2008-05-29 Kearney, Nebraska Tornado

Here we go again…

Another High Risk day, SPC mentioning violent, long-track tornadoes–second day in a week! Took spring long enough to get here, but Ma Nature made up for Her late start.

The target didn’t change much as the days counted down, I guessed York to Concordia but it was actually a little farther west. This was my third trip to at least as far west as Kearney within the last six weeks, having not driven that far west in the last twenty years! I-80 to the Hastings exit, south to HSI, then west to Minden then northwest to Kearney. Once I got to Minden, I started to see the towers going up, and for the first hour or so the warnings were mostly SVR, and a little further west than I wanted to go, but to be honest I didn’t see a need to!

I had one of my few premonitions the day before–last week there had been at least twenty tornadoes that essentially missed any town of consequence, and the thought occurred to me that someone’s karma was running out. Not mine, necessarily, but…someone’s. And the closer I got to the east side of Kearney, and the SVRs turned into TORs…

Here’s your obligatory TIV pr0n, for those of you so inclined…


Southeast side of Kearney, about a block north of I-80, looking west:


Wall cloud right in front of me, look at the grass and notice how the wind is flowing into the mesocyclone. Tornado in the middle of the picture, moving dead east, right toward me. I had plenty of options to get out of here, though. Just behind the cell tower is a second meso, soon to be a second tornado.


Here are a few very short-lived funnels, just behind is the ‘real’ tornado. Can’t see on the still photos, but about this time the first of about fifty power flashes got cranked up as the tornado moved through downtown Kearney.


Better look at the tornado. just before it became rain-wrapped. Story of this season so far, no chaser has seen any structure to speak of, and only short glimpses of tornadoes before they get rain-wrapped. That just means I have to take a trip to Montana or Saskatchewan in August, LOL.


Finally disappearing in the rain:


Here’s the vid:

Looking straight up. Jaw-dropping:


Hastings’ report on the tornado tracks mentioned three tornadoes hit Kearney. As I was leaving my vantage point where I took these pictures, to find a spot to take the video, I came across some wind shifts and a flying trampoline! I didn’t think that was a marker for a tormado–it doesn’t take much for one of them to go flying–but apparently in this case it was!

Back on I-80, not actively trying to chase because of all that rain, but looking for a south option to get out of the way and wait for other storms further west to come this way. Apparently there was damage on the north side of I-80 but I never saw it, good thing–ignorance is bliss! (Good thing I didn’t chase–hard to get off the road in a hurry if you’re on the interstate.) As soon as I headed south, the remaining storms in the area became high-based and then crapped out totally, storms further south stole their moisture.

So 2+ hours to get back home. Most of the other chasers had bailed on my storm and headed to north Kansas, plenty of other storms there that moved into southeast Nebraska just after dark. I don’t know why I didn’t go, other than the fact that I don’t chase at night (rrright…). One tornado was more-or-less continuously on the ground from north Kansas to east-central Nebraska, and the remnants eventually got to Springfield around 1-ish. I had to pick up my daughter after a school trip to Warshington DC at 3 AM, it was still raining, with more storms coming!


Author: Damon Hynes

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

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