Chasecation 2016 Day 5 (5/26): KS Slopfest, Greensburg Area Supercell

Map of the day’s activities/locations (again every city mentioned is KS):

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Started the day off in Wichita, after a disappointing day before where I missed a big tornado up north. 5/26 was supposed to be a make-up day. The parent trough responsible for days of SW flow was forecast to eject into the Plains on this day, with multiple tornadic supercells anticipated from the ascent overspreading a very moist and unstable warm sector. By mid-morning SPC had upgraded the area to a MDT risk, the second-highest level.

For me, my expectations were a bit tempered. Even from several days out, I was concerned that strong ascent would erase the cap far too early and too much convection would interfere with each other. In the morning, this problem seemed to magnify; CAM’s indicated such a scenario and elevated storms had formed in SW KS/NW OK. I originally targeted Hays but with those storms cutting off moist inflow to areas NW, I settled on Hutchinson to center myself.

Took a quick nap and woke up to seeing those elevated storms had become more surface-based and numerous (and grungy). In these types of situations it’s often good to go east away from the slop, and winds were more backed to the NE closer to Topeka, where some storms were congealing. That was way out of my range but thought I could just slowly shift east and see what happened. By the time I got east of I-35, that area had produced a tornado near Wamego but the cells already looked messy and clustery. I went back to Newton for a late lunch.

During lunch I noticed a few storms developing near Newton on the flanks of a cold pool left behind by earlier activity near Wichita. After lunch I Intermittently followed the cell from Newton to Hesston, then cutting east towards Hillsboro, where I observed this mildly intersecting structure:

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I stopped at Marion to reassess. The Hillsboro storm was well north now and not worth catching. A new cluster formed over towards Emporia, but seemed to be undercut and outflow dominant. New cells were firing towards Dodge City, in areas that had been untouched by storms earlier in the day. Decided to blast west towards those cells — I calculated I would get there just in time for sunset (about 3 hr).

On my way, “intercepted” this storm near Florence:

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Fast forward now, the storm is in view near Kingman:

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And now closing in on sunset, the skies over Greensburg look ominous:

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Perfect view of the sunset, now west of Greensburg:

Stayed in Pratt overnight. Saw an amazing light show going back from Greensburg to Pratt, and got slammed with a supercell-QLCS hybrid while at Pratt. Video forthcoming whenever I get to it.

A bit bummed that I didn’t make up for the previous day’s failures, but at least we saw a little bit of everything that’s not spinning tubes of air.

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