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Chase Day 3 - Tornadoes, Hail & Diamonds? (May 19)

What a day! So I'll explain the title ...

We started the day in Hays, Kansas and were incredibly indecision. We couldn't decide whether to head north or south. We poured over model data, surface observations and satellite. What we noticed is that the model output was not jiving at all with the morning soundings and hodographs. Basically this proved to us we could not go off just model data, something wasn't making sense. The models were undoing the helicty as well. The one model that ended up varifying was the HRRR. So we went with Brad's southern target and headed to Great Bend, Kansas.

We hung out in Great Bend until we saw the cumulus clouds building so we headed down the road to get a better view. The storm essentially exploded into a large, high based supercell. It went from agitated cumulus to full-blown supercell in about 15 minutes. We met up with Cloud 9 tours, Bill Hark and Robert Balogh. We wew pulled off watching some high based rotation when ... WHAM ... we started get hail and it was getting big FAST. We had to book it off the small side road and onto the main highway very fast. By the time we got from our "pulled over" position to the highway (about 200 yards), the hail had gone from quarter size to just larger than golfball and those impact were hard. We had several impacts to the hail gaurds which held up nicely. No damage was done to the vehicle either. We managed to get out of the hail and follow the storm stair stepping it south.

As we were doing so the storm was spinning off funnels and landspouts and gustnadoes. We pulled off and there it formed, our first tornado! We were pulled off filming when Brad handed the camera to Simon and said, "Simon, can you film us for a second?" so I thought he wanted a shot of us in front of the tornado. And then he got down on one knee ... and proposed! I said yes! So the witness to our proposal was Simon and some random local who wanted to know if it was ok to go into the town. This was all right near Kingman, Kansas.

Unfortunately the bliss couldn't last long as we had to keep heading south as the hail kept catching up with us. We saw two more tornadoes form off the same mesocyclone as we were stair stepping. Then we pulled off right near a wind farm and that's when the big one formed. It was a beautiful tornado and we got to shoot it for a while. 

Here are some of the photos from today:

So we headed back to Wichita, Kansas for the night and had to play "dodge the storms and hail" on the way home while also playing "try to answer phone calls and texts from happy family and friends while in really bad cell phone reception area". In the meantime I'm going to work really hard to get photos up tonight. There's no way I'll get the video edited tonight since it's already 1:15am.

Goodnight from Wichita, Kansas!

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