2005-06-04 Hiawatha, KS Tornado

Kinda proud of myself–I came within 30 miles of two Steak ‘n Shakes and I didn’t waver…

Left Springfield just before 2PM, at the time I had no specific idea when initiation would start, and had been putting around the house that afternoon. Various WFOs and MDs had mentioned initiation in the 4-5 PM time frame, and generally south of Omaha–but not as far south as the first red box happened to be issued…

Imagine my chagrin when this appeared in front of me!

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For all I knew, it would be a matter of minutes before this started dropping hoses, and I was still 90 mins. away! Nothing to do but drive…even had the NWS radio off, I didn’t care about what I was missing, after all…

As it turned out, I had time to punch the core of the storm along US-75 south of Fairview near the casinos, catch a few nickel-size hailstones before turning around to check out the back end of the storm. I ran into Jeff P at the corner of US-75 and KS-20, he was mentioning a monster near Salina that was TOR-warned already, and we knew it was heading this way generally. There were other storms between here and there–but I had no intention of going to Salina when it was coming this way anyhow. Meanwhile, this storm north of us was looking interesting and I had time, sooo…

Looking southeast-ish…

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Looking north-ish…

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This was SVR-warned at this…second…Notice the two trees–you’ll see them in most of the rest of these pictures. Tells you a little about the storm motion.

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In my video, you can see a radio antenna flashing. Just so happened I was listening to that station, (really good coverage today and in 2006, but they’d gone downhill when I was in Hiawatha in 2009). Two guys reading bulletins, the storm went from SVR to DITOR to “Hey, there’s a tornado two miles south of here!” within 3 minutes. That was it for that station for a few minutes…

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Kicking up debris. Roads were too muddy to chase, and the road network led something to be desired anyhow. I had to fiddle something fierce with these pictures, the sun was shining off the cumulus and blowing out the light levels on the video. Even worse on my vidcaps. I don’t know why I wasn’t shooting stills…Mike P and others got this storm from the east, and the contrast was beautiful. Sigh…

The storm headed toward the Missouri River bottoms. Going after it would have meant 1. Going through Hiawatha and I didn’t want to get in the way of any rescue/cleanup 2. Crossing the Missouri at Rulo, which would have meant corepunching or 3. Crossing at Saint Joseph and letting this storm get 75 miles ahead of me.

None of these options blew my skirt up, especially in light of the two mesos southwest coming northeast! All the guys who blew this storm off in their haul toward Manhattan and Salina were sure of jackpots later on, and I was feeling good myself, having bagged one already with four more hours of daylight left.

Didn’t happen that way, but that’s life! I played pinball along KS-63 between Kelly and Havensville for the better part of two hours, trying to decide between two DITOR storms and seeing neither–but missing out on hail and the storms never verified, anyhow.

The storm from Manhattan finally moved toward me.

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This is the intersection of KS-63 and KS-16. This looks worse than it was–this is the leading edge of the storm. Sometimes you see gustnadoes here, and it was interesting looking. I planned of heading east toward Holton as soon as the rain hit, but the storm was too fast for me.

Thirteen miles to Holton in a 60 MPH wind and 4.5 inch/30 min rain–my Focus never hydroplaned once.
Interesting how nickel-sized hail doesn’t really count as hail anymore, LOL. I love Kansas roads–65 MPH in this mess? Can’t do that in Nebraska…

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NE/KS border–glorious mamma clouds–the anvil from a DITOR storm near Lincoln and a hailer south of Omaha. Mamma are supposed to be a sign of a severe storm, but I’ve seen them in snow showers! The TCU on the horizon are from another line that got to Omaha around midnight–nice light show driving back home.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

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