(24 May 2011)
* *  Mike Umscheid PHOTOGRAPHY & STORM CHASE BLOG   * *


About This Shoot
Date: 24 May 2011
Location: Southwest and South-central Kansas from Kalvesta to Ness City...Larned to Hutchinson.
Shoot Type: Storm Chase
Rating:
Synopsis:
Intercepted a supercell from Kalvesta to Ness City with some supercell structure photographed between Jetmore and Ness City. Photographed a long shelf cloud across western Reno County west of Hutchinson. Some lightning and mammatus was also photographed on the back side of the storms near the Reno-Stafford county line along Hwy 50.

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Preliminary Storm Reports from 24 May 2011


1630 UTC SPC Products from 24 May 2011


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24 May 2011


Fri, 27 May 2011 22:52:01 -0500
Storm chase summary & images May 24th (1 of 3): Kalvesta-Ness City, KS supercell
Summary & Images (part 1)
Overall, I wish I had May 24th to do over again. This was a high-risk
day for severe storms from southern Kansas into Oklahoma. It was
much-advertised, including by yours truly with various blog postings
prior to the event. All along I had decided to stay in Kansas to
chase since there was the potential for tornadic supercells closer to
home versus anywhere else. I decided to target the from Pratt to
Hutchinson, but as the morning of the chase day came to pass --
another target area emerged. This was the area WEST of Dodge City as
winds were becoming easterly behind an early morning outflow boundary
with lower 60s dewpoints as far west as the Highway 283 corridor
(Dodge City to Ness City). A supercell formed early in the afternoon
near Liberal and it was moving up toward the Cimarron-Dodge City area.
I decided to make this my target storm. A friend of mine from
bowling was also with me on this chase.

We left around 2:30 for the storm approaching Hugoton. The fate of
the chase day was determined very early on -- a poor decision of mine
to head southwest on Hwy 54 toward Copeland versus Hwy 50 toward
Cimarron-Ingalls. I had thought that the storm would begin to
right-turn and move more northeast (instead of north-northeast) when
it was down near Hugoton. The storm never did do this...until it
reached Highway 50...of course! So, we ended up falling behind the
storm in a hurry since it was booking north-northeast at a good 40
mph. We had to play catch up and blast north on Hwy 83 to Garden City
and intercept it from behind on K-156. We finally did get back into
the inflow sector of the storm near Kalvesta. Along the way, we came
across some very large hail along the highway west of Kalvesta. I
estimated some of the stones behind 2" in diameter, but I'm sure there
were some baseball-sized stones scattered in there. We didn't stop
because I wanted to continue getting into a proper position to
photograph the storm itself.

At Jetmore, we drove north on Hwy 283 and it did not take long to get
a good view of the supercell updraft structure to our west-northwest.
Radar showed a fairly good appendage/nascent hook echo with a slight
velocity couplet approaching the Ness-Hodgeman county line. Then we
came upon that dreaded road sign: One lane road ahead. I couldn't
believe it. What a time to run into road construction/pilot car. We
came upon the pilot car stop and the storm updraft and rotation was
coming upon us. we only sat there for a minute or two before deciding
this was stupid and turned around and got the hell out of there.
About a mile south of that, I pulled off and photographed some of the
structure of the storm approaching. There was definitely broad scale
cloud base rotation on the south side with RFD rain curtains rotating
around the backside basically coming straight for us. I was able to
get a few images of the supercell approaching (shown below). This was
the only time we would photograph this storm. After that, the road
network was unfavorable and we continued on east-northeast along K-156
again in the general direction of Larned.

By this time, we were already way out of position to intercept
tornadic storms that had formed to our northeast across Rush County.
Other storms tried to form back down into Pawnee County, but these
were also northeast of us and continued to race north-northeast. When
we reached Larned, I decided it was just time to regroup and figure
out what to do next. Other storms began to form to our
south-southwest which would be good intercepts for us... so we went
after those storms. Continued in post #2

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(click on thumbnails for pop-up of larger images)

Fri, 27 May 2011 23:01:25 -0500
Storm chase summary & images May 24th (2 of 3): Marginally severe outflow dominant storms with shelf cloud from Stafford to Hutchinson
Summary & Images (part 2)
Images below are from the sequence of the chase along Hwy 50 in
Stafford and Reno County. The storms that developed to our
south-southwest as we were in Larned did not become supercells... but
evolved into a linear mess of strong to marginally severe storms. It
was basically shelf cloud photography from this point on with these
storms. We followed these until we approached Hutchinson then let the
storms roll over us and then began our way back to Dodge City.

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(click on thumbnails for pop-up of larger images)

Fri, 27 May 2011 23:10:19 -0500
Storm chase summary & images May 24th (3 of 3): Some lightning and mammatus on the backside of linear storms near Reno-Stafford County line
Summary & Images (part 3)
I was hoping for some photogenic scenes on the back side of the storms
we let roll over us near Hutchinson. Unfortunately, the sun had
fallen behind some distant cirrus, so we didn't get good sunset light.
Some intra-cloud lightning illuminated the sky to the east as the
storm moved on and I manage to get a few marginal lightning images.
After we left this scene I stopped again about 15 minutes later as
mammatus was evident in the low light. I set the tripod up and did
some long-exposure work here for about 10 minutes. A couple of the
images are seen below:

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(click on thumbnails for pop-up of larger images)

Wed, 25 May 2011 10:36:58 -0500
some marginal to decent shelf cloud structure with the second line of storms. was hoping for supercells but wasnt to be. letting storms roll over near Hutch then back to Dodge
(Post resent. Was originally posted during the storm chase but did
not post to the blog).


