(Note: All photos get super-biggified (850 pixels wide) in a new window when you click them.)
Well, yesterday caught me by surprise! I was back in Kearney, visiting the fam, when Darren Addy called me at around 4PM and asked me if I'd been watching the weather. I hadn't. :) But a quick check of the surface obs and the RUC hinted that if I was willing to drop just a bit south into northwestern Kansas, it might be a fun day. So, I quickly got the car ready (you've never seen me Rain-X so fast!), swung by to pick up Darren, and off we went. We dropped south from Holdrege, and as we did, we could see that the cap had definately broken to our southwest. As we approached the storm that was east of Hill City (at around 6PM, IIRC, though my timeline is fuzzy), the sky was putting on one heck of a mammatus display:
We sat in Norton for a little while watching the storm split. The left split was more or less just sitting there spinning like a top, while the right split, which was quite questionable at first in terms of prospects, soon took off to the east like a jackrabbit and exploded. We took the right split. Now, of course, we were behind and just north of the storm by this point, so we ended up having to punch it. But by that point it seemed very clearly outflow dominant and was transitioning to a something more linear. Darren managed to nagivate the pea hail and crazy winds that were lofting enormous amounts of dust to our north. Eventually, we punched through and got east of it, and holy cow, was that an incredible sight. The storm had developed a HUGE roiling shelf cloud followed by a boiling mass of really dark clouds caused by the outflow. All the pictures below are from after we got east of it. We also ran into a bunch of people on the road who were from Canada and Michigan -- we didn't have much time to talk as the storm was closing in at a rapid clip. If you look close enough, you can actually see one of the Canuakistanians standing stage left in one of the pictures below. :) I never got a chance to give them my name and number like they wanted -- if any of you are reading this and need to get in touch with me, my email is ryan at digicana dot com.
No tornadoes, but WOW what an incredible looking storm! Seriously, it looked like something out of Independence Day! Most of these shots are taken as we race east past Phillipsburg and Kensington.
(a note on this last picture: in order to get the shot with the cemetery sign readable, I had to horizontally flip this photograph in photoshop. Props to Darren for seein' this photo!)
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