Yesterday, we started out the day in Holyoke, CO, at the Burge Hotel, and headed southeast. I had underestimated the travel distance to my original target, Sharon Springs, KS, and storms were already firing as we crossed the very southwestern corner of Nebraska and entered Kansas. Skies were totally overcast and drizzling lightly – not exactly severe storm weather. We had to get south of the boundary.
Sharon Springs was too far west, and was on the dry side of the dryline. Storms had formed a small line through western Kansas and we schemed on how we would get ahead. We headed east, planning to drop south at Atwood, and hoped we could get to Colby in time.
As we approached Colby, the storm we had wanted to get in front of passed through town. We dropped down the west side of the storm and were going to head east on US-24. As we approached a lighter spot in the clouds, we could see the storm to our east. About that time, JoAnna announced, “Tornado Warning on that one,” pointing to our east. Sure enough, out my window, I could see a long funnel reaching towards the ground. It became obscured quickly, and we only got one quick photo.
We turned on US-24 and continued east, following the storm. We stopped a few times and then headed northeast on US-83.
More funnels, some of which may have briefly touched down, but it was so low contrast, it was hard to say for sure.
US-83 paralleled the storm, so we stayed on it, even getting ahead a little. Just west of Selden, KS, we stopped and watched the storm. First, some dust kicked up, and then a very clear condensation funnel dropped to the ground.
This process repeated several times, but the dust never really stopped circulating. At one point, the tornado was kicking up clods of black dirt; an image that will forever be burned into my mind.
We jogged forward, staying ahead of it as best we could. We passed through Selden, and realized that it was perfectly in the path of the storm. (Note: Selden took a direct hit, with several damaged structures and a derailed train, but I have not yet heard of any fatalities or injuries.)
The storm cycled several times, producing an unknown number of funnels and tornadoes. I didn’t even really try to keep count, as it was all the same parent storm. I don’t really know how one “counts” these.
There was almost a continuous dust cloud below the storm, and the condensation funnel came and went.
We turned around and drove back north, and then east, once we were convinced the storm had passed the highway. However, the storm picked up speed and became more obscured by precipitation.
We dropped south and stopped to refuel in Hill City, KS. The storm to the northeast was moving too fast for us to catch, and we were starting to run out of daylight. We booked rooms in the Rodeway Inn in Hays, KS, and settled in for the night.
Our route for the day:
Thank you for reading my post.
The forecasts from the National Weather Service are from The NWS Homepage. The upper air soundings and mesoscale analysis plots are from the Storm Prediction Center website. The satellite data, model data, and forecasted soundings are from College of DuPage – SATRAD