Like the 2018 edition, I want to catalog the days that while I didn’t score big, I still enjoyed my time out chasing.
February 23rd, 2019: Lebo, Kansas storm
February 23rd was the first day of convective activity in Kansas for 2019, and that alone would get me out the door. The day was a cold core setup with temps/dews around 50 and lots of low-level cape and bulk shear. However, low-level winds weren’t very conducive to tornadoes, but I hoped that a bit of ambient vorticity would go a long way here. My wife and I headed down US 59 to Ottawa, then I-35 down to Lebo, where a low-topped supercell was heading. After breaking through the deck of stratus, it was a great feeling to see a CU tower again. Of course, as soon as we got on the storm, it permanently transitioned to an outflow dominant state. Oh well. There were a few lightning strikes through the chase, so that was nice. After almost getting stuck twice in the ridiculously muddy gravel roads, we headed back east (north) on I-35 and got off at US 75 north.
2:53 pm, southeast of Melvern Lake, looking northwest. While I’m looking at the south end of the shelf cloud, those might be a couple of shear funnels there. In any case, the combination of fast storm motions (50 mph+) and my reluctance to use any unpaved roads meant that we quickly got left behind. The storm was actually severe warned for a brief time for 60 mph+ winds, but I was too far away to experience any. I decided to head for home, and on the way back we ran into the core of the storm where some heavy rain and pea sized hail fell. On to the next one.
May 21st, 2019 Ottawa, KS Supercell/possible funnel
I would have put this into the main page if I wasn’t so disappointed that I busted so badly on one of the best chase days in NE KS in recent years. Multiple photogenic tornadoes occurred near Junction City and near and north of Topeka, but I missed all of them.
A classic cold-core setup presented itself on this day. In the morning, I had thought about heading west on I-70 towards Junction City, but after overanalyzing the setup, I decided to sit out. Of course, a storm got going south of Salina and produced two tornadoes near Abilene and Junction City. Kicking myself, I saw more storms firing near Emporia and heading northeast. I headed south to intercept storms coming through Osage County.
6:07 pm, a few miles east of Overbrook, looking west. Some storms were trying to get organized, and this updraft base was pulling in some scud. Still, the storms were too close together and couldn’t do much. I opted to head south towards Ottawa, where storms were more isolated. As I headed down there, reports were rolling in of tornadoes north of Topeka.
6:50 pm, just north of Ottawa, looking south. This cool feature persisted for a while, but it was hard to tell exactly what it was. Updraft? Downdraft feature? In any case, after looking at it for a while, an updraft base became obvious north of me. The storms were moving quite fast, so I quickly headed north on US 59 towards Baldwin City to catch up with it. At one point, an RFD cut was quite apparent with what seemed to be a small funnel cloud north of Baldwin City. The storm permanently junked out after that, and I went home dejected after seeing what happened elsewhere. This was the first major bust of my career, and I doubt I’ll ever completely get over it.
September 22nd, 2019 Hillsdale Lake, KS Storms
A decent low-topper setup in late September presented itself this day, with storms initiating in the early afternoon west of Ottawa ahead of a cold front. I was already planning on going fishing at Hillsdale Lake so Lijun and I left Lawrence and headed south on US 59 to intercept the cells. A decent storm took shape south of Baldwin City, so I went east on US 56 to get close to it. The storm looked ok as we headed south towards Wellsville, but it wasn’t too organized and the outflow seemed stronger than the inflow. It seemed to be a theme that storms couldn’t quite organize to the point to where they could take advantage of good 3CAPE and some surface vorticity. Low-level shear was probably just too paltry. I kept going south and east towards Hillsdale Lake before I stopped briefly just west of the lake.
1:55 pm, just west of Hillsdale Lake, looking northwest. A wimpy updraft base is there, but it didn’t do much. I didn’t see any lightning during the chase. After messing around with this cell for a bit, we headed to my fishing spot, as there wasn’t much going on by this point.