HokieStorm Chase 2016 Day 9

Posted: May 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Waking up this morning in a Hokie overnight favorite: Guymon, OK (The Hot Breakfast is back!). Pulling in overnight, the plan was the head North toward the KS/NE/CO border this morning, but looking at morning surface obs, that plan very well may be caput.

SFC AnalysisThe sfc low originally progged to be sitting in east-central CO to far Western KS has shifted south, and is now expected to propagate along the OK/TX/KS borders. An outflow boundary from an overnight MCS is also expected to push south to the OK/KS border this morning before stalling, adding another boundary for storms to fire and could enhance rotation ability of supercells that do fire. To reflect this, the SPC has outlooked areas directly east of Guymon in the 10% Tor risk. Our original target area to the north is still outlooked for an Enhanced Risk of storms, however, it is dependent on Denver lee-side troughing, which can tend to be delayed. The area east and south also could potentially be pretty “worked over” from last night MCS, which is concerning.



1330z Visible May 24, 2016Taking a look at the visible/IR satellite this AM. An outflow boundary from an overnight MCS in north-central KS is visible from the OK panhandle/KS border stretching ENE through southern KS. The progression of this boundary actually seems a bit further than the SPC originally expected, which certainly could come into play a bit later today. Otherwise, heating is underway for about half of the eastern TX Panhandle + western OK.

Overall, I expect today to turn out in a similar manner to yesterday. Dryline is main forcing mechanism, with boundaries available for earlier initiation and potentially a mechanism for enhanced spinning at the surface. I expect to see discrete cells at first with potential clusters to lines right around dark. Best time for TORs will be in that late evening on the discrete supercells that should still be around when the LLJ kicks in. Bust potential should be low today. Biggest concern in my mind at this point is chaser convergence.

A ton to process from this chase day. It may be a few days until this is complete, but I’ll work on it.

After initially blasting East from Guymon with an Oklahoma/Texas panhandle target area, we decided to dive a bit more to the North for a few reasons. First, the cumulus field looked much healthier in portions of western Kansas. Especially in areas being influenced by the slow migration of the surface low. Shear values were also much better in central/west Kansas, and surprisingly non-existant over our initial target area.  Granted, CO/WY/KS border was out of play for the day, but areas a bit further SE near Dodge City was obtainable.

IMG_1041A Tor watch was issued as we continued NW in Kansas. After a brief lunch/restroom stop, we decided to shoot North in central Kansas, in an attempt to give a bit of distance between us and the dryline/sfc low bulge. We quickly backtracked once a healthy looking tower shot up over our lunch stop area, and decided to setup shop just to the southeast of Dodge City, KS…where we saw this monster mature through every stage of a thunderstorm lifecycle:


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After all was said and done, an estimated 15 – 18 separate tornadoes touched down with this cyclic supercell, including most of the types of Tornadoes: rope, stove pipe, cone, wedge, multi-vortex, satellites…etc. We even got a twin (and potentially triplet) tornadoes on the ground. The radar GIF below demonstrates just how quickly the occlusion process worked on this supercell, with a new couplet forming and strenghtening rapidly well before the old couplet(s) weakened.


Another interesting scenario to witness was the propagation of the Tornado Warnings issued by Dodge City. The first base Tornado Warning was issued well before the cell became a supercell after a spotter reported a funnel cloud. We weren’t in the best of position at that point, but without the presence of a wall cloud at that stage, I find that report to be highly suspicious. Either way, the first Tor warning gave plenty of time for those in Dodge City to prepare for what would become a very dangerous series of Tornadoes. Base tornado warnings continued to be issued as the first several tornadoes touched down. A considerable tag was added to the warning as the funnel grew to a small wedge tornado, with a Tor Emergency being issued as the storm encroached upon Dodge City. Luckily, the strongest tornadoes dissipated just to the South of the city, however, large hail (5″+ diameter measured at one site) and brief spin-ups did cause minor structural damage. Overall, an EF-3 rating was given to the larger wedge tornado that we witnessed SSW of Dodge City. An EF-2 rating was given to the storm once the original tornado lifted, and the multi-vortex tornado (or entire meso-cyclone) touched down causing damage along the western edge of of the city. According to the survey, the storm seems to have put down an additional Tornado North of the city (EF-3 rated). At that time, I believe we were blasting East to escape large hail approaching quickly from the South.

NWS Dodge City Report

Quite a few things benefited us greatly on this storm. First of all, the storm was very strong, slow moving, and continued on a northerly track. This worked out well with the N/S/E/W gridded road system in that portion of the state. Thus,  even though chaser convergence was exponentially high, we were able to get a good viewing point while also maintaining our safety and plenty of escape routes. The storm also remained dominant for quite some time, allowing us plenty of views prior to us bailing as another severe warned cell finally came screaming up from the south.


Overall, a tremendous once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a storm like this. All of the ingredients (forecasting, navigation, storm mode, structure, road condition/availability…etc.) came together to form an experience like no other.

Just wanted to give a shoutout to NWS Dodge City for their life-saving work on this storm and the multiple others in the CWA during this event.

Dodge City Multi-Vortex Tornado Timelapse Zoomed

Dodge City Multi-Vortex Tornado Timelapse

Other Blogs/Stories

Taylor Kanost (WFXR) Timelapse

Taylor Kanost (WFXR) News Story


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