May 26, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Lamar, CO
Garden City, KS 11:08 AM 5/26/2019
Goodland, KS 8:11 PM 5/26/2019
Eads, CO
0 mph
Rotating Wall Cloud


Upslope play off the Raton Mesa. Targeted Lamar, CO for afternoon tornadic supercells. Intercepted supercell with rotating wall cloud near Eads, CO and tracked northeast toward KS border noting additional rotation before storm congealed with MCS. Intercepted second supercell south of Goodland, KS noting elevated gust front.

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: On the Western/High Plains, we may again have a complicated situation where the evolution of storm scale features dictates how the chase goes, rather than the overall synoptic picture. But here's current thinking. Strong heating on the Raton in southeast Colorado is going to contribute to a strongly destabilized airmass across eastern CO, western CO. Ample moisture and some heating will also make for some CAPE in the panhandles. Low pressure forming on the Raton will keep the surface winds backed to the northeast in east central Colorado. Current thinking is this will fire first, La Junta-ish area in the early afternoon toward 2-3pm. Storm will track northeast to the Eads/Lamar area. That's where we're going to try to pick it up. It may not be ready to make a tornado for a couple hours, and that's the problem. Upscale growth into an MCS is forecast, and additional initiation may interfere, either directly, or anvils from the Pahandles overshadowing the storm. Might be a window for a tornado around the 21-23z time frame from Lamar into western Kansas.

Secondary targets are down the Panhandles again. Cloudy down there again, worried about lapse rates and storm mode as yesterday, but a Tail End or more discrete storm could be tornadic. CAMs indicating a storm up on I76 in the Sterling area too. It's riding right at the top of the instability plume and I'd be worried about any southern storms killing the fragile instability/low level lapse rates up there.

Instead I think CO/KS border target is the lowest risk for chasers, storms tracking with an instability plume as it lifts north. Nice 0-3km CAPE profiles, shear picks up nicely by early evening, but storm mode might not last until then, and we might be calling the chase early again."
Brindley and I rolled west out of Garden City, KS for an initial target of Lamar, CO. The town was filled with storm chasers going in every direction down the main crossroads in town. We ping ponged east and north as a cluster of cells went up before finally moving southwest toward something dominant. In the distance, a pointy tornado-look-a-like lowering could be seen.

Chaser Convergence
2 miles S of McClave, CO
4:24 PM
All of the Lamar area chasers homed in on the same target. Within minutes there were dozens of chaser vehicles parked around us.
Watching the storm with Brett Wright:

Chaser Convergence
2 miles S of McClave, CO
4:28 PM
Chasers lining up as the storm starts to take shape to the west:
Alec Scholten and Max Olson get ready for the show:
A wispy tail cloud condensed as a wall cloud started to develop.
Mature wall cloud:
We had a nice backlit view and the wall cloud sported some moderate rotation. Given the moderate risk tornado probabilities, our expectations were pretty high that we were about to get a show.
It wasn't to be, however. The storm fell apart and chasers started packing it up to play the stair stepping game northeast.
A horizontal updraft tube looking like another wanna-be tornado:

Chaser Traffic
10 miles SSE of Eads, CO
5:15 PM
We stair stepped east and north with the rest of the horde. Stopping in front of the updraft base south of Eads, CO, the chaser traffic became an endless line coming up from the south.
A sculpted updraft base took shape. The high contrast made the scene difficult to shoot, but we were once again hopeful that we were about to get the show, this time with front row seats.
The rotating base passed just to our south. We repositioned slightly to give it some room.
Looking north at another scuddy lowering:
Scud condensed in the clear air of the RFD immediately to our west. The scene was pretty, but it appeared that the tornado show wasn't happening.
Running east to catch back up with the supercell with a low angle rainbow and low contrast base coming into view:
Sculpted updraft base:
The bell shaped updraft was probably the best structure we had of the day, but our chances for snagging a tube continued to diminish it seemed.
The cells eventually congealed into a solid line as expected. We called the chase and headed into Goodland for a room at the Motel 6. The training line of cells had swamped the motel and our room was flooded. The manager gave us extra towels to sop up the huge puddle on the floor, but it seemed like a futile effort. Meanwhile, a supercell with a decent velocity couplet was taking shape ahead of the line to our south. We got back on the chase to head it off for one last chance at a tornado. Upon arrival, however, we were greeted by a cold, outflowy looking, probably elevated storm. This time we really called the chase and headed back into Goodland while Tony Laubach found the needle in the haystack tornado, embedded within the MCS to the west.


Given the higher tornado probabilities and our expectations, this chase was almost a bust. We'll chalk it up as a noteworthy storm intercept, however, given the sculpted updrafts and rotating wall cloud catches. Besides may 20, chaser traffic was some of the heaviest we had seen in recent years. It didn't seem to be much of an obstacle, however.

Lessons Learned

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