Leoti Mothership, Kansas
21 May 2016
After Tim’s heroic turn doing all the driving yesterday to give my shoulder a break which was playing up massively, we found ourselves right under today’s main risk area which had shifted slightly west whilst we slept in keeping with the dry line bulge which was going to be the area for the most intense storms today.
This lack of needing to drive miles to a target area resulted in a leisurely Walmart shop where I managed to find ALL the ingredients necessary to make the ‘perfect’ sandwich – real organic ham, a ripe avocado and my new favoured crostini rolls. Jackpot. Hopefully the weather would follow the same pattern and like the sandwich all the ingredients would come together to make the perfect storm.
We found a park in the next small town west where Timbo, committed to maintaining a healthy level of fitness when possible did a good few laps off the park, whilst I kept an eye on models and did a drinks run – in the car – on my own! It’s a bit weird driving around on your own after always being in the car together. But I neither got lost nor crashed, just mounted a few curbs – that was all.
We had a good view west and could see the bubbling convection on the approaching dryline. We edged a little closer to it and managed to get under the first half decent attempt at a storm, but it was quite slow in developing and so we zoomed off ahead toward another towering cumulus we could see exploding in the vicinity. Before long this had edged off northeast and left us waiting for the initial storm to catch us up – it looked a bit more severe by this time.
In an attempt to stick with these northeast travelling cells on a grided road network we were required to put some miles in east before heading north. The slow moving nature of the cells helped and before long we could venture in from the east on the yet to be rained on dirt roads.
We timed it by the skin of our teeth and managed to capture the first tornado. It was a bit frantic though as we were still a little way off so an ‘out of the car shot’ had to do. The lightning was intense and we were barraged with CGs in all directions. It was great!
After rain occluded the interesting features, we drove back out in an attempt to get a better view. The storm was so slow, hardly moving at all having locked itself onto a frontal boundary. Great for attempting to position correctly, but the amount of rain falling in the same place was not so great for for keeping traction on the dirt roads.
After a while, visibility improved and lured us a bit closer again. We whizzed past other chasers taking photos and drove as far as we could before the risk of getting stuck in the mud was too great. And wow – what structure this supercell was starting to take. Rotation was clear at all levels and it was an absolute beast. We got out of the car and rain was lashing at our backs, being pulled into the storm by the strong inflow winds that were also battering us and making Tim’s coat flap like some tent that was about to blow away.
Then came a second tornado which can be seen in this next picture. Following this the storm kept re-sculpturing itself into the more amazing shapes. This coupled with the constantly changing colour of the dusk light and it was a feast for eyes – and cameras for that matter and I think I got a few hundred shots. I just couldn’t stop clicking!
As the sun started to set, it looked as though the storm was attempting to tornado again. Although it didn’t quite make it, we did get a funnel at sunset (funset?!).
An absolute belter of a storm and some of the best persistent structure we have ever seen. The wind, the rain, the storm, the amount of chasers out there in their element, with the elements, enjoying themselves – it was wild and fun and amazing and just what we come out here for.
A few extras for the imaginative...
Somewhere in Texas... I think > >
SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)
SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.