This section is for storm chases done in the central / Midwestern United States during the year of 2009. Since no chase "expedition" (that is where a 2-3 week "block" time was spent chasing at the mercy of whether or not the weather would co-operate) was done this year, all chases in the central USA will be logged in this section. Many chases will be "spot" chases or where only major severe weather "setups" were chased. Here you should find many pictures of lightning, possible tornadoes, along with many severe thunderstorm elements. Keep in mind that this chase log is scientific evidence and portrays my on-going storm chasing research. It has been placed on this page for easy reference and meteorological interests. Please do not plagiarize or copy this document to other sites for distribution.

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STORM CHASING - CENTRAL UNITED STATES - SPECIAL 2009 CHASE LOG

Above is a panorama, composed of 5 individual images, of a beautiful tornadic supercell near Maysville, Missouri on June 7, 2009. The main updraft and wall cloud / funnels is to the left, and the old mesocyclone is visble to the right, and the HP storm tapers to a beautiful beaver's tail inflow band to the right. The late afternoon / early evening sun back-lights the supercell creating these colors. This is the same storm that produced hail in excess of 5 inches across earlier near Oregon, Missouri! These supercell storms have a surrealistic majesty to them, but, like any magnificant "beast", can be destructive and deadly.


TABLE OF CONTENTS - CLICK TO GO TO PAGE


ABOUT THIS CHASE LOG FOR THE MIDWEST

This is a chase log for any chases during 2009 in the Midwest and Central United States that were conducted as "spot" chases during or do not have a dedicated page for them. Each chase section within this area will have its own details and such for that particular chase. This area was set up in the late spring of 2009 and is for any chase that was conducted in the US Plains and Midwest. Equipment use in such chases range from cell phone to HAM radio communications, digital / still cameras, video (SD) and high-definition (HD) camcorders, and data logging / GPS via laptop computer. Storm chasing involved driving in harsh conditions and / or for long periods of time.

All chases and observations are in chronological order and a chase number is assigned to each entry. Please bear in mind that all observations adhere to modern storm analysis standards and do not include all storms that occurred in a given area for a particular chase period. For 2009, a dedicated and lengthy 10-day+ chase "expedition" in mid to late May was cancelled due to lack of activity.

Any kind of storm such as a thunderstorm, tornado, waterspout, tropical cyclone, and extratropical storm can be chased or observed. I have tried to keep this log of any storms that I have observed as accurate as possible, while using terms and expressions to abide by those used by most meteorologists and storm spotters today.

Storm chasing and observation can be extremely dangerous and may result in serious injury or death. I have received intermediate and advanced training for storm spotting in 1996. I strongly urge anyone who is to try their hand at storm spotting to get training before doing so. You must also have a good understanding of meteorology and storm dynamics. "If you don't know what you're doing, Don't do it!" Contact your local National Weather Service office for information on storm spotting and about training to become a Skywarn storm Spotter.


CHOOSE A VIDEO CLIP BELOW - LINKS TO YOUTUBE

Tornadic Supercell - WY / NE (June 5)
Kansas / Missouri Supercells (June 7)
Chase 2009 Music Video (NSCC 2010)


CHASE LOG FOR JUNE 4 TO JUNE 8, 2009

Above is the chase map for the June 4-8 chase trip to the Central United States. In the diagram, an overview inset to the lower left shows the chase area (boxed) and the flight path (green) between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Kansas City, Missouri. The blue path is the chase track totaling 1862 miles. There were three target areas (final / refined targets based on my forecasting) that pretty much agree with the outlook areas from the Storm Predictions Center (SPC). Red "X" marks represent severe thunderstorm and / or tornado intercepts. Target area #2 never verified (bust) because of a capping temperature inversion supressing storm development that day (June 6).


CHASE SUMMARY FOR JUNE 5 THROUGH JUNE 8, 2009

The trip began by flying out from Fort Lauderdale, Florida with an Orlando connection and arriving into Kansas City on the evening of Thursday, June 4, 2009. I picked up the rental vehicle, a 2009 Chevy HHR that same evening and began the drive westward along Interstate 70 to make Hays, Kansas for the night and meet up with Brandon Clark, another chaser. It is about a 4 hour drive from Kansas City to Hays. The following day, June 5, was to be a good chase day towards the Nebraska Panhandle / NE Colorado / SE Wyoming area.

During the morning of Friday, June 5, 2009 I met up with Brandon Clark, who lives in Hays and drives his own chase vehicle, a Toyota 4-Runner. This day was a chase day with two supercells and a large tornado observed. We prepared the vehicles with equipment, got fuel, and continued west on Interstate 70 and into Burlington, Colorado where we headed north on Highway 385 anticipating storms in the NE Colorado / SW Kansas Vicinity. Weather wise, a stalled front / boundary was present just north of the KS / CO border and extending to the west until a triple-point in the dryline, which was bulging east over Colorado in response to lee cyclogenesis. The Storm predictions Center (SPC) had this area in slight risk, with a 10% tornado prbability, 30% hatched hail, and 15% severe wind probability centered over the area.

