A decent backyard chase day produced a supercell fairly close to home that tried to produce a tornado, but failed to do so.
An Enhanced risk of severe weather with a 5% tornado risk was in place for eastern Kansas on May 19th. It was looking pretty good a day or two beforehand, but unfortunately storms from the previous day mostly ruined what had been a promising setup. I had planned to head west from Topeka, but when I woke up, the highest risk seemed to have shifted to the OK/KS border. I didn’t want to go that far, so I waited at home to see if anything interesting could pop up closer to Topeka. In the early afternoon, some nice cells developed west of Emporia, but as they moved closer, they dissipated. I waited until around 4 pm when new cells formed near Emporia and moved eastward, seemingly along an outflow boundary. Driving south on US 75, my wife and I went through very heavy rain and emerged on the other side of the storms in central Osage County. We headed east on K-268 towards Pomona Lake, and stopped for a bit south of Vassar.
4:55 pm, south of Vassar, looking north. It’s tough to make out, but the trees are obscuring the base of the storm. What had been an ill-defined linear blob had turned into a supercell on radar. My one regret of this day was the lack of good photo opportunities, as the storm was moving fairly quickly and we were behind it from the beginning.
After a few minutes, we got back into the car and headed east and then north to Pomona Lake. As we crossed the dam, we had a good view of a wall cloud a few miles to our northwest. We drove through the community of Michigan Valley, and as we emerged, the storm looked impressive. An RFD clear slot and “horseshoe” was present, and a small lowering was visible right where I’d expect a tornado due north of us. I wouldn’t call it a funnel, but the storm was trying. I decided to head northeast using the unpaved road grid to try to intercept the storm. As we continued, the previously rain-free clear slot became filled with precipitation, making the area of interest obscured. We eventually caught up to the storm on US 56 near Globe in Douglas County, but by then, the inflow had been cut off. I briefly talked to another storm chase (he said he was chasing for WIBW TV) and then we went home.
Not a bad chase, especially considering how close it was to home and how low my expectations were by that morning. Although 2018 has been a very slow tornado year, its been fairly good to me so far.