Scott F. Blair
2007 Chase Days

2/24, 2/28, 3/28, 5/4, 5/5, 5/22, 6/6

February 24, 2007. Elmo, KS
I departed Topeka during the mid-morning hours with a target focusing roughly from Salina to Emporia. The first storm I observed was near Marion, KS. This storm moved north and had decent convective structure. I experienced small hail near Antelope before letting the storm shift north of my location. I met up with Eric Nguyen and Scott Currens and we continued north to Ramona, KS where we observed a new updraft to the west. The low-topped supercell contained a nice circular flat base. With time, the cloud base lowered and further organized as it moved northward. Around 1:05pm, a well-defined funnel cloud developed northwest of Elmo, KS. We shifted north out of Elmo on Hwy 15 where we noted the funnel halfway to the ground with small condensation fingers rotating around at the tip of the funnel. From our vantage point, the feature never condensed to the ground and no debris whirl was observed. The funnel persisted for nearly 7 minutes before the updraft appeared to become elongated and the overall organization of the storm slowly decreased. We continued to monitor the convection around Salina but nothing else significant was observed after early afternoon.

February 28, 2007. Colony, KS Tornado
Derek Deroche and I waited in Chanute, KS for an outside chance of convective initiation during the late afternoon across SE KS. A well-defined surface moisture surge arrived across the region during the late afternoon hours, with a west-east configuration of enhanced towers. We left our only data of the day in Chanute and focused on a developing CB along this W-E line nearest the dryline SW of Yates Center, KS. At 6 PM, the storm rapidly evolved into a classic supercell just as the sun lowered below the horizon. A large area of scud was generated near the surface next to the precipitation core and drifted along the ground for several minutes before encountering the updraft base. Further organization followed in a rapid fashion as we blasted up to 4 N Yates Center. By 6:15 PM, it was at this location that confidence was very high for an imminent tornado. The wall cloud lowered and tightened with significant rotation present. Two narrow inflow tails north and south of the wall cloud streamed into the rapidly rotating wall cloud which continued to lower. Desiring to remain ahead of the storm, we chose to reposition further north and east. During this process, we encountered copious golfball-sized hail within the core that quickly accumulated to an estimated 4" depth on the road. We finally broke precipitation free 10 W of Colony, KS with only twilight left to discern storm characteristics. Lightning wasn't necessarily that frequent, so making out details with confidence was a challenge as moved east along Hwy 57. 5 ENE Colony, a continuous region of attached scud concentrated under the updraft region was observed for nearly 10 minutes. We first discounted this feature merely as updrafting scud. However post-event discussion from other observers and TOP damage survey, its concluded this was in fact a tornado. The tornado was rather messy from a visible standpoint, with a broad relatively weak area of surface circulation characterized by plentiful updrafting scud/condensed vortices underneath a lowering. We ended the chase around 9 PM after observing one last tor-warned supercell near Ottawa.

March 28, 2007. Edson, KS Tornadoes
Additional Photos Here I departed work one hour early once my short term forecast package was complete and blasted west out of Topeka around 3:30 pm CDT on I-70. My wife accompanied me on the chase as we finally arrived in NW Kansas around 7pm with ongoing supercells present. Meeting up with Derek Deroche at Edson, KS, we focused on a tornado-warned storm 10 miles south of our location. Excellent low/mid-level storm structure was present with a striated updraft and a couple low-level inflow tails. Approximately 7:49 pm, a thin rope tornado unexpectedly condensed to the ground under a fairly large rain-free base 5 SSW Edson, KS. After a short jog north, we noticed an extremely bright red skinny funnel cloud blending with red rain curtains. By 8:08 pm, a tornado developed within one mile south of our location, placing the vortex 2 N Edson. The tornado was characterized as a healthy rope that glowed bright red/pink for several minutes as the sun passed below the horizon. The tornado began to occlude as the existing color faded into a deep twilight and eventually dissipated after an excellent five minute show. Around 8:30 pm, a large tornado rapidly developed 8 N Edson (12 S Bird City, KS). The tornado was backlit from near-continuous lightning and was a consistent wedge tornado approximately 1/4 of a mile wide at its maximum. We observed several more tornado-warned supercells during the mid-evening hours with good structure and a round of 2 hail in eastern Sherman County before finally making the long drive back to TOP.

May 4, 2007. Gaylord, KS
After abandoning my original target of Ness city, I ventured towards Hays, KS by late afternoon. Virtually no cumulus were visible with the exception of persistent sheared-over towers near Stockton. These towers were in the vicinity of an intersection between a baroclinic boundary and a retreating westward moisture discontinuity. With this the only chance to observe daytime convection, Dave Floyd, Scott Eubanks, and I chose to venture closer to watch/hope for further development and organization. The towers congealed into one main updraft and rapidly organized into classic supercell structure with most of the precipitation displaced well to the north and east of the updraft. After a few structure shots on the west side, we followed the storm for several hours as it translated northeastward. The low levels featured numerous occasions of rapid rotation followed by the RFD quickly occluding the area of rotation. The downward motion and forward propagation of the RFD was very impressive/rapid, but perhaps too rapid and detrimental for tornadogenesis. Two well-formed funnel clouds were observed during the day. The first developed early on northeast of Stockton during the first occlusion. The second observed developed about one hour later when the storm structure was excellent near the town of Gaylord, KS. We found a nice overlook and drooled over a large beaver tail stretching across the entire horizon into the base. The base featured a horse-shoe clear slot with a dramatic vault above.

