Day 1 - Storm Chasing 2013 - Being Jonah

18 May 2013

Today started as most good trips do, with a 5am start and a bleary eyed trip to the airport (thanks Kieran) and after dealing with the time consuming computerised check-in processes and the rude staff Air Canada were kind enough to provide, had time to grab breakfast and a beer and set ourselves up for a good sleep on the plane. Unfortunately those clever digital check-in systems had elected to randomly place us around the plane. Can’t get the software developers these days...

Our spirits would be hard to dampen at this time though as we were flying into some fantastic weather forecasts. The Storm Prediction Centre had issued a "moderate risk" area for Western Kansas and north western Oklahoma for the evening we landed. Although we were to land on the Eastern Kansas / Missouri border, we had been undertaking meticulous planning to try and sort out our internet connection and satellite data feed while heading in the direction of the storms.

Our brief stop off in Toronto gave us time enough to re-review our chase target for the day and the forecasts had held up, we needed to get west as quickly as possible on arriving.

Our flight landed a few minutes ahead of schedule, and we made our way as quickly as possible through car hire, collecting this years trusty chase vehicle.

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After throwing everything inside and setting up wires left right and centre we hit the I70 west. It was now about 4.30pm and the storms were already showing signs of initiation. We had planned for the same, and already had the location of the one store we had to stop in en route planned in. So after a quick stop we were set with internet data, which meant we could make phone calls, so in another half hour we had Baron set up too and we were good to chase. We'd done everything as smoothly as we realistically could have, but today was always going to be a push for time, which was not on our side. But we would try anyway.

We carried on along the I70 for another couple of hours and could see numerous storms breaking out slightly to the south. We were too late to make any subtle play on the storms but we were fortunate that a good supercell was moving north east tracking roughly along the route of a road we could take south west from the I70 between Salina and Russell. As the light faded we found ourselves underneath the outflow boundary of the storm with some stunning structure above us.

Center of the storm

The dominant feature we were seeing here is colloquially termed a Whale's Mouth. This is a feature we see quite regularly but we’d never seen it on this sort of scale, we were well and truly in the belly of the whale.

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We tracked north east with the storm for a while and enjoyed some lightning, it wasn’t that prolific but we'd not seen any for a year, so it's always more exciting at first. Although we had missed the main events of the day, the storms had yielded some fantastic structure for us, and we’d been able to get some nice views to wet our appetites for the rest of the trip. Amazing, though, that after counting down for about 250 days we were about an hour late for some of the best action of the day, but we’re not complaining, the forecast was now for two more days of moderate risk, there were going to be more storms, and there’s nothing more we could ask for.

We made our way back to Salina for some much needed rest after a 24 hour day, with lots of anticipation of what would be coming over the next couple of days, and of course, 3 weeks. We got there just in time to get everything inside before the storms hit us on the north eastward path, and got some great thunder and lightning as it came through.

- Tim

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Sat May 2013

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Sat May 2013

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