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May 8, 2001: Surprise Supercell in Northern KS

(Dave Lewison & Chris Kridler)

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508.gif (14402 bytes) Today was supposed to be a travel day. Chris & I had just arrived on the Plains, and had had a day to recuperate from our respective drives (me from NY and she from FL). The following day loioked to be interesting around eastern Nebraska, so we decided to head up towards York, NE.

There was just a general TSTM outlook for the entire area when we left Norman in the early afternoon. However, around 6pm, we noticed something that looked like an anvil off in the distance just north of Salina. It was on the way, so we decided to investigate.


508meso1sm.jpg (9188 bytes) 508meso2sm.jpg (8968 bytes) We continued up 81 north of Salina and then west to Beloit. The storm looked promising, especially considering the marginal conditions that day. At about 6:50 pm, a tornado warning was issued for this storm. It was not surprising, considering its appearance. The surprising part was that the storm was there in the first place, and that we were underneath the only storm in the state, just because we happened to be heading that way!
508meso4sm.jpg (9898 bytes) 508meso3sm.jpg (9325 bytes) The base took on a nice rounded and stacked appearance, despite no obvious rotation at low levels. It gradually approached us as the rain core intensified. The storm never produced any real lowerings. It tried to produce another meso later on, but couldn't quite do it.
508base2sm.jpg (10657 bytes) 508base1sm.jpg (10555 bytes) Fully happy with the day's catch, we continued on our way north on 81 towards Nebraska. Through the broken anvil of our previous storm, we could see another had formed to its north. It sported a classic bell shaped updraft base. 
508dustsm.jpg (8938 bytes) The eastern edge of the base lowered a bit, and some rotation was evident, although it was difficult to tell, as it was nearing 9pm and getting dark. There was some dust (or precipitation) under this lowering, but we couldn't see clearly what it was. I suspect it was just a rain curtain, or perhaps some dust being kicked up by a weak RFD.

Email me at: dave@facethewind.com

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