Wednesday, 29 May 2013

May 28th - wedge tornado

Hello. We started the morning in Salina, Kansas. We had to call the rental car company in order to try to sort out a replacement. We headed across to the local office by 9am, which was an early start after our late night! They tried to get a repair shop to look at it initially, which we had to drove to, but the guy there said he wouldn't touch it because it's still under warranty. So it was back to the rental office. They said we could swap it for another, but the only two they had available were fairly small - thus we've kept the one we had, and will just make sure we fill the fuel tank fairly often, to make sure we're happy we have enough fuel!

Anyway, onto the chase. After heading back to the motel we checked out just after midday. We headed for a gas station and fuelled up. We wanted to hang close to a fairly slow-moving frontal boundary and its intersection with a rather poorly defined dryline to the south-west of an area of low pressure, which was located in central Kansas. We decided to head west and then south to Ellsworth, Kansas, which was close to the junction of these features. We had lunch at Subway and waited. After a little while it became apparent that the drier air was approaching and that we'd need to head back east towards Salina. At this time, several towering cumulus clouds formed very close to our location. After about 15 mins or so we paused on our eastward journey, almost underneath the most vigorous tower. It was already starting to rumble with thunder, so we continued to head east. We passed Salina, and then headed north, through Niles. We then looked back to the west and saw the storm beginning to get much more organised, and it soon took on supercellular characteristics.

A while later the rain free base became better defined and then, fairly quickly, two funnel clouds developed. We believe that one was a tornado as someone did report a brief one - it was interesting as these seemed to not be directly tied with the mesocyclone, or perhaps formed before any real RFD developed.

We headed a little further north and found another vantage point. At this stage the low-level mesocyclone was rather wrapped in rain, but after a while a large tornado became visible within the rain. This was about 6 miles to our west. The rain cleared away for a time and afforded us a fairly good view of the large, wedge-type tornado. The rain then wrapped back around, but we got occasional glimpses of the almost 1 mile wide tornado. The tornado was actually there for about 40 minutes, and hardly moved at all. Some chasers were much closer and got some pretty amazing pictures and video, but our view was good enough.

When the mesocyclone became completely rain-wrapped we dropped south and then west, and then north, to try to look inside. It was just too wet by then to navigate into the low-level circulation area safely, so we broke off, and headed back to Salina. We're back in the same motel as last night, albeit in a different room.

It was great to be on the storm from its inception - we were pretty much right under the point where it started to develop. I think that we could have jumped north and got the closer shots, but we did end up with some very nice shots of the structure of the storm, and the tornado.

Here is a timelapse from the Go Pro

Here is the developing storm as viewed from a position next to I-70, to the NE of Ellsworth, Kansas.

Here is the initial funnel/tornado - we got a report in about this to Spotternetwork.

Here is the large tornado to our west - you can see it almost in the centre of shot, especially when you click on the image to enlarge it.

1 comment:

  1. Love the timelape - that meso is spinning like a top! Looked a great chase