We stopped in Holyoke, Colorado for some time for fuel and to look at data / radar. A few storms were developing near Cheyenne, Wyoming, about 120 miles to our NE. Since this was near the triple point, and in an up-slope flow regime, we hesitatingly headed north on Highway 385 towards Interstate 80 in SW Nebraska. With the storms rapidly developing, and becoming a tornadic supercell near La Grange, Wyoming, we aborted a stop for food and continued west on I-80 to Highway 71 and north towards Harrisburg. A tornado was visible with this storm from a 20-30 mile distance due to good visibility, although I wish were were closer and had not waited too long in Holyoke. Another supercell developed closer to Harrisburg and moved east into Bridgeport and Dalton, where it again intensified.

The chase turned south back to I-80, then east towards Highway 385, and back north to near Dalton, Nebraska where the second supercell intensified and produced another (weak) tornado / large rotating wall cloud. We continued on this storm until after dark, in mostly very rural and remote areas. Hail damage was also done to both chase vehicles with hail at least 2" observed SW of Lisco. We ended the chase on this second supercell north of Oshkosh and headed east to I-80 to spend the night in Ogallala, NE and meet up for dinner with several other chasers.

On Saturday, June 6, 2009 our target area was to be anywhere from SE Nebraska to SW Iowa. A frontal boundary, oriented SW to NW was stalling over SE Nebraska and upper level support was looking good ahead of a weakening surface low. The concern was a very strong capping inversion above the target area. SPC outlooked this area with a slight risk having a 5% tornado, and 30% for both severe wind and hail probabilities. We headed east on I-80 with a rest-stop between York and Kearney. Brandon's chase vehicle (Toyota 4-Runner) would not start, and we quickly found the problem to be the starter solenoid. His truck is manual transmission, so we pushed it and he was able to start it using the clutch release. We continued east towards York for a fuel stop, and tried to fix the problem with the starter again, and found it would have to be replaced. Doing the push-and-clutch start got him up and running, and he promised not to turn off his vehicle until he gets back to Hays.

We continued east on I-80, stopping just south of Lincoln to check data and we became very concerned about the cap (inversion aloft). The best bet was to continued east through Omaha, and wait for initiation in SW Iowa. We waited for some time in Avoca, Iowa off I-80 and Highway 59, and despite developing cumulus, the cap held strong, and no storms developed. This was the first true "cap bust" of 2009. With the next day having much better chase prospects, anywhere from SW Iowa and NE Kansas, I decided to stay for the night in Avoca. Brandon, needing repairs, and chasing in Kansas the next day, decided to head back for a long drive to Hays.

Sunday, June 7, 2009 was another big chase day, with three dangerous supercells and at least one tornado observed. I forecasted and found that the best area would be anywhere from NE Kansas / SW Iowa and into NW Missouri. SPC had this area outlooked in a moderate risk, with a 10% tornado, 45% hatched hail, and 30% severe wind probability. Two quasi-stationary boundaries were noted intersecting near NE Kansas, one a convergance area north to south and the other a stalled front NW to SE. Cyclogenesis was ocurring to the west and a strong instability axis was spreading NNW into the target area (up to and exceeding 4,500 CAPE). This was assocated with a moderate cap, and moderately strong upper-level Pacific disturbance (short-wave trough) moving in overhead. I left Avoca and headed back through Omaha along I-80 back to Lincoln, Nebraska. From there I headed south through Beatrice on Highway 77 and made my way back into Kansas and south of Summerfield, Kansas.

Waiting in Summerfield, just south of the KS / NE border in Marchall County, a rain shower developed near the intersection of the two boundaries. The Pacific short-wave moved in overhead, eroded the cap, and explosive supercell development ocurred near Summerfield and east near and along the KS / NE border toward Pawnee City and Dubois (near Highway 75). This first supercell intensified, then weakened due to another supercell to the SE near Falls City, NE. I headed east towards Highways 73 then 159 to target the second supercell, crossing the river into Missouri, caravaning with MANY other chasers, including the VORTEX II project. Very large hail was observed on the backside of the second storm, with some pieces at least 4.5"! Myself, and many other chasers, continued east on Highway 159 through Oregon, MO and followed the storm eastward past I-29 to near Maysville and Winston near I-35. This is where the storm weakened after producing rotating wall clouds / funnels.

I remained for a while near Winston, filming lightning and planned on heading south towards Cameron on I-35 afterwards. Brandon was also back on this second supercell storm near Maysville, but I never managed to catch back up with him. A third supercell with hail up to 2" was encountered near Cameron and west of I-35 at about 10:30 PM CDT. This final storm produced a large tornado (spotter confirmed), that was observed from about 10 miles to the south looking north towards the updraft region of the storm while filming lightning. I finished the chase, and haded south towards Kansas City on I-35, then west towards KC Airport, taking down the equipment from the vehicle, packing up, and spending the night near Smithville. The following morning, on Monday, June 8, 2009 I returned the rental vehicle (with hail-damage claim) and flew back to Fort Lauderdale, FL on an early flight back. I was back to work and in my office at lunch time on June 8. The total mileage on the chase vehicle was 1892 miles.


JUNE 4 TO JUNE 8 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURAMIAMI, FLKG4PJN6-4 TO 6-9IT CONSULTANT

The participants below are not from the "Sky-Chaser" chase team. These people often actively participate in my storm research and documentation efforts and deserve appreciation for their great help and severe weather expertise.

