Sunday 27 May 2018

Day 1 - NW Kansas

SUN 27 MAY 2018

A broad risk today from SE WY through W / SW NE, NE CO into W KS (and further south along the dry line into the TX and OK Panhandles). The HRRR model had consistently flagged up a decent supercell potential in SE WY, but that would be too far to drive from our starting point. Initially had NE CO as our target close to the surface front, but concerned by how the models (and reality) fast made the storms into clusters than anything discrete.

SPC Day 1 Forecast
Therefore, didn't feel the need to rush anywhere and so after a chilled morning in Burlington (CO) getting our chase vehicle ready, we headed east to Goodland (KS) to buy some supplies from Walmart. Ate lunch there in Arby's and sat for a while watching some towering cumulus attempt to build to our west, only to keep getting detached. It was hot: 95F with a strong SE wind. Meanwhile numerous tornados were occurring in SE WY - but hey no, would never had made it there even if we wanted to, so not feeling too disappointed we missed out on that.

We followed our slowly-developing thunderstorm northwards to St Francis, and then across the state line to Haigler in Nebraska (so already ticked 3 states off in under 24 hours being in the U.S.). It was clear that what once had a promising base, began to disintegrate - these storms were struggling for moisture somewhat. It was also at this point that we lost any mobile internet coverage, and then spent an hour driving through parts of southern Nebraska desperately trying to get some data to get an update to the radar.
None of the storms nearby looked particularly promising, so after a while we decided to head back to Goodland (KS) where we could refuel and knew there'd be data at least, and then re-assess from there. While refuelling we were hit by an outflow boundary from storms to our east - winds gusted over 60mph with dust being kicked up.

Next, a drive east down I-70 to Colby (KS) to try and get some lightning shots from a cluster of severe-warned storms - they seemed to die very quickly. Felt a heat burst from one of them - amazing how it was borderline chilly and then suddenly this hot air rushes past you, before turning chilly again.

I'd been keeping my eye on the TEC (tail-end Charlie) storm near Stratton (CO) as it had been holding together quite well for some time - eventually this became tornado-warned near Burlington (CO), with other storm spotters reporting suction vortices on the ground. We decided to head after this storm as it looked a lot healthier than anything else on radar - it was over 60 miles away, but we made it, and then tracked it north to St Francis over the following 2 hours or so.

Our location, north of Colby (KS), in relation to the tornado-warned storm near Burlington (CO)
Didn't see a tornado from this storm, but plenty of low scud lifting into in the base, and what appeared to be perhaps a gustnado on the ground. Nice display of mammatus, and plenty of lightning, we eventually ditched the storm and headed back to Goodland for the night, where we bumped into Nathan Edwards.

So, storms on our first chase day - not a bust!

Possible gustnado from a supercell north of Burlington (CO), backlit by lightning and twilight
Evening mammatus display above our chase vehicle

GPS tracker

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