McCook, Nebraska - May 17 2019
Today was an unusual chase day. I was teamed up with Brad and Dayna Rousseau, a husband and wife team of meteorologists from The Weather Network. This was our first real chase day together. They had picked me up yesterday in Canada, and we blasted to get into position for today's setup. We also met up with a bunch of other chasers, and we stopped for lunch in McCook. We sat at the Subway there for quite some time, waiting for storm initiation.
Storms began to fire back south near the Colby, KS area and started to move east. We repositioned ourselves back south and watched the storms organize. The storm began to take on a favorable shape and reflectivity on radar but the issue was roads... there weren't a whole lot of options. Proper east road options were few and far between.
We headed north on the 117/17 toward Culbertson then east to McCook and watched the tornado just north of town. We drove right past the Subway restaurant where we had lunch earlier. We could have literally set up lawn chairs in the parking lot, sat and waited, and we would have had a great view of the tornado! Ha!
We took the 83 north to Maywood and had to play it very carefully because we had a rotating storm to the east of the road and to the west of the road with cores and large hail on both. As we just passed the town of Farnam, while getting hit with some sizable hail, we noticed a circulation to our south rapidly approaching the road in front of us. We pulled over while it crossed right in front of us. The rotating wall cloud was very close to the ground and it was unclear at that moment if it was indeed a tornado. That being said, as soon as it passed the road, we continued east to get a view but were blocked by power poles that had just been snapped! The circulation was just beside us to the north of the road pulling away. We couldn't continue east anymore because of the fallen poles so we had to route around.
By the time we got back into position, the storm had become very rain wrapped and we couldn't see the tornado in the rain. We followed the storm a bit more but it was rapidly moving away from us so we decided to call it a chase. We stopped in Lexington for the night while a squall line approached from our west so we decided to do a bit of lightning photography.


Rope tornado, just outside of McCook, Nebraska.
Lightning illuminated storm after dark in Lexington, NE.