CHASER NAMEHOME CITYCALLSIGNOCCUPATION
BRANDON CLARKHAYS, KSN/AOIL WORKER / STUDENT


STORM REPORTS FOR JUNE 5-7, 2009

Above is a diagram with 3 images for the SPC storm reports for the days of June 5 (left), June 6 (middle), and June 7 (right) in 2009 with annotations. In each of the reports, episodes of severe weather reported are shown by a red dot (tornado), green dot (hail over 3/4 inch), and blue dot (severe wind over 50 Knots). Black squares represent extreme winds (over 65 Knots) and the black triangles are giant hail (2" or larger). The small arrows and numbers represent the storms intercepted and the circles the final target areas. Note that even though storms formed on June 6, no intercepts were done as the storms did NOT develop in the target area due to a "cap" (inversion) and any storms were well past mignight near the SW Iowa target.


FORECASTING AND TARGET AREA - JUNE 5

Above is the SPC (Storm Predictions Center) graphics for tornado probability, mesoscale discussion (MD) 952, and tornado watch box (WW) 332 for the area targeted. The mesoscale discussion is issued when conditions are favorable for severe weather, and, if necessary, a weather watch afterwards. The mesoscale discussion includes details on the pre-cursors for the potential severe weather setup. The initial target area forcasted by myself is from the NE corner of Colorado and points northwestward into SE Wyoming, where the front / dryline triple point existed in upslope (SE) flow.


STORM RADAR IMAGERY - JUNE 5

Impressive radar image of the La Grange, Wyoming tornadic supercell storm during peak intensity showing a well-pronounced "hook" echo. This is one of the most impressive "flying eagle" radar presentations you can get with a tornadic supercell. At this point, the supercell is just west and northwest of La Grange, with the core of the supercell (containing 4" or larger hail) west of Wycross. The tornado ocurred shortly after the time of this image. My location was south of Harrisburg in the lower-right part of the image. Also note the interesting V-Notch near Hawk Springs in the image, with one wing tip of the "flying eagle" over Fonda and the other ENE of Wycross. Image is courtesy of WeatherTAP.


FORECASTING AND TARGET AREA - JUNE 6

The diagrams above show the chase prospects, and the failure (called a "cap bust") of June 6 in SW Iowa. The left is a mesoscale discussion (MD 0960) issued by the Storm Predictions Center (SPC) during the afternoon. This was also near the area I forecasted / finally targeted and while I was waiting for storms in Avoca, Iowa. To the right, is a sounding from Omaha, Nebraska showing a very pronounced temperature inversion (circled) that prevented development of storms. The MD was subsequently taken down and no watch issued, and no storms developed as the capping inversion (warm air aloft at about 7500 feet) was too strong.


FORECASTING AND TARGET AREA - JUNE 7

Above are the outlooks from the Storm Predictions Center (SPC) for June 7, 2009. To the left is the 10% tornado probability associated with a moderate-risk outlook. The moderate-risk also included a 45% hatched hail and 30% severe wind probability. The mesoscale discussion MD 974 was issued, and subsequently tornado watch-box WW 342 pretty much bulls-eyed on my final target area for the day.


STORM RADAR IMAGERY - JUNE 7

Here is a radar image of the violent supercell storm between Orgegon and Maysville, Missouri (my GPS location is the white circle just east of the hook and notch of the supercell). The core, although weakened slightly, still is 68 DBz (after producing "gorilla" hail). Strong rotation was noted at this time from my vantage point looking west.


DETAILED LOG ALL CHASES

1). June 5, 5:00 PM - Observation of an extremely severe and tornadic thunderstorm over Goshen County, Wyoming and near La Grange. The storm was a violent classic / cyclic supercell that produced a large tornado that was on the ground for nearly 30 Minutes. This supercell storm was observed from a distance ranging from 5 to 25 miles, and the large tornado was visible from as far as Highway 71 south of Harrisburg (Banner County, Nebraska). The tornado did not affect populated areas, and was a large cone tornado with a rope-out stage observed at distance. The core of the storm was not penetrated, and contained winds gusting over 60-MPH, frequent lightning, and hail reported to 4.5 inches (slightly larger than a grapefruit). Conditions producing the storms were surface heating, upslope wind flow, a dryline and boundary (triple point) interactions, low pressure area, and upper trough. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A 2009 Chevy HHR was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM MDT.

2). June 5, 8:00 PM - Observation and indirect penetration of another extremely severe and possibly tornadic thunderstorm from southeast of Harrisburg in Banner County, Nebraska from near Highway 71 then again to the east in Morill and Cheyenne counties from Bridgeport to southwest of Lisco. This storm was initially a classic supercell storm that produced two large funnels southeast of Harrisburg. The storm also produced hail up to baseball sized at this point. Golfball sized hail was observed at my location. The storm was abandoned as it moved east due to poor roads and picked up again near Dalton along highway 385. At this point, a very large wall cloud was observed with strong rotation and numerous funnels. This could quite possibly have been a broad, weak tornado (EF-0 / EF-1). The storm evolved to HP supercell with a very striking visual appearance / vault southwest of Lisco. Poor roads and isolated hail to baseball-sized warranted another hasty retreat. Heavy rains and 60 MPH winds were also encountered, along with frequent lightning. The worst part of the storm core was not penetrated, and contained 4" (softball sized) hail. Conditions producing the storms were surface heating, upslope wind flow, a dryline and boundary (triple point) interactions, low pressure area, and upper trough. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A 2009 Chevy HHR was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 10 PM MDT.

