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Chase Day 9 - Night Time Tornadoes (May 25)

What a day! We started off the day in Emporia, Kansas with a 5% tornado risk from the Storm Prediction Center. Our target for the day was Rush Center, Kansas. So we made our way over to Great Bend, Kansas and hung out for a while. There was a massive chaser convergence in the town. Once the towers started to go up we relocated to Rush Center, Kansas where we met up with a ton of renound chasers including the father of storm chasing: David Hoadley.

A few towers went up and then one began to dominate. Brad was expressing concerns about us getting suckered north but it seemed to be the only storm so we headed for it. Unfortunately our route included dirt roads. The storm took on a very nice shape VERY quickly. It was moving a lot faster than anticipated and we got stuck in a hairy situation. The storm started putting down gustnadoes and we found ourself racing out of the path of one on a dirt road. We let the storm get a little ahead of us which was our error. At the same time a piece of tumbleweed barreled across the field and slammed into Scott and Dave's windshield. They now have a nice circular crack in the top corner. Irony? They hail hail guards covering the entire vehicle and tumbleweed is what cracks it?

After we got out of the way of the gustnadoes we saw that the most southern storm, "tail end Charlie" took on a beautiful shape. We booked it south and the middle storm was taking on a nice shape now. But we were determined to get on the southern storm. As we were approaching the southern storm we saw reports of tornadoes coming from the middle storm. Once we got on the southern storm is was very elevated so we sat and watched. 

Probably in about 5 minutes a wall cloud RAPIDLY formed right in front of us. We kept watching and the sun was setting. We repositioned slightly futher east and watched. Then we saw it, the first funnel trying ... then it retreated. Then again, another funnel, larger this time, then it retreated. By this time the light was fading and that when it happen: a very large cone tornado took shape in front of us. It slowly began to cross the road ahead of us and we watched in the fading light. We got some low contrast video except for in lightning strikes. Once it crossed the road we continued up the road SLOWLY behind it and saw the monster tornado that was headed for the town of La Crosse, Kansas. It was illuminated by lightning and was very large. We made it into the town of La Crosse and watched a lightning-lit tornado move northeast of the town. At the same time another meso was putting down a tornado to the east. Within the lightning strikes we could see two tornadoes at the same time. Incredibly scary. Here's a picture:

So far we've only heard of minor damage (a few power lines down and some tree damage). What a chase. We got in very late so we're going straight to bed.

Goodnight from Oakley, Kansas!

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