Chasecation 2016 Day 6 (5/27): Western KS Cold-Core Supercells

You start sensing a common theme here: KS.

Map of the day’s activities, locations mentioned in text are either labeled or circled:


Started the day off in Pratt, KS. While many chasers targeted areas closer to I-35, I felt the highest chances of tornadoes would be near the stacked cold-core low center. Again, pattern recognition… if only I had followed that the previous five days…

I moved to Dighton, KS, targeting the area a hair north and east of the low center. Plenty of cumulus clouds had already popped up and they had low cloud bases… good signs. The target area was clearing nicely while a dry slot punched into the area from the SW. Those are classic signals for a cold-core event. While eating lunch at Dighton some storms popped up in eastern CO — i.e. Landspout Alley. I was confident those would develop east with time. Not too long after that, I decided to shift on west to Scott City.

On the road to Scott City, the cells from CO already built east towards Tribune, KS and were tornadic. Some storms were bubbling in my area. When I arrived at Scott City, it had become clear something was developing right over the city:


Just to the north and east of the closed low center, these storms were moving in a peculiar direction: slightly north of west. The storm was clearly rotating while I crossed the town of Scott City. The view to the west of the town:


Unfortunately, this is the best the storm ever looked. A few things: it felt cold (never good on a tornado chase), and cloud bases looked higher here than in Dighton. I followed the storm west but the radar presentation and visual appearance degraded.

The entire area between Tribune and Dighton began to fill up with storms and things got messy. I continue to shift west until I almost reached Leoti, dodging hail cores. After a series of mergers, I managed to fall under an isolated storm again. Rotation was quite evident under this lowering:


But it never managed to tighten further, and cold outflow undercut the lowering after a few minutes.

That one storm kept redeveloping/turning over the highway. I tried core punching it to reach new storms east of Dighton, but the hail core was quite dense and gave me a scare (I would estimate quarter-golf ball sized hail). I kept my position, taking occasional photos like this one of a broad, nonrotating lowering:


When it finally became safe, I blasted east, seeing that a couple of the storms east of Dighton had obvious couplets. By the time I got to those storms, they had become clustery, messy, and nontornadic. I punched the rain cores of those storms, and after getting to a clearing, I snapped this photo of this beaver tail:


Calling off the chase, I headed on over to Ness City to stop and plan the stay overnight. At least the clouds looked cool.


Decided to stay at Hays overnight. A nice sunset on the way over:


On I-80, stopped at a rest stop to snap some lightning photos. Near Ogallah, KS:


Funny thing, both the cells to the west, near Tribune, and some cells to the east near Ransom, produced tornadoes. I suppose the cloud bases were lower further east, while to the west was closest to the low center with larger amounts of environmental vorticity. Cold-core is a lot of luck, and I didn’t have it on this particular day.


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