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Landspouts

Axtell, Nebraska - May 10, 2005

05_10_Spout1 05_10_Spout2

Most of the day was spent waiting around in the parking lot of a hotel in Kearney. There was a lot of potential for tornadoes but a strong thermal inversion kept a lid on all thunderstorm development...That was until we figured that the day was a write off and decided to book our hotel rooms and get some food. Just before we were all supposed to gather for dinner, the first tornado warning was issued for an area just south of us. We scrambled to gather everyone up and head out. The storm was tiny on radar but there was already a report of a tornado on the ground. As we approached the base of the storm, we saw numerous "landspout" tornadoes. These tornadoes were very weak and did not have any condensation funnel but they were churning up the farmer's fields, kicking up a lot of dirt. Because these were obviously weak, we decided to get very close to one of them and as one of these landspouts crossed the road near a farm house, we drove right into it as it was dying out. There was still a fair amount of dirt and leaves swirling around as it passed over us and the local farmer who was outside mowing his lawn. We followed the storm system northeast to well past the town of Grand Island where we encountered very strong winds and some golf ball sized hail.