Anytime, any place there is a storm to chase, that is where you'll find the Hunters of Thunder.

May 21 – Hiawatha HP – Sky boobs, tornadoes and sirens in the dark.

After the highs of Greensburg the previous day and sleeping at Wichita KS overnight the chase took us to northeast Kansas, north of Topeka. Two really nice cells formed on this day, one southwest of Topeka, and a second southwest of Hiawatha. We chose to pursue the northern cell and were rewarded with another good days chasing, some awesome mammatus (AKA Skyboobs!) and a few tornadoes under an open structured HP type supercell. We started south of the cell, and raced north and intercepted it as it matured near Hiawatha.

The cell showed a powerful signature on radar as we approached and was warned for Tennis Ball hail (and not just warned, observed by some people who got a little too close). Thanks to some roadwork it took a race against the wrapping of the RFD (Rear Flank Downdraft) and the hail core of a second cell to the south to get on the right side of the storm.

The punch paid off, and we found ourselves in an excellent position, in time to see the storms first tornado under a nicely structured base.  

A quick reposition across the Missouri River and we got to see an impressively structured wall cloud, and the pursuit continued across the hills of northern Missouri. 

We were back on it for the second tornado north of St Joseph as the storm appeared to structure further. We continued to follow the cell east until dark, and observed another weak tornadoes before the storm dissipated. 

This wasn't the only drama though, as just because the sun goes down the storms don't stop. Tornado warned storms in a complex structure were coming rapidly from the west, and we were forced to drop south with the prospect of tennis ball hail from many of the storms. We came through Kansas city on the edge of another cell. 

We were pumping fuel and contemplating our next move when overhead a haunting siren sounded, chilling us to the bone.  When you hear one of these on video you will understand how eery these things are at night...pretty scary if you don’t know what is out there. We decided the safest course was not to be in Kansas city with tornadoes bearing down and quickly skirted south, getting a view of the first incoming cell illuminated by lightning(which fortunately dissipated coming into Kansas city, a greater metro of around 2.1 million). We were observing radar at the time, and seeing three training monster supercells with tornadoes on the ground or potential to produce them was surreal, one of these cells produced an EF3 tornado which did significant damage to Reading, KS. We managed to stay out of trouble and ended up in Wichita for the night once more.

Crikey and Feathers

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