Darin, his mother (who has wanted to go for awhile now) Jordan, Doug M., and I busted till sundown in the southern target on Thursday. We headed north for the lone supercell that was near Hoxie, KS and intercepted it about 5 miles south of Stockton, KS around 10:30 p.m. About 10 miles further to the south, we observed incredible structure, with similarities between it and the June 2, 2005 Limon, CO supercell. The beaver tail on it stretched for miles feeding into a ghostly, beefy updraft with beautiful striations extending upward. We were trying to find a place to park and low-level stratus closed in and we didn't want to move back south in case the storm produced.
I was on the phone with Reed Timmer, and he jokingly suggested that we sample the softballs being reported in Stockton, which I was half-tempted to do (I love gigantic hail!). Instead, we maneuvered around the 20-vehicle entourage including the DOW's to position ourselves to measure the outflow on the approaching laminar, outflow-ish looking shelf cloud approaching from the west/southwest. NWS in Hastings dropped the tornado warning and our radar stopped updating on the slow connection we were on. It finally updated as we connected to spotter network and we happened to notice a small area of rotation that would reach us in the next few minutes. I quickly flipped around to get south as strong outflow was beginning to hit us. We maneuvered around a few vehicles with the DOW and noticed several pods staked in the ground spaced a few hundred yards apart as I started to pull off the next dirt road. Doug, in the vehicle behind us kept yelling and at first couldn't understand what he was saying, but quickly realized he was yelling, "FUNNEL!!" I look up and to our immediate west and there is, what seems to be, a weak, rotating funnel cloud. I quickly mash it to the next dirt road and film this.
We could visually see the rotation on it, but the funnel on the western edge of this "feature" didn't seem to be attached to the base...but closer observation showed the updraft tilted at nearly 45 degrees, which still leaves me guessing what it was.
On the Discovery channel's blog, they write this:
Of course, the ultimate question is, did a tornado cross the road? Josh, who focused on the radar scans, hampered by a somewhat dysfunctional antenna, says the peak rotations don't indicate a tornado. Justin and Danny think they spotted a tornadic funnel in a flash of lightning. I caught my breath when I saw a sky-to-earth cloud that looked temptingly like a tornado roping out. But I'm just a beginner. A spotter reported a tornado at our exact location with a time that correlates with our deployment. And that same storm went on to damage a house further to the east that night. So the verdict is still out. Justin hopes the pod data will give some credence to those of us who think we intercepted a tornado.
Here are a few video captures (click to enlarge):
Shortly after, a "storm chaser" reported weak, brief tornadoes right where we were. Either way, it was fun to watch as we repositioned to the east after this and took several structure pictures (which I'll add soon) of a gigantic flanking line, similar to what Mike Peregrine saw on 4/15/06 in NW MO. We let it go (due to bad roads) and probably should have kept going as it produced an EF-2 north of Beloit, KS. We were about 15 miles behind it when it was on its 15 mile journey to the northeast. From what we could tell, there was no tornado warning on it, and were commenting on how the couplet was incredible and were wondering why there wasn't. Our radar was in and out, so there might have been.
We got about 10 minutes of a glimpse of a "merry-go-round" wall cloud which was responsible for the tornado, and some attempts at tornadogenesis with a few cone funnels, but the rotation would wrap back in rain, and we could never get ahead of the storm to get a good view.
This weekend, we'll be making the trip back to Greensburg for the festivities as well as selling more Storms of 2007 DVD's in hopes of raising money for Greensurg Greentown.
It doesn't look like a chase day for anyone, so those relatively close to the area should show up. CBS's, "The Early Show" has been broadcasting there since Monday and will till Friday. Reed was just on there about 2 hours ago and did an interview for them. Hats off to CBS for not "forgetting" and to create international awareness of the green initiative that will be part of this world's future.
PBS documentary will air this Sunday as well, but only in Kansas. We will probably attend the premiere at 5 p.m. that day in Wichita.
I've been working on our Greensburg video, which Reed has posted on the Storm Chaser show's blog, and two more should be up soon.
Edit: I forgot, StormTube.Org is up, no legalities, better quality, non-compressed and bigger players are offered to storm chasers. What a great site!