Storm Chase Log 10 April 2001
Chasers: Dorian J. Burnette, Heather Risinger, and Tim Risinger
Preliminary Destination: Medicine Lodge, KS...later revised to Garden City, KS
A very interesting day! The atmosphere was definitely in no mood to wait until the afternoon hours, as a lead jet streak and associated shortwave trough moved across during the late-morning/mid-day hours and brought an area of severe thunderstorms from Wichita to Kansas City and into Missouri. I started the day up in Emporia watching a few of the storms up that way. In the end I should have waited for the storms in southcentral KS to work northeastward to my location in Emporia, and from there, I could have followed them northeastward to Kansas City.
I departed Emporia shortly after 11 a.m. CDT, bound for Wichita...staying on schedule as much as possible. On the way, I heard of a severe thunderstorm warning for Sedgwick County. I ran into the outskirts of this activity around El Dorado, as I worked south on the Kansas Turnpike. I did not see anything very impressive in my position, but the main activity was a considerable distance to my west toward Newton.
With this morning/mid-day activity moving out of southcentral Kansas, I grabbed my aunt and uncle and took a trip to the west to see if anything would develop ahead of the dryline...perhaps on one of the outflow boundaries laid down by the morning/mid-day activity. We made a stop in Pratt to see if we could see any indications of development. All we saw were lots of high and mid-level clouds. The timing was way off, with quite a bit of subsidence behind the departing shortwave and the main system still yet to come out. We continued west toward Greensburg, and while passing through the town, we spotted towering cumulus a considerable distance to our west. While the main dynamics were still several hours out, there might be enough energy to allow storms to fire in the heat of the day, so we continued to the west toward the towers. While passing around Dodge City, we finally got out from under the high and mid-level clouds and into sunshine. We continued to notice a line of towering cumulus to our west. They were bubbling, but still having a hard time.
We met up with line of towers on the north side of Garden City, but they were still having a lot of trouble. There was, however, a monster field of accus clouds in front of them. Thus, we knew that things were going to erupt. The question was whether thunderstorms would develop quick enough to allow for some chasing prior to sunset. I made a phone call to WeatherData at this time, and Wes Etheredge mentioned that the dynamics were still impacting western Texas and Oklahoma with nothing firing so far in Kansas. He mentioned that probably the best thing to do was to head south to intercept the upper level energy coming in. I could not have agreed more, given what we were seeing in Garden City. So we moved south out of Garden City toward Liberal. On the way, we kept an eye on the towers to the west for any signs of development. Upon our arrival in Liberal, surface winds began to increase dramatically. Thus, we knew that the upper level energy was beginning to get involved now. However, daylight chase time was running out quickly. We decided to pull out of Liberal heading northeast on U.S. 54 toward Kismet. Upon our arrival in Kismet, I received a phone call from John Benedict, who mentioned that the squall line was going in full force across far western Kansas. Unfortunately, it was becoming quite dark and it would be very hard to see anything. We stalled in Kismet for as long as we could to allow the storms to move closer, but they were not moving all that fast. Finally, it got too pitch black to see anything, so I decided to bag the chase and head back toward home.
In the end, I would call this a bust chase. The activity earlier in the day was surprising to see, and had I chose to stay on that, it would have gotten interesting up near Kansas City. The chase out in western Kansas would have likely been a very successful one had the upper air energy come out a bit faster. The squall line that developed later that night did have embedded tornadic supercells. One tornado hit a KSN WeatherWatcher's house.