May 26 2008 Kansas Hail Storms

Mar 05, 2012


Chased some prolific hailers near Greensburg, KS. We forecasted and targeted the day perfectly, but in my opinion made a few errors in our interception moves. Got blasted by lots of hail but missed the tornadoes.


Tornadoes: 0

Largest hail: Quarter measured [1.00″] few bigger stones estimated.

Highest wind: non severe outflow probably around 35mph

Other features: Awesome shelf cloud, wall cloud.
Miles: approx 450

Lesson learned: Don’t go too far ahead of the storm to put yourself out of the best visual range.

Detailed Account

Time for day 4! I woke up on the floor cuz Deb kicked me in her sleep. Sharing beds with people on chases has its prices but at least I slept through it. Today we did everything right in the beginning. Matt, Mike and I checked some data and figured Pratt, KS would be a good place to start. We could feel the juice outside and knew MR [moisture return] wouldn’t be a problem today. It didnt take long to see the Tcu outside. As we were driving there we decided to drive the extra 30mins or so to Greensburg, KS. This town was leveled by a 2 mile wide EF-5 tornado the year before. The scars were still visible and it was an eery thing to see for myself. The whole time we spent there I had this weird feeling in my stomach and kept thinking to myself “this is where it all went down.”

I’m happy to report the town is recovering nicely. A few photos…

obviously thats new…

A foundation where a building once stood. Wiped clean by the twisters 200+ mph winds.

Trees like this can be seen not only here but all over Kansas.

So we mulled around here for a little over an hour. The gas station we stopped at was also the towns grocery store. It was mobbed with people and chasers but at least there is business being done. Eventually storms started to fire to the SW of town so off we went. Mikes buddy ‘Stretch’ was en route to meet up with us at this point.

We go west a few miles and then dip south to intercept and eventually do so. Towers are going up and fast. Today was a high CAPE and low cap day again.

We pick the best looking storm visually and follow it, our data is out by this point but we’re good enough with our eyes. It really starts to evolve now.

I marvel at the hail core off in the distance. Hail is almost as amazing as a tornado to me.

Mike and I are standing outside when suddenly I hear “dink!” Sure enough hail starts falling with some of it getting to decent sizes. One explodes off my mirror and hits mike in the face which was a funny thing to see. It was also a sign we need to move.
We would move down the road a mile or 2 thinking we could stop for a few minutes to view the storm but the hail core had other ideas. It would soon catch us again producing stones of various sizes but the largest I saw was quarter.

Video just after this pic was taken.

By now this storm has blown up into a massive HP beast with reports of grapefruit size hail deeper into the core. Allot of chasers lost windshields today, we managed to stay ahead of it but doing so was tough. Everytime we stopped to get a view of the tornadic areas the storms large hail core kept getting us, and not wanting to get munched by grapefruits it kept us on the move.

It does have a mean looking ragged rotating wall cloud.

Well we did what eventually probably killed our chaces to view the brief tornadoes this storm put down. We blasted far ahead of it, and then south to put some distance between us and the hail. A MISTAKE. Tornado reports started coming in and all we saw was:

Chasing is forever a learning game so I wont kick myself too hard. By the time the storm caught back up to us it became apparent it was bowing out and becoming outflow dominant. It made a few last attempts at reorganizing but never could.

The green hail core behind the white shelf cloud sure is a pretty sight though.

Its closer now, we can feel the cool outflow. Game over.

I always enjoy high contrasts in the clouds.

We started heading for home and drove through some new development that started hailing on us again. I have a bunch of digi cam video but its of lesser quality. I ran out of DVDs filming the other storm so I had to improvise. We pull over for one last look along side some damage from tornadoes that occurred on the 23rd. Note the same scarred trees in the background as seen in Greensburg. I’m not exaggerating when I say half the trees in Kansas look this way.

So we call it a chase and head back to Wichita. We arrive there an hour later along with some pretty decent severe weather in the form of more hail! Only this time its back to decent size. Quarter to half dollar. The audio in this clip amuses me listening to all our reactions to the loud THUDs of the hail pounding the van. I have counted many dents from this. Although it could have been from day 1. I’m not sure but regardless, they’re new badges of honor!

We drove around in the blinding rain and hail for a bit. GR3 was showing the occasional meso marker so just in case something went tornadic we wanted to be out there. After an hour or so we called it and headed to Dennys where I ate one of the top 10 meals of my life.

If that dont make your mouth water then you’re hopeless.


So ended day 4 which was the last of the chasecation. We missed the brief tornadoes but the hail made up for it. Learned a bit about interception strategies today. Sometimes to play it too safe is to miss the show. I’d rather get a crack in my windshield and see a tornado than stand in cold outflow and stare at a shelf cloud. As pretty as they are tornadoes are better!

Storm reports for the day:

Back home to the daily grind *sigh.*

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