Storm Chase May 26 - 29, 2012


Storm Chase May 26: Day of Rest and Repair



This was a relaxing day. I meandered north from Great Bend, Kansas to Russel, Kansas and met Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh for lunch. After reviewing forecast data, I decided to bail on marginal possibilities in Nebraska which would mean a long drive and fatigue before a likely major chase day. I also used some time to fix a problematic mobile wi-fi hotspot that stopped working for no reason. Computers and related items are annoying as they can crash unexpectedly. I relaxed, watched some non severe storms nearby and had Mexican food for dinner with Jason and Robert. Chris Kridler left Great Bend early in the morning and rushed northward ot western Nebraska along with Scott, Dave and the Canadian meteorologists. Thanks to the cap, a layer of warm air that can suppress storm development, nothing major formed. I stayed in Russell that evening to be well-rested for the following chase day.

Storm Chase May 27: Storms in Nebraska



This was a frustrating chase day. I started the day in Russell, Kansas. The forecast was difficult and there were multiple potential targets far enough away from each other that one would have to commit early. I met with Robert Balogh and Jason Persoff and we drove a few miles away to Hays, Kansas for lunch. I found this nice restaurant downtown (Gella's Diner & Lb. Brewing Co). that had good food and a fast internet connection. We lingered while checking data and discussing possible chase options. We initially were targeting either areas just west of Russel or possibly a more southern target toward Garden City. By mid afternoon, we decided to head north on 183 into Nebraska. With some more expected backing of the winds northward, we decided to bag the southern targets and head north toward the Kansas-Nebraska border. Storms were developing but mainly in a line rather than individual cells. The line rapidly extended southward from central Nebraska. We reached the interstate and drove east a few miles. Storms were firing to our east and moving northward. At exit 279 (10), we drove south to the town of Minden. To the east, I saw a brief shear funnel on one of the storms. In Minden, Jason decided to end the chase and drive back to Denver as he had to work the next day. Robert and I drove east, avoiding the hail cores. We got the last two rooms at a hotel in Salina.

Checking data in Hays, KS at Gella's
Bill Hark, Jason Persoff, Robert Balogh

Shear funnel, 6:21 PM

Storm Chase May 28: Down Day



May 28 was a down day. I blew off the possibility of severe thunderstorms with low tornado potential and headed to Wichita from Salina. I met Robert for lunch at a Chinese restaurant and we checked data. Since he lives in Lawton, Oklahoma, Robert was considering chasing as he headed back home. I wasn't enthused about driving to Texas for a low probability event. Tuesday and especially Wednesday show more potential, but I will see how the forecast models are evolving. Wichita was close enough to make a decision about chasing the following day in Oklahoma and then the next day either in western Kansas or northwestern Oklahoma. Chris, Dave, Scott and the Canadians decided to chase this day.

Storm Chase May 29: Brush Fire and Storms in Western Oklahoma



The chase today was generally a bust though I got a few pretty pictures. I started in Wichita, Kansas and targeted northwestern Oklahoma where isolated storms were likely to develop. I had a nice lunch in Pratt, Kanas and then dropped south and west to Waynoka. I started having difficulty with getting data as Verizon is terrible in northwestern Oklahoma. There was some development to my north and south, but I thought the better storm would be coming in from southwestern Kansas. I headed northwest to Buffalo and then north on a dirt road to intercept the storm. It was isolated and organizing nicely. I enjoyed having the whole road to myself to relax and take pictures. The storm was slowly moving southeast, and I expected more development as it moved into areas with higher dewpoints. I stopped briefly to photograph a brushfire that was started by lightning after calling 911. The storm developed some moderate rotation on radar but was unimpressive visually. I shifted south, passing the Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV). There were additional storms firing in line to my west but they were too far away to intercept. Eventually my storm died, and I called it an evening. I had trouble finding a hotel room due to oil workers and various sporting events. I spent the night in Weatherford, Oklahoma on historic Route 66. I later found out that I missed some rain-wrapped tornadoes and grapfruit-sized hail near Oklahoma City.

Waiting for initiation, 3:14 PM

Turkey towers, 3:57 PM

5:50 PM, pretty storm

Lightning induced brushfire, 6:53 PM

Go to May 30, 2012: Supercells

Return to May 25, 2012: La Crosse, KS Tornado and Kansas, Gustnadoes

All images Copyright 2012 William T. Hark