2004 May 24
Copyright 2004 Eric Nguyen
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Area Chased:  KS/NE Border

Discussion:   We targeted the Nebraska / Kansas border in the path of an approaching triple point surface low that was in northwest Kansas at 1200 UTC. Instability was forecasted to be quite strong (CAPE ~4000+ J/Kg) and shear was more then favorable for supercells. The warm front would be our focus for tornado development as strong SREH values existed along this boundary as winds were due east just north of it.

We arrived in Beatrice, Nebraska (~ 50 miles east of Hebron, NE), and waited for storms to fire. A storm fired to our east, something we were hesitant to go after since it wasn't in our target area. SPC had a high risk out for that area, which made us nervous about our forecast. We even started to drive east and changed our minds several times. To make sure we wouldn't change our mind, we began to drive west to get closer to the surface low, where the dryline and warm front intersected. When we arrived in Fairbury, Nebraska (~20 miles from Hebron, NE), we saw the DOW's waiting for storms to fire as well. After maybe 30 minutes, a storm fired near Hebron, Nebraska, and it quickly began to rotate. We raced west and caught sight of our first tornado at 2050 UTC.

The first series of tornadoes were a combination of mesocyclone tornadoes and landspout tornadoes, with the landspouts forming to our immediate west, and the mesocyclone tornadoes to our east. While observing two different landspout tornadoes to our west, we had an intense increase in wind and airborne dust for about 20 seconds. This ended up being a weak tornado developing on top of us and slowly moving east. (see 040524-8). It eventually developed into a cone shaped tornado with a brown dirt debris cloud. Once the mesocyclone activity got going, the landspouts stopped forming. So we drove east on Hwy 8 to flank the storm. While driving east, we had one more landspout tornado develop to our west, we had our cone tornado to our east, and we could see another tornado to our northeast. So we had three tornadoes on the ground at the same time. When attempting to flank the storm, the cone tornado roped out and the debris cloud / rope began to drift south back towards us. The winds were gusting to 50mph so we opted to sit and wait for it to dissipate before we risked driving east again. The tornado roped out about 200 yards in front of us (see 040524-14). It was so close, I couldn't get the whole thing in one shot, so I tilted the camera in order to get the bottom part of the rope and the debris cloud. We figured if it got any closer we would flee back to the west, rather then flee into heavy rain and hail to our east. Once it became a needle thin rope, it began to be ingested into the larger tornado to the north, and the debris cloud remained, but slowly weakened (see 040524-15).

We flanked the storm west of Chester, Nebraska (~7 miles SW of Hebron, NE), and observed two more rope like tornadoes. We could hear sirens going off and some locals pulled up to watch the tornado with us. It was about a mile or two to our west moving east slowly, but it was weakening with time (see 040524-19).



040524-1b.jpg (21302 bytes)     040524-2b.jpg (23468 bytes)     First tornado to our west near Hebron, NE.

040524-3b.jpg (20251 bytes)     040524-4b.jpg (19240 bytes)     040524-5b.jpg (20170 bytes)     040524-6b.jpg (19593 bytes)     040524-7b.jpg (19821 bytes)     Two landspouts to our west while we observe mesocyclone tornadoes to our east.

040524-8b.jpg (20970 bytes)     040524-9b.jpg (19513 bytes)     040524-10b.jpg (20762 bytes)     New meso passes overhead with strong winds, newly developing tornado.

040524-11b.jpg (19552 bytes)     Another landspout to the west.

040524-12b.jpg (20037 bytes)     040524-13b.jpg (19763 bytes)     040524-14b.jpg (19664 bytes)     040524-15b.jpg (18880 bytes)     Tornado continues to our east then ropes out.


040524-16b.jpg (22422 bytes)     040524-17b.jpg (27576 bytes)     040524-18b.jpg (21156 bytes)     040524-19b.jpg (21148 bytes)     Later on closer to Belleville, KS, we observe another tornado up close.

040524-20b.jpg (21556 bytes)     040524-21b.jpg (21036 bytes)     Brief tornado or funnel.  We end the day near Cyclone Lane.

Copyright 2004 Eric Nguyen
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