May 29, 2006: Dust Devils and Unexpected Supercell in Kansas

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

I expected Monday, May 29 to be extremely marginal and the only reason I chased was to get in better position for severe weather expected on Tuesday. There was a front across Kansas with southeasterly winds. Upper level winds were quite low and I expected low grade severe storms. I was chasing with Jason Persoff, M.D. We headed south from Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the famous Corn Palace) under clear skies and a brisk northwesterly wind. We crossed into Nebraska enjoying beautiful scenery especially near Niobrara. There is a crossing of the Missouri River with low hills and marshes. We followed 14 south and picked up 81. In the early afternoon, just north of Stromsburg, we sighted two very large and tall dust devils. More were visible in the distance. We briefly chased them and obtained some nice video. Soon we crossed the front and temps rose into the low 90's. When we reached Kansas, we noticed some cumulus with vertical development. There was a nice cumulus field visible on satellite near Salina. Farther south by a mesolow, storms were already developing near Medicine Lodge. In Salina, we checked data and noticed a bullseye of CAPE with backed winds, and higher helicities. We couldn't reach the storms near Medicine Lodge. Salina was a good place to wait and watch the developing cumulus. Several showers formed and dissipated. Interestingly, there was a boundary approaching from the east visible on the SPC mesoanalysis page. By evening, a new storm exploded just to the northeast of Salina. We headed west, then north on a dirt road to get a better view. At the top of a hill we were treated to an awesome sight: a developing storm surrounded by an orange sky. There were two main cores. The southern one became more defined with inflow bands and evidence of rotation. It became a supercell. There was even a ragged wall cloud though it is unclear if there was rotation. We followed the storm north for awhile until it became too dark. The Weather Channel used my video of the dust devils.

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All images video stills except as indicated

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