3). June 7, 5:30 PM - Observation and indirect penetration of an extremely severe, and possibly tornadic thunderstorm along and near the Kansas / Nebraska border / Highway 99 from near Summerfield, Kansas in Marshall County and eastward towards Du Bois, Nebraska near Highways 8 and 50 in Pawnee County. The storm was a classic supercell thunderstorm that was observed from initiation west of Summerfield and followed to its point of weakening to an LP storm (due to its inflow being cut-off from another supercell to the SE). The storm came very close to producing a tornado with excellent rotation and rain wrap during its most intense phase. An unconfirmed report of a tornado was associated with this storm, but only a rapidly rotating wall cloud was observed south of Humboldt. The storm had hail up to softball-sized (4"), but the core was avoided and not penetrated. Winds near 40 MPH (inflow / outflow) were observed along with moderate rain, small hail, and frequent lightning with some close hits. Conditions producing the storms were surface heating, intersecting boundaries (triple point), low pressure area, and upper trough. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A 2009 Chevy HHR was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 11 PM CDT.

4). June 7, 8:00 PM - Observation and indirect penetration of another extremely severe, and possibly tornadic thunderstorm from near Falls City, Nebraska in Richardson County, across the Missouri River through Oregon, Missouri along Highway 159 / 59, and into Daviess County near Altamonte, MO and Interstate 35. This dangerous classic to HP supercell storm developed southeast of the original supercell storm earlier in Marshall County, KS and had little "competition" from nearby storms (southernmost "Tail-End Charley" cell). The storm core, near Oregon, Missouri, consistently was producing incredible hail approaching, if not exceeding 5" (one chaser report was 5.25")! Hail at least grapefruit sized was observed on the backside of the storm passing through Oregon, with the VORTEX II teams / other chasers creating a massive chaser caravan. The storm produced many rapidly rotating wall clouds / funnels with a powerful (60 MPH+) RFD. Of course, the core was not penetrated, but still winds to 60 MPH, frequent lightning with close hits, torrential rains, and large hail (largest observed falling was quarter sized as the storm weakened later). A large funnel / possible brief tornado was observed with this storm near Maysville in DeKalb County from near Highway 6. Conditions producing the storms were surface heating, intersecting boundaries (triple point), low pressure area, and upper trough. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A 2009 Chevy HHR was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 11 PM CDT.

5). June 7, 10:30 PM - Observation and direct penetration of a very severe, tornadic thunderstorm from near Clinton and DeKalb counties in Missouri, near and west of I-35 and south of Cameron and Osborne. The storm was an HP supercell storm, and hail up to golfball-sized (with isolated pieces to half-dollar) as 1.5" to 2" was encountered with 60-70 MPH winds, torrential rains, and continuous lightning with numerous close hits. A wind shift from strong easterly to strong westerly was encountered when exiting the storm core to the south (mesocyclone). Once clear of precipitation, the storm updraft region was observed from the south at a distance of 5 miles or so, illuminated by the frequent lightning. A large wall cloud, and subsequently, a large silhouette of a tornado became visible for several minutes. Spotter reports confirmed this, putting the tornado in southern DeKalb County over open farmland. The storm weakened and evolved to multicell afterwards. Conditions producing the storms were surface heating, outflow boundary interactions, low pressure area, and upper trough / jet stream aloft. Documentation was still digital photos, audio, and HD video. A 2009 Chevy HHR was used to chase the storms. A tornado watch was also in effect for the area until 11 PM CDT.

This concludes the Chase Log for the northern US Plains and Midwest tornado chase trip from June 4 through June 8, 2009. The summary includes a total of 5 severe thunderstorms and 4 tornadoes (2 of which were confirmed and one of which was a large tornado that affected extreme eastern Wyoming on the first storm intercepted in this trip). The main chase vehicle conducting all chases was a 2009 Chevy HHR. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 4, 2009

There were several thunderstorms encountered in the air when flying out of Florida en-route to Kansas City. In this picture, a strong thunderstorm can be seen to the left from an altitude of about 20,000 feet.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 5, 2009

