Category Archives: 1996

My first birthday tornado – Rolla, Kansas – May 31, 1996

This turned out to be a heck of a day.  We played around near the far southwest corner of Kansas, and jumped a little way into Colorado.  My 15th year of storm chasing and this was the first time I had left the states of Oklahoma, Kansas or Texas.  A slow moving and slowly organizing supercell was tracking across Morton County, Kansas.  We observed this from a variety of angles and were sitting about 5 miles east of Richfield, Kansas when the storm started producing a tornado to our south.  Unfortunately, we were quite some distance away, but it was still clear that what we viewed was a tornado, and it lasted for over 20 minutes.

With the storm now digging southward, we also moved south and ended up in Rolla where we started encountering large hail.  1.5 inch hail started falling which grew to baseball size over the next ten minutes.  We found what seemed to be one of the only trees in town to seek shelter, but it didn’t do much good once the leaves and branches had been beaten off of it.