May 5, 2007. Stafford, KS Tornadoes
Al Pietrycha and I witnessed three supercells in south-central Kansas with a total of 5 tornadoes observed. Most of the tornadoes were fairly weak in appearance, although the cloud base rotation was rather impressive. The majority seemed to have difficulty in fully condensing to the ground, but showed obvious signs of ground circulation. The first tornado developed ~3 SW Iuka, KS with a small debris whirl under a laminar funnel past 1/2 way to the surface. The second tornado developed within close proximity to our location of ~6 SW Stafford, KS characterized by an intense merry-go-round cloud base rotation and a moderately sized debris whirl underneath that existed for nearly 3 minutes. The third tornado was ~5 NNE Stafford with a persistent laminar funnel past 1/2 way to the ground from an occluded meso. During this tornado, a new funnel occurred nearby associated with the new area of rotation. The fourth tornado was perhaps the best from a visual standpoint ~3 ESE Raymond with a fully condensed multi-vortex tornado with awesome drill-bit motion. Immediately after this tornado, we elected to pursue a supercell approaching Great Bend from the southwest and waited for its arrival just north of the city. Visibility was quite poor with the lower sun angle and haze. The final tornado observed was a cone 1/2 way to the ground with a small debris whirl underneath. We observed one last supercell at dark near Seward, but failed to discern anything significant besides basic low-level structure. The lightning associated with the Great Bend supercell near the vault region was absolutely frightening for a 3 minute period with intense positive staccato lightning striking very near our location. We had two strikes within 100 ft with one of those blasting apart a tree ~45 ft away and the percussion providing a friendly reminder of how intimidating lightning can be.

May 22, 2007. Hill City, KS Tornado
I departed Topeka after a two-hour power nap following a mid shift and waited in Wakeeney with Derek Deroche for afternoon convective initiation. The first significant storm traversed from near Quinter to St Peter with nice flying saucer structure observed. This storm formed a wall cloud at one point with a rapidly-rotating funnel but failed to organize any further. In between storms, ran into Eric Nguyen and Amos Magliocco and we watched a new updraft materialize to the southwest near I-70 as the aforementioned storm slowly became less organized. This supercell was characterized by excellent storm structure during its lifespan, perhaps some of the best structure from 2007. After a brief issue with one of my tires that required a quick air top-off in Hill City, I dove back south on Hwy 283 just in time to observe a rapidly rotating lowering west of the highway. I pulled over on a side road near the bend on Hwy 283 and observed a fairly high-contrast tornado for approximately 7 minutes. The entire scene was breathtaking with awesome vault structure above a condensed cone tornado (tornado ~7 SSW HLC). I made it back to Topeka for yet another mid shift. Reiterating, the storm structure today was fantastic and the slower storm motion was a welcome facet. Thanks to Derek D for providing a can of fix-a-flat that aided in a safer journey to HLC and TOP.

June 6, 2007. Kyle, SD Tornadoes
After a fun night with Eric N and Amos M at Broken Bow, NE; target was initially around Murdo, SD and I arrived there during the early afternoon hours, meeting up with Derek Deroche, Al Pietrycha, and Mick McGuire. After a brief conversation entertaining the recent RUC run and Mr. Ps excellent surface maps, we quickly headed westward and waited for CI. As we passed Kadoka, one storm evolved into a supercell south of the Badlands National Park. We exited I-90 at Cactus Flat and shifted southward closer to the storm, which at this point contained a nice, low flat base with a developing lowering and well separated core. We entered the Badlands National Park as the lowering appeared threatening to produce a tornado. After fighting through a slow process of campers, pretty but horizon-blocking terrain, and nasty curves, we found a gorgeous overlook of the Badlands near Interior, SD and monitored the lowering. Within a couple minutes, a dusty column of debris rose into a condensed funnel at the base of the storm. Initially, the tornado was ~20 miles to our southwest near Kyle, SD but slowly moved closer with time. The foreground made this spectacle very memorable with tan rock outcroppings along with a couple lush green trees framed with enjoyable storm structure complete with a tornado. We observed the entire life cycle of the tornado during a ~30 minute duration from the same overlook. Following the tornado, the storm had transitioned into more of the HP variety. We eventually had a view to investigate inside the notch on the northern side of the storm. Though low contrast, we were able to discern a rain wrapped tornado roughly 7 miles southwest of Kadoka. This remained in view for approximately 3 minutes before either it dissipated or visibility no longer afforded observations. We raced eastward ahead of a surging outflow boundary and intermittently stopped for structure photos along the way and topped off with gas at Murdo. The outflow abruptly overtook our location with an estimated 5-second gust of 70 mph at the gas station. A few road/business signages immediately failed and flew into the air along with an airborne pebble barrage. After this excitement, we eventually pushed east of the outflow and called it a day.

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