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. Capping concerns lead me to almost blow the day off as a non chase. Thank goodness I changed my mind at the last second. I’d score multiple tornadoes on a cyclic supercell near LaCrosse, KS that night.
Change of heart
As I said, I had mostly blown the chase off. I gave it a last look on Friday morning. Looking over the models in the morning convinced me I needed to chase. Ashley was staying with me, so I requested her help to pack bags 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 north by 1 pm.
I ended up heading towards Woodward and then north to Greensburg. We stopped for gas and bathroom break in Greensburg. We headed up and got on 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 escalate.
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.
East towards Russell
We shot north to I-70, then took it east. After we drove a number of miles past Russell, we got off at an exit and went about a mile north. Skip Talbot’s plane flying around the storm at this time. The storm remained mostly unorganized.
JR ended up driving by and stopping, and we chatted and moved east. We managed to get 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.
Missed the first tornado, but made it to the area of interest and lost interest pretty fast. Tornado reports were once again coming in, this time just to the southwest near LaCrosse, Kansas. We figured we could make it as we were only 20 minutes away. We headed down to that supercell, observing multiple tornadoes east of LaCrosse, KS. There was even two on the ground at one point.
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.
Tornado time is over
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.
Overall a great chase and great tornadoes, even if they were after dark.