6/11/97 KS chase by Mike Umscheid

From: Mike Umscheid (mscheid@SOUND.NET):
Chase Account -- Western Kansas, Ness County ... The 15 Hour Chase!
June 11, 1997
by:  Mike Umscheid (written June 12)

First of all, we were supposed to go to the Royals game yesterday!
Well, these plans were abruptly halted when I was up late Tuesday night and
happened to read the new 12Z swody1.  I immediately called my chase
partner, Jon Smith, and told him the situation.  We knew there would be some
interesting weather across the plains, but didn't know the magnitude of
the whole situation...with the local mets seeming to downplay the whole

We set out shortly after 100pm from Overland Park, Kansas, hoping that
we would only go as far west as maybe Salina.  About 300pm I gave Mark Hill
a call to see what the latest situations were and we found out there was a
red box issued for most of western Kansas to the Texas Panhandle.  Well, it
was around 430pm, we were at Salina, thick in overcast.  We had to continue
west.  About 25 W of Salina, we continued southwest on K-156 towards
Great Bend.  Convection has fired in the OK/TX Panhandles, still nothing out
here that we can see.  We refuel and eat in Great Bend and contine southwest
on US-56.  Time was around 530pm and we still had no visual of convection
to our west.  With such high dewpoints, it was quite hazy, which limited
our visibility toward the western sky.  Jon and I continued west on K-156
past Jetmore, north of DDC.  With the haze limiting our view, our view
continued to be rather poor.  Browsing through the AM radio, we somehow tune in to
WIBW Topeka and learn that there is a TOR just 50 miles from where we
live... and here we are over 300 miles from home with still no visual of
convection.  Jon and I were just puzzled.  We sat along side a farm road
just north of K-156 to see what would happen.  We began to see towers
finally going up southwest of DDC.  About time!  The time was around

We went after it.  At first, this storm was really looking good, but by
around 700pm, it just croaked.  We were determined to just give up.  It
was about this time too, that a collapsing cell north of Garden City was
evident.  But, east of that, TCU was looking more and more interesting,
and there was a long east to west oriented base developing.  I told Jon,
"well, let's go after it.  It's either this or nothing at all."  We figured
that, like the other cells, it would collapse as soon as it would develop.

Time was around 700pm and we headed north on K-23 in Finney County.  We
were now west of the TCU, which were now growing into enormous cauliflower
tops. The chase is on!  About 15 minutes later, Dodge City issued a SVR for
Ness County.  At about 730pm, we continued east on K-96 at Dighton.  There
were two seperate CB's going nuts, one directy to our east, and one to our
ESE. Between the towns of Beeler and Ness City, we were getting closer to the
cells.  We had to find a south road to keep behind the storm.  We found
a fairly decent farm road to take.  Several minutes later we stopped to
take a look at a lowered base from the northern storm.  Lot of instability and
motion in the clouds, but no rotation.  We continued south and east on
the farm roads until we got to US-283 a couple miles south of Ness City.  We
got the chase vehicle (white Ford Taurus) a little dirty, but nothing a
little core punching can't get off :).  The back side of these storms was
beatiful! We could see two seperate hail shafts and there were three or so
suspicious updraft regions with occasional lowerings.  We pulled off along a farm
road by US-283 to sit and watch, since the core was only a couple miles south
of us.  We were monitoring an updraft base west of the main core to our
south. But what was more beautiful was the awesome CB structure directly over
us. It was incredible.  We had thought, since there was a lot of earlier
development in OK/TX panhandle in the late afternoon, that we would be
one of very few on this storm.  Wrong!  There were many chasers on this
storm including DOW, Greg Stumpf (I think that was his car, white with the
anemometer on top), and a few other chasers' cars I recognized, but
can't match names with.  As we were passing under a turbulent base, the cloud
motion was incredible, and for a moment, looking straight up, the clouds
were rotating rather rapidly for a brief moment!  I found that very
interesting, as it wasn't even part of the main updraft base we were
watching.  Between 800pm and 930pm or so, we traversed along US-283
north and south a couple miles to keep away from the core.  As the sun was
setting, a well-defined wall cloud had now formed to our southeast.  We
stopped along the road to view it.  DOW was also there scanning the

As the view darkened, the wall cloud slowly diminished.  We got to
Jetmore and it was close to 1000pm.  We continued east along K-156 passing
through the core of the storm for only five minutes or so.  Time to go home.  At
US-183, we went north and viewed an incredibly awesome cell around the
Hill City area about 90 miles north of us.

Round 2.  A TOR was issued for Graham County near HLC.  The storm was
moving southeast toward Hays, we were moving north toward Hays.  Hmm.  We
refueled in LaCrosse and continued.  Time was around 1030pm-1045pm.  The
lightning to our north was constant.  We had an awesome view of the storm.  Shortly
before enterring Hays, we noticed a lowering in the clouds almost
directly over Hays.  The constant lightning helped our view.  We were watching
this real closely.  We got to I-70 before the core, and continued east.
There was awsome scud clouds from the cell to our north and east near Russell.
Around Russell, we finally entered core.  Prevailing speed was 15mph on
the interstate with very heavy rain and pea to quarter size hail at times.
This lasted about 15-20 minutes.

We eventually got home.  At 400am.  Thus, concluded our 15-hour chase!

Mike Umscheid
================ ~~~~~~~~~ =====================
Mike Umscheid     ~~~~~~       Overland Park, KS
mscheid@sound.net  ~~~   Olathe East HS - Junior
        "MesoMike"   ~~  on IRC #weather
====================== ~ =======================

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