Here is a picture of my Chevy HHR rental and Brandon Clarks 4-Runner while checking data in the small town of Holyoke in the extreme NE corner of Colorado on Highway 385.
Here is one of the first real views of the wall cloud and distant tornado of the supercell near La Grange, Wyoming from a distance of about 20-30 miles from near Highway 71 south of Harrisburg, Nebraska. The tornado is barely visible in the center of the picture
Now this is much more like it ... A large tornado is visible from about 20 miles away from south of Harrisburg, looking west and highly zoomed in towards the wall cloud area of the La Grange supercell. Note the RFD slot in the foreground. Time was roughly 5 PM MDT.
Weakening phase of the La Grange tornado (just before rope out) viewed from the distant vantage point. Visibility in this area (high plains / western US) is extremely good, allowing a fantastic view of a storm that you normally would not see from so far away.
Wall cloud of the La Grange supercell as it crosses the SE Wyoming border into SW Nebraska after tornado dissapation. The RFD slot is still impressive.
Wall cloud of the La Grange storm weakening into a scud tag like feature by 5:30 PM MDT. Note the little needle / shear funnel on the leading edge of the RFD gust front to the left.
Here is a picture of an intensifying LP / classic supercell to the southeast of Harrisburg, Nebraska. This storm developed southeast of the original (La Grange) storm near highway 71 and was producing baseball sized hail at the time this picture was taken. Note the funnel in the new mesocyclone, and another rotating lowering to the right from the older meso during the storm split.
This is a better view of the splitting supercell storm with two distinct funnels simultaneously. This second storm did not produce a tornado until east of Bridgeport later on, but was a very long track supercell.
Here is another close up of the rotation / funnel associated with the second supercell storm.
Looking almost straight up at the rotation, incredible striations become apparent with the second supercell southeast of Harrisburg. We are now right under the meso, in the so-called "bear's cage" of the storm.
This is from a screen snap-shot of GRLevel3 showing my GPS location as a white circle along Highway 71 at roughly the same time the picture above was taken (6:15 PM MDT or so). I am nearly inside the bounded-weak-echo-region (BWER) of the storm!
The persistant funnel from the older mesocyclone of the splitting second supercell came about half-way to the ground. Not sure if there was any contact swirl or not on the ground underneath it (behind the hill).
Here is one of the DOW (Doppler On Wheels) trucks scanning the storm and deploying a large antenna for data linkage with the VORTEX II project.
Here is the flanking like (left) and main updraft (right) of the second supercell about an hour later as is was passing to the southeast of Brideport and northwest of Dalton, Nebraska from Highway 385. Note the impressive back-sheared anvil (upper left).
A large, strongly rotating wall cloud drops from the storm base just north of Dalton, Nebraska looking north from town on Highway 385.
Impressive lowering and rapidly rotating wall cloud / possible weak (EF-0 or so) but very large tornado north of Dalton, Nebraska crossing Highway 385. The storm was peaking at maximum intensity at the time, and was passing Dalton to the north.
The Dalton storm continues east, after producing numerous funnels / brief tornado near Dalton and evolves to an HP supercell with this impressive vault (right), wall cloud (center), and intense precipitation core wrapping around to the south side (left).
Here is a view of the vault region to the northeast of the HP supercell southwest of Lisco with full RFD gust front (possibly rain-wrapped tornado at the time) to the lower left. This storm was producing hail up to grapefruit sized (4") prompting a hasty retreat to the south to prevent damage and / or losing windows on my rental vehicle.
Close up view of the impressive vault and cloud-to-cloud (CC) lightning just before getting pounded by baseball-sized hail to the SW of Lisco, Nebraska.
Nice CG (Cloud to Ground) lightning bolt captured on digital still northeast of Chappell, Nebraska after dark as the HP supercell storm evolves to a multicell storm cluster. The updraft base is still visible in the upper part of the picture.
Here is a picture of some great chasers Brandon and I met up with at a steakhouse in Ogalalla, Nebraska. George Kouranis and his Canadian TV crew from "Angry Planet" are mingling with Rocky Roscovich, Bill Hark, and others, showing off the "days tornado catch".
Nothing like a 16 OZ steak after seeing a tornado ... And if you can eat it, they'll bring you another one for free (Ogalalla restaurant off I-80).


GALLERY FOR JUNE 6, 2009

Here is a picture of the Archway Monument that crosses I-80 near Kearney while heading east to our target of SE Nebraska / SW Iowa.
Brandon Clark's 4-Runner was having problems with the starter solenoid. When he stopped in York, Nebraska, it would not start back up. Luckily, his 4-Runner has a manual transmission, so we could push it, and let the clutch out to start the engine in gear, otherwise this would have been the end of his chase-day.
Once in the target area, with a convergance area / boundary east of Omaha, Nebraska and into SW Iowa, a promising build up of cumulus develops near Avoca. There is a very strong cap (temperature inversion aloft) and storms will be supressed by this stable layer aloft.
The strong capping inversion quickly snuffs out any vertical growth with the towering cumulus over SW Iowa. The updraft is gone, and a "flattened" cloud top indicates the presence of the strong cap. No storms developed, making this a true "bust" day.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 7, 2009

