Green Sky Chaser

29 May 2010 Chase Log


Target Area: Ogallala, Nebraska

Chase Area: Ogallala/Elsie/Paxton, Nebraska

Observations: multicells, squall line, lightning, and a lake

Distance: 400 miles

Time: 13 hours

Chase Team: Car 1 - Dean Narramore, Willoughby Owen, Rob Warren, Rob Lee, and myself; Car 2 - Matt Granz and Brendon Lindsey

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

Chase Setup: A cold front in western Nebraska into eastern South Dakota served as the primary focus of thunderstorm development. A trough over the northern and central Rockies was expected to provide some upper-level support. With dewpoints in the low to mid-60s ahead of the front and steep lapse rates, MLCAPE ahead of the front in Nebraska was around 2000 J kg-1. Southeast surface winds of 15 to 20 knots ahead of the front veered to southwest at 20 to 45 knots aloft, providing enough wind shear for multicells and possibly a few supercells.

Chase Log: On my first chase day in Nebraska, after spending the night in North Platte, we met up with a couple of guys that asked to come with us for the day. (Will was acquainted with Matt, a photographer from California, who was out chasing with Brendon, a college student from northern Oklahoma.)

We left for Ogallala around 11 to 11:30am, and without any storms to chase yet, we decided to check out nearby Lake McConaughy.

After spending a few hours at the lake, watching cumulus clouds, Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds, and enjoying the cool water and hot sandy shores, we finally saw some towering cumulus clouds start to grow. However, we were not able to leave as soon as we had hoped, for we had parked on the beach and our car got stuck in the sand! (There were many RVs parked out on the beach as well, but they might have found a more solid area of sand to park on.)

After much pushing on the car and shoveling of sand away from the sinking tires, we eventually managed to get the car out and back on the pavement.

Arriving back in Ogallala, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a bit of food and to try to figure out whether to go north towards the forming squall line or to go south towards the isolated multicell or two. Although the northern line was stronger, and we would have had a higher chance of seeing some decent storms, we opted to go south, as the storms down there were closer to our location and more isolated.

We drove through southeastern Keith County and northeastern Perkins County, south and east of Ogallala, to chase one or two of the multicells. In the end we didn't see a whole lot, besides the weak multicells, a few interesting-looking clouds, and a bit of lightning. However, we still all managed to have a great day, on perhaps one of the most random chase days I have ever been on (the lake was certainly the higlight of the day!).

This day not only marked my first chase day in Nebraska, but also my first chase in the Mountain Time Zone (first time chasing outside of Central Time!).

Later this night, we (minus Matt and Brendon, who went their separate way at the end of the chase) drove down to Hays, Kansas, to set up for chasing the next day in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma.