Tuesday, July 16, 2013

05/19/13 Kansas Supercells & Mammatus

A spectacular mammatus display at sunset along I-70
outside Kansas City, MO 

On May 19th, I started the day in Junction City, KS after rooming the previous night at a hotel. This would end up being another chase day for myself, but the fact that I had to be at work the next day at 11:00am kind of put the kibosh on my chase target in Oklahoma. This day had all the makings of another legit tornado day however! My hands were kind of tied behind my back though since I had to choose the northern target so I could arrive home at a "decent" hour (3:00am) to make it back to work in Illinois. With that being said, conditions seemed to be coming together for another tornado day across Kansas and especially Oklahoma. I spent most of the afternoon meeting up with some fellow Illinois storm chasers and a few others as well in Yates Center, KS. It looked like storms would develop along I-35 near Wichita, KS and track northeast throughout the late-afternoon and evening. This area featured 3,000J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 50kts, and a very moist boundary-layer with dew points approaching 70°F. By mid-afternoon, supercells began to explode along the dryline with a relatively weak cap in place. A rather potent supercell developed near Wichita, KS and tracked northeast so I headed west along U.S. 54 toward El Dorado, KS to get a view. This supercell dropped a tornado before I could get a good view unfortunately. By the time I was in a good position the dryline rapidly unzipped to the south allowing storms to congeal rather quick into an outflow dominate line as they progressed northeast. This ended up being disappointing since the southern target was by far the better target with more discrete supercells across central Oklahoma. After realizing the day was not living up to my expectations in Kansas I decided to snap a few photos of the severe squall line as I progressed back north to I-70 to begin the long drive home. Boy, it was tough driving home knowing the great supercells I was missing in Oklahoma however and the prospects of another chase I was going to miss at work the next day. I can't say I was very disappointed in terms of photography though as I was greeted with one of the best back-lit mammatus displays I've seen outside Kansas City, MO once the sun began to set. It was indeed a good end to a mini vacation to the Great Plains! I've added photos from this chase day below:

Mammatus directly overhead that filled up my wide-angle lens!
(Canon 10-22mm wide-angle lens)
Brief rotation, but mostly outflow dominate severe convection
east of Wichita, KS
A couple of attempts, but struggling to produce due to outflow...
Looking southwest at outflow dominate convection!
A brief lowering, but that's all this severe storm could do...
The start of an amazing sunset!
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pull off I-70 to
snap some photos of the mammatus...
Quite a stunning view looking north!
Looking east at the stunning display in the sky!
Back-lit mammatus can create some amazing photography!
One more before I lose daylight and begin to head back
home to Illinois...

I ended up going to work the next day watching a tornado outbreak unfold on television at work. The Newcastle, OK tornado I watched on the Weather Channel and it was tough watching it on television and not being there. Unfortunately, you can't chase them all even though we may all want too! I'll update later with another post as I headed back out to the Great Plains on May 29th. Stay tuned for that.