An active tornado outbreak occurs in Kansas on May 22 - May 23. Quinter, Ness City and Ellis have close calls from tornadoes.
Tornado travels near Quinter, Kansas
Today our target was Dighton, Kansas. Our objective was to be at the location where storms would initiate. We wanted to see how fast storms would mature into supercells with incredible wind shear and instability at the onset of initiation. Catching storms is one thing, but understanding them is another and that's what I love about storms, understanding their behavior in certain meteorological conditions. An outflow boundary laid across I-70 with cool cloudy conditions north and warm humid sunshine to the south. This would help enhance the Quinter wedge, but more on that later. We headed south on highway 183 and thought about stopping at Greensburg, Kansas to see how the town was recovering from last year's EF5 tornado devastation but decided to travel west on highway 156 through the towns of Jetmore and Kalvesta, Kansas. The dryline appeared to become active as cumulus clouds rose up and and leaned to the right which is a signal that strong wind shear was present in the atmosphere. We pulled over at a rest stop in Kalvesta to use the bathroom and looked at the weather data. At this time the SPC issued yet another PDS Tornado Watch for the 2nd consecutive day in a row.
We headed north on highway 23 towards Dighton, Kansas. and watched a towering cumulus cloud that had initiation written all over it. We stopped to gas up, and watched the towering cumulus cloud blossom into a storm along with new storms to its south. We headed east on highway 96 to get a good view of its base to look for any signs of rotation but the storm was still maturing. Once again I was glad to see we picked a great place and our forecast was on target. We ran into the same dilemma as yesterday, bad road networks. As the storm headed north, we decided to head east toward Ness City, Kansas and take highway 283 north to WaKeeney and get back on I-70 to shoot west towards the storm. This took about a good hour of our time and we missed the storm evolution.
Quinter, Kansas Supercell
This storm had a tornado warning with it for a while with reports of a large tornado to the south of Quinter, Kansas. I checked the radar on my iPhone and the hook echo was just to our west. This storm was unusual as we approached because it was hard to determine where the mesocyclone was located. The rain free base was large and the overall cloud base was low to the ground. We decided to drive further toward the supercell on I-70 about one mile east from Quinter, Kansas (mile marker 108) and noticed some scud rising rapidly into the base. We pulled over and spotted the tornadic circulation south of I-70 moving over the interstate. The clear slot | RFD was present as it moved north. The storm eventually did produce a massive wedge tornado to the north of Quinter but nothing was in the path thankfully. The storm moved so fast we headed back to WaKeeney, Kansas to regroup.
Quinter, Kansas EF4 Tornado
We were sitting idle at a hotel in WaKeeney to capture weather data via a WIFI connection. A couple of storm chasers were talking about a new storm with a reported large tornado on the ground moving towards Quinter, Kansas again. This was the second time in less than 2 hours that Quinter was in the path of another damaging tornado. We headed due west on I-70 to chase and noticed a considerable cloud to cloud lightning. We exited to Collyer, Kansas thinking the tornado would be in clear sight. The poor visibility was enough to overcome the excellent land terrain of viewing storms in the distance. The tornado was only 10 miles to our west and we were unable to view it which was very disappointing. This tornado ended up being an EF4, crossed I-70 but thankfully missing Quinter. We headed back to WaKeeney, Kansas to see if we had a shot of intercepting any more storms for the day.
Ness City | Ellis, Kansas Supercell
There was one more supercell storm that was south of us near Ness City, Kansas. Without hesitation we took the exit that brought us into Ellis, Kansas and continued south on a dirt road and ended up on highway 4. There was a report of a tornado northeast of Ness City. As we became closer to the storm the forward flank of precipitation and an interesting cloud feature that looked like a wall cloud with debris of some sort obscured the cloud feature to our west. Southwest of this storm, was another smaller supercell with a visible wall cloud with a small beaver tail attached to it. The storm to our northwest moved on through with a tornado that was rain wrapped but was hard to see, but able to capture it via film. Steve and I decided to chase this storm towards Ellis, Kansas. Night was approaching and I figured it was time to leave the storm and have it pass to our north. Steve kept driving north and I noticed the southern storm trailing the one we were on watching earlier which was going to ram us with its precipitation, eventual mesocyclone and rear flank downdraft.
Finally we drove back south and noticed a small unorganized wall cloud behind the precipitation on the southern storm. It was a good thing we drove south and I wasn't in the mood to chase at night with reports of large tornadoes around the area. We headed back to Hays, Kansas to the hotel and walked over to Applebee's but unlike the night before this place tonight was FILLED with storm chasers. We called it a night and walked back to the hotel and planned to leave and head home for Wisconsin in the morning.
Make sure to browse the chase logs section for additional Storm Chasing Fever Chasing Adventures.