May 26, 2021  

In a season of very few opportunities, our team eyed the chance for a potential two day chase.  My son Ryan and I left for our chase partner, Brian Stertz's place the night before and got our night sleep there. 

Got up early the next morning as our preliminary target was Colby out in far western Kansas.  Strong, Tornadic storms were forecasted from southwest Nebraska southward along a dryline as well as as along the warm  front.  The most intense supercells were forecasted to erupt in western Kansas in the late afternoon.  The Storm Prediction Center had a Moderate Risk for the area.

We arrived in Hays, Kansas around lunch time and grabbed some to-go lunch from Freddie's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, then continued westward toward our target.  When we arrived in Oakley, Kansas, we decided to stop and watch things unwind from there.  Several strong, Tornadic Supercells were projected to initiate in the late afternoon / early evening between Colby southward to Garden City, so it was now a waiting game as we watched radar and browsed the lastest data.

We found a parking spot near the Highway exit and now waited.  We were soon joined by our fellow Metro St. Louis Chaser Association Friends, Lucas Munzlinger, Michael Onesty, with their friend, Caleb Kime and then a little later, Tom Stolze (in his Tesla) pulled in as well.  Still amazes me how we can all find ourselves in the same spot on a chase day many miles from home.

First storm to fire was ironically a storm near the city where we had grabbed lunch 90 miles back east.  We watched it on radar intensify and considered heading back east for the storm, but the forecast of those stronger, tornadic storms initiating just to our west and moving at us later, held us in this spot.  Patience was still present as we watched on radar as the Hays storm went tornado warned, then put down a confirmed tornado along with reports of large hail.  The storm movement was 10mph.  But would that storm persist or die out?  It could be catch-able at that speed.  We chose to hold our ground.  (Side note: Those storms remained tornadic for multiple hours although most of its life were high precipitation supercells with few views of the tornado)

A bit later in the afternoon, storms fired up to our north along the Kansas / Nebraska border a little over an hour to our north.  They soon went tornado warned with confirmed tornadoes.  Seemed every storm up in that area became tornado warned and there were many confirmed tornado reports.  Thoughts again were will they persist or die?  Again we held our ground.  (Side note:  These storms also remained tornadic for several hours and were classic supercells with tornadoes being viewable for miles)

Wasn't long before we finally had two cells fire to our southwest.  We plotted out their track and left Oakley to intercept them just to our west in Winona, Kansas.

We arrived and found an open spot just to the south of town and watched them approach.  We had a clear view into the base with the wall cloud.  It went by us with little fanfare.

As we kept our eyes on the cells as we followed them, it was becoming painfully obvious that the cells were struggling in a strongly capped atmosphere, so our patience finally ran out and we headed for the still tornadic storms to the north on the border of Kansas and Nebraska, an hour or so to our north. 

worked our way north on Highway 25 and crossed over I-70.  Then we worked our way east over to Highway 83 to continue traveling north toward the closest Tornadic storm. Passed through Seldon, Kansas as we made our way closer to the storm and saw some of the damage from the tornado that tore through that town two days earlier on May 24.

As we continued, we passed several cells along the way staying mostly out of the path of the hail shafts.  Saw several rainbows along the way along with one hailbow.

As we got north of Oberlin, Kansas and crossed over into Nebraska as we neared the storm. 

The still Tornado Warned Storm came into view.  We drove up right next to the back end and it seemed a tornado was imminent as it was rotating hard, but as we watched, it never could wrap up all the way and eventually, rain curtains wrapped around cutting off our view.

The road network was not friendly to follow the storm, so we worked our way east to get us to a road that would take us south to some intensifying cells that were now showing some rotation. We passed through Norton, Kansas as we traveled south on Highway 283 moving toward one of the cells, but we were cut of by the storm's hail core.  This is where we encountered our biggest hail of the day, 1 inch in size as the edge of the core grazed us.  We backtracked into town and took cover under an overhang at the town Medical Center.  We watched the back end of the storm go by and watched as a funnel cloud descended.  The rotation started to wrap up tight and condense, but after a minute or so, the rotation fell apart.

We followed the storm briefly, but no sign of stronger rotation reappeared.  We continued to move southward as the sun began to set.  The storm structures and the sunset lighting created very colorful photographic opportunities.


This day proved to be very frustrating as the area that was forecasted to have strong, tornadic supercells remained void of big storms yet storms on the fringes of that area produced some longer lived, tornadic supercells with some photogenic tornadoes.  Many times, being patient in a targeted area will pay off when you don't get lured away by early convection, but today was the opposite.  Those few people that left for the early storms were rewarded.  Those that waited missed out.

Although we anticipated a second day chase, the weather gods didn't cooperate.

49 Hours  1432 Miles

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

Return to the
Summary 2021 Page

Return to the
Storm Index Page