Here is Sean Casey and his new Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV II) rolling through Beatrice, Nebraska en-route to the target areas in NE Kansas.
Here is my rental vehicle pulled off to the side of the road as I await thunderstorm development in NE Kansas on Highway 99 in southern Marshall County (NE Kansas). The view is to the NNW at two intersecting boundaries and the first supercell is expected in this area one the cap is eroded by a strong Pacific upper-level disturbance moving in from the west.
The capping inversion finally breaks, and a supercell updraft goes up in northern Marshall County west of Summerfield, Kansas. Note the stout updraft tower and developing wall cloud to the lower left.
Here is a view of a rapidly rotating portion of the storm, which came very close to producing a tornado south of Pawnee City, Nebraska.
Another supercell develops near the Missouri River east of Falls City, Nebraska and appears with a highly sheared updraft and back-sheared anvil. This supercell eventually cutoff the inflow to the first storm near Pawnee City and became the main "chaser beacon" for many.
Closer view of the powerful updraft associated with this storm. The second supercell (near Oregon, MO) produced hail measured at 5.25" by one chaser and numerous grapefruit sized (4" or larger)! The speed of this supercell updraft is in excess of 150 MPH.
Here is a radar image from GRLevel3 showing my GPS position (the white circle) getting ready to penetrate the rain "hook" to my east. This type of chase is to be done with extreme caution as not only do I have to negociate hail to coconut sized (5" / note the pink cores), but also have to avoid driving into a tornado (if any).
At least baseball-sized hail laying in the road near Oregon, MO. There were much larger pieces but I was too busy driving and did not have time to stop as there was a caravan of chasers / traffic. One of the VORTEX II mobile mesonets is the vehicle in front of me.
Here is the phased-array rapid-scan DOW (Doppler On Wheels) truck entering I-29 east of Oregon, MO.
One chaser east of Maysville holds a melted piece of hail collected earlier showing the concentric rings inside the stone. Each ring, like rings in a tree, represents one trip up and down the thunderstorm's 30,000 foot high updraft.
Once east of the storm core, a large RFD (Rear Flank Downdraft) clear-slot can be seen looking north towards the mesocyclone near Rosendale and Highway 71. Note the funnels to the far-left behind the RFD-slot.
A rotating funnel cloud bears down on chasers and the small town of Maysville, Missouri, back-lit by the setting sun.
I took this picture looking west towards the 3end of the Maysville supercell's life-cycle. This feature was rotating, but I am not sure if there is a small rain-wrapped tornado in there.
As the second supercell passes I-35 and weakens near Winston, a small LP supercell can be seen to it's west at dusk and in the moisture-starved environment. This small supercell still had a 55 to 60 DBz core on GRLevel3 radar.
The weakening supercell storm produces an intense display of cloud-to-cloud (CC) lightning and illuminates the upper part of the rotating updraft east of Winston.
This picture is a frame-grab from video of a large tornado (spotter reported and illuminated by frequent lightning) at roughly 10:45 PM CDT looking north at about 5-10 miles south of Cameron, MO and west of I-35. The tornado was over open country and did not strike any populated areas. This is why it is so dangerous to chase supercell thunderstorms after dark.


GALLERY FOR JUNE 8, 2009

A cold front / outflow boundary pushes through the northern Kansas City area making for an interesting display with the low clouds. Quite possibly a form of "undulatus asperatus" clouds.
Interesting gravity waves in the low level clouds and mid-level "aspect rolls" / horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) above them (upper-right in picture). The view is from about 25,000 feet in an aircraft (Kansas City to Florida) over Missouri.
Here is a picture of a dramatic TCU (towering cumulus) field from an aircraft (at about 10,000 feet) returning to Fort Lauderdale during the late morning of June 8 over the Florida Everglades.


CHASE LOG FOR SEPT 29 TO OCT 2, 2009

Above is the chase map for the Sept 29 to October 2 chase trip to the Central United States. In the diagram, an overview inset to the lower left shows the chase area (boxed) and the flight path (green) between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Kansas City, Missouri. The blue path is the chase track totaling about 1210 miles. There were two target areas (final / refined targets based on my forecasting) that pretty much agree with the outlook areas from the Storm Predictions Center (SPC). Red "X" marks represent severe weather or storm intercepts. The first target area on September 30 never verified because of a capping temperature inversion supressing storm development. However, small severe storms were still intercepted that day farther to the southeast in central Kansas. The second target area for October 1 verified and storms were in the form of a squall line / cluster of severe thunderstorms.


CHASE SUMMARY FOR SEPT 29 THROUGH OCT 2, 2009

The trip began by flying out from Fort Lauderdale, Florida with an Orlando connection and arriving into Kansas City on the evening of Tuesday, September 29, 2009. I picked up the rental vehicle, a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiserhevy that same evening and began the drive westward along Interstate 70 to make Hays, Kansas for the night. The following day, September 30 was a chase day with an initial target area in Northwestern Kansas. This was pretty much a trip up Highway 183 northbound to Highway 36, then west towards Atwood, Kansas. The storm predictions center had the target area in NW Kansas included in a slight-risk outlook as well.

The weather forecast included a dryline bulge, in response to a developing colorado low, that extended from the Texas / Oklahoma Panhandles region near Amarillo, TX, through western Kansas, and into the SW corner of Nebraska near Mc Cook. The best upper-level divergence, cold air aloft, and jet stream dynamics were in place to the northwest of the target area near the tri-state areas of KS, NE, and WY, a bit to the northwest of the best instability. A "capping" inversion also existed (warm air in the mid levels) over western Kansas and the adjacent states. This was truly a very complicated "long shot" forecast.

Upon entering the primary target of NW Kansas, a data stop was done in Atwood, Kansas and it became clear the environment was both "capped" (by the warm air layer aloft), moisture starved (the preferred dewpoints in the 60's were still just making their way through OK at that time), and the upper air support was still too far to the NW (over Colorado). This was simply a bad timing issue for severe storm initiation. The dryline, however, was quite evident (both on surface plots and even visually) in this area by afternoon, with a dramatic shift from a SE wind to a hot SW wind as one proceded west across the dryline. A line of high-based clouds was associated with the dryline forcing, giving way to clear skies and blowing dust.

