Category Archives: 2006

Tornado – Russell, Kansas – September 21, 2006

VIDEO:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LH-Ql6J6co

While the main focus this afternoon was over Southeast Oklahoma and Northeast Texas where instability would be much greater, I was very impressed with the sub 992mb surface low that was going to track across Kansas.  With dewpoints in the 50s spreading northward, very cold air associated with the upper low, and nice low level shear, I figured there would be tornado chances with small supercells across Kansas.

Being led mostly by visual clues, I drove straight to the storm that produced one of the more impressive tornadoes of the day.  I’m almost glad I didn’t have radar data feeding into the car at the time, because it would likely have led to more confusion (see included image).

The tornado formed just southwest of Russell and produced a bit of damage as it crossed the far western side of the city.  Given its appearance, I believe that it could have produced significant damage had it moved into Russell.

Amazing lightning – May 29, 2006

Feeling like Kansas would be the place to be, we turned this into a longer drive than we needed.  We found our way to severe storms that were over Northwest Oklahoma – by way of Newton, Kansas.  The show was well worth it as we were treated to an incredible lightning show for several hours up to and after dark

Convective leftovers – May 28, 2006

As far as storms go, this was pretty much a bust.  We headed west again and had hope that a severe thunderstorm near the Oklahoma/Texas border would keep going long enough to give us another lightning show.  We weren’t that lucky.  About an hour before sunset, the storm turned off like someone hit a switch.  The leftovers produced another beautiful sunset and we clicked away just south of Shamrock, Texas.

Lightning and heat burst – May 27, 2006

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This turned out to be a fun little day.   We took a nice short drive into Western Oklahoma and ended up in the Cheyenne/Elk City area as a high-based thunderstorm rolled out of the Texas Panhandle.  The storm wasn’t severe, but it would go on to produce a heat-burst with 60 mph winds.  It also gave us a beautiful sunset and about a 30 minute window of very nice lightning.  It proved once again, you don’t even need a severe thunderstorm to have fun.

Storms and a fire red sunset – May 26, 2006

We left Dodge City and headed toward Northwest Kansas with a target of Northeast Colorado, but then got lucky enough to make the right call and play storms that formed near Gove, Kansas.  They ended up being high-based fighting strong capping, but did manage to attain some supercell structure for a period.  A fire red sunset was one of the better things about the chase.

Sunset development in Kansas – May 23, 2006

The first day of the season with Lorraine and Gareth along for the ride.  The day ended up being somewhat of a disappointment as we at least expected supercell storms.  What we got was a bunch of CAPE-starved storms with tall skinny updrafts producing small hail.  We did see some nice structure in the first stages of development, but everything turned mushy soon after.  The after dark lightning was also a disappointment.  Each storm we targeted for lightning photos weakened with our approach.

“Lightning over the Wichitas” – May 2, 2006

"Lightning over the Wichitas"

“Lightning over the Wichitas”

This was the only image captured on this chase day, and there is a bit of a story that continues to be brought up today.  I roamed around the Southeast Texas Panhandle observing marginally severe storms, never really seeing anything that could hold my interest.  I had came across Hank Baker and we both agreed that there wasn’t going to be much to the day.  He started back home just before I did, and neither of us knew the route each other was going to take.  I was driving east through Altus and observed a couple of nice anvil crawlers to the east of the city.  They were nice, long lasting crawlers that would flash every minute or so.  I picked out a spot on the map where I was going to pull in and see if I could catch one.  When I got to that spot, Hank was pulled in and digging around for camera gear in the back of his truck.  I pulled up next to him, jumped out, got set up and this crawler originated to our south.  It spread west and then north above us, before exploding to the northeast in my field of view.  Hank had some choice words as he wasn’t set up yet.  It was the last flash, and I loaded up to go home.  To this day, Hank claims that had he not shown me where to set up, I would have never got the shot.  I think he still claims royalties too.  Just another example of sometimes it just takes one to make a trip worthwhile, and you can’t get that one sitting at home.

Tornadoes near Manchester/Longford, Kansas – April 6, 2006

April 6th was a high end risk day that had all the makings for significant severe weather events.  There was a powerful upper low over the Western Plains, a very deep surface low, and plenty of moisture across the warm sector.  The dryline was impressive with 50+ mph winds blowing across Western Texas and Oklahoma.  Storms were going to be moving very fast, so I positioned myself early near Clay Center, Kansas with the idea that it would be easier to drop down to storms rather than try to catch up with them.

The storm which produced these tornadoes evolved from a cluster of storms that developed near McPherson.  I dropped south and used Highway 18 for an east/west road to intercept what had become an intense supercell storm.

Looking back at radar data, it is pretty obvious that this qualifies as a near miss for me.  The storm was stretched out north/south with a mesocyclone extending off the southeast flank of the storm.  While I was southwest of Manchester, I was observing the storm with the idea that the area of interest was to my west or southwest.  My attention shifted to the south as what appeared to be a wall of heavy rain and cloud mass was rapidly advancing northward toward me.  I couldn’t get out of the way in time and experienced winds that were strong enough to turn the car 90 degrees as I sat on the highway.  While I attributed this to the developing stages of a tornado, looking at radar archives, it is likely that a strong tornado passed very close to me.  Needless to say, it was easy to fall in behind the mesocyclone afterward, and despite issues with rain, I was able to see three tornadoes from the storm that narrowly missed the towns of Mancheser and Longford.

Erick, Oklahoma supercell – April 1, 2006

Things were looking up… this was a nice chase day and a great change from the previous outings that year.  It was a fairly short chase that kept me in Oklahoma and the storms I got to deal with were slower moving and had nice structure.  I sat near Erick, OK for the better part of the afternoon waiting for first development.  A storm formed about 25 miles to the southwest of me that quickly became severe and started showing signs of evolution into a supercell by the time it reached Plainview, OK.  The updraft was fairly high-based and never really gave a feel that tornado production would come from it, but it had some nice looking features at times.  The best rotation became evident for a few minutes near Dill City.  The day was pretty much over shortly after that as the entire system evolved into a wind producing event and surged toward the Oklahoma City area.