Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: June 19, 2011
Miles Logged: 1293
States Chased: KS, CO, NE
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

Much as the previous chase on June 11, J.R. and I decided at about 1 pm on a Saturday to chase the following day in Colorado. I had approval to take a half day on Monday morning, and so did J.R. and Colorado was again looking like the hot spot.

An hour or two later we were on the road to Colby, KS where we had made hotel reservations again at the Hampton Inn(Very nice Hampton, BTW!).

As we drove up I-35, we drove past towering cumulus which blew up further into thunderstorms south of Wichita as we got into Wichita. We kept looking in our rear view mirrors asking ourselves why we were continuing to drive north instead of turning around and chasing.

We kept going north, but that storm did go on to produce a nice funnel and possibly a brief tornado northwest of Tulsa.

We continued north to I-70 then west, running into storms and a nice shelf cloud as we got to Wakeeney, KS. The backside produced some amazing rainbows, and we stopped a few times to try and capture that.

Eventually we got into Colby, and we first went in search of food. We first went to Montana Mikes which closed at 10. It was 9:45 so we decided to not walk in last minute. We drove around to survey the town, then decided on the Mexican restaurant in the Comfort Inn. We figured they’d be open later, being in a hotel at all. Nope. Their closing time was 10 as well, but at 9:55 they gladly welcomed us in with open arms and made us a very good meal. We tipped well, and I would highly suggest anyone reading make a visit to that restaurant in Colby.

We woke up Sunday morning and looked over data. Did we want to play further west into Colorado or stay where we were or drift ever so slightly north? We eventually got suckered a little further west, then way west towards the storms going up south of Kimball, NE.

We drove by dozens of nuclear missile silos, a topic JR seemed to know a lot about. We eventually got into the storm, which had a nice shelf, but was definitely outflow dominant. We followed this storm all the way to Sidney, NE, hoping multiple times as it cycled that the next cycle would be the one that got it done. That wasn’t to be, and we eventually gave up, dropping south into Colorado again for another supercell.

Again, it appeared the storm was getting its act together, but it was just an act. We followed another shelf looking feature for way too many miles, being baited again by tornado warnings. Meanwhile, storms had started going up south of North Platte and north of Goodland, which is where we had originaly targeted. We decided eventually to bail on the crap we were chasing, and head south to those storms. We knew it was a long shot, but tornado reports started coming out of that storm.

We had since seen the day 2, and looked a bit at the models for Monday, and decided we’d like to chase if possible. I tried getting ahold of my boss, but was unable to.

We eventually caught up with the storm near McCook, but missed out on all of the tornadic activity. Nightfall was coming soon, and our time to chase was limited.

As night fell, we decided to break off the chase. As we were about to make a crucial head home or chase the next day decision, I finally heard back from my boss, and got the go ahead to chase Monday, but only if I was at work by normal time in Norman on Tuesday morning. Not a problem, we could drive all night and get back in time.

We booked the Hampton Inn in York, NE and started our journey up there. I was navigating, and misjudged the powerfulness of the storm, along with the position and intensity, and put us into some very tense moments in the car. We went up US-283 with the intentions of going east at US6 in Arapahoe. It looked like, to me, that we could skirt by the southern end of the storm and be alright. Boy was I wrong.

As we got to Arapahoe, it appeared we were doing ok, and might get some winds and rain, but still be ok. All of a sudden, we got into very strong inflow winds and then hail. J.R. was probably cussing me out at that moment, but kept driving like a champion until we reached outflow winds. Eventually we pulled away from the storm and made our way towards Holdrege and then onto Kearney where we met up with Scott Bennett and Jesse Risley so I could pick up my Canon EOS 60D which I’d use the next day to take amazing pictures of a tornado.

We had supper at the Old Chicago in Kearney then headed east to York where we ended the night.