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5/29/04 Harper County, Kansas
Loaded Gun Chasing
website of storm chaser Mikey Gribble
5/29/04
Harper County, Kansas Tornadic Supercell
click here for storm reports and more information from this day
This was one of my all time favorite chases for a couple of reasons. One is that the tornadoes
were great and I got close to them and the other reason was because I gambled huge on this day
and it paid off.

I had gone to Beaver Lake in Arkansas to my parents cabin with a bunch of friends for Memorial
Day weekend. I had been watching this setup closely for about a week and I knew I wanted to
chase it really bad, but the trip to the lake had been planned for months. We went down to the
lake on Friday (about a five hour drive). I did some forecasting that night and it was blatantly
apparent that there was going to be a major tornado outbreak on Saturday, so I made the
decision that I was going to leave my friends on their own for a day and drive back to Wichita so I
could chase on Saturday. I got up Saturday morning and left at 6AM to head back to Wichita.

I did my forecasting as soon as I got to Wichita and decided that I wanted to target the dryline
along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. The storm that I ended up getting on went up in Oklahoma
and tracked northeast across the Kansas border before it started to get organized. The updraft
base had some rain falling through it and the small rain core slowly began to push back to the
North as the inflow increased dramatically. The storm had a classic updraft base and I knew it was
just a matter of time before it went tornadic. Here is a picture of the updraft base at this time.
funnel right after it formed. I was about 4 miles West of Anthony,
funnel right after it formed. I was about 4 miles West of Anthony,
Kansas at this time.
Kansas at this time.


Within a few minutes the funnel touched down and I had my first
tornado of the day. I immediately began heading North to close the
gap with the tornado and it wasn't long until I was well within half a
mile of it. The picture below and on the left is of the tornado right
after it touched down. The picture below and on the right is of the
tornado after I had gotten closer.
I got as close to the tornado as the road networks would allow. Right after I pulled up to the
highway 160 intersection I watched the tornado hit a patch of trees over an open field. It is hard to
tell from the picture, but these trees were huge and the tornado snapped them in half before the
actual condensation funnel even got close to the hedrow. The broken trees got wrappen into the
tornado and thrown several hundred yards. I will try to get video of this posted because it is really
amazing and it goes to show you how powerful tornadoes are even when they aren't that big. This
tornado was only about 75 yards wide at the base, but the winds in it were extremely violent. A time
series of pictures from when the tornado hit the row of trees is pictured below (they are in
cronological order from left to right and top to bottom).
click on pictures to enlarge
The tornado ended up lasting about twenty minutes. It
transformed into a curved elephant trunk tornado during the last
five minutes or so of it's life, which made for some nice pictures. A
few more pictures of the tornado before it finally roped out are
below.
some video from a couple miles away, so it wasn't that exciting.
some video from a couple miles away, so it wasn't that exciting.
The picture of the tornado is on the right. It is low contrast and
I was driving at the time so it's kind of hard to see.I was driving
at the time so it's kind of hard to see.
As I moved farther East to get under the updraft base I came across a house that had been hit by
the tornado pictured above. Part of the house had been completely leveled. Below are three
pictures that were taken as I drove up on the house.
Some where around this time I glanced back to the East and saw a
weak tornado as it roped out. It took me a minute to get my video
camera on, but picture on the right is what was left of the rope
tornado.