A Shelf and a Rainbow

27 May 2016

Today was somewhat of a semi-severe storm crawl, hopping from cell to cell in the hope of finding some structure in an otherwise rather unorganised hard to chase cluster of storms.

We made a rather late departure from 'The Free Breakfast Inn', Oakley, Kansas, not wanting to leave the sanctuary of our little wood-panelled roadside motel room. Unfortunately it was too late to take advantage of said 'free breakfast' across the road at the Colonnial Steakhouse diner. Next time.


We made our way east to where we were expecting storms to fire near a cold front. Although the atmosphere was not as primed as it had been in previous days, the amount of moisture and diurnal heating was still expected to be enough to get storms going. We stopped on route at a roadside travel centre to buy yet another in car charger, having blown the fourth one the night before. 

All set up kit-wise we headed to some storms that had developed to our south. They were somewhat messy, but we picked the strongest of the lot, one that seemed to be showing some marginal rotation on radar. We found a waiting place to watch it pass but it unfortunately fizzled before even reaching us. It had however been fun waiting, improving our aim targeting a fence post with stones, chatting with locals that passed and making friends with a feral cat - or rather it was trying to make friends with us. We were actually trying to avoid making friends for fear of getting diseased or covered in ticks. Poor little thing. Maybe we'll return with some cat food at a later date.

Other storms were approaching from the south, so we proactively went to meet them. This was the marginally scary part of the day where we had to drive a very fast 8 miles towards quite a foreboding looking storm in order to get east and in front of it before it engulfed the road. We did this with a few minutes to spare, which left a minute to get some pics before the wind of the leading edge hit us.

Shelf pano

I think we probably saw the storm at its scariest moment. Soon after, it started to lose intensity but still gave us quite a good display of its turbulent underside, sometimes referred to as a ‘whale's mouth’. It's always amazing to look up at this kind of scene and see the motion of all the cloud, twisting in every direction, leaving your eyes feeling a bit fuzzy.

Whales Mouth

We pulled over and shared a can of beans as by this point it was 6pm and we were famished having not really had the time to stop and buy anything for lunch. The crisps we had dipped in our last bit of philly cheese hadn't really cut it earlier!

After the storm passed we were left not really sure of what to do. There was nothing left in the area that was worth driving to. A boundary north of a surface low back where we had been this morning was looking nice with quite a few funnels, landspouts and brief tornadoes reported, but we had to ignore this set-up as it was now too far away. We deliberated as to whether we should continue trying with the storms arcing further south, but they were characteristically similar to those we had been chasing all day, so putting in the miles didn't really seem worth it. Instead we opted to head to a motel, though post storm pastels for some post storm pasta, under the arc of a fantastic rainbow.


SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Fri May 2016

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Fri May 2016

< < Slightly Toiley Boiley Birthday      :      Moderating a moderate moderate > >

Weather Photography Blog