Thursday 14 June 2012

2012 Chase Day 8 - Kansas Multicells and MCS

Thu 14 Jun

Today's action was primarily focussed on forcing from a cold front providing the required lift to generate widespread scattered thunderstorms, which were then forecast to merge into a long MCS (mesoscale convective system) in the evening. And that's exactly what happened...

We left Goodland (KS) and travelled east to Colby (KS) where we observed cumulus rapidly growing along the front. A few thunderstorms formed to our north towards the border with Nebraska, so we drove northwards, but were treated to a nice display of mid-level funnels from a new cell developing along the same line to our west.

Nevertheless, the storm to our north was become quite substantial with frequent CGs and eventually formed a nice-looking wall cloud, which at times looked like it was trying to form a few funnel clouds, but alas it failed. We chased this storm for several hours, taking deliberate moves southwards and eastwards to both avoid the damaging hail in the core, and to get the best view of the potential wall cloud and cloud base.

Eventually we got caught up with the gust front, and were slammed by winds gusting in excess of 50mph at times, kicking up a significant amount of dust and covering exposed portions of our white car in dust. The storm started veering more southeastwards, so after briefly bumping into the Netweather Tour 5 chase team, we parked up in Stockton (KS) hoping to experience some very heavy rain and moderate hail.

Sadly the storm failed to produce the hail, but did give us some reasonable rain and frequent CGs. We decided to head south towards Hays (KS) via Plainview (KS), and basically moved parallel with a line of storms, and thus much of the journey saw strong westerly winds, heavy rain, frequent lightning and some hail at times.

As we got onto the Interstate at Hays (KS) we briefly saw things dry up, but the cold front began to accelerate, and forced all of the multicell storms to our north to move southeastwards, and we became stuck under the same line of storms for the next 2 hours since we were moving at roughly the same speed as the storms were due to the poor visibility and road conditions.

There was enough hail at times to cover the road, causing almost winter-type driving conditions. Lightning became incredibly frequent with a serious quantity of CGs - in fact one CG hit the ground 20 metres to our north on the other side of the carriageway, with instant gunshot thunder. There was very heavy rain throughout the journey to Salina (KS) and then south on the I35 to McPherson (KS), with the temperature stationary at 65F, before we eventually outran the front edge of the LEWP (line echo wave pattern), arriving at a dry and warm (86F) Wichita (KS), before the storms moved overhead later in the evening.

Doppler radar of the MCS line (LEWP) this evening

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