2007 February 24
Copyright 2007 Eric Nguyen
 
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Chase Area:  Central Kansas
Scott Blair, Scott Currens, and myself targeted southeast of Salina, Kansas, for the possibility of low-topped tornadic supercells.  At 1200 UTC the 500mb low was located in extreme northeast New Mexico moving eastward.  1200 UTC DDC sounding showed impressive lapse rates which were dry adiabatic from just above the surface to 500mb, with 500mb DDC temperature of -25C.   The surface low was located southwest of Hays, Kansas, and was forecasted to move slowly eastward during the day.  With time the pocket of midlevel cold air (~ -22C) was overspreading the warm sector, which typically yields extreme mid and low level lapse rates, which is needed for intense convection.    Instead, mobile surface observations averaged ~55F/52F in the vicinity of these storms.  The morning watervapor showed a modest dryslot working its way into southern Kansas with a line of storms exiting central Kansas.  This appeared to be a classic "cold core" scenario unfolding.  The only problem was the midlevel dryslot wasn't strong and/or large enough to clear out the narrowing warm sector.  Visible satellite during the day showed a line of cumulus developing on the dryline from Wichita to Salina, Kansas.   Only a thin area east of the cumulous line cleared out and I don't think it was enough for strong low-level lapse rates.

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The Dryline Arc
As we drove south out of Salina, Kansas, and then east out of Lindsborg, we stopped to photograph the deeper moisture and arc of clouds that developed on the dryline to our north and west.  First image is looking northwest as the dryline arcs back to the surface low just south of Russell, Kansas.  We could see intense convection occurring southwest of Russell and Scott Currens and I figured if it wasn't tornadoing, it would shortly, giving the cold core setup.  Second image shows convection developing to our east with pretty decent clearing occurring.  With time though, they moved off the dryline and into a more cooler and cloudy environment.

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Supercell North of Marion, Kansas
We finally got a decent low-topped supercell with a rotating base.  A wallcloud and funnel rapidly developed, with the funnel lasting just under seven minutes.  With time, however, the base became more elongated and the updraft weakened.  I was so sure that it would produce a tornado, I never took any stills while I got close to it with a cone shaped funnel.  Storms throughout the day had similar results, we would observe a nice low-topped rotating supercell with funnels embedded in a wallcloud, and the storm would quickly fall apart.   View of these images is looking west as the storm was moving slowly northwestward.   When we reached I-70, we got a visible satellite loop and saw a tiny cloud free warm sector north of Salina, Kansas.  We drove west back towards the surface low and observed other rotating storms with one having a large funnel, but these all quickly dissipated as they moved west.  Images looking west at the Marion, Kansas, supercell.

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Muddy Mess
As I was driving through the small town of Ramona, Kansas, I took a wrong turn onto a road that was instantly black muddy clay.   The SUV in front of me and myself had four-wheel-drive, else we wouldn't have made it.  Even with four-wheel-drive, we barely made it through that road, since we were going up hill, and the strong south winds were pushing our vehicles into the ditch, which was filled with muddy water.  I would never intentional take a road like that, even with 4x4.  The vehicle a mile behind me didn't make it.  While driving north on Hwy 77, I stopped to view a storm to my south, and saw this poor vehicle stranded about 15-20 meters down the road from the main paved highway.  There was no way anyone but a tractor was going to get them out.  Most of the rural roads had plenty of gravel, but some isolated black clay roads were observed.

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Copyright 2007 Eric Nguyen
 
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