Chase Date: May 12, 2011
Miles Logged: 729
States Chased: MO, KS, NE
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Originally we had planned on not chasing this day, but due to picking up Jesse Risley due to car problems, we found ourselves in St. Joseph, MO. Arriving at 4 am the night before meant we were getting up and motivated around noon.
I took Jari to the Rib Crib, which was pretty good, then we headed up I-29 towards our original target, which was Nebraska City. It was there we were going to sit in the afternoon.
Echo tops radar product from the Topeka and Omaha radar got my attention, and we found ourselves getting off in Rock Port, MO. A quick tank topping and we were headed west towards Beatrice.
The storms along I-80 near Grand Island had gone tornado warned, but we knew there was no way we’d catch them.
We headed up US77 towards Lincoln, and a lone storm started to go up near York, and then plenty more including some building towers to our south.
I decided to head west on I-80 from US-77. We stopped near Milford for a few minutes to watch the towers building to our south. A TV Met mentioned reports of funnel clouds near Aurora in NWSChat, so we decided to head west on I-80 towards York.
Jari first sighted the funnel cloud just after we passed York, so we pulled off at Exit 348 to watch from the bridge. I dropped a SN icon, then asked him if he wanted to get closer. Of course Jari said yes, so I got back into I-80 west.
After about a mile of travelling, it started to create a ground circulation and a translucent tube most of the way up. It was actually a tornado!
We raced west towards it, as the next exit was 6 miles to our west. By the time we reached it, the tornado had dissipated. At least this week wasn’t a complete waste, as Jari had seen his first tornado. Nothing spectacular, but it was a good needle in a haystack catch. It was a cold-core landspout type tornado.
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to get lightning pictures and avoiding hail in the rental car. After avoiding hail all week, a rock flew up and hit the windshield, starting a huge crack immediately. Figures.
Jari ended up getting a great lightning shot about 20 miles south of York, and eventually we decided to meet back up with Adam, Phil and Jon for celebratory steak dinners.
It was a long haul back to Norman, leaving York around 1030 pm and arriving in Norman about 5 am after taking a short nap at a rest area.