April 24, 2016


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Hutchinson, KS
Springfield, IL 9:42 PM 4/23/2016
Manhattan, KS 9:13 PM 4/25/2016
Solomon, KS
0 mph
Rain Free Base, Severe Hail


Dryline setup in central KS. Targeted Tail End Charlie approaching Hutchinson from southwest, but cap proved strong and storm went orphaned anvil. Retargeted ongoing and tornado warned storms along 70. Intercepted tornado warned complex noting golfball hail and outflowy bases.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v.




Sunday, April 24 looked to kick off almost a week of storm chasing as favorable moisture return and southwest flow was forecast to overtake the Plains. The first good day of the run featured a dryline setup stretching from Oklahoma with the triple point up in South Dakota. I settled on the Kansas end of the target, hoping to find the Tail End Charlie where shear and instability combos were greatest with favorable shear vectors relative to the dryline, before capping got too strong further south.
I converted my 2010 Town and Country into a cozy camper for the week. I had a twin mattress, cooler full of food, and all of my gear neatly organized. Camping is one of my favorite ways to chase the Plains. Super cheap and convenient. Instead of driving while tired trying to get to your room for the night or back home, you pull over in some remote spot as soon as you get tired.

13 miles NW of Columbus, KS
12:07 PM
I left the night before and made good time to my target, despite the usual obstacles.
Storms fired to the west as I came into Newton, KS. I moved to Hutchinson to catch Tail End Charlie while a storm on the north end of the line went tornado warned. It was rocketing away from me, already tens of miles, and would have taken hours to catch so I let it go. Instead I waited for storms initiating to the southwest to approach, hopefully hitting a more favorable airmass when the parameters would be primed later in the afternoon.
The new storm approaching from the southwest did not survive, however. The cap was too strong. The base evaporated leaving behind and orphan anvil.
With no better option, I went north for the ongoing tornwared warned storms, which were now congealing into a complex. Some rain free bases to the west:
I pulled off the highway in Solomon, KS to watch the bases overhead. The sirens wailed with turbulent roiling motion overhead, but I didn't see anything that looked immediately tornadic.

Golfball Hail
Solomon, KS
6:51 PM
The forward flank of the storm overspread the highway and I got a smattering of large hail. I keep a KDR Media golfball with me just for hail size comparisons.

Tornado Warned Sunset
4 miles SE of Manhattan, KS
7:53 PM
I tracked the complex northeast toward Manhattan. The terrain is rough south of town but there is a scenic overlook that quickly became packed with storm chasers and curious locals. I met up with Nick Nolte and we watched the rear of the complex approach. It had a tornado warning, pretty striations and colors, but it never looked like much more than a big outflowy complex. At nightfall I called the chase, and exhausted from my trip out there, decided to just camp right in town in Manhattan.


No tornadoes or very dramatic supercell structure, so the first run out on this multiday chase trip was kind of a bust. Catching a bit of golfball hail, and seeing several warned storms that were quite pretty out in the Kansas plains made the day for me, however. Plus I had plenty more opportunities coming up.

Lessons Learned

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