Storm Chase May 15, 2015: Bridgeport and Brownson Funnels




chase images,log, video links by William T. Hark, M.D. Video (HD) and pictures available for licensing. Click on images to enlarge


Video of Bridgeport Funnel


This was my first chase day in Tornado Alley for 2015. I arrived in Wichita, Kansas the previous evening and drove to Salina for the night. I knew that I would have to get up early to continue the drive. My target area was in the Nebraska Panhandle near the warm front. I hoped a combination of backed (southeasterly) surface winds and upslope would help storms develop. I drove west on I-70, then north to I-80 in Nebraska. I initially planned to wait somewhere near Kimball. I checked more data in Ogallala and decided to continue west. At 1:30 PM, near the exit to Big Springs, I noticed an area of agitated cumulus to the southwest. I continued west and stopped just south of the town of Chappell at 2:00 PM. There was a developing storm to the southwest. I was a bit east of my initial target, but this was the only development. The storm slowly strengthened. It was initially weak and multicellular but already had some inflow features. I watched it for a while before shifting slightly to the west as it approached the interstate. There was a base and persistent inflow features, but the storm was still disorganized. Additional storms were developing to the south. The storm was moving in a northwesterly direction. I continued west on I-80. The base of the storm had a disappointing shelf appearance. I stopped again to watch the storm just off the Sidney exit. The storm base to the west was very linear. There was inflow but it was cold. Yawn. I sat there watching the storm when I noticed an area of rotation at 3:15 PM CDT. There was no indication on radar but there was definite rotation. The cold inflow increased. Another area of the wide base lowered and that area started to rotate. I blasted west on 30. There was a definite wall cloud and possible funnel by 3:21 PM. The rotation continued as it passed north of the road. The movement of the cell was now northeast. It was passing over the next north option at Brownson and shifting to the east and north. I backtracked east to Sidney and then north on 385 at 3:45 PM CDT to follow the storm. The road options were limited. The storm was to the northeast and was approaching the road. The base was high and unimpressive, and I was considering stopping the chase. It had weak rotation and the cold inflow persisted. North of Gurley, the base became sharper and lowered by 4:04 PM. The radar presentation was pitiful. It was slowly approaching 385 from the west. At 4:29, I noticed a high funnel just to the east of 385. I continued north to get a better view. The funnel persisted until 4:32 PM. The storm was near and to the east of Bridgeport. I arrived at the intersection with 92 at 4:33 PM. The storm was to the north, and I could only go southeast or northwest. I turned southwest briefly and stopped. The storm produced another rotating wall cloud and brief funnel before losing some of its organization. At this point, multiple storms were forming across the Nebraska panhandle and tracking north. I got onto 26 and intercepting some more storms as they moved northward including a nice one near Lisco. They would show signs of rotation but had cold inflow. I lingered a bit too long watching these storms before the long drive south to Colby for the night. The next day was a potential tornado outbreak, and the target areas were in southern Kansas and southwestern Oklahoma. In hindsight, I wish I had blown off this day and used the time to get into position for the following day. The tornado of the day was in Torrington, Wyoming.

Storm along I-80, 2:32 PM CDT

Near Brownson, linear base, 3:30 PM

Funnel near Brownson, by 30. 3:22 PM

3:23 PM

3:23 PM Funnel with train

Storm to north on 385, 4:19 PM CDT

Storm to north on 385, 4:24 PM

Funnel SE of Bridgeport, 4:31 PM

4:31 PM

4:31 PM

4:32 PM

Another funnel, north of 92, 4:34 PM

Another storm, 6:48 PM near Lisco

6:55 PM

6:57 PM

Not a tornado, a rainshaft

Go to May 16, 2015

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All images Copyright 2015 William T. Hark