May 5 2007 Kansas Tornado Outbreak

Mar 05, 2012

div>First off, sorry it took me so long, allot of u have asked and I appreciate the interest. The week following the chase was a very long, busy and stressful one [for reasons i care not to discuss.] That plus the fact I had sooo much video footage to edit it took longer than normal.

 

To answer the question I’ve been asked about 30 times, NO I was not in Greensburg. I should have been, and if I would have stuck to my original chase plan, I would have been, I remember telling my weather buddies 9-10 days out it looks like an outbreak would happen and I should take Friday off work and go down Thursday. It never worked out. Thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, that truly was a historic storm, they don’t get much more powerful than that. The last storm that powerful happened in 1999! Anyways…

 

We left Chicago around 1030, right when we get onto I-55 a rollover accident happened right next to us, it kinda freaked me out but alas, I’m alive. Drove on through the night as usual, nothing to do but talk to truckers on the CB and listen to tunes.

 

I don’t know what the hell kinda bugs they have in Missouri, but everytime one of these things hit the window it sounded like someone threw a brick at my van.

While driving there our plans changed yet again somewhat. Originally we were supposed to meet Mike in Wichita again, but since we left later and the models were indicating the best weather would be to the north and west we decided to just go deeper into Kansas. The only rest we got was maybe 45 minutes at a rest stop off I-70. During that I was interrupted by people coming up to talk to us since they noticed we were storm chasers, which is kinda neat because I like talking to the general public about stuff. Truckers would even notice the van and contact me on the CB radio. There is allot of respect for chasers down there it seems.

 

Well the first sign of a very promising day came when we saw this.

The “high” risk isn’t issued very often, in fact its only the 4th one I’ve seen in over a year.

The “barn burner” chase vehicle at the stop.

Well after that very short rest stop it was time to head out again, off to Hays, KS we go. LOTS of chasers are in this town, at every hotel, gas station and restaurant. There we end up finding COD [College of Dupage.] We would end up joining them for about 75 percent of the chase which was good and bad in various ways.

 

We end up chasing “teaser” storms for the first half of the day, they fire up, go severe for 10 minutes, and die. Cool to look at though.

COD, their equipment is much more advanced than mine!

At this point it almost seemed like the day would go BUST, but then the dryline woke up and the first tornadic storm exploded. We broke away from COD at this point and decided to follow a newly developed storm that quickly went tornadic, at this point the first tornado warning of the day is issued and a beautiful wall cloud forms.

Dirt roads are fun!

Finally this wall cloud grew massive, and developed its rotation, it was really cranking, I’ve never seen a wall cloud rotate so fast, it was freaky yet mezmerizing. It would soon drop a brief tornado…first one of the day!

Tornado

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After this I realized I will never talk trash about peoples footage being all herky jerky, it happened so fast I didn’t even have time to setup the camera. It then it started raining and hailing so I had to get back in the van and continue the chase. Lesson learned.

 

After that we stayed with this storm for awhile. It had very awesome features and produced a few more brief tornadoes.

 

This is a massive rotating wall cloud!

COD ends up catching up to us and we decide to join them once again. Still a massive rotating wall cloud producing funnels and brief tornadoes!

Video of tornado #2…again very brief, but there IS a debris field, indicating the circulation has reached the ground.

tornado?

Ironic how Kansas is open and flat yet we found ourselves in the one spot that has trees.

More video. Awesome rotation and another possible tornado can be noticed here!

Tornado?

After this we pretty much said goodbye to this storm. We found ourselves in “cell hell” as we followed COD around to various other storms. We also drove though some storm ravaged communities, not far from Greensburg actually.

Storm Damage

These were the pictures I tried to snap, it was a bit darker and my camera was not functioning properly.

We stayed with this storm for awhile, then it became night. BEST. LIGHTNING. SHOW. EVER! Not much else to say.
Then it happened. My vans first breakdown!

 

Heres the setup. Dark road. Tornado warned storms behind us. No cell service. We manage to flag down another chaser to follow us, Mike comes back and takes over. We go into Lindsborg, KS to get a tow truck. The tow truck arrived and we drove back through the storm, hitch up my van and Matt and I stay in a motel in Lindsborg for the night. I actually enjoyed this, the people were so friendly and had allot to talk about. The tow truck drivers name was Curtis too, not only that, but storms would roll through the town all night, made for a great sleep on a huge comfortable motel bed.

 

Turns out my van had a bad battery, which was not backing up the alternator and caused it to finally die. So they replaced the alternator, and recommended I drive 20miles to the next town to go to an Autozone and get a new battery, gotta love these small towns! They opened up the store just for me since nothing is open on Sunday. I still have to talk to my mechanic about giving me a bad battery, and make sure everything is 100 percent for next time. It was a unique experience and it didn’t get me down one bit.

The most important thing about this chase was the fact I bagged not only my first, but my second tornado! They were both brief and not the ideal tornado catch, but it was a great feeling regardless! I will never forget this date.

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