Capturing Incredible.

May 19, 2011

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This was it. We had missed out on the Dixie Alley Super Outbreak in late April — and while as a human being you don’t really want to see that level of destruction ever happen, as a storm chaser you couldn’t help but feel like you missed out on documenting a historically important event firsthand. 

After a very quiet start to May, which was a welcome reprieve for the folks in America — the Plains were coming alive and things were about to take off. A moderate risk 15% tornado day was in place across much of Kansas with tornadoes looking pretty likely both along a warm front and dryline.

I am one to always favor drylines when it comes to chasing, so we initially targeted Southern Kansas — but the northern Kansas target eventually proved irresistible along the warm front.

Anticipation

It looked like there would be a lot of chasers and a lot of storms — so we had a pretty clear challenge for chasing.

Crazy enough, this was also the first time I chased with Brandon Sullivan and Brett Wright. That ended up being a good combo.

We Give In and Head for the Warm Front

We waited and waited for the dryline to go — but it became apparent due to stronger capping that we may be waiting a long time before storms actually went. Thus, we decided to make a run for the warm front as storms matured.

At this point we actually were a tad behind the 8-ball and needed to hustle up a bit to make it to the storms north of us in time.

The Cold Fog

The supercell to our south and west was hidden behind a ridge and we were having difficulty getting a view thanks to the roads being quite muddy.

I have an innate fear of getting stuck, don’t ask me to justify it here, but the storm was basically going to have to come to us. Because of that we were sitting along and just north of the warm front where it was both foggy and cold — this isn’t a situation you typically look for a tornadic storm, but when it comes to warm fronts this isn’t all that uncommon as a storm ingests the warm and moist air to the south of it.

Eventually we got a view of the storm and while it was totally HP by the time we got a really good view of it — it still provided some cool views before it crossed over the warm front completely and began to dissipate.

Our day in 2011 would have to wait.

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