Storm Chase May 23, 2012: Nebraska storms



May 23 was a fun but tiring storm chase with the potential for severe storms along an approaching front in Nebraska. There was decent upper level support, but I was concerned about moisture limitations and cap. With some disagreement among the forecast models, I decided to “split the difference” and wait for storm initiation in Grand Island, Nebraska. Thanks to blowing off mushy storms the previous day and doing some forecasting, I was able to spend the night in Kearney and had a very short drive to my initial target area. I was expected initiation either near Red Cloud or Sutton. I waited at an Arbys on the south side of Grand Island and watched a slowly developing Cu field. Eventually, storms initiated just to my east and north of I-80. I headed east on I-80. The first storms were forming a line and moving northward. I couldn't catch them but there was more isolated development just south of the interstate. This development was initially high-based, and I was concerned it would be undercut by the front. I followed one developing storm north to Seward but there was a larger and slightly more isolated storm to the south. The bases lowered. I waited on the north side of town. I followed the rapidly developing storm just north of the town of Seward. The storm had an interesting weakly rotating wall cloud that crossed the road to my north at 6:52 PM. I headed east on Cemetery Road which soon became gravel. The storm was to my north and continued to have a rotating wall cloud. It became tornado-warned. I was blasted with large clouds of dust. I followed the storm northward in a stair-step approach but was having difficulty keeping up with it. At times, there appeared to be a funnel but there was not much rotation. I was further delayed by getting lost in the town of Valparaiso. The storm was moving to my northeast. At 7:43, it showed a sudden increase in electrical activity. I could see a distant lowering/wall cloud but no tornado. Near Mead, the storm was dying. I ended the chase and headed to Gretna (near Omaha) for the night at a Super 8. I did briefly stop to take some lightning pictures. No tornado but I was very happy with the chase. I especially like my lightning image from that evening.

Radar and GPS 6:35 PM

Blowing dust and wall cloud

Non-rotating projection

This is not a tornado

Storm Chase May 24, 2012: Unexpected Chase in Kansas

I had originally planned on taking the day off but there was a chance of a few severe storms in northeastern Kansas. I had already planned on shifting a bit south and decided to chase a little bit. The SPC had issued a Moderate Risk with a significant chance for tornadoes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I reviewed the data and decided it would not be worth the drive from Omaha. I bailed on the chase. A number of chasers did go, and as I expected, didn't see very much interesting. I leisurely drove south from Omaha and stopped in St. Joseph for Mexican food. There, I met up with Robert Balogh and we checked data for a while before a northeast to southwest line of non severe storms formed to our west. We dropped down the line watching the storms before ending the chase in Lawrence, Kansas. We saw a nice rainbow and latter watched the sunset illuminate one of the storms over downtown Lawrence before eating some good Thai food. The downtown section of Lawrence Kansas is very nice with many restaurants, outdoor cafes and other shops.

Lawrence, Kansas

Go to May 25, 2012

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All images Copyright 2012 William T. Hark