May 29th 2013 Kansas Storm Chasing

Aug 25, 2013


Intercepted a couple severe warned storms that overall failed to produce anything noteworthy. Career milestone of 6 consecutive chases with tornadoes was ended.






Tornadoes: 0

Hail: .50″ (dime)

Wind: n/a


The Setup:

Ample speed shear with marginal directional shear ahead of dryline as new system begins to arrive in the plains. Lesser cape values and weaker cap made storm mode a concern as storms could potentially remain in clusters with less favorable directional shear as previous days. Still, with a large warm sector and numerous storms expected due to weak cap, SPC went with a MDT risk to account for storm coverage, beginning the day with 10-hatched tornado probabilities, upgrading to 15 (a move I call the kiss of death) and then bringing back down to 10.


Detailed Account:

Despite the favorable probabilities from SPC I knew todays chase was going to be a difficult one. Much of the warm sector had ongoing storms early on that could wreck the setup and it became apparent our best chance would be for redevelopment along the dryline, which was retrograding west, a scenario which rarely seems to play out in a favorable way when I chase. I was not too optimistic, but then again I wasn’t 24 hours ago either and ended seeing one of the most amazing tornadoes of my career.

We began the trek west towards the Garden City area. keeping an eye on the vis sat for any signs of development. This part of Kansas is pretty amazing chase country with flat plains in every direction and a farely decent road network. On our way some storms went up ahead of us and we stopped to check them out despite the sloppy appearance on radar, hoping for at least a nice hail core. There was none to be. Storms eventually started going up north of where we were targeting and we made our move. We got into position near the barely existing town of Friend and awaited the approaching storm, which looked decent enough on a couple radar scans, but given the trends of all the storms this day we figured it would suffer a similar demise.
The storm displayed a shriveling base and weakening hail core on radar, and by the time it moved over us it was just a heavy rain shower with a few dinks of hail smaller than dime size.

This was the southernmost storm of a bunch in the area, all looking similar and we decided we didn’t want to play around in grunge so we moved back south and stopped for a failday dinner at Pizza Hut. As we sat and ate a new, more intense (but linear) storm complex went up on the dryline. We got the check and got out of there in a hurry to go check out the developing complex, now warned for tennis ball size hail and 80mph winds. As we made our approach the complex weakened some, and the most intense cores were behaving radically, pulsing up in random spots throughout the line. Road options were a little more limited in this area so trying to get in the direct path of a core was hard.

Instead we pulled over to shoot lightning and the mediocre, high based structure.

We moved to keep ahead of the line and eventually it passed over us without much incident other than some wind driven heavy rain. A new storm went up even further west with a reported tornado so we decided to give the day one last shot.  That storm also fizzled away to almost nothing by the time we arrived and we finally called the chase, making our way back to Dodge City for the night where we booked up at a sleezy motel across from a decent bar and proceeded to have a mildly amusing night.


The day played out how I thought it would, and although it sucks to have the tornado streak ended, I wasn’t too upset. All of the reported tornadoes today were brief, weak and not fully condensed and come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a picture of one from this day. We did what we could, sometimes the storms just dont get their act together.


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