Day 2 (Wednesday 6/8/2005) – Northeastern Kansas – Northwestern Missouri.
We got a late start leaving Mitchell SD but our target area was extreme north
eastern Kansas. The outflow boundary of last nights complex (which is
still going strong in Arkansas/Tennessee now, its 3:00 AM central) put a huge
dent in the ability for moisture to flow up north where the “death jet” was, so
we had to go south. The dewpoints in Kansas were really amazing (I can’t
imagine how muggy and hot it was there today, yuk!) and the energy in the lower
atmosphere was really scary. There was a sweet spot in extreme South
eastern Nebraska and we expected storms to be the most probable for tornadic
activity here because of the upper level winds providing much shear, but we
couldn’t rule out north eastern Kansas as well because of the amount of energy
in the atmosphere.
We had a tough choice between a nice looking cell in extreme south eastern
Nebraska or a pair of towering columns in north eastern Kansas. There had
been 3 very nice looking anvils form around the Topeka area but they all died a
miserable death. The 18Z charts out of Topeka showed that there was a
substantial cap on the southern storms (hence why they abruptly died) so we
decided on the Nebraska storm. After turning around and heading back north
along I-29 we got a call from another Colorado chaser (Roger Hill, my favorite
storm chasing hero and the reason I chose this chase company) called us on the
southern storm saying there was an 11 minute tornado that he was just miles
from. Oh well, we actually would have missed this I feel anyway because we
were out of position. We decided to change storms (I’m still questioning
this move, but I understand the reasons why) and head back to the Kansas storms
but the damage had been done for the day. These storms ended up only
producing the one tornado early in the day.
The good news is that we continued driving south and intercepted the storm on
the southern side just outside of Leavenworth. We heard numerous tornado
sirens (the second in two days I’ve heard) but didn’t see any funnels or
tornadoeswhere we were. The eddys in the updraft base of this storm were
beautiful, and the emerald green color of the clouds could not mistake what was
going on in them! This storm had 3 distinct inflow feeder bands that were
right overhead but it was SO dark that my pictures didn’t really do justice.
I’ll look at the video soon to see if it looks any good. At this time the
radar showed that this storm was very quickly intensifying and we maneuvered
around its updraft base as best as we could. There was a very distinct
wall cloud but we didn’t get any rotation out of it so we decided to leave so
not to get pounded by golf ball sized hail which came down in abundance with
this storm just moments after we left. There was SERIOUS cloud to ground
lightening with this storm!
This is when the show for the day started in my opinion. The
inflow cloud was awesome, I can’t complain (only me and another guy got out of
the van to witness this for 15 minutes…everyone else stayed in which I think
was a shame as it was a beautiful storm…they weren’t impressed because there
was no tornado I guess…their loss!). We ran out from under this monster
and then the anvil crawlers started right after sunset. These were
lightening bolts pitchforking from horizon to horizon directly above us taking
up the whole sky. I’ve only seen one other storm in NE Oklahoma at my
grandma’s house that was comparable in my life. We then headed to Russell
Kansas to set ourselves in good position for tomorrow and on the way watched
more amazing lightening shows from the massive complex of storms around Witchita.
Note that these storms were nearly stationary and were forming in a line behind
each other so there is going to be major flooding. Mother nature put out a
fireworks show for us *ALL* night long. I just got in (3:25 am) from a
quick trip outside and the show is still amazing. Horizon to horizon anvil
crawlers off in the distance.
So, no storm photos for today, but trust me, it was quite a day. These
storms had so much energy! By the way, the Missouri river is
absolutely full of debris (whole trees!) from the mass amount of run-off from
these storms. Also, the storms from last night are still going strong…I
think it is going to take the Atlantic Ocean to stop them!
Our PhD guide said tomorrow looks grim (remember, this guy doesn’t think cool
storms are anything (he calls them crap) and he only is interested in Tornadoes,
and even though I don’t want to argue with him I do see potential for central
Kansas and Oklahoma as the abundant moisture and dryline, plus I like to see
other weather than just Tornadoes, but we’ll see what the group wants to do.
The National Weather Service experts are predicting an extreme weekend (major
outbreak) in the Texas panhandle and plains–the best of the year and perhaps
the best of the century so far–so we’ll see and keep our fingers crossed.
We’ll see how the outflow boundary of today’s storms plays out as it could
easily kill the moisture feed and without deep moisture there is little chance
for tornadoes. Otherwise, tomorrow is 100% class time and studying models
of historic storms. In the last two days I’m certainly glad I took
engineering courses for over two years because learning this Meteorology stuff
is heavy on math and physics.
Just south of Omaha on I-29 there is the most amazing display of trucks I’ve
ever seen. I’m not joking, there has to be over 10,000 trucks, I’ve never
seen anything like it. Imagine the cost of this hoard new…the pictures
do not do it justice, these are taken from the north and south sides of the
massive farm. Imagine if they started up every truck at the same
time…now that would be an awesome sound, but probably produce a smog cloud
that would put Denver’s most inverted day to shame!
Thought of the day. We saw the Texas Tech team again today, all lined
up with their silly cars with weather stations on top in a neat caravan.
Okay, so I’ve seen these guys two days in a row and have some serious issues
with their approach. These guys are obviously scientists trying to gather
data (maybe not, but I didn’t see the chicks flocking to them either because of
their goddy setups) but why would this team stay caravaned with the exact same
instruments. If each car collects data you would think it scientifically
prudent to have them scattered around the storm to collect data at different
vantage points. From what I saw they stay together so I’m questioning
their scientific methodology. I wonder if the University knows this and if
their funding would approve of such a methodology…….