Scott F. Blair
2005 Chase Days

3/13, 3/21, 3/31, 4/29, 5/8, 5/17, 5/25, 5/27, 5/28,
5/30, 5/31, 6/6, 6/7, 6/9, 6/11, 6/12, 6/26, 6/29, 8/29

March 13, 2005. Vicksburg, MS
I chased a long-lived supercell that traversed through portions of northeast LA into western MS. I departed Monroe, LA at 4pm and quickly observed enhanced towers to the east. By 5pm, one tower rapidly evolved into a supercell east of Rayville, LA and I followed it for nearly 90 miles along I-20. The storm was HP in nature throughout the majority of its life. It had several attempts of sustained wall clouds, but none endured the cold undercutting outflow. I observed large hail numerous times, with the first occurring at 5:30pm 1 E Tallulah, LA. The largest hail measured at this location was 1.25." In addition, winds gusted to 65mph with several power lines down across town. The most significant hail of the day was observed 2 E Vicksburg, MS at 6:05pm. I measured hail up to 2.25" with some stones likely larger. The hail resulted in moderate damage to my vehicle, with several cracks on the front windshield, a busted taillight, and many more dents added to the collection.

March 21, 2005. Paris, TX Tornado
I departed Monroe, LA Sunday evening and stayed the night in Mount Pleasant, TX. The target was placed around the Greenville, TX region and a supercell developed 20 W Greenville during the late afternoon hours. Jason Politte and I intercepted a relatively low-topped supercell on Hwy19 about 5 miles south of Paris, TX and observed the storm shed one mesocyclone to our southwest while a new area of rotation formed to our east and rapidly organized, producing a tornado in short order. The tornado transitioned from a slender stovepipe to a thick elephant trunk with a translucent tube before kicking up a large cloud of debris. The tornado lifted briefly before condensing fully to ground again and displaying its inner core surrounded by an outer sheath before dissipating. The mesocyclone occluded over Paris, TX containing intense rotation aloft with sirens sounding in town.

March 31, 2005. Longstreet, LA
I observed three supercells across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. The first convection initiated near Tyler, TX around 5:15pm and quickly moved off to the northeast. A near-surface based supercell developed southwest from the previous convection and I intercepted the storm north of Tyler. A nice mesocyclone with a notable RFD formed along with brief funnel within the lowering were observed. With new convection developing further east, I blasted towards LA and intercepted a supercell in extreme western LA along I-49. I elected to shift towards the border to observe an impressive supercell approaching from the west near Carthage, TX. This storm was highly electrified with numerous bolts leaping wildly about the convection. I stopped just north of Longstreet, LA and observed an awesome mesocyclone with excellent structural features. With the meso approaching and radar indicating a persistent hook echo, I quickly fled eastward as inflow winds screamed into the storm. Having enough of combating darkness and trees, I ended the day near Shreveport, LA.

April 29, 2005. Dermott, AR
Jason P and I departed Little Rock, AR by mid afternoon targeting portions of southeast Arkansas . Surface heating and moisture were maximized across the three southeastern-most counties and we hoped that prefrontal convection developing in south-central Arkansas would intensify and organize as it shifted into this region. A quick data stop in Star City, AR revealed a developing supercell in Bradley County and a severe warning was issued for the storm. We continued along Hwy65 and stopped west of Dermott, AR at 7:30pm. The storm was highly electrified with numerous bolts leaping from the storm. In addition, the storm contained a persistent lowering with broad rotation observed. As darkness set in, we took an unpaved road along the MS River levy and paralleled the water continuing to observe the storm and associated active lightning show. Within 30 minutes of crossing the MS River, the storm was placed under a tornado warning with reportedly two tornadoes spawned.

