Day 10 - Messy Kansas Moderate

27 May 2013

Having not slept until 4am the previous night, I was feeling a bit sleepy this morning. Tim woke me at just before checking out time at 11am with the exciting news that today had been upgraded to a moderate risk across the Kansas / Nebraska border slightly south east of us. He had been eager to wake me and tell me but anticipated a long chase day would require as much sleep as possible. We left the motel in Broken Bow and headed south, over the I80 and east towards a town called Stapleton. Whilst travelling east, the Storm Prediction Centre (SPC) issued a mesoscale discussion for a bit further to our west for storms with tornadic potential that were heading up from eastern Colorado. We didn't think these storms were the main focus of the moderate, so we held fire. Something we rarely do as it's very easy to revert on your own initial forecast in the light of a newly issued SPC discussion. We could see from the spotter network that there were many chasers in the area, some further east, some further west, all stationary and waiting for something to blow up in the manner it had done the day before. Some of our mates from England, Steve, Pete and Nathan were only up the road, so we went and waited it out with them and talked about storms a bit!

At about 5pm a couple of cells seemed to develop to our north west. The others didn't think this was to be the main event of the day so stayed put, but we hedged our bets and made the 40 mile drive to where the storms were developing. As we approached they looked powerful enough and they had started to anvil, which meant they had risen to a point where they could no longer grow upwards and start to spread out, creating an anvil like cloud in the sky - a good sign of a strong updraft. However, it appeared the cell was being stretched along a northeast / southwest orientation and wasn't showing any signs of rotation. We made the best of it that we could and tried to position ourselves just to the south east of it. The thunder was cracking but the storm lacked any real structure. As it started to come closer we found a road straight south that would allow us to track with it and then, hey presto, it started to show rotation on its southern tip. We stopped for photos along the road to capture a raggedy wall cloud and were quite excited at some tornado potential.

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As we approached a nearby town, the tornado sirens were going and we stopped in a lay by with a handful of other chasers, one of them being a mate of ours, Tony Gilbert from back home. It was a great location as the south road would take us straight out of the storm's path if we needed it to, but otherwise we could watch the storm idle past just in front of us, rumbling with thunder and generally looking very low to the ground and foreboding. We could still here the tornado sirens from the last town we passed though which added to the intensity of the moment.

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After the main part of the storm had passed, we headed east to stick with it. It was huge and the view from the roadside was incredible.

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This storm was great, but we could see on radar that it was now merging with the other storms that had been heading up from eastern Colorado. When this happens the storms tend to lose their own individual characteristics and it becomes a bit of a chaotic mess. We held onto what we could, following this back end part of the storm as it tracked east and managed a few dusk lightning shots but it was clear that as the system moved away it was not going to deliver any further photographic opportunities.

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We did however attempt to follow it for a while, but all we ended up doing was getting a few non event photos whilst at the same time getting a car full of bugs. They were particularly bad as the area was grassy and the environment still very humid. We battled with trying to get a big flappy bug out of the car for a while in the pitch black, taking it in turns to slam doors and rustle a jumper around the vicinity of the seats in the hope of scaring it out of whenever its hiding place was, but after about 10 mins and no sign of the bug, decided to brave the drive with the potential bug still in the car to Concordia Walmart, about 30 minutes drive away. Tim drove and I sat poised with a jumper to splat the bug if need be. By the time we got to Walmart, I was happy that the bug was no longer in the car and we settled down for a somewhat humid sleep in Escapey!

 

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

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

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Mon May 2013

< < Day 11 - Corning Tornado and the muddy escape      :      Day 9 – A late starter in Broken Bow > >

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