May 21, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Hutchinson, KS
Clinton, OK 10:02 AM 5/21/2019
Salina, KS 6:26 PM 5/21/2019
Great Bend, KS; Lyons, KS
0 mph
Updraft Base


Cold front/cold core play in north central KS. Targeted Hutchinson for midafternoon supercells with tornado potential intercepting low topped storm south of Great Bend. Noted RFD clear slot but storms failed to produce

Crew and Equipment

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




Morning chasecast: "Today is different in that we should definitely have the lapse rates. The sun is out, skies are clear of haze, and super cold air is pivoting over the Kansas warm sector. That should yield steep lapse rates in the low and midlevels. Robust convection, strong updrafts with stretching, it should at the minimum be a pretty chase. Think something along the lines of Saturday. A tornado will be highly conditional and a bit of a crapshoot, but if it goes, it will be gorgeous. Way prettier than anything yesterday.

Playing this like a conventional cold front, I'd be looking at this arc of showers forecast to lift through central and eastern Kansas in the late morning/early afternoon and into Nebraska. Cold cores often go quite early, with showtime in the early afternoon when direct sunshine yields the steepest low level lapse rates. However, it looks like the initial band may be largely elevated. Riding just ahead of the warm sector on the cool side of the boundary.

Instead look for thunderstorm development in the warm sector on the surface low in north central Kansas, southwest to the OK border along a surface trough and wind shift/cold front. Timing looks like mid to late afternoon now. If the cold front isn't undercutting, but it's more of a well defined wind shift, there could be a serious tornado play today, probably non-supercell or hybrid in nature. Look for the most robust updraft when it's on that wind shift for your tornado. You'll want to catch storms when they're still in the maturing phase and when the sun is out. These things will probably gust out fairly soon or turn into clusters with cold pools. We're going to head up to Hutchinson for starters I think and then just watch vis sat and surface obs to see which little schnib (small storm cell) to target. Points north of Salina, all the way down to Medicine Lodge may be in play today. I'd get on storms sooner than later.

Very modest CAPE, low temps and dews, but that super cold pool of air pivoting over the Kansas warm sector really has my attention. Could be a very photogenic chase.

Oh yeah, I should mention I'm not even giving the 10% area more than a glance. Looks like a slopfest with storm mode and the terrain is simply unchaseable there."

Horseshoe Updraft
5 miles S of Great Bend, KS
3:00 PM
We were on the road north out of Clinton, OK by 10 am. We wound up taking 281 north toward Great Bend and picking a robust looking cell. It sported an RFD clear slot and narrow inflow tail for awhile, and we were in perfect position for a high contrast show. The little cell couldn't pull it off, however, and this is about where it peaked.
We tracked with a few more "schnibs" for awhile before the cold front started to line out and weaken. We spotted more robust updraft bases with that horseshoe shape, but none of them produced for us.

Blue Skye
Salina, KS
7:20 PM
Stuff started to line out or weaken so we called the chase and headed into Salina for dinner and a room.


I was right in that the storms would be high contrast and photogenic with the cold air aloft. However, the initial arc of storms that tracked through ne Kansas into Nebraska wound up putting down a string of highly photogenic tornadoes, while our cells didn't do much. I tallied this one as a bust as it was a real bummer missing the tornado show while chasing lines of tiny "schnibs". Unfortunately, this would be the start of a week of missed tornadoes for us.

Lessons Learned

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