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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Things You'll Do to Wait for the Cap to Break!

Here are some more pics from 5/22.

This is Darin, INTENTIONALLY jumping into my shot.

Just south of Jetmore, KS.

Notice the horse's leg, I think they had a thing for each other!

Left, Darin, middle, Jordan Wrecke, right, Todd Beal NWS Amarillo.

Looking straight up north of 10 mm! OMFG.

This was east of Hays, KS at 10:22 p.m. off of I 70 and Toulon Road. (Darin shot this actually)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

5/22/07 NW KS Chase!

I've edited this post on 12/8/2008 due to the recent high number of hits from an unknown email source...with copyrighted/watermarked images.

Darin Brunin, Jordan Wrecke, Todd Beal and I witnessed the best structure I have ever seen! We trailed a Cu field near Amy, KS to Healy, KS where it began to tower. For the next several hours (more like 5), we watched it mature into a supercell, then die out to the one further south, which would produce the brief, perfectly-contrasted tornado!

No returns on radar and it already had an anvil!

We're alone on this storm at this point.........but not for long. Thing is really high-based, but I don't care. Structure is just as good as a tornado.


Darin took these screen caps showing our position.........then the bees swarmed the lone cell!

It's now moving N/NE and the meso on it now is just breathtaking. Notice the new supercell forming to it's s/sw. It would eventually die off.

May 22nd, 2007 "Dualing Supercells"

A few minutes later....


After watching it pull in scud as it crossed I-70 (and someone calling in the funnel that wasn't attached to the base!), we sat NE of Colyier (sp?) and filmed it some more, as a wall cloud was now forming. Andrew Pritchard and Mark Sefried pull up, and we chat for a bit, before they leave and head north. Mike Hollingshead pulls up about 1/4 mile back south down the road. We had just talked about how this was a "Hollingshead" type of storm. We leave, and go north, with known chasers pulling out in front of me (jackasses) not once, not twice, but on THREE different occasions. What are the odds? Not only that, but their convoy didn't chance it, and rode my ass while they did 10 mph on a dirt road hanging their heads out of the sunroof!

So I pass them, when they hit the brakes for the 10th time, and now a funnel cloud is starting to come down. It came very close, but I don't think that it ever touched. We followed it up the road a few miles, before the new supercell to the south's FF killed our meso, so we went back south, getting hailed on pretty good as we did. A beautiful mothership is now in view, and very, very close to us. I am looking straight up, and can see this monster rotating. The vault is just to our w/nw, so we snap a few pics and head back east.

This is why I wake up every day:



I couldn't even fit it all in at 10 mm! We should have moved back east, but there was nowhere to park really (We were on dirt roads 90 percent of the day). Darin got a call from the NWS at this point, and we told them no signs of a tornado yet, but it was definitely rotating!


So we move back east, then north, and we can't beat the precip so we head back south, then east. It's now filling in pretty well, and we lose the area of interest for a bit, then get a glimpse of it before it gets wrapped again. So we decide to get way east, as that would be the only view. We can see a rapidly rotating wall cloud, so I pull over and it tries to do it......

But it doesn't. So we jump in and head east again (man these roads were perfect with no mud, and good traction.) as it starts to funnel more. I'm being extremely cautious with driving, as I know the chaser police lurks out there. We reported it on Spotter network as a funnel 3/4 down. It then touched for a couple of minutes, about 2-3 miles to our north, before roping out.

Here's a quick video clip (That's Darin talking in the beginning, giving me a quick lesson in driving. I say "Oh no!" at the end, because a firefighter was blocking the road!)

We finally hit a highway, which was jam-packed full of chasers. We see a new meso, and it's pulling in scud pretty hard. Everyone in front of me is now pulling over to the side, because it starts to rotate pretty hard now. We get about 1/8 mile to the west of it, as a little funnel comes and goes. We've lost it now, because we couldn't park anywhere, and kept heading north. Punched through the core as we are now east out of Hill City. A plethora of idiots are now passing me (I'm doing 70 in a 65), while core-punching in zero visibility. We get to a new tornado warned storm, but it looks OFD and cold, so we ditch it and head back towards Hays to get gas. It's now night time and a cell to our west went tornado warned. We take pics and video it for a good 30 minutes, watching the incredible lightning show. Then head east and film it some more. It's now a gigantic shelf, with some GREAT structure. We're pretty tired, so we headed back to Lawrence. Almost the perfect chase day!

