Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our remarkable close encounter with Kirksville, MO tornado 5/13/2009.

What a remarkable day and stormchase. Here is the account. I will post a link to the video soon. But for now here is the account and the screens snaps and photos. More may be added and updated soon . ? let me know
Chase Title
: The Amazing Ever Changing Monster
(Pictures etc © Eric Flescher. All Rights Reserved. )
Risk LMH and area: Medium KS, OK, TX, NE, MO, IO
Highest Risk : MO
Watch/Warning area: East of line and watch of Columbia to Kirksville, MO
Target:Macon north to possibly Kirsville, MO
Partners with: Eric Flescher, James Seitz, Uday Verma
Today's Chase States/ Counties: KS, MO
Day/Time Started (from Olathe) : 7:30 am
Day/Time Return to Olathe, KS:5/13/09 11:30 PM
Miles of Chase: 470
Equipment: Panasonic 329 CCD chip camcorder; Rebel XT camera; wide angle, telephoto 28-200mm, 50 mm ;

and Jim's devices
Results Today : Tornado Wallcloud Supercell Structures
Tornado(es) today: 1 (at least)
2009 tornado count: 1
2009 Chase count: 3?

Full Account :

(1) I met James and Uday in Kansas City at 8:30am near I-70 so we could get out early and beat any traffic. A few anvils over Kansas City We went with our initial target after looking over forecasts etc. I am getting better at reading the forecasting tools. This NAM graphic showed a good bulls eye to still

shoot for in NE Missouri =purple).
After stopping in a McDonald's in Blue Springs off of I-70 we waited from 8:23 - 9:30 am.

(2) We headed further North from Columbia and decided to go even further North after stopping in Macon for pit stop and assess where we should go. North was now our target .

(3)We has lost a little time getting to Kirksville. We were in the McDonald's in Kirksville admiring some of the towers
that were dissipating and wondering whether we were late and whether anything would now happen.

(4) We were inside the tornado watch area box.We saw some signs of promise but nothing outstanding as we waited. Tornado warning near Green City, MO at 5:17 Pm pm.

(5) Around 5:25, a trained spotter had seen a funnel near Novinger, MO near Highway 6 heading NE.

(6) We headed down the Highway 6 West towards Novinger.

(7) We could see that this "funnel" was now a tornado as we peered through the road view between the trees as we headed West on HWy 6.

(8) It possibly just crossed the Highway but was now North of Highway 6.

(9) The cone shaped tornado was headed East (towards us ) and moving quickly.Many chasers have remarked about the difficult terrain in MO in terms of chasing. It was pretty level until we were going to intercept the tornado on Hwy 6. We quickly found the road had trees on each side and
made for obscure viewing as we bounded West on Hwy 6. Never been in this area before, let alone chasing in these parts but just tried to find a good open viewable area was difficult .

(10) We were in Adair County . Now at the top of a small ridge on Highway 6, I suggested that it might be the best to turn North as we could view on this ridge somewhere.

(11) We turned on to Road 165A and went down about 0.2 miles North of Hwy 6. We lost a little extra time making sure that we turned around so that we were ready to make our escape East on Highway 6 at a moments notice because the tornado was bearing down on us.

(12) This was a better vantage point above the trees and viewing the twister immediately to the West. The Tornado was about 2.5 miles away from us when we first camped out. It was traveling East at 34 mph. The tornado was heading straight for us and made for photogenic and videographic capture before we had to leave.
(Doing the math later I calculated we only 36 seconds or so before we had to make our escape).

(13) The view was our ringside seat. Now it was easier to see the debris field snaking up from the ground even though we could not see the whole funnel extending to the ground.

(14) The constantly streaming (upward) tornado changed shape every second .

(15) First it was more slender then slowly widened is base considerably. Then it appeared more like a wedge, growing to 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide. It was not veering from us at all. It was still coming toward us.

