Green Sky Chaser

15 June 2009 Chase Log


Target Area: Pratt/Greensburg/Medicine Lodge, Kansas

Chase Area: Pratt County, Kansas

Observations: two wall clouds, one supercell, hail, lightning, and a very green sky

Distance: 575 miles

Time: 11.5 hours

Chase Team: Car 1 - Jeff Makowski, Rachel Butterworth, and myself; Car 2 - Todd Kluber, Joey Picca, and Brian Holland; Car 3 - Stephanie

SPC Convective Outlook: Slight Risk (upgraded to Moderate) (Click to see SPC products, data, and storm reports)

Chase Setup: Large trough to the west, shortwave impulses expected to be sufficient for storms to break the weak cap. Dryline extending southward from a surface low in west Kansas through the Texas Panhandle and a stationary front in central Kansas expected to assist in lift. CAPE of around 3000 J kg-1 found in west Oklahoma; CAPE of 2000 to 2500 J kg-1 found in west Kansas. Dewpoints ahead of the dryline range from mid-60s to lower 70s. Moderate to strong helicity bulls eye located between Dodge City and Wellington. Supercells expected to form in this area with potentially a few tornadoes and some hail.

Chase Log: Following some tornado days in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, we thought we'd try to get in on the action on possibly the last chase day of the spring (at least for those of us in the Southern Plains). We were all pretty optimistic this day, if a little frustrated at having missed the tornado that occurred in Norman just a few days earlier when most of us were in Dallas for the weekend.

We started off by driving to Wellington, where we deliberated for a while as to which direction we should take if we were to intercept some storms that were starting to fire to our west. Eventually we decided to drive up through Wichita and then over to Pratt, where we intercepted our supercell.

This supercell had some amazing structure to it and produced one of the most beautiful green skies I've ever seen. We saw a wall cloud near us and another wall cloud belonging to a storm in the distance. The storm in the distance was looking pretty suspicious to me when we heard several tornado reports on the storm. Unfortunately we were just a few too many miles away from the supercell to actually see the tornado, and by the time we would have navigated carefully through some heavy rain and possibly hail, I'm sure we would have missed the tornado anyway.

Our storm became outflow dominant, but it did produce some spectacular cloud-to-ground lightning bolts, some of which were a little too close for comfort!

On the drive back, those of us in my car (our little caravan split up about the time we left the storm) stopped for food and to wait for a couple of rounds of hail to pass, as I was afraid of getting my car hammered by quarter-size or larger hail.

Despite barely missing the tornado, we did see some great structure, lightning, hail, and a gorgeous green sky.