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June 19th, 2011 - McCook, NE Supercells

Originally had northwest Kansas targeted for this day as it looked like that's where the best instability was. It ended up backing a little farther north, allowing us to (just barely) stay in Nebraska. Left with Chris and Tyler and headed west. This was really my first time being farther west than York in Nebraska, so I was more than happy to see what the sandhills had to offer.

If you're too lazy to read and look at images, you can watch the video of the day here:

Topped off our gas in McCook and headed just a bit farther west to sit and watch our cumulus field develop. Nothing real promising at first. Sit there long enough (we were there for at least a couple hours) and you start taking a lot of random shots like this. Kicking rocks can only entertain you for so long lol.

Finally had some nicer development on a cu to our east that started to try and tower. Nice and crisp at least.

Actually had a fairly persistent little horseshoe vortex near the top of it for a while.

As that one was going up, something to the west really started to get a nice low dark base going.

Little cell to the east started to drop some precipitation finally, think it had some small hail with it as well.

Started to get more surface-based as it scraped past us. Think we had a few larger raindrops as it began to pull in scud.

Large downburst now. Never a good sign of a healthy storm lol.

Since our eastern storm appeared to be cycling down, we decided to go for the western one. Had some really nice upside-down convection on the anvil. Stopped really quick as we topped a hill for a distant structure shot.

Getting closer now, really wish we could have stopped here but there was nowhere to pull off (gotta love sandhills canyon roads). This shot is blurred since we were driving, but you can see it forming an awesome coiled updraft.

Stopped to shoot as we got to the top of the next hill. Only a minute or two later, yet the cool coiled structure was pretty much dead. Sat shooting for a few minutes expecting to see nothing more than the storm trying to re-organize.

And then seemingly out of nowhere, on the right leading edge, it started to wrap up really tight and drop a funnel! Fully condensed to the ground, we were elated as this tornado touched down about 2 miles away. It caught us by surprise, so I was left with my wide angle on.

Ran back to the car to swap on a longer lens so I could shoot some zoomed-in video. Here's a video grab as the condensed portion lifted, leaving a dusty bowl of debris below.

Drove farther east to stay ahead of it as the tornado lifted and the storm cycled. Finally started to take on some nicer structure again. The color combined with the shape reminded me of a giant fishbowl.

Found a spot to pull over and stop to shoot. Absolutely loved all the textures under the updraft base at this point. Had that nice little vault on the right too.

Supercell above a wheat field? You'll hear no complains from me! Chaser heaven.

Headed east to stay ahead of it and the structure had completely transformed by the next time we stopped. A LOT of lower-level inflow on the right.

If you looked back below the base and slightly shrouded by rain, you could make out a nice elephant trunk tornado trying to touch down. Would have been crazy had we just stayed in the same place, as that thing was likely spinning right over where we had been sitting lol. Had to add quite a bit of contrast to this image to get it to show up.

Had a sweet little window vault at this point. Loved the area clear of precipitation above that.

As the storm drew closer, it started to lose that nice low-level inflow tail. Still decent structure and textures though.

There goes tie TIV! lol. Not the first and certainly not the last time we've been passed by Sean Casey.

The storm grew less and less impressive the closer it got. Practically no inflow on the right now, and structure really losing its organization. We would soon drop this storm and head for the eastern cell that took off earlier.

To view the second part of this account, click here: Page2