May 8, 2005. Wichita, KS
Jason P and I departed Norfolk, NE by mid-morning targeting north-central Kansas . We arrived at Belleville, KS just as convection initiated a few miles to the southwest of our location. The first cell retained supercell characteristics for nearly an hour across Republic County with a nice forward flank meso and vault. With time, this activity became significantly outflow dominant and we elected to pursue a new storm west of McPherson, KS . This storm was placed under a tornado warning, but showed severe signs of outflow domination. By 7pm, we dropped south and observed two large cells near Newton, KS . This convection provided for some photogenic opportunities with a nice “whale’s mouth” shelf cloud stretching across the sky. Shifting south of Sedgwick, KS , we noted an explosive tower quickly developing south of the outflow dominant convection in northwestern Wichita, KS . The storm was clearly a LP supercell with awesome striations and a pretty vault. By sunset, the rotating storm was nicely organized with a long beaver tail and lowering. Unfortunately, the aforementioned convection to the north slid southward and ingested the supercell, resulting in a rapid demise of the storm.

May 17, 2005. Cozad, NE Tornado
I started the day in Colby, Kansas reviewing model and surface data for the day. No strong surface forcing was present and a weak shortwave trough was expected to glance areas of Nebraska by afternoon. Convection fired across portions of southwest Nebraska and slowly evolved into more organized activity. A brief, weak dust-whirl tornado was observed south of Cozad, NE under a fairly strong rotating base. With time, this storm was seeded and ingested by upstream convection which evolved into a more linear storm. A very pretty shelf cloud developed west of Holdrege, NE and strong inflow responded with a well-developed dusty inflow jet. This provided several more hours of enjoyable photogenic structure towards sunset and beyond.

May 25, 2005. Springer, NM
Upslope flow provided a nice chase day across portions of northeast New Mexico . Dropping south of Trinidad, Colorado into Raton, New Mexico proved to be the delineation of cool, stable air versus a rapid destabilizing air mass. A weak LP storm first developed near Springer, NM and it slowly deteriorated upon arrival. Significant convection exploded northeast of the previous storm as an updraft tower rapidly evolved into an organized storm. Unfortunately, shear was rather weak so a rather slow improvement in organization followed. By sunset, the slightly high-based storm tapped into slightly deeper moisture to the east and developed several impressive inflow tails. Curious to the hail production, I ventured into the vault and experienced quite an audible hail roar. The largest stones measured were 2” in diameter. I ended the day as darkness set in.

May 27, 2005. Las Vegas, NM
The existing synoptic pattern continued to support surface upslope flow for severe convection along the high terrain of New Mexico . A long-lived, slow-moving supercell formed near Las Vegas, New Mexico and traversed towards I-40 over the course of several hours. Storm structure was impressive with a persistent wall cloud and vault region. The storm deviated due south towards I-40 where Eric Nguyen and I examined hail characteristics. Copious amounts of quarter to golf ball-sized hail was observed followed quickly by visibility-reducing hail fog. Driving through large drifts of hail, we positioned ahead of the storm once more near Vaughn, NM as the storm slowly lost organization. We ended the day in Amarillo, TX at the Big Texan.

May 28, 2005. Campo, CO
Minimal expectations due to poor shear and moisture were overly exceeded during the chase across southeastern Colorado. The day started off with struggling convection in east-central Colorado with very muddy dirt roads encountered. Convection continued to weaken and evolve into a line with time. We meandered into Lamar, CO rather disappointed before noticing new convection on the south side of the line near Springfield, CO. Blasting south along Hwy385, the high-based storm came into view. Even though high-based with a somewhat soft convective appearance, the organization persisted for several hours past sunset. We encountered quarter-sized hail on the backside of the storm. A brillant double rainbow was observed in this region thanks in part to the low sun angle. Numerous photogenic and lightning opportunities continued before the storm weakened near Dalhart, TX.

May 30, 2005. Pritchett, CO Tornado.
I started the day in Trinidad , CO for another upslope-type setup across southeast Colorado. As the day progressed, I ran into Amos M and the Weathervine group, followed by several other individuals. The first convection rapidly organized into a supercell east of Trinidad. A persistent wall cloud and a barrage of cg lightning was prevalent with this storm. As time progressed, the storm made its attempt to tornado as a small funnel cloud protruded under the rain-free-base for nearly five minutes north of Branson, CO. As the funnel dissipated, the storm occluded and weakened. Several other weak storms developed over the area, making for a difficult decision. One storm in particular took shape near Kim and attention was shifted to this region around sunset. I approached the storm west of Pritchett with sporadic large hail falling and a low-level meso beginning to occlude along Hwy160. By luck, a tornado condensed nearly to the ground and persisted for roughly one minute. Contrast was fair due to very limited existing light and the day ended shortly after the tornado was observed.

