May 22, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Fort Scott, KS
Salina, KS 10:27 AM 5/22/2019
Tulsa, OK 10:36 PM 5/22/2019
Katy, MO
0 mph
Wall Cloud, Cloud to Ground Lightning


Stationary front play on the se KS/sw MO/ne OK corner. Targeted Fort Scott, KS for late afternoon supercells with tornadoes. Intercepted tornado warned storm east of Fort Scott in Missouri, but missed several tornadoes on other nearby cells. Called chase at dusk noting close cloud to ground lightning strike on the way to Tulsa for the night.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung S9.




From my daily chasecast email:

"Day 1 Today: Several places you could setup I think. The lowest risk target is probably extreme southeast Kansas. Storms look to fire on and south of a stationary northeast to southwest boundary by midafternoon. Strong instability and shear profiles suggest supercells are possible, tornadoes sure. There are hints of open warm sector initiation further south in northeast Oklahoma, and west toward OKC. You could pick up a more isolated storm on the I-35 corridor north of OKC in the evening. The warm sector and Tail End Charlie targets might normally be nice secondary targets to get away from crowds, but given their proximity to OKC and Tulsa, I doubt this is going to be the case, so expect lots of chasers on them. Flooding is a problem in southeast KS and northeast OK so also keep that in mind. Do not drive into water. That should go without saying, but people do anything to see rotating water vapor.

The lapse rates and midlevel temps/height falls, and surface organization are rather meh today. We could have issues with sloppy/watery updrafts, and then it might once again be a bit of a crapshoot getting the cell when it tornadoes... in a similar fashion to Monday's high risk. Still worth playing though.

Our gameplan is to get well downstream, and hopefully move in from the east so we don't get left behind like we did yesterday. We chased beautiful little cold air cells near Great Bend, but missed the cyclic tornadic supercell that went up to the east over Junction city. Our initial target is Fort Scott, KS. Pretty kicking speed shear, so we expect these things to be moving, and we'll probably wait downstream for one of them to go supercellular at least before moving in for the intercept, rather than trying to stair step from initiation and risk getting cut off by flooding."
Brindley and I headed down to Fort Scott, KS from Salina and sat at a gas station awaiting initation with a few other chasers.

2 miles S of Fort Scott, KS
6:26 PM
By evening the event was well underway, but we waited patiently for our target to finally go. We had multiple updrafts firing near Fort Scott by early evening.
A robust cell close to us picked up a tornado warning and we chased it into western Missouri, the backlit rear flank gust front coming into view.

Mushy Wall Cloud
2 miles SSW of Katy, MO
7:45 PM
Between Nevada, MO and Fort Scott, KS, we turned north on the country roads and nosed in toward a rather weak, mushy, possibly undercut wall cloud. This is about where the storm peaked before it fell apart. Meanwhile several other cells to our south and in northeast Oklahoma were producing tornadoes.
A tornado emergency lit up on our screen for a large tornado heading toward Carthage, MO. I knew we were missing a big show now. We made a vain effort to try and get up to it, but it was already crossing highway 59 and darkness was setting in. Brindley was pretty much done with the chase at this point, so we called it started making for Tulsa for the night. Along the way, lightning on a trailing cell struck the powerlines a few hundred feet down the road from us. The next shots are are series of video frames grabs of the strike showing a transformer exploding, and the beaded break-up of the channel.
We stopped for gas off the turnpike in northeast Oklahoma. I was feeling pretty dejected after the chase having busted and missing big tornadoes. The last thing I wanted to see was a bunch of chasers. So I was totally dismayed to see the Dominator pull into the pump next to us along with its armada of follow vehicles. The gas station quickly turned into a three ring circus of chasers and people gawking and taking pictures. I tried to hide but was quickly spotted. I like Reed Timmer (and Gizmo). He's friendly and engaging. But I probably came off as pretty meh because I just wasn't in the mood after the long, busted chase.


This was a rather lackluster chase, and a hard bust having missed robust tornadoes in northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri. The number of cells that went up, and the mushy and watery storm mode made it fairly difficult to be on the right cell at the right time, however. The close lightning strike was a pretty spectacular video capture and the consolation prize for the chase.

Lessons Learned

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