With lack of any low-level clouds or moisture, any convection near the dryline was high-based / elevated since surface dewpoints remained in the mid 50's range, so the NW Kansas target was abandoned. A developing storm, 200+ miles to the southeast, was noted near Dodge City, Kansas. A valiant effort to save the chase day from a full "cap bust" was to head back south on Highway 25 towards Colby, Kansas, then east on Interstate 70. The developing storms in central Kansas were in response to an erosion of the strong capping inversion by a speed maximum in the jet stream flow aloft, and the better moisture available farther south well ahead of the hot dryline.

The storm was observed near peak intensity, as an elevated / high-based supercell, from a distance near Hays, Kansas while still heading east towards Russel. Trying to catch the fast-moving storm, the chase went south on 281 through Hoisington, then east along Highway 54 from near Pratt County. The storm weakened thereafter. Another small LP storm was also noted to the west at that time, probably near Jetmore, which also quickly weakened with the strengthening "cap" aloft. Continuing east on Highway 54, then to Interstate 35, then east again along Highway 54 to Highway 75 into Chanute, Kansas for the night. This was chosen because the target area for the next day was to be in MO / AR.

Thursday, October 1, was to be a marginal chase day in the un-friendly chase terrain in southwestern Missouri. A squall line pushed through the area (SE Kansas) by the early morning of October 1, in response to the upper level energy finally ejecting out of Colorado. This upper low pretty much stacked with the low-level (Colorado) low and moved towards Iowa, with the moisture axis being confined to a pre-frontal region extending from NE Oklahoma to Western Missouri and into NW Arkansas. The upper "support" and low level CAPE (moisture axis) were pretty much out of phase, with the surging cold front providing the focus for severe weather, mainly wind and hail. SPC outlooked this area as slight, with only a 2% tornado outlook.

The chase began by leaving Chanute, Kansas and heading into Missouri on Highway 160 and to Springfield, MO near Interstate 44. After lunch and checking data, the best bet was to head into the "mountains" near Barry County, MO and just wait for the cold front / developing squall line to reach the area. In this area is where severe thundertstorms were intercepted, and the primary target, for what it was worth, verified. Chasing was finished when the cold front cleared the area by late afternoon and a return to Kansas City was done from near I-44 by traveling up Highway 71.

The last night was spent in Kansas City, Missouri with breaking down the vehicle setup and staying at a motel close to the airport. The trip was wrapped up by flying out of Kansas City Airport early the next day, October 2, and returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida by late morning (Eastern time).


SEPT 29 TO OCT 2 CHASE MAIN PARTICIPANTS

CHASER NAMEHOME CITYCALLSIGNCHASE DATESOCCUPATION
CHRIS COLLURAMIAMI, FLKG4PJN9-29 TO 10-2IT CONSULTANT


STORM REPORTS FOR 9-30 AND 10-1, 2009

Above is a diagram with 2 images for the SPC storm reports for the days of September 30 (left) and October 1 (right) in 2009. In each of the reports, episodes of severe weather reported are shown by a red dot (tornado), green dot (hail over 3/4 inch), and blue dot (severe wind over 50 Knots). Black squares represent extreme winds (over 65 Knots) and the black triangles are giant hail (2" or larger). For September 30, a capping inversion kept storms pretty much supressed, except for a few hail reports (green), one of which was the elevated storm observed in Kansas that day. The "?" denotes the first chase target which remained "capped". The reports for October 1 were more widespread and associated with a squall line / cluster of storms (with many hail and wind reports). No tornadoes (red dots) were reported on any of these two chase days.


FORECASTING AND TARGET AREA - SEPT 30

Above is the SPC (Storm Predictions Center) graphics for severe weather probability, mesoscale discussion (MD) 2048, and severe thunderstorm watch box (WW) 750 for the areas targeted. The initial target area forcasted by myself is in the NW corner of Kansas, where the dryline would produce storms, but remained capped during the day. The interests then shifted rapidly southeast, and into central Kansas, where the MD and WW went into place. SPC maintained only a slight risk over the target areas, with wind and hail probailities of 15% and only a 2% tornado probability.


FORECASTING AND TARGET AREA - OCT 1

Above are the outlooks from the Storm Predictions Center (SPC) for October 1, 2009. To the left is the slight risk outlook, which included a 30% wind, 15% hail, and only 2% tornado probability. In the target area, which was ahead of a cold front, mesoscale discussion MD 2052 was issued, and subsequently severe thunderstorm watch-box WW 751 which coincided with my initial target area for the day.


DETAILED LOG ALL CHASES

1). Sept 30, 6:30 PM - External observation of a severe thunderstorm near and east of Dodge City, Kansas from Kiowa to Pratt County. The storm was a high-based supercell storm developing ahead of the dryline and on an impinging moisture axis. The storm lasted for about 2 hours, and weakened afterwards. The storm core had hail to at least quarter sized, heavy rains, and frequent lightning. The storm core was not penetrated, but the storm was observed from about 50 miles distance during peak intensity. Conditions causing the storms were a low pressure area, dryline, surface heating, upper trough / jet stream aloft, and convergence area. A 2008 PT Cruiser (Rental) was used to chase the storm. Documentation was still digital photos. A severe thunderstorm watch was in effect for the area until 11 PM CDT.