(16) These screen snaps show the tornado morphing into its different shapes and also showed it’s delicate structure.

(17) The video shows the delicate structure changing every second. There was no rain or hail at that point

(18) I did not have enough time to get out my camera or tripod. I did not want to lose any moment of the detail for the video.

(19) In retrospect, I should have had it ready and draped it around my neck to shoot it but I was too focused on helping us to get the best vantage point.

(20) I had the best camcorder equipment on the team so I felt that it was important to get all of the video to show the every changing nature of a tornado for our future reference and to show as an example at my EOAS class at JCCC in Overland Park that I have coordinated for 15 years. I never thought I was going to get such an opportunity today although I was hoping.

(21) The detail in the tornado was remarkable .

(22) The vortex streaming up from the ground could be seen easily as there was no rain to obscure the view.
(23) Constant streaming upward from the base.
Now it was almost bowl shaped.We could now hear it even while it did not seem to move. It was still heading straight but we wanted to take more footage before making our escape.

(24) Now it was a getting closer. Still no rain or hail around us. Definitely still pretty much straight for us.

(25) It looked more ragged and we could see rain was coming.

(26) This dangerous storm must have been only a few hundred yards away from us as it loomed over the ride. Getting too close, it was time to go real soon.

(27) I zoomed in closer .Now it was more like a classical wedge shaped tornado.

(28) Definitely becoming less defined and we knew we would not have too much time left before we had to leave.
(29) It was getting rain wrapped and more difficult to see.
(30) With closeup , it was now very imposing and closing in towards us.

(31) It continued as a wedge.

(30) We knew we had to make our time to go and make our escape real soon.

(31) I wanted to frame the foreground up to the overlook especially since it was not rainwrapped.

(32) Now it was getty rainwrapped. It remained rain wrapped and was now heading just North of Highway 6 without deviation. The rain and storm were moving on us.

(33) Even more so in a few second. James shouted " Time to go!".

(34) We headed back up the road (South) and then turned and went down HWY 6 East .We stopped further East where there now more chasers off of Highway 6.

(35) The tornado passed us at that pull off. It was rain wrapped and about 1 mile to our north.We took more pics and videos.highway 6 and East towards Kirksville. We took more video and pictures and then took off down East .We did not stay in Kirksville (where there was a lot of

(36) There were many chasers here at this time watching this rain wrapped tornado. Others were East , North and South maybe West.

(37)I took a few poor photos as I was rushing too much.

(38) We tried to catch some other cells. Kirksville was now already closed off to traffic as the car dealship and more were destroyed by the tornado.
(39) We broke off and headed South toward Columbia and back to Kansas City, watching some nice lightning along the way. Wanted to possible chase some cells with large hail but we decided not. Heading back to Kansas City where I left James and Uday.

(40) The next day we learned more :

My Conclusions about chase:
(1) there were two tornadoes. This one vacillated between F-1 and F-2 but I am surprised as we all thought it would rate stronger.
(2) The main key for this intercept was staying with the target and then going North to Kirksville before the cells really got going. Hearing about the spotter seeing the funnel caught us more time to intercept and make agood position to view it.

(3) We had a great view of the tornado. Right time , right place.
(4) I am glad I found that side street and that we took it far enough for a great vantage point but had full access to leave when we needed.
(5) reports written the next day SPC

What I learned from this intercept and for future reference :
(1) Have videocamera on a tripod or on suction pod ready to do at all times especially when coming up on the location to start shooting.

(2) Have the telephoto lens and the camera all primed and ready to go and have it drapped
around my head (before we jump out of the car after finding the right spot).
(3) Get a rain parker to protect from rain and even cover the camera, lens etc in the future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Frustrating day indeed 04/25/09 chase near Lawrence, KS

Title: Never wait for the storm to come you. Go to the storm should be the motto (but not too close!).

