MAY 25, 1997

ODIN, KANSAS TORNADOES
Carson Eads, Ellen Meyer, Tim Marshall Pangolin Pictures Television

WOODWARD, OK: First dynamic system this month is coming into the southern Rockies with an upper low digging in around the four-corners area. The set-up is perfect for a severe weather scenario with the only fly in the ointment being all that overnight convection. This morning, storms are still firing in central Oklahoma. Surface winds are east-southeast from south-central Kansas down to the Red River with northeast winds in northern Kansas with a stationary front positioned around I-70. Storm relative helicities are greatest along this front if a storm moves east-southeast along the boundary. Upper air winds are good. Timing looks good. Dryline should be moving out into central Kansas and Oklahoma today.

11:00 826 WOODWARD- Leaving Woodward after plotting and analyzing maps all morning. This is a day that will last in the minds of you'all. Surface low is north of Dodge City. Outflow boundary extends from just north of Dodge City to west of Wichita. Light winds at Wichita. The surface moisture convergence max is north of Dodge City (near Ness City) and is associated with the surface low. I expect the moisture convergence max to move east today to near Great Bend by tornado time. Dryline to intersect from there south. Southern extent of cap breaking should be around Medicine Lodge, Kansas by evening along the dryline. Diffluence axis is from Woodward to Wichita. Best storms are going to be in Kansas today, in my opinion. However, I cannot rule out south-central Oklahoma as another area for severe weather later today due to a secondary outflow boundary from the previous nights convection. I believe classic supercells are best in central Kansas whereas HP supercells are more likely in central Oklahoma. My forecast ellipse for tornadic storms today is from Great Bend, Kansas to Medicine Lodge, Kansas. ACCAS patches and strato-cu east. Clear sky. 2 pictures east to finish out roll showing ACCAS. Our tactical is to head to Medicine Lodge, KS and pull up more data and reanalyze our chase target. E on Rt.15.

11:58 2 picts of ACCAS at 28mm.

12:00 860 Rt. 281 North

12:11 875 WAYNOKA - 2 vertical shots of ACCAS overhead.

12:34 901 ALVA - Strato-cu east. Patchy ACCAS south. South winds.

1:07 919 HARDTNER, KS - Continuing north on Rt. 281.

1:30 944 MEDICINE LODGE, KS - Stopping at Pizza Hut for lunch.

2:46 944 MEDICINE LODGE, KS - Tornado Watch Box issued for central Oklahoma and north-central Texas, nothing yet for Kansas. Skinny towers southwest of town. South winds at 15. We will plot a map.

3:46 944 MEDICINE LODGE, KS - Still here in town. We are going to go north out of town to get out of this valley.

3:50 948 MEDICINE LODGE, KS - Stopped on hill/dirt road just north of town. Watching TV.

3:55 948 MEDICINE LODGE, KS - Weather Channel radar shows line of storms forming along I- 70 to our north. One is tornadic they say. Storms are moving east along boundary. Evidently, the boundary backed up a bit to the north. Wondering if cap is too strong here? Severe thunderstorm warning issued for central Oklahoma. We seem to be between storms! Saw Chuck Doswell and Al Moller race by to the north at a high rate of speed. We decided to pursue.

4:18 976 PRATT, KS - Heading north on Rt. 281. South-southeast winds.

4:28 Can now see three storms north of us. All have mushy anvils. All have backshear. Nothing else around.

TORNADO WARNING- RUSSELL, BARTON, and ELLSWORTH.

4:40 2 pictures North of leaning towers. We can't see base yet.

TORNADO SIGHTED 2 MI SOUTH OF RUSSELL CO. LINE ON HWY 281.

Dark N. Still in sun. Can't make out base. (Russell has cool, east winds)

5:01 030 GREAT BEND, KS - Rt. 281 N. West winds. Dark N. Towers ALQDS. (29.61 pressure in Russell)

(Tornadic storm 20 miles south of Russell moving east)

5:13 043 HOSINGTON - Base coming into view. Lots of hills. Can see lowering north-northeast ahead of precip core. Main tower N-NW too. Large blocky wall cloud with apparent elephant trunk tornado NE. Can't confirm tornado yet. We are moving east on dirt road, 1 mile north of Hosington.

5:22 048 CONFIRM TORNADO NE. We are moving east on dirt road, filming on the fly. Multivortex tornado now. Tornado forms and dissipates over and over again.

5:24 Tornado in full contact with the ground now NE. Dirt kicks up. Vehicle hits rabbit.

5:25 Gorgeous shape. Beautiful tornado, nice cone funnel now. No question about it.

5:26 Three more miles to a blacktop road. Running out of Hi-8 tape.

5:28 Tornado dissipates. Saw tornado for six minutes, about 10 miles distant.

