- What an interesting end to what I thought was going to be a
marginal day. We targeted the area near Greensburg and our forecast
was good, we waited just outside of town as a severe warned storm
approached and began to show signs of rotation. Our three vehicles
for Cloud 9 Tours were spaced apart in different pull-offs when
Van 2 got stuck in the mud shortly after the storm became tornado
warned. The place where we were parked was an area that was decimated
by the EF-5 tornado last year and was quite muddy. Large hail
began to fall and there was no way that anybody was going to
go outside to push the van out until the worst of the hail core
had passed. We eventually used a tow strap to pull them out of
the muck, the chase was to resume.
The storm continued on and we followed
it through Greensburg. It was eerie to be chasing a tornado warned
storm through that town, especially since the scars from the
last direct hit were still so evident. Luckily, the town was
spared and we pushed on further east. We tried getting ahead
of the storm but didn't want to face the gigantic hail that was
likely in it As it tuned out, there was more development to our
southwest and we soon began to get hit by bigger and bigger hail
stones. We ended up finding a cotton farm which had a huge tin
roof overhang which was perfect to fit all three vehicles underneath.
The sound of the hail on the metal roof was deafening! The cacophony
was so loud that I had to scream at people beside me to be even
slightly heard. The hail grew up to the size of golfballs and
we noticed that on the way up to the shelter, we had taken enough
hits from the hail that a new batch of dents had been added to
the vehicles but we did manage to keep all the glass intact.
After the worst of it had passed, we
continued east towards Pratt. We had almost given up on the storm
when it began a revival and took on a great shape on radar. As
we punched through the backside of the hook, we kept looking
to the southeast to see if there was actually a tornado in there.
As we got to Pratt, we emerged from the rain and there it was,
a wispy cone shaped tornado!! I only saw it for a few seconds
before it vanished and we got into town where our view was blocked.
We sent in a report to Spotter Network and soon the sirens in
Pratt were wailing. We blasted through town and got further east
when another tornado touched down on the south side of highway
54 very close to our location . It was a broad circulation with
multiple vortices that wasn't very photogenic but it was coming
our way. Be sped off and got ahead of it before it threatened
to cross the road.
We put some space between ourselves
and the storm and eventually stopped again to get some pictures
of the storm structure. When it was time to get back to the vehicles,
I looked back and noticed another rain wrapped tornado. This
one was shaped like a slender cone. It was visible only briefly
but was spotted by numerous other chasers as well.
We eventually made it to Wichita for
the night. Another great chase day.