June 9, 2010


Initial Target: Kimball, NE
Departure: Troy, KS 7:00 am CDT
Arrival: Scottsbluff, NE 1:00 am CDT
Intercepts: Scottsbluff, NE
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Updraft Tower
Miles: 842


Upslope flow play across eastern WY and central CO. Targeted Pine Bluffs area between better instability to the south and better midlevel flow to the north. Storms initiated north position in stabile air and well south into Colorado where shear was lacking. Initially went after Colorado storms but double backed after storms initiating right by original target. Intercepted supercell as it was dieing near Scottsbluff, NE, before stopping for dinner with Jesse Risley and crew.

Crew and Equipment:

Solo chase.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Kyocera data card and router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V.




The next several days looked like they would have some good upslope play across the high plains of Wyoming, Colorado, and the panhandles. On Friday I targeted the southeast corner of Wyoming where the instability further south would best overlap with the midlevel flow further north. Chances for tornadoes looked isolated, but that's what I was after, a discrete supercell in the high plains that would put down a tornado or two and would otherwise be unnoticed except by storm chasers.

I had spent the night in the van in eastern Kansas after a bust chase in western Illinois the day before. I awoke early to catch a gorgeous sunrise.

The colors in this sunrise were exquisite, and the fields were filled with mist. A beautiful way to start the day.
I traveled all the way across the northern portion of Kansas hitting several areas of construction and then getting a speeding ticket as I crossed into Nebraska where the speed limit dropped by 5 and I didn't bother to reset my cruise control. I made it to my target and stopped in Pine Bluffs, WY with plenty of time to spare. Storms started to go up to my north but I ignored them as they were moving into stable air. Finally, I went after new development coming off the front range in Colorado and west to Cheyenne before heading south into Colorado on I-25. Those cells remained linear while new development sprung up not far from my original target. I spent the next hour racing back north, drawing out a giant loop on the map and hoping I wouldn't miss the one tornado of the day.

I had a good view of the supercell as it crossed into Nebraska with a big back sheared anvil, some mammatus, and a solid updraft tower. I finally caught up with the storm near Scotts Bluff, NE after making a quick pit stop in Pine bluffs, WY. There wasn't much left of the storm by that time, just a good lightning show. I caught up with Jesse Risley, Steve Polley, and a few other chasers and we stopped at a Mexican place for dinner in Scottsbluff, NE. I picked a spot on a gravel road north of town to spend the night. The line of storms had created a fast moving torrents on either side of the road that I can hear quite clearly inside the van. Some of the water was flowing across the road in spots as well and I hoped it wouldn't wash me away in the middle of the night. Luckily, it didn't.



I could have done this day better. I should have stuck to my target, and I could have been watching my speed better as I crossed into Nebraska. I had gotten out of a ticket earlier this year in Nebraska, but not this time. The chase was technically a bust as I didn't manage to catch much supercell structure except from quite a distance. All in all it wasn't a bad day though. I saw some pretty sights and I didn't wind up missing a big tornado show as the only reports for the day were way out east in TN and KY.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Don't second guess your target.