Day Nine – Dodging a Bullet

Dodge City, KS dodged a bullet yesterday. The fact that a storm that directly affected the metro area caused two injuries and no fatalities is nothing short of miraculous.

We got on this storm right at initiation, when it was nothing but a cumulus tower. We had no idea what it was to become – and I would not have believed it had someone told me.

Storm Chase Day 09

Innocuous, right?

We had gone a bit north of it to watch cumulus towers go up, but as soon as we looked back we knew it was the one and doubled back south. We pushed through the early precipitation and got a nice view of the updraft and precipitation vault on the way through. It’s rare to get this view; once storms actually get going it’s not easily accessible or safe to be in.

Storm Chase Day 09

To the left, updraft. To the right, precipitation.

We stopped next to a very nice family’s property on a dirt road to watch the storm. It began to produce a wall cloud, but it was initially unimpressive.

Storm Chase Day 09

Yep, it’s a wall cloud!

…soon, however, it started extending fingers toward the ground. Sometimes two or three at a time. I didn’t think much of this at the time but it should have been a sign that this storm was going to be a monster.

Storm Chase Day 09

Two funnels for the price of one!

Soon, it finally managed to produce the first of many tornadoes.

Storm Chase Day 09

It almost couldn’t, but it finally did.

Eventually, it put down a very large, long-lived cone tornado. It was at this point we realized that we might be about to watch calamity play out in slow motion in the suburbs of Dodge City.

Storm Chase Day 09

Soon after this image was taken it ingested a lot more debris.

We repositioned closer to the storm to get a better look and, on the way, saw that the storm simultaneously had the original cone tornado on the ground as well as two satellite tornadoes around the main circulation.

Once we stopped, we were treated to a really good view of the base and tornadoes.

Storm Chase Day 09

“Just” one tornado.

Storm Chase Day 09

Two tornadoes on the ground at once.

Storm Chase Day 09

A tight view of the tornado as it chewed through some farmland, kicking up dirt.

The base then grew and dropped lower to the ground, as it dissipated the cone and reformed it as an elephant trunk tornado. We were nervous it was about to put out a large wedge tornado and head into the city.

Storm Chase Day 09

This storm makes exactly zero sense.

We repositioned and watched it produce several more tornadoes, including a several multivortex tornadoes and a wedge.

Storm Chase Day 09

Extremely violent tornado.

By this point, a storm was coming up behind us getting ready to drop large hail on our heads, so we left the tornado behind and high-tailed it east to get out of the way. On the way, unsurprisingly, the storm produced several more tornadoes.

Storm Chase Day 09

A bit overcooked, but I’m running out of time to write.

We stopped by a gas station for a while to watch the sunset then headed to our lodging.

Storm Chase Day 09

Some lightning happened but I didn’t catch it. Use your imagination!

My current count of tornadoes produced by this storm is at about 17. This breaks the Hokie Storm Chase record for tornadoes from one storm, and I know I’ve missed some – so this will most likely break the single-day tornado record as well.

I’ve never heard of a storm that was so able to effortlessly put down tornado after tornado without any RFD occlusions. From looking at the radar data in real time, it seems like the storm blew up on a boundary and then just continued eating that boundary for its entire life cycle, thus helping to spin the storm up and maintain rapid rotation. This will be a very heavily studied tornado; CSWR was there with both DOW6 and DOW7 to collect dual-Doppler data and OU had RaXPol in the field. With any luck, I’ll be able to get this data in the coming months.

Here’s a link to a radar loop of it, showing most of the tornadic phase as well as the boundary it was riding.

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1 Comment

  1. Faiyaz Ahmed Chowdary

     /  May 26, 2016

    Great clicks Bruh !! Be safe !!


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