5/7/97 TX chase by Mike Umscheid

Personal Chase Account:  May 7, 1997 -- Central Kansas (Herington)
By Mike Umscheid (mscheid@sound.net)

This day was setting up to be a pretty active severe weather day from the
northern midwest all the way through the central plains to the Texas
Panhandle. It wasn't a perfect day for tornadic activity, but the intense
low level instability for early May proved to be enough for sporadic
tornadic activity.  With surface temperatures in the lower 80s and dew
points reaching the mid-60s, suface based CAPE values approached 3000 in
Central KS.  With this and a well defined surface wind field convergance, it
wouldn't take much to initiate severe weather activity from eastern Nebraska
through central Kandsas.

Our chase started after school and after a good brief look at surface data
and SPC guidances.  We decided to go west to Emporia.  Shortly before 400pm
(CDT), a red box was put out for much of central Kansas south and west of
Emporia.  We left Jon's house, my chase partner, around 415pm and headed
southwest along I-35.  We were frustrated with the SC inhibiting further
surface instability and our view of the sky to our west.  As we approached
EMP, the SC broke up somewhat and got some sun...thank god.  NWS TOP was
issuing SVR warnings for activity near the Nebraska border, and severe
activity was just starting around the Salina area.  We gave up on NWR and
tuned to a.m. radio.  Central Kansas Severe Weather Network was activated in
central Kansas and they reported numerous hail reports and wall clouds
northwest of the Abilene KS area.  Around 540pm, NWS TOP issued a TOR for
northern Dickinson County.  At EMP we headed west on US-50 toward the
developing activity to our northwest.  Around 545pm, we jogged north on
K-177 to Council Grove and the view to the northwest was increasingly dark.
Reports of rotating wall clouds near Abilene were still coming in.  We
reached US-56 at Council Grove and continued west.  With the breaks in the
SC clouds, we could see the sharp nuckles on the CB tower of the storms
continuing to develop southwest.  We finally arrived at Herington and headed
north on US-77...The chase was on.

The view to the north was very dark, and we soon came to the intense updraft
region just ahead of the wall of precip.  The motion in the low clouds ahead
of the downdraft region was rather intense and stretched for at least a mile
east and west.  We then headed back south to K-4 where we jogged west for a
mile.  We could see other updraft bases that looked suspicious to tornadic
activity.  We stopped along K-4 to see what would happen.  We had three main
areas we were watching for for possible formation.  After about two or three
minutes, a small funnel rapidly formed in the updraft region of the first,
most eastern cell, that we were origionally after.  About four to five miles
away, this very thin funnel appeared to reach completely to the ground, but
the hills in the distance troubled my vision to the immediate east.  Just as
soon as it possibly reached the ground, it quickly retreated back to the
cloud base, and in the meantime there continued to be rapid motion in the
updraft base.

The time was shortly before 700pm, and most of the tornadic activity in our
area had ceased.  We had to get back to Overland Park by 1000pm, so we had
to get back home.  No sooner than fifteen minutes later, NWS TOP issued a
TOR for eastern Morris County.  We were stunned to say the least, for we
were in the core of that storm.  We knew the tornadic activity associated
with this storm was several miles to the north, but just as we passed
Council Grove, we saw some very strong updraft motion in the clouds.  We
were on the lookout for rapidly changing surface winds as we were very near
the bear's cage.

After that brief encounter, we were in between cells on the way home, and
witnessed some outstanding electrical activity all around on the way back
home in Overland Park.  It was an interesting chase day to say the least!

I will publish this account on my website..

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

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