Target Area: West Central Kansas
Chase Partners: Shane Adams, Bridget Geaughan
Chasers Encountered: Wes Carter
Travel Time: Approximately 13 hours
Miles Traveled: 542 miles
Result: 2 tornadoes, multiple funnel clouds
My first full day of a 10 day chase vacation started off with a bang; we left North Richland Hills at around 8:30 that morning and proceeded northward on I-35 to OKC before hitting I-40 west towards El Reno and then hitting highway 281 toward our target area which was in the Pratt area as a starting point. We made it to Pratt at around 3:30 and hung around in town for about 45 minutes before heading west on US Highway 400/54 to Greensburg where there was already a chaser convergence in the city.
While we were in Greensburg Shane, Bridget, and I got to meet up with my friend and occasional chase partner Wes Carter. I would have never known Wes if it weren't for Shane and Bridge so this meet up was a significant one for me and one of many highlights of my trip (I've known Wes for about 3 years and during that time the one thing we haven't done was see a tornado together in person. I felt that the stars had aligned for the both of us that day).
Around 5:00 was when what would be the storm of the day fired up around Greensburg; it was the lone cell of what was an MCS mess that fired up in West Central Kansas that day.
It was moving NE at a snail's pace (only 20 mph) as it became severe warned; we headed north on highway 183 towards the town of Kinsley as these shots were taken.
As we stopped to set up shop we all started seeing shear funnels to the right of the base. (From this noob's prospective it was so fucking cool to see that ;-)~)
We headed NE towards the town of Sanford to reposition; shortly after 7 PM the fun began as the storm we followed for over an hour finally began to show us some love.
At 7:22 PM our first tornado of the day touched down near the town of Rozel; for the next 25 minutes we got to film from start to finish the entire life cycle of that tornado....this is hands down the best tornado I got to see and the first one I saw from start to finish. It was initially rated at EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, but wind measurements from a Doppler On Wheels truck detected winds in the 165-185 mph range thus it was upgraded to an EF4.
We initially thought this was a separate tornado but after further review from the National Weather Service Office in Dodge City; they determined that the tornado below was still the Rozel tornado as it began to rope out. We were about 7 or 8 miles away from this tornado. When it disappeared before roping we weren't able to see the ground circulation other chasers closer to the tornado saw.
After the Rozel tornado roped out another tornado touched down at around 8:00 PM near the town of Sanford....the rope out on this tornado is up there with Goldsby as the best I've seen.
A new tornado warning was issued on the storm but that point it turned into an MCS crap that signaled the end of our chase. We headed up to Great Bend for the night for food and beer to celebrate our epic chase day.
This was a chase I can tell stories about 20 years down the road....it was after all the best chase I've ever been on.