Chasecation 2016 Day 0 (5/21): Amazing Leoti, KS Supercell

Map of the day’s activities:

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I started the day at home (thus Day 0), reaching Denver in the early afternoon. Models had been keying in on convective initiation in SW KS, but late the previous evening and in the morning, the CAM’s shifted the initiation zone north, closer to I-70. This put me in play.

Reaching Denver around 1pm, I was racing against time. Blasted S/E as quickly as I could, just as storms began popping up east of Eads, CO. The view around Sheridan Lake, CO as the storms matured further east.

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I continued to blast east, taking a quick snack/”lunch” break at Tribune, KS. This detail becomes significant in the next paragraph.

When I reached Leoti, KS, the storm was a beast, and was rapidly rotating. At this point I think it produced a tornado, but I was too far away to see it. I was about 15-30 min away from seeing my first tornado, having only missed it because I took a lunch break! (No regrets though, I much rather have an enjoyable chase than be hungry and make a mistake or not enjoy the experience as much.)

Photo from when it *might* have produced the tornado, wrapped behind rain curtains on the right hand side of the image.

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I continue north closer to what is now a large supercell complex. A new cell in the flanking line began to overtake the original updraft. View as the merger begins.

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This thing becomes really beastly and mothershipy.

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And too large for even my 11-16mm to handle (should’ve just stayed back a little if I knew this wouldn’t keep producing tornadoes!).

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The merger causes the supercell complex to stall, so even a half hour later I’m still looking into the same area.

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At this point I move north even closer to the complex, but there wasn’t much more other than what I had already seen. Also, the chaser convergence was RIDICULOUS, to the point that the side roads all jammed up with vehicles. The mammatus display at this point was glorious.

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Some final shots at dusk showing the updraft. I attempted to get this with lightning but did not succeed (seriously, it’s tougher than it looks).

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