June 27, 2014


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Colby, KS
Ogallala, NE 10:00 AM 6/27/2014
Wakeeney, KS 8:00 PM 6/27/2014
Winnona, KS
0 mph
Gustnadoes, Gust Front, Outflow Dust


Triple point play in northwest Kansas with high T/Td spreads and strong capping. Intercepted partially elevated, outflow dominant cells near Winnona noting gustnadoes and nearly severe straight lines with dust storm. Outflow dominant MCS formed so called it a chase and headed to Wakeeney for the night. Watched lightning and shelf from approaching MCS at hotel.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: COD Trip 5. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




June 27 looked like COD Trip 5 might actually get a more conventional supercell and tornado play in the Great Plains. It was now our eighth day out on the trip, and we had seen several gorgeous supercells but no tornadoes.
The day looked to feature a classic spring battern with a triple point in northwest Kansas, trailing dryline, and warm moist air with backed surface winds to the east. The pattern was a little unusual to be this far given how late it was in the season now, as the jet has usually migrated into the northern plains or Canada. Capping and dewpoint spreads were some concern as temps would soar into the 80's with dews in the 60's and a very elevated mixed layer was forecast to come in from the southwest. Still the 700 mb temps looked doable in terms of the capping. We picked an initial target along I-70 in northwest Kansas near Colby, hoping to catch an afternoon supercell or tornado.

Dust Storm
9 miles NE of Wallace, KS
5:31 PM
We drove south out of Ogallala where we had spent the previous night, across the Nebraska panhandle and into Kansas. We stopped in the small town of Atwood for lunch. I snagged some food at the local grocery store with Victor and Becky while most of the group went to a diner across the street. Afterwards we headed south toward our target. We intercepted some developing cells that were coming off the dryline on the CO/KS border. Bases were high in the hot temps with outflow already kicking up large amounts of dust.
A north south line of cells started to fill in on the dryline. It quickly became apparent that capping and temperature/dewpoint spreads weren't favorable for surface based supercells and that we would be dealing with outflow dominant, partially elevated storms. A dust storm under a developing MCS started to materialize. The nearly severe straight line winds provided for some really dramatic sights, however. We got caught up in the dust a couple times, the brown wall of dirt smacking into the vans.

Gust Front
10 miles SE of Colby, KS
6:19 PM
Driving through the storm's gust front:

2 miles NNE of Oakley, KS
6:29 PM
A couple tornado reports came in. We suspected they were probably gustnadoes like the one featured here. Short lived eddies in the straight line winds of the storm's outflow can look like tornadic debris clouds, but they are usually smaller and much weaker than supercellular tornadoes. There did appear to be some landspout activity on the cells while they were in moving out of Colorado, however. The National Weather Service put up a blanket tornado warning for what was now a north south line of storms. We no longer had a point of attack or chaseable supercell structure so we decided to head east away from the line and possibly call the chase.
Sitting under blue skies again east of the storm complex:

Assessing the situation we decided to call it a chase and get dinner and rooms in Wakeeney, KS. Outflow was fanning out from the storm complex, which mean the tornado potential was pretty much over.
The local liquor store was a necessary pit stop for us. Trip 5 was quickly turning into a Great Plains drinking tour rather than a storm chasing tour.

Hotel Lightning
2 miles WSW of WaKeeney, KS
10:33 PM
After dark, when we were all settled into the hotel, the storm complex finally caught up with us. We gathered on the west side of the hotel to watch it come in as the shelf cloud and gust front approached with lightning. We cheered on the bolts, partying outside as the outflow winds blasted us. It was a great time.


This chase was a bust from the standpoint of getting supercells or decent supercell structure. The nearly severe winds and dust storm were exciting, however, and a part of storm chasing that the tour was thrilled to see. Partying outside the hotel as the MCS blew in after dark made my day though.

Lessons Learned

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