May 25, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Elkhart, KS
Lubbock, TX 10:13 AM 5/25/2019
Garden City, KS 7:01 PM 5/25/2019
Johnson City, KS
0 mph
Funnel Cloud, Whale's Mouth


Target sw KS for afternoon supercells with tornado potential. Intercepted mature supercell near Johnson City noting dramatic whale's mouth. Observed funnel cloud on developing cells to the south before storms congealed.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Sony AX100, GoPro Hero 4.




From my morning storm chasing forecast email list:

"Day 1 Today: Some uncertainty on our end today on where to position, and we have yet to nail down an exact target. I think we're going to try North toward the OK Panhandle, extreme se CO, and sw KS. I like the 0-3km CAPE pool up there, and I like the stronger shear. Upper level flow is better established and the low level jet kicks in nicely just to the east by early evening. Looks like cyclogenesis off the Raton Mesa in se CO with a diffuse warm front extended off to the east across sw KS. This should make for backed surface winds and hopefully the directional shear for a tornado play, coupled with the LLJ kicking in. I'm little worried about the moisture quality up there, and storms riding on the edge of the surface based instability pool. So hopefully they aren't partially elevated hailers or something. NAM showing lots of storms moving east across sw KS by evening too, so hopefully there aren't too many storms interfering with each other at this end of the target.

HRRR also likes vicinity south of Amarillo. Looks like a surge in the dryline west northwest of Lubbock is forecast to kick off a few storms down there. This might be the safer play for a big supercell show. Tornadoes easily still possible with the dryline storms through the Texas Panhandle too. I see ample 0-3km CAPE down there, some gusty southeast winds in the warm sector. A good day to spread chasers out maybe.

Secondary crapshoot targets down the warm front: maybe southeast Iowa and eastern Kansas where the low level instability is pooling."
Brindley and I had been on the Great Plains for a week at this point with one good tornado day and a bunch of busts. We opted for chasing the se CO/sw KS border on this day. After a long drive north out of the Texas Panhandle, we initially tried to take a sandy unpaved road for many miles west toward developing storms, but the road was wet and we feared it might degrade the further we went. Not wanting to slide into the ditch before we even saw a storm, we turned around. We bumped into Jolyane Limoges and Matt Granz at the turn around before we headed north to get in front of mature storms. A classic looking supercell came into view as we headed southwest down highway 160 out of Manter, KS toward the Colorado border. It looked whale's mouthy, but there was also still an inflow based, wall cloud like lowering so we were hopeful for our chances.

High Contrast Whale's Mouth
8 miles SW of Manter, KS
4:52 PM
The storm was blasted with outflow and the whale's mouth bowed out while the lowering dissipated. That killed our immediate chances for a tornado, but the lighting and structure were dramatic in appearance so we stayed to shoot time lapse. There wasn't yet much to chase in the area anyway.

Funnel Cloud
2 miles ENE of Johnson City, KS
5:31 PM
We tracked east through Johnson City with the storm as it continued to dissipate. New cells erupted along an east to west boundary to our south, probably an outflow boundary from initial activity. A funnel cloud formed beneath the backlit base of one of the cells and we pointed south to shoot it from several miles to the north. We couldn't confirm a tornado from our position, and it looked like the parent cell was still maturing.
The cells tracked northeast across the highway and we let them pass by holding short of the back rim of the apparent mesocyclone. There was substantial rising motion and additional brief funnel clouds, so we didn't want to drive into the back of something rain wrapped. Several other groups of chasers went for the hook slice, however. This commercial tour group was just three days away from being rolled by a rain wrapped tornado.

Old Chicago
2 miles ENE of Garden City, KS
8:04 PM
Cells congealed and dissipated so we called the chase and continued on into Garden City, KS for dinner and a room. A large chaser convergence ensued at the Old Chicago.

Chaser Convergence
2 miles ENE of Garden City, KS
8:08 PM
Reunion with old friends: Nick Nolte, Jennifer Brindley Ubl, David Mayhew, and Tony Laubach

Chaser Convergence
2 miles ENE of Garden City, KS
8:59 PM
Daniel Shaw and Max Olson

Subaru Convergence
2 miles ENE of Garden City, KS
9:56 PM
Nick Nolte presiding over a convergence of Subaru chase vehicles.


This was a noteworthy chase for us with some dramatic structure and an elusive funnel cloud catch. It was great hanging out with old friends after the chase as well.

Lessons Learned

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