Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nightime Kansas Fun

MAY 29 DAY 3

We had two targets to choose from today. One in Iowa, and the other in northeast Kansas. The cap was much cooler today, increasing our chances of seeing something interesting. The first thunderstorm watch box had been issued near the Canadian border, Minnesota. We were guessing the convection will start north and work its way south in Texas later on. We headed towards Omaha, Nebraska to decide which route to take. A storm in Kansas City was producing a good outflow boundary. Already, a field of cumulus was forming in the convergence zone, in eastern Kansas.

We intercepted two small cells near Omaha on the way down, but they were dying off. A supercell was starting to develop in Iowa and it was only 2 pm. It appears that eastern Kansas will be our target so far for this afternoon as we had hoped that the activity would start in the north and work its way down south later in the day. We stopped in Lincoln for a pit stop to chew on some lunch. By now, a lunch of storms was firing in Minnesota, with the first thunderstorm watch box issued. There was also a line of storms in Kansas City. We figured those would generate an outflow boundary that would help initiate some storms in eastern Kansas and western Iowa. Unfortunately as time went on and we headed towards Des Moines, things were less promising. Our boundary had some cu on it but it just wouldn’t get any higher. It appeared that the Kansas City storm had drawn in all the moisture from the area into itself. When we arrived back in Lincoln, NE we stopped at a Phillips 66 gas station. A small storm was just to our south. I took some pics of sunset-lit mammatus. At this point, we decided to head south to Kansas to intercept a line of supercells to catch some lightning and get closer to tomorrow’s target. We went through the small storm. It had some good CGs but that was only the beginning. As we were heading south, the northern supercell on the line was showing some strong windshear on the Baron wx worx system. Several mesos had popped up. We figured a tornado had to be on the ground now. As we neared the storm in Kansas, lots of lightning was illuminating the supercell. I could tell this thing was huge. We decided to pull off the interstate to take some lightning pics. I got a few good ones. I couldn’t believe I was finally in beautiful Kansas watching a big storm. I breathed in the fresh air. I already felt a warm welcome to Tornado Alley. After, we decided to continue south. By now the storms were starting to turn into a bow echo. There were tons of nice anvil crawlers and nearby CGs. Unfortunately I had to “go” real bad. Here I was in the middle of nowhere at midnight in a severe storm and not a single pit stop was opened. So what do I do? Mark my territory on the side of the road. Welcome to real storm chasing, folks!

Somewhere between Beatrice and Salina, small hail covered the road. We arrived at a Motel 6 in Salina after 1 am to catch some much needed rest. We anticipate the storm’s outflow boundary will help tomorrow’s set up in the panhandle.

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