2). Oct 1, 5:30 PM - Interception and penetration of severe thunderstorms in Barry County, Missouri near and north of Casseville. The storms were part of a line of strong and severe thunderstorms, and contained frequent lightning, heavy rains, hail, and winds gisting over 60-MPH. Conditions causing the storms were a low pressure area, cold-front, surface heating, and an upper trough / jet stream aloft. A 2008 PT Cruiser (Rental) was used to chase the storm. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A severe thunderstorm watch was in effect for the area until 7 PM CDT.

This concludes the Chase Log for the northern US Plains and Midwest storm chase trip from September 30 through October 2, 2009. The summary includes a total of 2 severe thunderstorms. The main chase vehicle conducting all chases was a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


GALLERY FOR SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

Here is a picture of Kansas City, Missouri, just before landing at Kansas City Airport on September 29. The view is looking east from about 3,000 feet while arriving from Florida. This was my second trip to the Central United States during 2009.


GALLERY FOR SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

Here is my chase vehicle rental (a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser) with all my equipment (laptop, cameras, power hookups, HAM radio, and such) installed and ready to chase for two days. The equipment packs snugly into a small carry on bag in addition to the laptop bag, so setting up for a chase is quick.
Approaching the original target area, in Northwest Kansas, the dryline boundary becomes evident. The convection along the moisture-starved dryline was very high based with temperatures at the surface around 95 degrees F (with dewpoints in the 50's). Looking WSW in this picture, the clouds "stop" above the drier air to the west of the dryline bulge. A dramatic winds shift from SE to SW was also noted across this dryline. Storm development in this area was supressed by a "capping" inversion (warm air layer aloft).
Strong and dry winds from the southwest, gusting over 40 MPH, whip up dust and a small dust-devil as the dryline pushes eastward through Atwood in NW Kansas.
A high-based / elevated supercell thunderstorm looms over the horizon (view is southeast) after abandoning the original NW Kansas target and racing back to the southeast along Interstate 70 while west of Hays. The storm developed in an area well ahead of the dryline and in an atypical location due to the strong "cap" aloft. A speed maximum in the jet stream flow aloft, and "weak" spot in the cap caused this small supercell (east of Dodge City at the time) to develop near the leading edge of a moisture axis (60+ degree F dewpoints) moving in from the south.
Radar image of the high-based / elevated supercell thunderstorm east of Dodge City, Kansas at the time of peak intensity. The storm was producing hail to golfball sized. Fast motion (40 knots to the NE) made interception of this storm difficult, as it was moving with the stronger winds aloft.
This is a picture of the anvil and storm structure of a weakening high-based LP storm near Jetmore, Kansas on September 30, 2009. The small storm is developing in a very high-shear environment, but moisture is limited ahead of an advacing dryline to the west. The view is to the west.
This is a picture of the anvil of a weakening elevated supercell storm, its low-level inflow, and moon near Pratt County, Kansas on September 30, 2009. The storm produced large hail and strong winds, but it's base was too high to produce tornadoes. The view is to the east.
Radar image of the weakening (former supercell) storm as it transitions to multicell mode.


GALLERY FOR OCTOBER 1, 2009

Taken from near Casseville in Barry County, Missouri in the edge of the Ozark Mountains, a developing severe thunderstorm can be seen looking to the northwest towards an advancing cold front / broken line of strong and severe thunderstorms.
I am not sure what this "feature" was in the center of the picture. It could be a shelf cloud (viewed from the side), or a funnel cloud on the leading edge of the severe storm north of Casseville. The view is to the north.
Here is a view of an approaching severe thunderstorm cell associated with the line of storms in southwestern Missouri. The storm here is in Barry County and the precipitation core / hail extends from the center to the right. The view is to the southwest.
Here is a view of one of the more instense severe thunderstorm cells associated with the line of storms in southwestern Missouri. The storm here (in Barry County) has an intense precipitation core with hail (right) and updraft base / shelf cloud (center). The view is to the south.
Looking to the west, these strange cloud formations are marked by low level turbulence and outflow just behind the line of severe thunderstorms (and ahead of the cold front) pushing through southwestern Missouri.
Just after the cold front pushed through SW Missouri, and winds shifted from SW to WNW, I noticed these strange cloud formations along the backside of the frontal boundary. This is probably due to turbulence and forcing associated with the cold front and wind shift / shear axis.
Here is a view of the line of strong and severe thunderstorms moving southeast away from southwestern Missouri after passage of the cold front on October 1, 2009. The view is to the southeast.


GALLERY FOR OCTOBER 2, 2009

While at altitude (about 38,000 feet) and in flight from Kansas City, MO to Fort Lauderdale, FL, the frontal system is crossed over the upper Dixie states. In this picture, the surface cold front is marked by low clouds and a higher cirrus layer (probably from convective activity / thunderstorms) can be seen ahead of the front. This is the same cold front that originated in Kansas / Colorado on 9/30 and swept through Missouri on 10/1 (a day earlier).


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