Account: The upside is the the weather looked promising but once it was "when to target and where to go?" I finally headed out on I-35 as I heard a fierce cell was heading out of Lawrence, KS and heading NE. It would be near Tognoxie. I headed on to I-70 but thought if I went down I-70 I would miss it. I was wrong.

There was a slight threat in this area and I thought I would shoot for that. The Medium threat watch was too far to the East and South.

I was rushing to get in place.

I headed down I-70 and got off at the Bonner Springs, KS exit
I went straight East on highway 24/40 towards Tongonoxie, KS my target.
I thought I would have a good shot at intercepting it there.
I parked in the Sonic at watched the sky for visible signs. Unfortunetely the cell produced a tornado just over I-70 (where I would have been if I went due West), in the southern part of the cell then headed North and hit Reno, KS just South of me.
I could hear that had occurred on the radio but I was too focused on trying to videotape the hail (it was raining to hard and it was not possible to photograph.
I was now getting the brunt of that with the hailstones and the warm rain which was really coming down. It was coming down so hard and since the rain was so warm, the hailstones melted almost immediately so I could not scoop some up to show the size.
If the tornado was rain wrapped , it was impossible to see. If it went a little further it probably was just South of me.

Conclusions: I missed the tornado by supposing I could meet it East and North as I was heading this. Once again like with the tornado that hit west of Lawrence a few years ago, I sat further away waiting for it to come to me.
Next Time: Next time I need to be in place and go further and closer to the storms, but practicing caution still, not being fool hardy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Severe weather 5/13/09 maybe today 5/12

Slight risk today ( left) . I might chase locally while I waiting for James and Uday on 5/13 (tomorrow morning). Chance of thunderstorms laaer. But tomorrow that is a different story for many.

Possibly a lot of promising storms may appear tomorrow. I am getting better at "reading " the forecasting tools but still have a long way to go.
Our present targe is Springfield, MO near the SW edge of the MDT threat. But we shall see.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

4/25/09 today shaping up to produce tornadoes

I might chase today locally but I can't range as far I was planning. Stormchasers have been looking towards the sky for 4/25-26 as a potential tornado producing days. Unfortunetly the target is a little too far West for me to get to the airport to meet my son at 10:00am on 4/26. We had set up this meeting a few weeks ago and wouldn't you know it would happen to land on this weekend. Medium risk with an elevated chance of tornadoes in Western Kansas to the near the Panhandle of OK and TX. The two chasers I should have been with are now way past Wichita. Right now (11:00 am ) targets range from Still SW Kansas or extreme NW Oklahoma and near Texas including Beaver, OK to Liberal, KS, or maybe slightly north of there, Woodward and Fairview in NW OK north to Protection and Medicine Lodge in SW KS, Dodge City, SHAMROCK, TX to Clinton, OK, Canadian, TX and Woodward/Alva OK.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4/09/2009 tornadic possibilities in SE Kansas

4/9 (my birthday) is looking to be a possible chase day with slight risk of tornadic weather in SE Kansas and to the east and south.

However I was surprised that instead of a 2% from the last week this is looking, at least for now, much more promising.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Storms near Kansas and Misssouri 3/23/2009

I just returned from Rhode, Connecticut and New York City. Now I am looking at the weather for today and there are severe thunderstorms and more brewing based on the predictions of 3/23/09.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stormchasing around Kansas City area 6/3/08

Date: 6/3/08
Time: 6:03 - 10:00 CDT
Target/ Chase: Johnson County, KS (JCKS)
Chase travels : Johnson County, KS (JCKS)
Weather specifics: hail, stormcells, lightning, wallcloudfunnelwannabees
chasing: Eric Flescher
chase rating: 8/10

(1) Finally a day in 2008 to remember that showed some of the beauty and the might of stormy weather.

(2) The day opened to a medium threat via the Storm Center. Stretching from around Olathe, KS to Kansas City and out east into Missouri, things looked promising today. But would the day bring some stormy (stormsatori- aha weather) and stop my draught through several chases so far in 2008?

