Come the morning of the 11th of May, unexpected convection fired prematurely in the TX panhandle and prompted the National Weather Service to douse the risk of severe weather to 'slight risk'. Our target was the warm frontal/triple point and so we headed for western Kansas near Quinter (recently famous for the 2008 wedge tornado), despite a few people we know asking "you're targetting where?".
We managed to get a severe warned multicell near Hays Kansas on the way out from the morning convection and held like many chasers for several hours as we waited for the weather to recover. By late afternoon it was clear the warm front was only going to fire closer to the triple point, so a quick hours drive west put us on the second storm which formed and was severe warned near Burlington. As we approached on the interstate we could see the storm structure emerging and knew this baby was gonna rotate!
Our first view into Burlington was large hail falling and a funnel near the RFD, just to our west golfballs were reported, and we encountered similar size though fortunately they were soft. Mostly the hail was 2-3 centimeters. We were forced to punch first east through the edge of the RFD to get a suitable road network, and then east to get back on the right side of the storm which was elongating to the north. As we punched back east, there was a rotating lowering above our heads.
We then moved just east and under the flanking line and were treated up close to a view of a large clear slot and rotating wall cloud under the mesocyclone :
The chase was now on, we pursued over dirt roads thanks to all wheel drive, and passed the few chasers that had managed to make it up here (many busted/struggled on the dryline in Southern/Central KS). As we kept pace with the storm we were treated to a great view of the updrafts and structure.
Much to the angst of feathers, he seems to regularly appear in crikey's photos:
At this stage we ran south on the road in the photo above and got right under the meso. We will let the video do the talking when we do an update.........
We ran into this guy again, scouting around looking for a tornado to intercept:
We now rapidly moved east as the storm weakened chasing after further convection which was finally beginning to initiate to our east, we managed to get onto a severe storm near Oberlin, KS and were treated to a great lightning show. Just a sample of the lightning we managed to get:
Video highlights of the days chasing. Full quality chase footage will be available in the 2011 USA DVD so stay tuned. More videos for each chase day will come soon as well ;).
Feathers and Crikey