2005 Chase Summaries - Trip 2

August 17  - August 19

Brian A. Morganti

AUG 17, 2005:    Wed - Lincoln - Dawson County, NE Severe Storms:

I was anticipating intercepting a supercell today somewhere in south central NE.  A trough/DL was approaching this area from the west, there was a decent westerly flow in place aloft, and moisture was spreading into the area from the S/SE.  By the time I reached Hays, KS an MD was in place just to my south and another one was in place just to the north of my target region.  I was stuck in the middle under clear skies, but I could see some strong towers going up to my south.  I decided to stick with my forecast and head north even though the skies in that direction appeared rather capped.  I reached Holdrege, NE around 5PM and noticed a couple of isolated towers along the horizon to my NW.  ThreatNet indicated these were located to the west of LBF.  What to do...continue north into an area that held great potential (but no visible convection), or head west after what appeared to be a weak storm that was moving in my direction?  I monitored the storm briefly and soon convinced myself that this would be my target storm.  By 6PM there was very little else happening in Nebraska except for the Lincoln County storms.  By the time I approached Gothenburg a severe warning was issued for Lincoln  County.  I exited on highway 47 south and took the following pictures to my west at about the time it exhibited its best organization.


I headed back east via highway 30 in order to stay on the southern flank of this storm.  The storm began to weaken and fall apart a few miles northeast of Gothenburg, but then re-organized again north of Cozad.


I continued following the storm along section roads north of Lexington and finally bid it farewell as it moved off to my northeast in Buffalo County.

Meanwhile, one of the cells to my west had gone severe and soon prompted a tornado warning for Dawson County.  I filmed the approach of this storm until well after sunset.  I could see no wall cloud or organized rotation from my vantage point. The storm caught up with me as I entered Kearney.  Strong wind gusts were recorded, but no hail.  All in all a fun chase day, and some consolation to know these storms were the only game in town...or in Nebraska for that matter!


AUG 18, 2005:    Thu - Western Nebraska Sand Hills Storms:

When I woke up in Kearney this morning I needed to decide whether I wanted to head east towards the severe weather threat in IA and be generally in place for Day 2, or head west for marginally severe storms in the western Nebraska Sand Hills.  I really love the beauty of the Sand Hills region, so my high-plains bias won out.  By the time I reached BFF (Scottsbluff) an MD was issued for parts of Sioux and Dawes County to my north, and another area was being monitored directly to my south near Kimball and Sidney.  There was a little better upper level support further north where towers were already building.  I headed north out of Mitchell for a "gentleman's chase" via a loop through Harrison, Crawford and Alliance and filmed the following high-based storms before continuing to OGA for the night. 


AUG 19, 2005:    Fri - Wabaunsee County, KS Supercell:

My original thinking for today would be to head for eastern Nebraska and wait for storms go severe ahead of the eastward moving cold front.  Winds were decent in the mid and upper levels in this region, but surface winds were somewhat veered and rather weak.  Another area to watch would be the stationary front to my south roughly aligned with I-70 in north central and northeast Kansas.  By early afternoon elevated convection continued to move east north of the stationary boundary and ahead of the CF in central NE spreading anvil debris into my target region.  It soon became evident that the only play for a discrete supercell might be further south near the stationary front and/or any outflow boundaries along and south of I-70.  I expedited south via I-29 and then back west via I-70.  Supercells were already in progress to the south of I-70 and two were tornado near Salina and the other near Manhattan.  I figured I could get in front of the Manhattan storm along I-335 southwest of Topeka.  That plan worked fine, except there were no exits where I needed them.  I had a few decent glimpses of a nice flanged updraft base, wall cloud, and prolific CG activity just off to my west. 


Much as I would have liked, I was never able to re-intercept the updraft region of this storm once I exited the turnpike.  I next turned my attention to the storms moving in from my west.  Storm cells were now merging into line and a NE/SW oriented shelf cloud approached from the west.  The following video captures were taken looking west from highway 31 west of Harveyville.


A long chase day complicated by multiple targets with potential.  By the time it became apparent where I needed to be I found myself too far out of position for an early intercept.  I'm glad I got a piece of the action, but very frustrating to know I missed what must have been some great photographic opportunities.  

Severe Weather Set-up for Trip 2

An unusual late season "spring-like" pattern set-up prompted me to make one last trip to the latest and shortest plains trip ever!  A southwest flow in the mid-levels would prevail above a southerly flow at the surface and low levels assuring sufficient shear for supercells.  Moisture return from the gulf and a series of short wave troughs moving down from the northern Rocky Mountain would assure severe weather somewhere across the central plains region.  Severe/tornado warned storms occurred and were intercepted on two days out of three.  The severe weather set-up moved further east on my "middle" day and spawned a tornado outbreak in Wisconsin, too far east for me to even consider. 

Interesting Factoids:

Total Miles Logged for Trip Two:                3995                    Total 05:         12,237 

                                                                               Including Tempest:        18,126

Average Miles per day Trip Two:                  799

Total Days on Road Trip Two:                         6                  Total 05:              35

Total Days in Chase Mode Trip Two:               3                  Total 05:              26

Severe Storm Intercept Days Trip Two:            2                  Total 05:              18

Tornadoes Intercepted Trip Two:                     0                  Total 05:               9+

Average Time to Bed:                                                2:00 AM

Gas Prices Paid Trip Two:                            Ranged from $2.49 to $2.69

                                                                        With average of $2.56