(3) I waited until later on the day to see whether storms would start to "pop" and where? Then a tornado watch was issued for the same area. I heard a dangerous storm cell was moving in from Desoto, Kansas just west on highway 10. It had hail and more.

(4)I heading out on I-35 North at 119th street, I could see wallcloudfunnelwannabees in the darkening skies. I did not see rotation but things looked promising. I headed North looking for a good overlook towards the West. I found what I was looking for at 95th street, just north of a gasoline station area next to the Holiday Inn. As I watched, the brewing, swirling clouds and scud moving south and north, continued to produce a BTMS (Booming, Thunder and lightning show).

(5) While videotaping and photographing the storm to the west, a van with a couple and their two kids pulled up besides me. They asked what i was doing and we compared notes as the mother/wife was videotaping with her nice Sony HSD camcorder. The father got out and showed me his Blackberry which was fast and Internet ready. A nice visual with The Weather Channel Doppler showed this stormcell and another dangerous one down south (which I made sure to note for later). My treo 650 and the Sprint is not fast enough so I was a little jealous. I did not want to see if my g4 book with wifi could see it as i was too busy marveling and videotaping the storm. Some rain, no hail but tons of ground to lightning (CGs).

The little girl got of the van and said "look there's a tornado" as she looked west. It was "Virga" so I told her it wasn't and what it was in not too complicated language. She seemed to understand while we continued to watch the clouds swirling all around. They then took off while I contented to take some more photos as well.,

There were reports that what we were seeing were wallclouds and funnels. A trainer stormspotter said there was a definite wallcloud and rotation in a wallcloud near Lee Summit, MO as sirens were going off briefly.This was dismissed on air though as I sat just North this time further down north of I-435 on Quivira. I decided not to try to make a run to Lee Summit but engage the incoming storms from the south.

(6) There was hail and possible hook 
(7) I headed back on I-35 but then headed south to intercept the strengthening stormcells heading into Olathe. I  found a good stop to look just of of 119th street looking west. Not bad. But then I found a better lookout next to the new shopping center SW of 119th and I-35 so I could shoot the real dark ominous storms and lightningfest looking east and west. I continued to shoot the video and photos but my camera card maxed out . (next time before a storm, I need to format the card or have two ). So I just worked on videotaping the sky show.

Beautiful yellow streaks through the sky, grey clouds and even azure blue sky peaking through made for a great contrast of colors. The southern and east storms were producing CGs (Cloud to Ground) and CC (cloud to cloud) as the show continued. A couple came out from the sports shop just to the west and asked what I was doing . They liked looking at the booming skies and we talked a bit. They left and I kept videotaping this lightningandboomfest.

9:55 CDT
 (8) Heading south on I-35 and I was approaching Spring Hill and Paola. At the Spring Hill line, 1 mile line before SH,9:55 CDT, big hailstones and rain started to increase and started to pelt my car. Sounded big as they "bonked" the hood of my car (small golf ball). I got off at the SH exit and looking west, I videotaped the hail through my windshield. It was raining too hard to get out and try to pick up some of the hail for souvenir and photos. By the time I could they had already melted.

I then went east turned around and headed back north as small pea hail rained down. This time it was just raining a bit but I did not see any hail that I could pick up.

10:00 CDT(8) I got back home in Olathe at 10:00 CDT. As I got something to eat I started to upload my photos using iPhoto and using my Panasonic camcorder. I also watched the news which showed the oil tank near Kansas City which exploded possibly due to a lightning strike earlier (7:30pm) started earlier in the day when the storms were moving in.

(9) Definitely a Storm Satori Day the best since Hays in 2007. While there was no tornado today for me and no really defined good rotations, the lightning displays and the storm was gorgeous and menacing. While I heard hail I did not see.

I would rate his chase 8/10.; Hopefully even better chases to come.