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Great Plains trip previews for days 7-12, May 16-21: Lightning and Tornadoes
2019 Great Plains trip #3 continues, and it's been a busy one! Here is a quick summary of the storm photography days up to this point. I will eventually get videos up on Youtube and expedition logs from these days posted, but it will probably be after I arrive home - the upcoming week of observing looks active! Total tornado count for this trip so far is five (three in Nebraska on Day 8, two in Texas on Day 11).
Day 7, May 16: St. Louis to Wilson, Kansas
Day 7 was a travel day to start Great Plains trip #3 for the season. Hotels were completely booked in Hays/Russell, my originally-planned stop, thanks to college graduation events. I found a nice historic hotel in Wilson where I ended the day.
Day 8, May 17: Southwestern Nebraska tornadoes
An excellent storm photography day in Nebraska yields two close intercepts of developing tornadoes and a nice long-lived photogenic tornado. I got on the storm north of Goodland, Kansas and followed it into Nebraska to just northeast of Cozad. After the expedition, I needed to stage for the next day in Oklahoma. Due to hotels booked solid in northern Kansas again, I had to drive to Dodge City to get a room, where I arrived after 2AM.
Video from this day has been posted on my Youtube channel:
Day 9, May 18: Northern Oklahoma severe storms
A low-key day for supercells thanks to an expansive early morning thunderstorm complex that scoured out available moisture. After starting out with an oil change in Dodge City, I ended up on several marginal supercells in Oklahoma from Alva to near Blackwell that quicly became outflow dominant. I ended the day in Perry.
Catch of the day was this high speed lightning capture near Billings:
Day 10, May 19: Down day in Oklahoma City
A rare "down day" for me in the Plains as the atmosphere recharged between systems. I had time to put together a Youtube edit of the Nebraska tornado event on Day 8. My Verizon Jetpack stopped working in the morning, requiring a drive around the western OKC metro to find a replacement. Also bought 2 new tires for the car and had them mounted and balanced. Ended the day in Sayre.
Day 11, May 20: North Texas tornadoes and lightning
The parameters for this day pointed to a historic tornado outbreak, but the conditions failed to materialize. I started in Hollis, then drove south to a supercell in Texas just in time to see two tornadoes near Paducah. I then got stuck on a dry but soft sand road near the Red River for an hour, losing the storm. Thankfully I was pulled out by a local resident before rain arrived. The big outbreak was not to be, so there were no other viable target storms. I ended the day in Lawton, Oklahoma.
This first montage shows the stages of the first Paducah tornado, the second image is a frame from high-speed video of cloud-to-ground lightning stepped leader in front of a supercell wall cloud:
Day 12, May 21: Central Kansas marginally severe storms
I headed north this day for a cold-core tornado setup in central Kansas, electing to not go home for the tornado risk in St. Louis due to probable rain-wrapping issues with any storms there. My surface observations data feed stopped updating early in the afternoon, so I ended up out of position for the tornado event north of I-70 in northeastern Kansas. Saw some briefly severe storms near Lyons and Salina. Ended the day in Wichita.
That's it for now! The upcoming days look active, so more to come - stay tuned!
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