May 24 - 25, 2008 Storm Chase Reports

storm video, chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.

YouTube Video of Bison, KS Landspout Tornado May 25, 2008 (1 min 29 sec)

May 24, 2008 Nebraska Bust

May 24 was a complete bust. I was chasing with Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh. We started the day in Russell , Kansas . Our target was the Hebron to Beatrice area of Nebraska . Although we had some concerns about moisture, all the ingredients were coming together for more tornadoes especially in southern Nebraska . All of us were still excited over the previous night's success. Fox news called me and wanted to do a live interview while showing my video of the tornado crossing I-70. I did the interview while we were stopped in Salina , Kansas to check more data and have lunch. I talked to Jim Leonard who liked points farther south due to higher instability but he hadn't finished analyzing data. I did notice extremely high instability far to the south but the upper level winds were extremely weak. We checked more data in Salina that confirmed our target area and we turned north. While heading north, we saw that there was a brief tornado north of Oklahoma City . We were too far north to target those storms and we figured the storms would not last. I then received another call from Fox News. They wanted to do another interview but not about my footage. There was a massive tornado north of Oklahoma City. Arrghhh. The tornadic storm persisted for hours, producing multiple tornadoes. A television station was broadcasting live footage from a helicopter circling the tornado. This long-lived tornadic storm was a chaserĘs dream as it was very slow moving over a relatively unpopulated area. We continued to our target area, shifting to near Fairmount to watch the boundary to the west. There was no way to reach the tornadic storm in Oklahoma. Storms in our area never really developed. We sat by the road for hours watching towers struggle to develop, then die. We ended in York, Nebraska. Robert and I ate some nasty Chinese food. I called Jim later. He was able to reach the storm from Kansas and saw many tornadoes. This was the best storm in his chase career. Most experienced chasers along with many of the storm chase tours targeted the same area as us and also busted. Even the Doppler on Wheels with the Tornado Intercept Vehicle and Discovery Channel crew busted that day. Most chasers who intercepted the unusual tornadoes near OKC were there by accident rather than through forecasting. Congratulations to those who were successful. After the events of May 23rd, I wasn't too disappointed. My forecasting approach was correct, just no storms or tornadoes. Blue sky busts can be common in chasing.

May 25, 2008 Bison, Kansas Tornado

I was chasing on May 25 with Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh. After busting in Nebraska the previous day, we hoped to redeem ourselves. The target was around Garden City to Dodge City. The RUC and NAM showed an area of localized precip with decent CAPE and shear. The precip was expected to form ahead of the dryline. Surface winds and 850 winds were initially veered but would back later in the day if the models were correct. We drove west from York, Nebraska, then south on 183 to Hays, Kansas, continuing to Sanford. Satellite images showed a Cumulus field in southwest Kansas. Storms were forming to our southwest along with an isolated storm southwest of Scott City. We drove a few miles east to Larned to check data. There were some towers to our north. Eventually a line of storms formed from our north to southwest. The one to our west was fairly isolated. The surface winds were still veered. We drove west on 156. By the time we reached Burnett, the storm had developed a wall cloud. We drove north from Burnett watching the developing wall cloud (1P, 3:10PM). (image 2V 3:10PM).The storm was pulsing. Each time, inflow would increase. There was a nice lowering at 3:23PM but no tornado. We continued north on the road that became dirt and mud. The wall cloud (3V) was white and very well-defined. It had moved to our northeast. We parked on a dirt road at 3:42, watching the white cylindrical wall cloud (4V, 3:52PM) to our east. Apparently, there was a brief tornado under the wall cloud but we didnĘt see it from our position. On the ground around us were scattered large and spikey hail (5V). After a few minutes, I decided to race north. I turned east on 96 at 4:02 PM. The wall cloud (6V) had enlarged with increasing rotation. I was sure a tornado would form. At Rush Center, the tornado sirens were sounding. I turned north on 183. At 4:14 PM, I saw a brief needle funnel (7V)on the wall cloud. I went south on 589 to see the next storm. I passed Bison at 4:37 PM, dropping a couple of miles south to watch the large wall cloud to my west. Jason and Robert had stopped just to my north. At 4:48PM while filming the wall cloud (8V), I heard some locals yelling about a tornado. I turned around and saw a nice landspout tornado (9V) forming to my south. I filmed the beautiful translucent tube (10V) for a couple of minutes before it dissipated (11P). Tornado sirens sounded in Bison. I drove back through Bison and turned east. The storms were now basically a line of embedded cells. I met up with Jason and Robert and we watched one of the storms (12P, 5:32PM) from a dirt road. The storm was too linear. They stayed to photograph the storm while I tried to get ahead of it. As I turned north, I realized that I didnĘt have enough gas and I didnĘt want to risk going north in an area with no towns. I took a frustrating detour to Hoisington for gas and waited in a too long line. My north option was closed. I tried going east, then north ahead of the storm in Odin. The storm was massive but had become outflow dominant. At this point, I ended the chase and threaded my way north between cores. Thanks to Jason and Robert for getting me an extra hotel room in Hays. Almost all the rooms are filled with storm chasers. Jason, Robert and I had dinner and enjoyed chatting with the Cloud 9 Tour group.














Wall cloud viewing locations

Funnel and landspout viewing location


Next Page: May 26, 2008

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