My first “chase” of the season was pretty bland. Originally, I wasn’t going to bother making a post about this day, but since it’s mid-April and I still haven’t seen a decent supercell, I figure I might as well write an entry. While a couple days prior to the event, I was pretty excited, the setup looked increasingly marginal closer to game-time. Models had been showing a cold-core type setup for a few days, which is one of the best setups to chase. A cold-core setup is when the center of the upper-level low pressure and the surface low are right on top of each other, or “stacked.” This creates very high lapse-rates, the rate at which the temperature decreases with height. On March 24th, temperatures were only in the upper 50s, not usually conducive to tornadoes. However, with a cold-core setup, this is pretty good. There have even been tornadoes in some cold-core events with temperatures in the 40s. You get fast-moving, low-topped supercells that can put down really photogenic (and usually weak) tornadoes. With all that said, the wind profiles always looked pretty wonky on models with the setup, and they were even worse in observations. Expecting very little, I set out from Topeka around 4:30 pm.
I was initially going to target this storm and head towards Osage City, but as quickly as the storm had popped up it fell apart. I decided to head west on I-70 and see what happened as I drove.
Interestingly, as I was driving west on I-70 in far western Shawnee County, I saw a fairly decent-looking storm and updraft base to my south. It was just a small blip on the radar, but figured I should take a closer look. I got off on the nearest exit and drove on some gravel roads. I drove past an elderly couple walking down the gravel road, and thought that it was probably a good thing the tornado risk was very low that day. As I crested a bit of a hill, I stopped to try and take some pictures.
5:12 pm: I sat here for about 10 minutes, and this was probably the best the storm looked. There is a slightly lowered area where the storm is taking in air from the surface. As soon as I thought the storm might amount to something, it fell apart completely.
5:12 pm: Still-photo taken from my GoPro. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to use my GoPro much, but I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.
After the storm fell apart, I headed into Waubaunsee County and the town of Eskridge. I hoped I would be able to see some hail, as some nearby storms did produce large hail, but I missed out. I headed south of Eskridge, almost to Lyon County, and stopped on another gravel road.
5:56 pm: I thought this picture was cool. A cloud trying to form into a thunderstorm. It failed pretty quickly after this picture was taken. With nothing looking remotely interesting after this, I headed for home.
I didn’t have high expectations for this day, and very little came from it, but at least I got out and saw some nice clouds. Like I said earlier, if I had chased more since then I wouldn’t even write about it, but having not chased at all into mid-April, I should get something down. Hopefully by May I will be out more.