More pics and video coming soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

5/21/07 Chase

Darin, Jordan, Todd Beal and I intercepted a nicely sculptured storm near Meade. Met Mike Umscheid also. Preparing for today, but it doesn't look as good as it did. We'll find the triple point in the morning and hope there will be a short window for tornadoes. I'm not feeling too good about it. Currently in Dodge City, this town has absolutely no hotel rooms.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Google Map of Greensburg Event

is a google map with the best that I can remember of where we saw tornadoes and damage. I left my laptop on and the battery died with the GPS info.

Some new pics and Semi-Chase Accounts for 5/4 and 5/5/07

Large tornado near Macksville/ St. John, KS on 5/5/07 approximately 1/4 mile away. RFD is hitting us hard here, I've never seen such strong RFD besides Greensburg the night before. When it would pulsate, little swirls in the grass/ground were visible.

This one was when we turned around after the RFD obstructed our view and was approximately 150-200 yards away. We got up pretty close to looks little, but the motion on it looked pretty strong.

The rope would essentially rope out, but the meso kept rotating HARD and would put this cone down with multiple vortices dancing around it. It came very close to hitting a farm, thank God it didn't. It would dance around on a merry-go-round forever.

It became rain-wrapped and we would have to go back south then east, then back north to reposition. (Evidently it never stopped, because there was a wedge on the ground when we got north of St. John's, actually 2 old meso and a new one) The next 20 minutes were very chaotic as I missed my turn east to dodge the closest wedge. We were sort of trailing it to our west about 1/4 - 1/2 mile, when visibility went to absolute shit, and I lost it. Inflow started to really suck in from the east, and I had no idea of where the tornado was, none of us did. We made a very quick decision to punch into the core, from the hook north, and risked losing a windshield. We made it to Great Bend on no gas....and the convenience store clerks refused to turn the pumps on for me, so I argued with them and finally grabbed a friends check card with 1 inch hail hitting me hard while I pumped. We floored it out of Great Bend, to Hoisington, and decided we had seen enough strong-violent tornadoes up close for the weekend.

This one is a video capture of the "Greensburg" supercell near Sitka, KS on 5/4/07. Wish I could have fit the whole storm into one was truly amazing, the inflow tail that fed into it stretched for miles and miles.

Darin has a picture of the very first brief cone tornado on his blog which you can click on my links over on the right. Andy Fischer has a pic of the second tornado, a classic Kansas tornado, really, really thin truncated rope.(Is there such a thing lol?)

Here is the third tornado which started out as a large cone, and grew into an O'Neill Nebraska type stovepipe. I was drooling. O'Neill is probably my favorite tornado of all time, by looks, and this was it! Only light was fading away, and Derek stopped filming it before it grew into a monster. We were more concerned with the developing tornado right in front of us.
So, no pics of the stovepipe, just of the large truncated cone:

Here is the left-split (or so I am told) of the original 3 amigos that formed near the OK/KS border. As you can see, I had the Sigma 10-20 and wasn't close enough to shoot what I was seeing, but it was beautiful! My first stacked plates ever! I'm a structure freak, what can I say. I know Darin has better photos, if he'll ever put them up.

The rest are the best screen caps I could get of the Greensburg tornado family.
"the stovepipe" before the wedge.

Not sure what it's doing may have gotten smaller? at one point, it didn't look as wide....probably multiple vortices also near it there (camera is oof).

The transition to the above pic and this was about 2-3 minutes....

I'll post more as I get time......

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'm done

I am done doing interviews, telling my story, talking about this. The guilt is getting to me today. For Christ's sake, there were people in those houses. I should have looked in more houses. I wish I would have busted. This is horrible, I can't live with myself. Any media, or anyone that wishes to know any more can ask Derek Shaffer or Darin Brunin. It stops.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Darin will be on Nightline on ABC tonight. The first two are of the tornado-warned storm west of Pratt. The last was somewhere in Stafford county.


A few pictures and videos. More updates coming as we have time, so check back here or Darin's site at

