Chase Date: May 25, 2012
JR Hehnly, Matt Phelps
Miles Logged: 543
States Chased: KS
Tornadoes Witnessed: 5
Highest Wind Encountered: 50MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
I had been watching the 25th on models almost all week and knew it had quite a bit of potential, but capping concerns lead me to almost blow the day off as a non chase. Thank goodness I changed my mind at the last second and scored multiple tornadoes on a cyclic supercell near LaCrosse, KS.
As I said, I had mostly blown the chase off, but woke up Friday morning looking at the models and decided that it would be a chase day. I needed some help from Ashley to get our things together and the ducks in a line while I was at work. I left around lunch time and ran home to pick up Ashley and all of the stuff we’d need to chase and we were on the road by 1 pm.
I ended up heading towards Woodward and then north to Greensburg and then towards the storms that had fired south of Hays. As we approached from the south, we could see the storm still looked somewhat unorganized but as we continued east and north towards Russell things started to wrap up.
A well defined wall cloud and then even a funnel were quite evident on the south end of the storm before it all wrapped in dust (at least to our perspective). JR Hehnly saw a tornado but we were apparently on the other side of the dust from it.
We shot north and got to I-70 and took it east a number of miles past Russell before stopping about a mile north. We noticed Skip Talbots plane flying around the storm at this time, but it was largely unorganized.
JR ended up driving by and stopping, and we moved east and got some amazing mammatus photos. Again, 2012 delivers when it comes to mammatus.
We sat just east of the town of Bunker Hill for quite awhile and eventually made hotel reservations in Dodge City and captured the sunset. It was about sunset when other chasers started reporting a tornado south of Russell so we decided to head that way.
We missed those tornadoes but made it to the area of interest and lost interest pretty fast once tornado reports came in west of LaCrosse, KS. We figured we could make it, and we did, hauling down to that supercell and observing multiple tornadoes east of LaCrosse, KS including two at once when we first got to the storm.
We headed north as the storm was slowly moving to the NE. More tornadoes were observed before JR drove himself in a ditch. He was able to get out, but I didn’t get my camera out in time to capture Tornado #6.
That would be the last tornado for the night. We’d run into sloppier roads and the storm never produced after that. We drove by a lot of stuck people and I had to even drop into 4 low to get out of some subtle ditches I had slid into while driving.
Overall a great chase and great tornadoes, even if they were after dark.