May 19, 2018   

There was a lot of thought about a chase leading up to this day.  The situation was complicated due to the fact that our chase partner, Brian Stertz, was tied up with a medical issue in the hospital.  We finally decided to take the opportunity on this one day trip with just my son Ryan and I. 

The models continued to focus on the area in the vicinity of Northeast Kansas / Northwestern Missouri.  We headed out early in the morning with a moveable target of somewhere between Salina, Kansas and Manhattan, Kansas.  As the morning and afternoon went on, there became growing concern that this target in Northeastern Kansas was not going to verify.  A secondary target around the Kansas / Oklahoma border seemed to be showing slightly better parameters.  There was much conversation back and forth between which target seemed like the best option as we tried to make some sense of the data in the car.  Even Brian from his hospital bed chimed in with his opinion to head south to the better parameters.  In the end, we decided against making the trip down to the Oklahoma border and made the decision to play a target kinda in the middle of the two.  This was based on the model developing a isolated cell that appeared to be on the edge of the backed winds and better parameters.

As the afternoon wore on a couple more hours, we began hearing of the cells down on the border becoming tornado warned.  Our thought was that we really messed up by dismissing Brian's suggestion to head south and would end up missing out on the big tornado producers on the day.  As it turned out, those storms quickly became non-tornadic like the model had hinted as the tornado window was very short-lived down there.

The HRRR weather model continued indicating a couple of cells would initiate right around the Ottawa, Kansas area and also indicated those storms would still have some tornado potential later in the afternoon.  So we sat in Ottawa, Kansas for probably a good hour just waiting and waiting.  A couple of cells did fire to the west of there, but none seemed to take off.  As we watched these storms approach and then slide by to the north of Ottawa, they showed little increase in intensity or any increase in wind velocity.  As the storm was slipping by to the north of town, we heard a storm report that there was 3/4 inch hail falling, so we decided that we should drive up to the storm and check out the hail behind the core as this was the direction we needed to go anyway to start our trek back home.   As we worked our way out of town and then north toward the passing storm, we noticed that the storm did have a wall cloud on it.  We also noted it had a very slight rotation.  Wow!  We weren't expecting to see that. 

As we worked our way closer, the wall cloud began showing some signs of a little stronger rotation.  We started to see some inflow bands working into the storm. 

Then at its peak, the storm ramped up pulling inflow from near the ground level and we observed above the tree line between us and the wall cloud, a plume of dust right under the updraft/wall cloud.  Was it a circulation on the ground?  Was it a tornado? 

Even though there was a news helicopter hovering right next to the area of interest with a perfect view into that area of interest, we never saw a report of a circulation on the ground.  Certainly, this dust plume was in the correct place, but there is no way of knowing without ground truth from somebody closer if this feature was in direct relationship to the circulation from the wall cloud.  This persisted for 20-30 seconds before dissipating.

We did follow the storm east and watched the quickest demise of a storm that I've ever witnessed.  Within a matter of 10 minutes, the entire storm seemed to vaporize. 

We worked our way back to the Highway for the ride home, but not before stopping in to see our chase partner, Brian, in the hospital.

16.5 Hours      *      Total Miles  - 699

Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.

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