5:29 056 Paved road. Heading north.

5:31 058 ODIN, KS - Keeping just ahead of RFD precip. Updraft wraps to our north. Lots of people are out watching the storm. Moving eastbound on paved road. Wall cloud lifting. Maybe it will form up again. Tornado occurred in front of main precip area along boundary where low beaver tails were feeding into the updraft. The beaver tails paralleled and delineated where the boundary was. JCT. 156. Moving eastbound to Lorraine.

5:50 LORRAINE - Wall cloud reforms and is violently rotating to our N-NW. RFD clouds are overhead. We are just on the edge of the precip. Beaver tail wraps to our north. Wall cloud is moving southeast and will pass over us unless we move. We decided to move east on dirt road, just north of town. Turned south to get out of rain core. We are still on a dirt road. One of the Pangolin vans runs off the road and into a barr ditch. They abandoned that vehicle into their second vehicle. -in the bears cage no less.

6:02 LORRAINE - Storm updraft occludes in precip. Other storms have fired to our southeast. We can see a wall cloud beneath a storm near Mitchell.

6:08 087 Rt. 4 eastbound. (Severe thunderstorm 15 W of McPherson)

6:13 092 Rt. 14 south.

6:22 104 LYONS - Rt. 14 south. Rt. 56 east is closed.

6:28 109 Faxman Road - paved road eastbound. (Tornado Warning. Tornado over Kanapolis Lake in Ellsworth Co.) Line of storms now N-S with heavy precip core SE. Stopped - tried to get Weather Channel with no luck.

7:09 Watched Weather Channel at 7pm. Tornadic storm in southern KS and in central OK. Moving south on road to Nickerson. Lots of traffic.

7:19 149 NICKERSON- Northwest winds. (TORNADO 60 SW of WICHITA -near Harper)

7:31 160 HUTCHINSON - Stopped for gas. Confirmed tornado was between Harper and Duqoin. There is a tremendous looking storm to our south. It is a tail-end charlie cell with crisp, thick anvil, large mammatus, chunky backshear and tilted parent updraft tower. Has to be a big tornado with that. We will continue south to try to intercept.

7:40 160 TORNADO WARNING SUMNER CO. At 7:40pm Doppler radar indicated a possible tornado near Norwich and near Freeport moving east at 20mph. Rt. 17 South. 2 pictures south of inverted Cu on anvil S.

TORNADO WARNING HARVEY CO. At 7:35pm trained spotters reported a tornado 15 miles east of Hutchinson near Burton.

TORNADO WARNING HARPER CO. At 7:35pm trained spotters reported a tornado 1 mi. east of Anthony, KS.on Hwy 44 moving east at 20mph.

7:58 185 Crossing Kingman Co. line.

8:02 190 Crossing Rt. 54.

8:0 1 pict S of flank.

Trained spotter reports tornado 8 miles east of the Harper/Sumner Co. line Radar continues to show this storm strengthening.

8:13 203 CHENEY- South on paved road.

8:22 MILTON - Heavy hail core south

8:27 Turned east towards Conway Springs

8:33 CONWAY SPRINGS - LARGE TORNADO REPORTED 10 S OF WELLINGTON JUST EAST OF CORBIN.

8:48 244 Jct. 81. Continue east.

8:54 251 BELLE PLAINE - South on paved road. In heavy rain.

9:04 259 Rt. 160 E. Heavy rain. Meso is to our south. DAMAGE REPORTED ON TURNPIKE. TORNADO WARNING CROWLEY CO. At 9:10pm a trained spotter reported a tornado 5 NW of Geude Springs moving east at 10.

9:25 279 WINFIELD: Rt. 77 South. West-northwest winds.

9:32 Breaking out of rain core. Base to our west. Base passes overhead. Encounter heavy precip core south of base.

9:40 283 ARKANSAS CITY. Heavy rain core hits as we arrive. Sirens are going off. Hid beneath canopy at convenience store as we encountered pea/marble hail. Call it quits. Moving west on Rt. 166.

10:31 308 I-35. Local power is out. Definitely a tornado passed through near here. We will stay in Wichita tonight. Heading north on I-35. Mile marker 9. We encountered large damage path. Trees down. Debris on road.

11:30 363 WICHITA KANSAS

Summary: Should have stayed with your forecast instead of racing off 150 miles to the "sure thing" tornadic storm. Next time you see Chuck and Al race off, stay with your instincts. Kudos to Charles Edwards who stuck to his guns. SAW TORNADOES, 4 brief touchdowns from single wall cloud, NEAR ODIN, KS. BEST SHOW WAS SOUTH OF WELLINGTON WITH WEDGE. TORNADO NEAR BURTON, S. OF RUSSELL, near DUNCAN and LINDSEY, OK. 12.5 hours, 537 miles.