May 31, 2005. Amherst, TX Tornado.
The first convection of the day developed west of Plainview, TX. The storm was characterized by several striations on the shelf cloud but quickly struggled to retain organization. I passed through the hail swath heading towards new convection to the southwest that evolved into a supercell. Meeting up with Amos M near Amherst, we observed a very weak, dust-whirl tornado which developed under a strongly rotating updraft. This region slowly wrapped up in precipitation, including large hail, as it paralleled Hwy84. Crossing flood waters near Pep, TX, I managed to bump ahead of the supercell south of Lubbock, TX. Towards sunset, the storm slowly lost organization as the existing dust in the air produced a brilliant sunset, turning the updraft tower a brilliant red near Tahoka, TX.

June 6, 2005. Ekalaka, MT Tornadoes
I departed Little Rock, AR solo during the morning of the 5th confident the following day would provide an excellent setup for supercells and tornadoes in the northern High Plains. My target was Baker, MT and storms fired by early afternoon on the 6th just south of the area. The first LP supercell became elongated and dissipated in an odd fashion. I meandered towards new convection north of a surface low and along a warm front near Ekalaka. A ground-scrapping wall cloud developed and persisted for over one hour. I observed 4 tornadoes during a 30 minute period north of Ekalaka, MT with a high-contrast view during the majority of the event. By evening, the supercell structure north of the meso near Baker was perhaps some of the best I had witnessed to date. After observing pretty linear storms approach from the south from new convection, I made the drive to Spearfish, SD. A big leap-of-faith to my forecast considering the travel duration proved to pay off.

June 7, 2005. Wanblee, SD Tornado
A good setup for organized convection existed with a dryline bulge and outflow boundary present across southwestern South Dakota. I targeted the Kadoka region and waited for initiation. The first storm developed in the Badlands and I shifted closer along Hwy44. The storm organized into a beautiful LP supercell. With time, a clear slot formed and began to occlude the area of rotation within close proximity of my location. A tornado condensed to the ground and persisted for six minutes with giant hail falling on the northwest side of the updraft base. The tube was a tapered cone and transitioned into a long, pencil-thin rope. The storm eventually evolved into a classic supercell with excellent structure and more large hail observed that broke the windshield. I ended the day with Eric N and Amos M at a diner in Murdo, SD with a great meal and examining hail type.

June 9, 2005. Hill City, KS Tornadoes
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS HERE. A very favorable setup for tornadoes improved through the late morning hours into the afternoon across northwest Kansas. A rapidly developing wall cloud formed south of Penokee, KS in Graham County. Eric Nguyen and I repositioned to Hwy 283 where a tornado quickly condensed southwest of Hill City, KS. The tornado transitioned into the mature stage as rotational speeds increased and the width continued to expand. The condensed vortex visually appeared highly organized with multi-vortex action swirling about the tip of the vortex. A violent roar echoed the landscape as the strong tornado moved north-northeast within 100 yards to our location. An extreme amount of focus and planning was critical to the safe continuation of observing at the very close proximity. We caught a few more tornadoes near the small Kansas communities of Bogue, Damar, and Palco. We observed more tornadoes northeast of Trego Center, near Ogallah, and north of Ellis, KS from another supercell. These tornadoes were weaker and short-lived, but provided a nice close to the incredible day.

June 11, 2005. Wayside, TX Tornadoes
A dryline with a couple intersecting outflow boundaries provided another good chase day in the Texas Panhandle. Eric N, Amos M, Jason P, and I observed 4 tornadoes near Wayside, TX. At 7pm, the first tornado noted was a large bowl with dusty spinups followed by a skinny rope tornado. During this duration, an elephant trunk tornado from an occluded updraft in the distance touched down. After a small lull, we observed two tornadoes from close range from another occluded updraft along Hwy285. The third tornado touched down at 7:35pm knocking out a few power lines about 3 SSE Wayside with the final tornado shortly after that touchdown. Strong RFD winds near 65 mph were encountered near the intersection of Hwy285 and Hwy207 where several tree limbs were broken. The day ended traversing through flood waters on Hwy285 back to AMA.

