Storm Chasing: May 22, 2008 Kansas Tornado Outbreak

AMAZING, CRAZY, INTENSE.

After waking up in 4 inches of mud in the Badlands of South Dakota surrounded by buffalo, we headed down into Nebraska, and eventually into northwest Kansas. We found a good area to intercept storms that were forming along I-70 and moving north. We settled in around Hoxie, Kansas. The first storm with an incredible wall cloud and distant tornado blew by us too far to our east.

A distant wall cloud.  We couldn

A distant wall cloud. We couldn't catch it or keep up, but it did produce a very distant tornado.

We had better luck with one of the next storms, watching a thin tornado from several miles away. We pulled off the main road, just onto a dirt road at the top of a hill to watch this tornado. This decision made things “interesting.”

Video One, distant tornado

After this tornado roped out, I immediately noticed an area in the cloud base getting a little stirred up. This area was very close, and we were right in the path of this area, so I decided it was time to move out of it’s way. As I went to back up onto the main paved road, we lost traction and started sliding down the hill. Further attempts to reverse up the hill brought us sliding further down and almost off the road. By this time a full fledged tornado had developed and was closing fast. I decided to drive all the way down the hill, turn around, and get a running start. This proved successful, and Kristen started rolling video, eventually shooting out the sunroof. Another tornado developed. See John Wetter’s video to see both tornadoes on the ground. We were much too close to get both in the frame. We raced about a mile up the road and let both tornadoes cross the road behind us. As those tornadoes died, another tornado developed VERY close, causing us to race down the road a half mile to watch it churn away at the spot our car had been only moments before. It raced north, going multi-vortex and eventually becoming very wedge-like before disappearing into the precipitation.

Video Two – Much more exciting

This was Kristen’s second storm chase, and her 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and possibly 7th tornadoes.  She did a great job with the video, as a first time videography.

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