Chasecation 2012 Day 3 – Two storms, five tornadoes

Last night went gangbusters for us as the southern cell in a line of three storms near the dryline ended up producing several tornadoes, four of which we saw (more probably formed but were obscured by the rain wrapping around the circulation). Unfortunately for me, the tornadoes formed after sunset and I did not get great quality video of them, but Jason and Ian took many pictures with their DSLR cameras so we didn’t miss a beat with these tornadoes. We stayed out quite late watching the storm as it produced tornadoes through the evening, and finally called off the chase around 11pm.

We actually started the chase a little behind, leaving Waterloo IA around 10am with an initial target of Salina, KS, which would get us in the area for chasing. Once we saw the dryline was definitely the play of the day, we hit I-70 and eventually got off to head to Great Bend. The first cell of the day fired as we exited I-70, and that cell did end up producing, but we kept working southwest and then hit up a west road towards La Crosse. The second cell started to get interesting, so we watched that for a bit, and that cell appeared to have produced a brief tornado that we caught on film (will have to process that video later).

The third cell was maturing as the second (middle) cell produced the brief tornado, and we waffled a bit between the two storms before committing to the third, southernmost cell southwest of La Crosse. This storm had nice structure through the early evening, and we watched it for well over an hour as daylight started to fade. It kept reorganizing, but was fairly high-based and did not want to do much. Nearing sunset, a prolific wall cloud took shape and had fantastic updrafts, and as it got darker the LCLs dropped and the storm began producing tornado after tornado.

And now, some pictures!

The maturing southern cell:

The wall cloud that formed near sunset:

One of the tornadoes that we saw just before it went completely dark a couple miles northwest of La Crosse, KS:

Today we are heading north into Nebraska to play near the warm front. The road network gets pretty bad in some areas, so we will try to stay a bit east of the bad areas.

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