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April 23 Protection, Kansas tornado #5: Number 40!
One of the nice things about other storm photographers covering the same storm you are is that they often have different viewing angles, allowing them to sometimes see things you can't. The above image is of a rapidly rotating wall cloud at Protection, Kansas back on April 23. This storm up to this point had already produced three tornadoes. Notice the tube-like funnel stretching downward on the right side of the tree to the right of the radio tower. When I was reviewing my video, I was suspicious that this feature could have been a tornado - but since I could not confirm ground contact due to the treeline, I didn't add it to my personal 'tornado count' for the day. I'm pretty conservative when it comes to counting how many tornadoes I've seen, only counting the 'no doubt about it', 'saw it on the ground with my own eyes' ones. Anything that I can't confirm for sure, I don't add to my 'total'.
So today, I was browsing some web sites and came across observer Jerry Funfsinn's expedition log who was also at Protection that day. He had an unobstructed view of the feature in my above photo, and lo and behold, it was indeed a tornado, fully condensed to the ground (see the fourth image on this page on Jerry's site, taken at the exact same time as my image above). So I get to add another tornado to my count for that day - making the Protection chase a five-tornado day for my brother Matt and I.
The significance of this fifth tornado is that it now brings my personal all-time tornado count to 40! I thought I would have to wait until next spring to reach that milestone, but it turns out I already have. The addition of the fifth Protection tornado means that my 40th tornado was the Macksville, Kansas tornado on May 5, 2007, the one pictured here:
I have one other bona-fide tornado from Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007 that I've been undecided on whether or not I want to add it to my totals. Technically, counting that one would bring my total to 41 - but since I didn't actually see it with my eyes (my camera captured it unbeknownst to me at the time) I'm reluctant to 'officially' count it.
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