June 5 2009 Goshen Wyoming Tornado

Mar 05, 2012

What an amazing chase!

Summary:
Left Chicago aiming for North Platte, NE and would base further decisions from there. Chose to head east across Nebraska panhandle. En route a supercell developed over the high terrain of Wyoming and would soon drop a very photogenic, and probably the most documented tornado in history. We would intercept the tornado, catching only glimpses of a stout stove pipe at first before finally managing to get an awesome view as it began to rope out. The rest of the chase included some amazing structure allowing for many photo opportunities. Called it a chase once dark fell and roads became too treacherous to tackle at night. Met up with many fellow IL chasers for a celebratory dinner, got into scuffle with local scumbags in Sidney, NE. Headed back to North Platte for a good nights sleep.
Stats:
Tornadoes: 1
Hail: none
Highest wind: est 40mph outflow from collapsing supercell.
Lesson learned: Sidney, Nebraska is not home of the friendly locals.
Detailed Account: *Note* this account will have LOTS of pictures! Be ready!
Danny and I left Chicago around midnight with a preliminary destination of North Platte, Nebraska. We knew the days setup would focus somewhere along the high terrain just west of there and could easily adjust. We had to start the 3 day chase-cation off right.
BBQ, bacon and sausage pizza, with some ribs.
To be washed down with mt dew, and yes, that is a 2 litre in my cup holder…I love american trucks!
Numerous construction would slow us down a bit but we actually made good time and arrived at our destination around 11am. We found a Hampton Inn just off the highway and booked a room. This room had probably the most comfortable hotel beds Ive ever slept in and I wanted to pack the bed in my truck and use it for the rest of the trip. We were both running on fumes so we power napped for about 3 hours before waking back up heading out. There were two areas of interest, northeast Colorado or southeast Wyoming, we were pretty even split about which way to go. On the way though initiation occured a bit early in Wyoming, the storm blew up into a fantastic supercell so our target was set.
We kept heading east and got off at the town of Kimball, noting very dark skies to our north.
The storm was tornado warned and reports started coming in. We soon got off the highway and on to some back roads where something suddenly caught our eye.
The tornado was reported on the ground, and if you know your storm structure, that is the EXACT location it would be in, however given the hills we did not want to confirm anything. Luckily this tornado stayed on the ground for well over 20 minutes and we got more and more glimpses of it as we got closer. Finally we crested a hill that provided a view where we able to confirm, without a doubt it was in fact a tornado…but by then it began to enter its rope out stage, which was still dramatic in its own way. We had a great view and the tornado was nicely back lit providing excellent contrast for video.

Now at first I did think it was a landspout, which is a different type of a tornado, but that thought soon faded. Without getting to technical a landspout is a tornado not associated with a wall cloud or mesocyclone, or even a rotating thunderstorm AKA supercell. They form from the ground up and are generally weak but can still do damage.
Here is a still of the tornado.
Once the tornado was done we were treated to some incredible structure, at this point I took many still photos and shot some video which I will eventually make a time lapse of. Here are some of the incredible pictures.
The leftover wall cloud looking like it wants to drop another tornado, but never did.
Flanking line indicating the storm is still being fed by inflow.
Danny didn’t bring his tripod so i loaned him my travel pod, my video camera is filming at this time.
A turkey tower going up to the south. New storm trying to form but never did.
You can start to see some of the spiraling at the top. Wall cloud still visible underneath.
A new storm starts going up on the flanking line. My initial thought was this could be a new tornado producer and we would not have to move!
The look to the north, very dark. Awesome.
The second storm rapidly grows.
Close up of the updraft. Love the colors and contrast.
I rarely take pics at this angle but I wanted to get the whole thing, I need a better camera.
Attention quickly turned back to the first storm as it began to re-organize and would soon drop an awesome funnel cloud which we had hoped and hoped would make it down to the ground. At this point we had met up with fellow chasers Ben Holcomb and Scott Bennet.
Photo of the funnel.
Dannys video of the funnel, Ben was playing around on facebook and not paying attention in the beginning which gave us a good chuckle.

It would never do it though, bummer. We decided to caravan and resume the chase at this point. Shortly after though Scott and Ben had to turn around because Ben had left his cell phone where we were stopped. Danny and I continued on following both supercells back east across Nebraska, traveling across some very desolate back roads. Eventually we came across the mass chaser convergence. I was pretty surprised to see some of the smaller cars on these roads, Im sure several chasers will experience problems down the road because such rough roads are not made for fuel efficient sub compacts.
We found another good road that pointed north in between both supercells and again was treated to an amazing structure display from both. I shot many more pictures and tri-podded more video. Here are some of the shots.
Awesome rotating updraft!
You can see the rock hard convection going up out from out of the rotating meso.
The meso of the first storm. The two appeared to begin merging.
You can see lots in this one, rotating updraft/meso, anvil, mammatus, and tower.
Close up
Meso getting closer.
Storm starts to develop a new wall cloud.
At this point the storm was due north so we decided to pursue it east to watch the development. Eventually it neared the town of Gurley where it really looked like it was about to do something evil.
Now that is a mean looking storm.
We started to get excited, this whole black mass was rotating and appeared to be strengthening. Until suddenly, as if someone flipped a switch we got blasted with a cold gust of wind and rain. The storm had just crapped itself out and right then and there I knew it was done. It was the fastest Ive ever seen a storm die out. The gust front began to kick up dirt, often times chasers and spotters mistake this for a tornado. Sad. You can see what was left of the ground hugging wall cloud on the right.
WEDGE! Ok not really a wedge, just a really low hanging decaying wall cloud with some mean scud tags.
After this chaser pal Skip Talbot called me to offer his opinion on the storm, he too knew it was dead and was heading south to Sidney for dinner. We decided to head south into town as well, however en route a wedge tornado report came in from the Texas Tech Vortex 2 team. I was really skeptical but the storm re-went tornado warned and we broke off dinner plans. We weren’t totally sold though and pulled over to watch it from behind. Soon I was treated to yet another amazing structural display. Beautiful underlit mammatus!
The setting sun lighting up the mammatus.
Meso, updraft, anvil and mammatus.
Close up of the mammatus. Stupid camera smudge.
After this we decided to pursue the storm for perhaps some hail. Soon after though darkness fell and the roads became pretty nasty again. I will tackle dangerous roads in the daylight, but in the middle of nowhere at night and no cell connection is a different story, so we broke off the storm and headed into Sidney to meet Skip for our celebratory dinner. Skip also bagged the tornado. There we also met up fellow IL chasers Brandon Suillivan, Mike Brady and Jesse Risley. Ben and Scott also rolled in 20 minutes later. It was nice to have a dinner with some close chase pals and share the days story. We headed back to our hotels, tired and satisfied with the day, we slept great that night.
Conclusion:
The first day was an amazing success. I expected today to be a mostly an LP and structure day. I got the structure and the tornado was a huge bonus, it is a nice feeling knowing the trip is a success on the first day, anything after that is just icing on the cake!
Dannys Log: Click here
Skips log: Click here
Google map – this will be a tough one once I get it going:

SPC storm reports for the day.

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