07.07.13

Chase #4: SW Kansas to Oklahoma Border Squall

Posted in Storm Chasing at 6:45 pm by Rebekah

18 May 2013, a moderate risk day for parts of the west central Plains. We had pretty good hope for this day, but a strong cap had us getting a little impatient and traveling further south than we should have, suckering us after the hope of a tail-end Charlie once storms started to explode and line out.

We didn’t leave Russell, Kansas until a little after noon, as we thought we were already in a pretty good target area (as it turned out, we should have stuck around even longer….the best show of the day was not 80 miles south of Russell, one of a few frustrating times this year where we missed the main event that happened very close to where we woke up in the morning).

We headed south to Medicine Lodge, thinking the moisture was better down there and that there might be a little better forcing near a sharpening dryline bulge. We also thought that once the cap did break, a squall line may form quickly enough to where we wanted to be towards the end.

After hanging out at a rest area just outside of town for a little while (and on the first toss one of the guys losing a frisbee into a tree), we moved further west to Coldwater, to be closer to the dryline and the surface low.

At this point storms had already started to fire further north, but we decided to check out a couple of cells forming near the Oklahoma Panhandle. Near the border, we saw a gustnado or two, but could tell the storms were already becoming quite outflow dominant.

We stopped for a while at a rest area at the border (along with perhaps a couple dozen other chase vehicles), realizing all we had now was a quickly developing squall line. There was some decent lightning and squall line structure though, so we snapped some photos and evaluated where we wanted to go for the night to set up for the next day.

Kansas-Oklahoma border squall line

Deciding upon somewhere around Wichita for the night, we retraced our steps back up to Medicine Lodge, and stopped for a minute at the rest area where we had lost the frisbee. Thinking that the winds from the squall line may have blown it out of the tree, we were hopeful, but ultimately disappointed that it only fell further into the tree (and it was one of the frisbees that is more like a ring, so easier to get stuck). 😛

We ate dinner at a Pizza Hut in Medicine Lodge, where we ran into Sean Casey (of the TIV and Discovery Channel fame) and a few other chasers, all wearing sad faces as we saw photos of several beautiful tornadoes that had occurred earlier near Rozell, on the storms further north.

It was a disappointing day, but I tried to cheer up my chase partners with thoughts of the fun we still had and what we might see the next day, which looked even more promising. We spent the night in Haysville, just south of Wichita.

We traveled this day for 11 hours, 30 minutes, and an estimated 370 miles.

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