Wed, 25 May 2011 10:32:47 -0500
Rather frustrating chase so far.. got behind the storm near Kalvesta... havent seen tornado yet... too far behind the Rush and Barton county storms out of position. Waiting more development upstream near Greensburg
(Post resent. Was originally posted during the storm chase but did not post to the blog).

Tue, 24 May 2011 13:40:35 -0500
outflow boundary retreating north. Many options from Dodge...supercell developing near Liberal. 70 dewpoints surging back into western OK.
Wow. Already a tornado watch in effect as of 1:30pm across all of
Southwest Kansas. Will be departing Dodge City around 2:30 or so
depending on how things look with radar and visible satellite trends.
The NAM solution was a total mis-forecast for southwest Kansas. There
is a greater risk now for tornadoes across much more of southwest and
west-central Kansas since the stratus is eroding and mid 60s dewpoints
are surging back west on east winds. I may not be going very far from
Dodge City. Final decision on where to go, you'll just have to
monitor the CHASE MODE page with real-time graphics on the left hand
side to see where I ultimately went and which storm I'm on.

Tue, 24 May 2011 07:03:14 -0500
High Risk of severe storms with several long-lived, destructive tornadoes likely (24.06z NAM model shown)
The dawn hours have arrived -- of what, on paper, looks to be one of
the most explosive Great Plains severe weather outbreak in quite some
time -- in terms of the potential for multiple, long-lived,
destructive tornadoes. I will be storm chasing today, on my one true
day off work between ending evening shifts and beginning midnight
shifts late Wednesday Night. I will be hanging around Dodge City
until around 2:00 to 2:30pm or so, which at that time, the surface
focus for storm initiation will actually not be too far from here.
The initial surface-based storms will probably form in an area from
Kinsley to Greensburg to Pratt after 3:00pm and continue developing in
an explosive manner through the afternoon. A surge of warm air will
develop northward from western Oklahoma into portions of far
southwest/south-central KS greeting a cooler, much higher relative
humidity airmass along either the Highway 50 or 54 corridor. This is
where the initial triple point will be... and a focus for this initial
development. By late afternoon/early evening, say after 5pm,
additional storms will develop in perhaps an even more explosive
manner farther south... along the OK-KS border and points south all
along the dryline in central Oklahoma. The 06z NAM model depicts
supercell thunderstorm development as far south as the Dallas-Ft.
Worth metroplex by 6 or 7pm. The low level wind shear in combination
with 3500 to 4500 J/kg Surface-based CAPE will yield support the
development of very aggressive supercell thunderstorms all the way
from south-central Kansas south to North Texas. All storm chasers
should be very careful, especially considering the number of storm
chasers that will likely be out. Storm chasers will be out in huge
numbers today. I will likely observe storms/storm structure from a
safer distance (which is what I usually do anyway), as many other
storm chasers will likely be up close and personal to large tornadoes.
A final chase strategy will be decided by midday.

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Mon, 23 May 2011 11:29:08 -0500
Tuesday May 24th potential tornado outbreak still on track (23.12z NAM model run shown)
The latest NAM model has now trended to the ECMWF and GFS of a wider
warm, moist sector extending into central Kansas. This lends greater
confidence in signficant tornado outbreak extending well into Kansas
for Tuesday. This will also likely lead to a greater probability of
storm chaser dispersion as there should be scattered tornadic
supercells from basically I-70 corridor south to the Red River across
the central Plains. Trying to fine-tune where the greatest threat
area amidst this corridor is likely an exercise in futility because
significant tornadic supercell ingredients should be very impressive
over this entire area. The only caveat to this is a large nocturnal
MCS or morning explosion of convection that could substantially alter
the warm/moist sector like on May 11th. Major cities like Wichita,
Oklahoma City, and Tulsa are at risk to tornadoes Tuesday evening.
  
(click on thumbnail for pop-up of larger image)

Sun, 22 May 2011 13:52:44 -0500
Tuesday May 24 has the makings of an impressive central plains tornado outbreak
Since Tuesday May 24 is really my only day off to possibly chase, I
have been keeping an eye on the numerical model trends regarding a
storm chase setup. As each model run of the GFS, NAM, and ECMWF come
in, the signals of a severe weather outbreak become increasingly
clear. In fact, given the anticipated upper 60s/lower 70s dewpoints
across much of the warm sector, an outbreak of tornadoes seems quite
possible, if not likely. The question is where the center of activity
will be focused. The NAM insists on a smaller area of warm sector,
only pushing as far north as north-central Oklahoma. The GFS, on the
other hand, is more aggressive with a push of warm, moist air into
much of Kansas ahead of a very impressive mid level jet streak/cold
air advection. The 500mb pattern looks really, really good...
regardless of which model you look at. By Monday night, a target
region of interest for me will most likely emerge. I'm hoping for a
GFS type scenario as it would spread the storm chasers out across
Kansas, Oklahoma, and N. Texas. Attached below are the 12z Sunday
morning model runs of the NAM and the GFS:

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Wed, 18 May 2011 14:22:55 -0500
Tuesday May 24th looking interesting, my next opportunity to possibly chase...
After a string of 7 evening shifts, I will have a day off on Tuesday,
May 24th, which I had on the calendar a possible chase day if the
pattern was right and it wasn't ridculously far away. As it stands
now, there is a very high probability that a substantial southwestern
upper low/trough will develop and approach the plains. The ECMWF
model has been the fastest model with this next system while the
deterministic GFS model has been the slowest. Attached in this post
are the GFS and the ECMWF 144-hour forecast valid 12z Tuesday the 24th
(from this Wednesday morning's 12z run). It certainly looks like
Monday and/or Tuesday will be active for severe weather on the plains
worthy of a storm chase. Will continue to monitor this potential set
up for a chase and post some followups on this chase mode blog:

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(click on thumbnails for pop-up of larger images)