Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chase Log: 4/14/2012

Outlook: High Risk

Target Area: Southern/Central Kansas

Chase Partners: Jesse Hines, Ashley Poling, Jessica Chelewski

Chasers Encountered: Ben Holcomb, Cory Watkins, Adam Lucio, Lorraine Mahoney, Bob Hartig, Bill Oosterbaan, Robert Forry, Rocky Watson

Travel Time: 17 Hours for the chase

Miles Traveled: In all about 2,500 miles

Result: 5 tornadoes, multiple funnel clouds, golfball to tennis ball size hail

This was the first major outbreak of the year across Tornado Alley; only the second time has the SPC gone High Risk on the Day 2 Outlook and the first time they did it on the initial outlook. I've never seen a 60% hatch area for severe weather before in my life so we knew there was going to be a wedgefest somewhere on the Plains that Saturday.

We arrived in Norman shortly around 1:30 AM having no clue where our target area will be; Jesse and I wanted to head up to Nebraska to play the triple point while Ashley was thinking Northern Oklahoma along the dryline. In the end we decided to head up to Southern Kansas tagging along with Ben, Cory, Adam, and his crew.

We arrived in Kansas just in time for storms to fire along the dryline to our south; first storm of the day we went after was near Greensburg. Spotters had already reported a tornado with it south of town yet when we got to it the theme for that day began....FRUSTRATION!!!!!

Every storm we intercepted in Southern Kansas while showed promise did nothing more than funnel clouds and the occasional brief touchdowns (bird fart tornadoes as some chasers call it). Also to add to the frustration was hearing about the first tornadic cell we went after that day while struggled to do shit in SW Kansas moved further NE and produced an EF4 in Salina (I appreciated that kick in the nuts Mother Nature). It wasn't until we got on a storm near Kingman around 7:00 PM that our luck slowly changed; we watched the storm as it was SW of town and moved northeast towards Pretty Prairie when Jesse spotted a tornado right behind us on the road we were on (tornado #1 for us). Wasn't able to get film of it as it dissipated when we stopped, but shortly afterwards another one touched down a couple hundred yards away.
After that close but brief encounter with that tornado we tracked the storm to the NE for about an hour as it was cycling. Then shortly after 8:00 PM outside of Hesston the funnel cloud we've been watching for about 10 minutes or so touched down. 
It was on the ground for about 15 minutes or so before it lifted north of town only to have another one touchdown.

After this tornado there was one more touchdown that occurred from this supercell in the Lincolnville/Lost Springs area.

Our chase finally ended around 10:00 PM and we made a mad dash north to escape a tornadic cell that was heading toward Salina stopping in Nebraska to rest up before our trip back to Tennessee. This was just a warm up to my chase vacation next month when I get to be out for a week of chasing and hopefully add a few more tornadoes to the 5 I got from this outbreak.