April 14th, 2012 - Kansas High Risk
The outlook for this day looked rather insane. The SPC issued some of the highest severe parameters I had ever seen, and much of my family (living in OK/KS/NE) was in the firing line. Below you can see their Day 1 outlook, which included some pretty scary wording, but the percentages speak for themselves. This was really the first chase day I can recall where I was nervous about the deadly potential.
A HUGE area of 45% hatched tornado probabilities. Living in Omaha, I wasn't far from the area of highest potential. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this largely didn't end up verifying due to a huge messy area of morning convection all across south-central Nebraska. This obviously changed our target. We were faced with a pretty substantial decision early in the afternoon. Should we blast south through the precip in Nebraska/northern Kansas and hope that the southern end of the target area still held the potential to produce, or should we continue west to where there was clear air and the atmosphere hadn't been tampered with? The SPC issued an MD for southwestern Nebraska and northwestern Kansas, so we opted for the west option. Unfortunately, nothing really ended up firing around there until after dark. Realizing our mistake, we headed south toward Russel, KS where we grabbed some dinner at Arby's.
Of course, what was on the TV as we ate our depressing dinner? News footage of the Salina, KS supercell taking shape. Only about an hour east of us, but given the motions, impossible to get to in time. And given the fact that it was already producing, there's no way it still would be when we got to it. We had some small towers going up around us, but it was nothing impressive.
Since the "main show" of the day was over, we limped back east towards home. Lucky for us, the atmosphere had just enough juice left in it to produce some storms on the way home. As we neared Salina, a somewhat impressive bow segment had developed to our south near McPherson. We moved south out of Salina and intercepted the line. It ended up being much more organized that we initially thought, and even had an embedded supercell with nearly constant lightning! This is just one exposure, no stacking necessary.
From there on out, the lightning was pretty much the story of the evening. Winds ahead of the storm complex were intense, but I managed to stand still enough for a couple selfies lol.
As the storm drew closer, we lost our view of the quick little anvil crawlers, but some structure finally began to reveal itself. Here's Cody crouched by the fence shooting north towards the storm.
Lightning occasionally illuminated the structure, revealing some pretty impressive lower level inflow.
The upper part of the updraft sort of tells the story of this storm, and explains why there was so much lightning with it. Just a huge explosive brain of convection. Pretty wild looking.
Again, lightning really helped illuminate the details of this storm. As it lifted to the north and east, it began to get more organized. Here you can see both the lower and mid-level inflow bands ramping up.
Little spaceship now with the left side of the updraft visible. Definitely a sheared-over supercell. Gotta wonder what this would have looked like during the day!
One last shot looking north at the storm.
Rolled back up north through Salina as part of the line went tornado-warned again. Didn't see anything really trying to produce, the main story happening in this area was the torrential rains. Storms kept training over the same spot relentlessly for hours. Took one quick shot of some of the flooding before heading back home. All in all, we screwed up the day by going too far west, but I'm glad mother nature decided to throw us a bone in the end.