June 12, 2005. Jayton, TX Tornadoes
Eric N, Amos M, Jason P, and I observed 6 tornadoes near Spur, TX and Jayton, TX. The target evolved with time as we continued south on Hwy70 well ahead of a southward moving, stable outflow boundary across northwest Texas. Enhanced towers were noted along a dryline bulge near Jayton and convection exploded in this vicinity. The first tornado observed was a nice tube lasting for several minutes. The meso continued eastward forming over time a large vertical condensed funnel that briefly touched down. The third tornado was long-lived and quite strong as a large cone plowed the ground. This vortex evolved into a large wedge filled with a reddish-tinted dirt as the updraft occluded. A new meso produced an active multi-vortex tornado with power flashes noted. Once this tornado dissipated, an occluded meso revealed a beautiful snake-like rope tornado. Shortly after this tornado, we decided to drop south to the southern supercell and observed a brief rope tornado. Awesome structure ended the classic chase day in Jayton, TX.

June 26, 2005. Wetonka, SD / Ludden, ND Tornadoes
Eric Nguyen and I targeted areas of north-central South Dakota. Convection fired east of our target and we hurried eastward along the limited road options. A supercell formed just south of the SD/ND border and slowly moved northeast. The overall structure was organized but appeared messy with weak showers frequently occurring out ahead of the updraft. The storm produced two very weak tornadoes during a one hour period; the first being a small dust-whirl and the second associated with thin condensed fingers in a tight area of rotation wrapped in rain. The supercell finally organized one hour before sunset with nice inflow tails, improved low level rotation, and a slowly occluding meso. One nice cone tornado was observed east of Ludden, ND. I failed to document this feature as I was suffering and distracted through the infestation of mosquitoes that swarmed the vehicle.

June 29, 2005. Windom, MN Tornado
By mid-afternoon, we observed a nice supercell near Luverne, MN and flanked it as the cell moved ENE. While the storm certainly was the most dominant southernmost cell, it continued to ingest smaller convection slowing its organization and making for reduced visibility near the base. By 6pm, the rain free base lowered and rapidly updrafting scud was noted near this region of the storm. Around 6:24pm, we observed a 5 minute long tornado about 7 NW of Windom, MN. The tornado developed rather quickly and contained rapid vertical motion. Small condensed vortices were noted on the ground below the large cone. With several outflow boundaries across the region from previous convection, it’s quite likely one of the boundaries provided enhanced SRH. The day ended with beautiful convective structure from our storm at sunset.

August 29, 2005. Gulfport, MS - Hurricane Katrina
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS HERE. I departed Saturday afternoon (August 27) heading towards Slidell, LA. Traveling down I-59, contraflow was put into order by evening as hurricane warnings were posted for the coast. Thirty miles of I-59 were turned all northbound as traffic streamed out of the greater New Orleans and Slidell areas. I briefly slept the night in Mandeville, LA. As I entered the heart of downtown Gulfport within one-half mile from the ocean, devastating destruction began to occur. More power poles collapsed, sending power lines strewed about the area. Incredible surf wildly swirled off the sides and roofs of buildings. The air was filled with debris and alarm sirens from businesses. Large structures failed and crashed down, sending more debris into the sky. Note the piece of wood in the van windshield. Wind gusts over 100 mph were common in the stronger squalls. As I reached 16th Street, a building partially collapsed sending debris and rocks into my car. The debris immediately shattered three side windows and I quickly took refuge. I selected a concrete-reinforced bank building with a sturdy overhang near 18th Street as my final position for the remainder of the landfall. For more information and images, check out the link above! I also managed to observe Dennis and Rita in 2005, but those were more scientific missions and those details can be discussed offline.

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