A great forecast and nice tornado just across the Kansas/Nebraska border is somewhat marred by events after the tornado.
The 22nd had looked intriguing for a couple days, as models were insisting that an MCV would form in western Kansas on the night of the 21st and move northeast, serving as a focus for thunderstorms on the 22nd in northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska. Most chasers who were out decided to go to north Texas on this day, so I was chasing a secondary target. The setup essentially was the same as a cold-core setup, which means that storms were low-topped and would have little lightning, but could still produce tornadoes. As I woke up on the morning of the 22nd, the SPC did not have an area outlined with a tornado risk, which surprised me, as I thought they would put a 2% area out. I still planned on going and got ready. At the 11:30 am update, they added a 2% tornado risk area for my target area as Lijun and I left home. I began by heading west to Manhattan and then north to Leonardville. I could see that the prototypical arc of convection that is a hallmark of cold-core type setups was forming northeast of me, but not moving too quickly, so I headed north to Waterville and then over to Hanover. I figured the best strategy this day was to get on the furthest north cell immediately and then drop down to each cell as needed. I crossed the state line into Nebraska as the convection was gaining strength.
3:22 pm, a few miles southwest of Odell, Nebraska, looking north. Several updrafts were visible from my location, and at that time, this one was looking pretty interesting as it had some rotation. It was tough for the cells to gain separation from each other, but I felt that if a cell could get some separation it would have a good chance at producing a tornado. I followed these cells for a bit and went northwest to keep up.
3:53 pm, a few miles southeast of Diller, Nebraska, looking northeast. The cells continued to have difficulties with separation, but they were slowly strengthening. A couple times I thought a cell might produce as it pulled in scud quickly, but nothing came of it. I decided that I needed to get east to get closer to the cells east and southeast of me. As I got just south of Barneston, a cell began rapidly rotating nearly overhead.
4:46 pm, just south of Barneston, Nebraska, looking north. The cloud in the foreground was rapidly rotating as we passed very close to it. I pulled south a bit to watch, but no tornado occurred. I liked the look of the cell to my east, so I drove north through Barneston to find a good road going east, but I couldn’t find one. I turned around and headed back to Barneston where I knew there was an east-west highway just south of town. As I was driving back south towards Barneston, I saw a glimpse of a cone funnel to my southeast. I was certain it was a tornado. I drove through Barneston again and got to the highway and blasted east. Once I cleared the hills and trees, a white tornado was visible from just a few miles away.
4:57 pm, just east of Barneston, Nebraska, looking southeast. White rope tornado is visible in the middle. The tornado dissipated as soon as I stopped on the side of the road, but Lijun took a good video of it that is visible here (https://youtu.be/YsUnkAhdkAo). You can see the tornado at the end of the horseshoe, so it was a minisupercell tornado.
After the tornado dissipated, I continued eastward, and about 15 minutes later the same cell produced a nice funnel cloud but I couldn’t see any ground circulation. I continued eastward, hoping to get ahead of new cells to the southeast. I then headed south, back into Kansas, and through the town of Summerfield. I drove east, hoping to get ahead of the storms. However, I took one wrong turn that proved to be a major mistake. I turned onto a gravel road and came up to a farm. As I passed the farm at the top of a hill, the road immediately turned into mud as I went downhill. We came to a stop at a bridge over a small creek and became hopelessly stuck in the mud. I’ll spare the details and will just say that it took about 24 hours to get the car out and drive back to Lawrence. While the chase itself was great, the aftermath was not so good. Still, in a chase season that has given little to chasers, it was good to be able to get one tornado this year, and it was my first Nebraska tornado as well.