any images of the vault?
    Also…the bottom left picture…did you use some sort of multi-stop ND filter there? It looks like it was a several second exposure?

    P.S. – Those inflow jets are extremely cool!

    Comment by Charles Dalton — June 14, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  7. Congrats. Very nice photos. I would be interested to know if this was a tornado rather then a gustanado. One like this I saw in 2002 looks very much like this and many debated on stormtrack which is was with chasers on “both sides of the aisle”

    Comment by Eric Flescher — June 14, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  8. Simply amazing pictures Mike! I bet you could make a garden variety cumulus cloud into a breath taking photo. Have fun on your chasecation and I will keep coming back to see what you guys bag every day.

    Comment by Phil Kurimski — June 14, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

  9. Thanks Phil! I appreciate our comments as always!

    Comment by Mike U — June 14, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  10. Awesome as always Mike..sorry to hear about your windshield ;)

    Comment by Jim Zandonai — June 14, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

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