Today, we had a choice; kick north to Rapid City, SD or southeast towards Lexington, NE. The dynamics were better in the north, and the CAPE and dew points were better in NE. We chose NE. It might have been a total bust, if it wasn’t for later this evening.
We took our time leaving the hotel, seeing as south central, NE wasn’t far away. The first thing we saw when we got on the road was a mesoscale discussion for an area covering Rapid City (which later turned into a tornado watch). It was too late to go north, so we had to do the best with what we had.
We began to see cumulus clouds starting to form and grow vertically somewhere around 5:00pm local time near Lexington, NE. We headed south towards a few taller cumulus clouds. Those fizzled out. The weather radio said the highest probability for tornadoes (in this area) was along and north of a line from Lexington, NE to Hebron, NE. We went to Holbrook, NE and then headed north back to I-80 after a few more tall cumulus clouds. We watched those turn into a two small severe warned cells. We tracked these closely.
To our southwest, a storm drifted up from McCook, and eventually overtook I-80 and began to shadow our two cells around dusk. The western cell was eaten by the monster cell approaching from the southwest. The eastern cell fell apart and rained out. The large cell from McCook began to die at dusk. We were treated to a lightning show and watched the dying cell at sunset. I took over 250 photos, trying to capture lightning at sunset. I got a few, and I’ve posted the best one:
Even without the lightning, this storm was quite photogenic:
We ended the night in Grand Island, NE, the site of my favorite childhood book: Night of the Twisters. Tomorrow, we are out of play for MT/ND/SD, but might pick up the other possible activity in south central NE and north central KS.
Starting Odometer: 284391
Ending Odometer: 284701