Finally got my first tornado of the season. The tornado wasn’t all that impressive. The funnel lasted for quite a while, but the tornado was probably only down for a couple minutes. I did stream it live on KWCH, which is always big when you can get a tornado live on air. I heard tonight that we were in continuous coverage before the tornado warning even got issued, so KWCH was ahead of the curve for sure on that one. I had the stream of the wall cloud long before the warning and had a great shot of the funnel then tornado as it came right at my location. By the time I was done with my phoner I could only get the bottom portion of the funnel in my shot because it was coming right over my head. That storm was great from a motion standpoint. It started moving northeast as it developed and then made a hard right turn NW of Arkansas City. It was so easy picking up on storm motion changes watching that base. The initial tornado completely roped out about 2-3 miles NW of Ark City. The updraft base when pretty much right over or just off the east side of town before it started to crank a new wall cloud back down just east of Ark City as the storm approached Silverdale. It seemed like the funnels/rotation wouldn’t really get going with that storm until the updraft base at the occlusion was really skinnier out and about wrapped in rain curtains. I stayed with the storm on it deviant motion to the SE all the way down onto the back roads and into gods country along the KS/OK border. There is shit for roads down there in that area btw. Just in time the storm did that catchers mit style hook up where it starts working backwards off stronger inflow. I watched small rotations near the occlusion all the way until it was too dark to see the base without lightning. I thought the storm still had a chance, but it was in the middle of nowhere and I wanted to head home. I also had storms between me and Wichita to deal with, one of which I think had a tornado warning. I ended up watching the inflow notch/circulation that was developing with a supercell as it went through Winfield after dark. I got right in front of the velocity couplet since I knew if it did manage to spin up a tornado it would be weak. You could actually see the rain curtains wrapping around the circulation in the lights of Winfield as it came across the Main Street through town. It was kind of cool. I should have stayed with it because it ended up going tornado warned only a couple minutes after I let it pass over me, but I was being lazy and wanted to get home so I bailed. I regret that a little. I really regret bailing on the storm I was on rather than staying for a while after dark because it actually ended up producing two more tornadoes. That was a mistake. I don’t really give a shit about seeing tornadoes after dark. It’s a little boring IMO, but it’s better than getting a couple extra hours of sleep. I can sleep all year. I need to man up and go that extra mile for the rest of this season. I guarantee that will not happen again this year. It will almost certainly happen next year lol, but not again this year. Anyway, got home around midnight after maneuvering around severe storms on the way back to Wichita. All in all a good chase and a good night for KWCH weather coverage.
I’ve kind of lost track of records over the years, but I am about positive this is the latest I’ve ever gone into the season without a tornado. Now that that monkey is off my back it is time to find some more. Unfortunately Mother Nature isn’t giving us much to work with this year. It’s been brutally slow and by my measure, it’s going to stay that way. It does look like we’ll have a good chance at a few tornadoes in the plains on Friday and Saturday, but I desperately want one a strong trough, classic tornado outbreak type setup and it’s not showing up in the models. You have to take what you can get though so I almost certainly will be chasing this Friday and Saturday. I obviously didn’t have a chance to look at data yesterday because I was out chasing until almost midnight. I’ve been watching Friday and Saturday’s setup for what seems like forever with the GFS, so I think I have a fairly good handle on at least the area where the best severe/tornado threat will occur, but I’m going to hold off on getting a map up until tomorrow. I feel like I need to see the NAM pick up on both days and I want to look at some of the finer details. I’m really not a fan of these later season style setups where you get a big moisture wrap around the surface low/trough. I like the more classic dryline and triple point setups. That’s what I’m most comfortable forecasting and chasing. The type of setups we’re going to have Friday and Saturday are a little more nontraditional where you may be playing an area of hardly backed 850’s, CINH could be an issue and smaller scale areas (maybe even just one storm) are what manage to produce vs a more volatile setup where the ambient environment is supportive of tornadic supercells. I feel like you have to work harder on these types of setups with your forecasting and the certainty of tornadoes is never there. Basically it’s a crap shoot where it’s easy to get burned and miss out. I don’t think either day looks all that good for tornadoes, but I do think we’ll get tornadoes out of this two day deal. As I said so poorly above, these more nontraditional setups always seem a little sketchy. I think Friday you’re probably going to have to play up closer to 70 later in the day for tornadoes. Moisture should be better up there and although still weak, deep layer shear should be alright there later in the day where you get a little overlap in the stronger 500 and 850 winds. Saturday is another queer little setup. I’ll get into the details for bother setups tomorrow, but my initial guess for the best tornado potential on Saturday is going to be northeast Kansas into southeast Nebraska. Basically some place up there off the northeast side of the surface low where surface winds back. Right now I’m about one day out from booking a room in Hays for Friday night. I just want to firm up that both days look chase worthy before I do. Hotels fill up quick on days like that in May because of all the chase tour groups, so you don’t fuck around on getting reservations for those small towns that only have a few hotels. I got burned two years ago on that after the Leoti, KS tornadic supercell and had to end up driving all the way to Burlington Colorado before I got a hotel room lol. It sucked. Especially since my target for the following day was in the opposite direction. I’ve always had fond memories of staying in Hays while chasing. I think I’ve always gotten tornadoes the following day after staying in Hays.
Alight, enough rambling for now. I’ll try to get on my forecasting tomorrow and get a map up.