June 12, 2004
-Images are located below text-
This was the first day of my chase vacation, and I hardly expected it to begin in such a spectacular manner. After waiting in Salina with chase partners Scott Blair and Marcie Martin, we intercepted a cell near Hutchinson, KS, which soon split and promptly died.1. After meeting up with Eric Nguyen and Scott Currens and seeing the tornado warned cell near Wichita on their Baron radar system, we blasted south and intercepted a striated beast of a supercell near Mulvane, KS on K-15.2. At 7:22 p.m., a small funnel began to descend from the rapidly rotating meso 3. as my driver's side sliding door window was shattered by hail (WARNING: Video clip [306 kb] contains a harsh expletive). After making sure the protective Lexan covering kept the shattered window secure, the chase continued unhindered as the funnel strengthened and descended toward the ground as a beautiful white tornado.4.; 5. A rainbow formed as the tornado transitioned into a truncated cone with multiple vortices crossing K-15 with a small yet powerful ground swirl filled with dirt and small pieces of what appeared to be metal siding.6. Once across the highway, the multi-vortex display continued lofting debris skyward and creating the occasional power flash.7.; 8. The tornado again condensed to ground-level and posed beautifully with a rainbow before eventually crossing the color spectrum into the sunlight and turning a stunning white as bolts struck nearby.9. - 12. The powerful vortex continued across the Kansas terrain as it entered the beginning stage of the rope-out phase, combining with the rainbow to form a giant "X" in the sky as it narrowly missed a small brick home, instead moving directly toward the Landis home located behind the tree line.13. - 16. My stomach dropped as the most beautiful spectacle of nature I'd seen to date obliterated the home within seconds, sending a wood-laden debris cloud upward and around the base of the tornado.17. - 21. Fortunately, the family had taken cover and survived the incident unharmed, and rescue crews arrived at the location within mere minutes. The vortex soon thinned as it entered the dissipation stage 22. and crossed over a small pond creating a spray of water 23. and kicking up one final shroud of dust before finally dissipating.24. The supercell cycled and a new meso with intense rotation formed west of Rock, KS.25. Now seperated from Eric and Scott Currens, Scott Blair, Marcie, and I continued tracking the cell on county roads. The meso underwent stages of disorganization and reorganization before getting its act together as the RFD cut around the outer periphery.26.; 27. With the sun now setting, a truncated cone descended at 8:22 and was probably a tornado at this point.28.; 29. The cone moved west and fell apart, but the rotation quickly reorganized into an elephant trunk tornado, lasting about five minutes before performing a graceful rope-out.30. - 35. We continued chasing the cell as darkness fell and observed two more tornadoes near Wilmot and Atlanta, but because of the terrain and poor light conditions, no worthwhile stills or video was obtained. We ended the chase reminiscing the day over a nice dinner and removing the shattered glass from my van using the Lexan and duct tape as a makeshift window until I could have it replaced.36.
Also, I must extend my appreciation to Dave Lewison for his excellent nowcasting. Be sure to check out these incredible radar loops(reflectivity; velocity) he saved and stitched together. Also check out this excellent case study of the day by Scott Blair and Eric Nguyen.