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I guess I'll just start at the beginning. I called my old buddy from high school who I haven't chased with since last year, and before that Mulvane, and told him this weekend would be the mother of all outbreaks. Derek Shaffer and I met up after I took off of work early at noon on Friday and we picked up Darin in Ottawa. We headed to St. John's, KS and chatted with some chasers from England for awhile. There were two options....go north or south. After MUCH debate, we headed south. We got into Coldwater and headed south, thinking we could catch that Woodward, OK storm. We didn't have much time, and there were three storms fighting for dominance, and we watched a BEAUTIFUL LP (northern storm) which was stacking some plates, until it raced away. The southern storm eventually got its act together and went tornado-warned. We were in Coldwater and flew west where the biggest inflow band I have ever seen fed into a monster wall cloud near Sitka. We drove right up to it and watched the first tornado of the day come down, then go back up. It eventually came back down and had a skinny rope. Another tornado formed and it quickly turned into a stovepipe, it had to be on the ground for at least 15 minutes. We raced north out of protection, dodging IDIOTS blocking the road, filming the stovepipe and watching a new meso form above our heads. A funnel appeared on the road DIRECTLY in front of us, and went back up. A few minutes later it came back down and looked like a thin cone, and within SECONDS turned into a large stovepipe. We were now alone on this muddy road a few hundred yards away from a very large tornado. We watched it hit a farm, I suppose, as powerflashes illuminated the violent rotation. The road we were now on, was mud, and Randy Hicks FLEW by us, fishtailing his way to the wedge. After about 15 miles of white-knuckle driving on this muddy lonely road, we made it back to 183 and got closer to the wedge. I couldn't tell you how many FUCKING RETARDS there were stopped in the middle of the highway. Pull. Over. To. The. Side. We were about 8 miles south of Greensburg where we witnessed the first of the damage. Major damage. We kept driving north where we saw someone in the road waving his hands for help. We stopped and asked him if he needed help, and he said yes, and I told him to get in because gas was leaking very near the hot power lines. We went north and the guy was prety emotional and wanted us to drive him to his brother's house that was back south.

Chasers were now starting to jam the highway, because of damage, and I told him I wasn't driving back that way with those lines and the gas. But, a police officer went by his house and he wanted us to go get him, so we pulled back up in his driveway. We saw flashing lights, so I started flashing my lights for help. That's when Dan Robinson pulled up. We told him our situation as well as Fabian Guerra, and we all went zigzagging back across the power lines. We drove another mile up the road, witnessing some incredible damage, including houses leveled and giant trees stripped to their trunks. A power line was blocking the road, and the ditch was very deep, but I went ahead and gunned it, and BARELY made it back to the other side. This went on for another 2 miles, slowly going around power lines, making sure they weren't hot.

We finally came up to another major block with powerlines totally blocking the road. The only way to make it across was to have two people pull up the power lines and for me to drive underneath them to the other side. So Derek and Darin did, and we made it to this guy's familie's house and dropped him off after speaking with them for about 5 minutes. We ran into Sean Wilson and told him we had just heard Greensburg took a direct hit and that we should probably go help people, because they would need all the help they could get. We pulled up into Greensburg, and it seemed like a dream. People were waving at us walking in the middle of the highway asking us if we could give them a ride. We told them we could only give 3 at the most, but that we would come back for them if they wanted us to. So we took the old man, and two mexican guys into town and came upon a horrific site. Damage you have already seen pictures of. We started to ask people if they were okay. Everyone said they were, and I could't believe they were hardly injured with the damage we were seeing. After talking with Sean Wilson, we started to walk around just completely shocked. After about 30 minutes, emergency personnel started rolling in by the hundreds. They organized a search team, and we decided to walk around to check houses and see if anyone was alive. We started to walk a few blocks east then back south where there were no rescuers. We started yelling "Hello" to houses and looked in basements for people. I have never seen a dead body, and am terrified of the sight of blood, but we kept walking. People were now starting to walk down the blocks in groups and we asked everyone if they were okay. Twenty people who were hiding in a freezer in a convenient store came out. We walked and talk to many people, asking again if they were okay, and some would ask if we had seen so and so or their dogs.

We walked to the east side of town and spoke to MESO team who were taking photos, and helping people. Everyone was now meeting at the Dillon's for a body count to see who was there and who wasn't. We walked back to our cars, and somehow 3.5 hours had passed. I don't really remember a whole lot. We found Sean again and he told us about the elderly lady they found in a basement in a pile of rubble. She survived because she was in her basement bathroom in the bathtub. We then decided that enough rescuers were there and left. We couldn't find a hotel anywhere so we had to go back to Wichita, watching about 300 vehicles heading into Greensburg from everywhere. I'll post more tomorrow.....

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hopefully a big weekend

Darin Brunin, Derek Shaffer and I are departing Lawrence at 1 pm. Probably fly west on I-70 to Hays, KS and drop south from there. My target is Jetmore, Ks. Probably meet up with Lanny Dean and Randy Hicks. I'll post more on the road tomorrow. Check out our live webcam here

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Well since my laptop decided to mess up, I haven't had much time to post some recent pictures of our storm chasing trips. Looking forward to this weekend's action too. We'll be out there in Western Kansas somewhere.

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midwesternmeso AT hotmail (DOT) COM

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