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Tornadoes

Quinter, Kansas - May. 23, 2008

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Cone shaped tornado heading towards is, Quinter, Kansas

The tornado with debris cloud getting closer.

TORNADOES - More tornado madness!! We knew that today's setup had as much tornado potential as yesterday and it certainly panned out for us with several tornadoes witnessed.

We started the day off by picking up the British documentary film crew from Pioneer Productions who are working on an updated version of the "Raging Planet" documentary television series. Once we had them, we started heading towards a developing supercell, south of Interstate-70. We waited for the storm to get closer to the highway because we didn't want to face the terrible dirt roads that were left muddied by yesterday's storms. As the rotating portion of the storm approached the interstate, we found ourselves in the hook of the supercell with a large, dark cone tornado fast approaching. We pulled off and filmed as it got closer and closer. I prepared myself for the possibility of having to dash out of there at full speed but the tornado dissipated before it made it to our location. Just east of where we were, a new tornado formed. This time a big, ragged multiple vortex tornado that shifted shape and morphed until it eventually became a huge wedge. At one point, it was so big that I could only see one side of the tornado.

We pushed on to the north to try and cut ahead of the storm and make another approach on the tornado but the only paved roads were few and far between. We eventually cut across through the storm near Hill City as we "threaded the needle" in between 3 different TVS markers (tornadic vortex signature).

As the light began to fail we watched yet another tornado warned supercell from a hilltop when we were jolted by an extremely close lightning bolt. We believe it hit behind the house we were parked beside and it was a good thing that everyone was inside the vans at the time. The shockwave almost startled the pants off of me!

On our way back to Hays for the night, we heard about another possible tornado approaching the town of Ellis. We were close by and tried to make an intercept. The problem was that the tornado was wrapped in rain and it was getting dark. As we got closer to the town, we noticed the winds shifting and we remarked about how stupid some of these big rig truck drivers are, they'll drive into anything. A few second after we said that, an 18 wheeler passed us and pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway. The tornado was fast approaching and we watched the winds flip the truck over onto its side. Charles spotted the tornado and saw more rain wrapping around it as it closer to our location. We had to get out of there and fast! The big problem was that we were on the divided highway with no way to turn around. We ended up circling back and drove the wrong way down the interstate for a mile or two with our headlights flashing to warn any oncoming motorists of the danger. The tornado crossed the road close to where we had been and damage was reported in Ellis.

When the danger had finally passed, we drove back east again and noticed 4 different trucks overturned, some in opposite directions which was more evidence of the tornado passing through.

What a day.

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The second tornado formes north of Interstate 70.

It changes shape and begins to grow.

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The tornado is now a massive wedge.

The wedge gets so large that only one side can be seen.

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Flipped tractor trailer near Ellis, Kansas.

Another truck that had been flipped by the tornado.

Radar Image

 

The Severe thunderstorm risk as forecast by the Storm Prediction Center:

 

The preliminary tornado reports for the day: