June 5, 2009 Nebraska and Wyoming tornado-warned supercells. Later views of the La Grange storm

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

 

I arrived in Wichita on June 4th for a short last-minute chase expedition. The unusually long period of calm was ending and severe storms were possible for several days. I drove to Hays that night so that I could be in position for expected storms in Colorado on June 5th. There was an upper level low moving across the Great Basin and increasing southwesterly upper level flow. A surface low was expected to form over northern Colorado and there would be nice upslope flow. I expected storms to form over the mountains and shift eastward. I left Hays, KS with the initial target of northeastern Colorado. As I looked at more data, I shifted my target northwestward, but I didn't anticipate the Wyoming supercell to form that early. I drove north to I-80 in Nebraska and planned on waiting around Sidney for development. When it became clear that the main storms would be farther northwest, it was too late to see the La Grange, Wyoming tornado. I blasted west, then north on 71 past Kimball. The supercell became visible around the time the tornado ended. Upon later review of the video, I could see that very last remnants of the final tornado in the first few video frames. I headed west on dirt roads toward the Wyoming border and then followed the storm eastward. It cycled several times producing wall clouds but no more tornadoes. Near Dalton, Nebraska, I met up with Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland who had just arrived after driving out from New York. We followed the storm until it became outflow dominated. Darkness was arriving. We ended the chase and had dinner at a truck stop in Ogallala, Nebraska. Charles Edwards with his tour group along with George Kourounis who hosts Angry Planet and many other chasers that we know also arrived. They had really nice video of the Wyoming tornado that I had just missed. This was the famous tornado shown live on The Weather Channel and that was documented by VORTEX II.

Prarie dog (1) at Prairie Dog Town in Oakley, KS. Home of the "World's Largest Prairie Dog."

While trying to decided on targets June 5th, I ran into Mike Umscheid, a chaser and a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, and his chase partner, Robin Lorenson (2), who is also a gifted photographer

View of tornadic supercell as the tornado ended. 4:36 PM MDT. (3) If I zoom in on the HD video, I can barely see the last vestiges of the tornado in the first few seconds of video. Storm is in Wyoming (Goshen County), view is from western Nebraska in Kimball County on 71.

Another view of the storm (4) with a nice wall cloud at 4:43 PM MDT. Unfortunately, I didn't see any additional tornadoes.

Matt Crowther of The Weather Channel filming the storm (5). It produced additional lowerings but no more tornadoes.

Wide-view of the supercell with lowering. (6)

View of storm at 5:58 PM MDT. (7)

Heading north toward storm at 7:02 PM MDT. (8) There was another storm forming to the west (9) at the same time.

The storm to the north becomes more "rounded." (10)

An area of rotation to the northwest. (11) I am positioned just north of Dalton, Nebraska on 385 in Morrill County.

I am filming the storm that is passing to the north. (12) View is north on 385 in Morrill County.

Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland (13) with the storm behind them. View is north on 385 in Morrill County. There was some rotation and violent motion but no tornado.

Dave, Scott and myself followed the storm eastward on 58 from 385 (14), but the storm became outflow dependant in the growing darkness.

That evening I joined Scott and Dave along with Charles Edwards and his Cloud 9 Tours along with George Kourounis and the crew for Angry Planet. In this pic, Charles is showing off pictures of the tornado (15) he saw earlier that day. The tornado that ended as I arrived.

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Next Page: June 6, 2009

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