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« May 25 - Chase Day 10 - Busting, Carhenge and North Platte ... Again! | Main | May 23 - Chase Day 8 - No Panhandle Magic in the Texas Panhandle »

May 24 - Chase Day 9 - Vortices, Updrafts & Lightning in Colorado & Nebraska

A very late hello from North Platte, Nebraska ... again!

We started the day in Liberal, Kansas with Chris Kridler. We had a quick bite to eat at our hotel and left the "Wizard of Oz" town for our target of Burlington, Colorado. The SPC issued a 5% tornado risk for several areas and most chasers were split between two targets: northeast Colorado or southeast Colorado.

Well, as initiation started, cells popped up in both target areas. Our cells weren't looking to hot on radar but visually they were looking good. The southern cells looked great on radar, can't confirm what they looked like visually.

As the day wore on one two cells we were following fizzled and the other took over. Again, the radar returns were fairly weak but they looked great! We followed the storm north of Wray, Colorado to near Holyoke, Colorado. We were pulled off on the side of the road watching the LP (low precipitation) supercell overhead when it started to develop a small lowering right in front of us. This area started to quickly move directly overhead and we were treated to one of the coolest weather phenomenas I have had the opportunity to see! We were starting directly up into a swirling vortex. We were looking directly up into the updraft of an LP supercell. It was unbelievable. The photos and videos depict what was happening but it was like looking up into the sky and seeing a satellite image of a tropical storm ... or a cross section of a cresting wave.

The storm just would not die. We followed it east into Nebrasa and it kept pulsing with these beautiful updrafts and sheer funnels. As the sun began to sank we were wondering if the low level jet would kick this thing up. Well ... the sun set and the lightning sky rocketed and the storm developed a hook and baseball size hail. We were on the western side of the storm so we couldn't get a look at the "business" end but from what chasers in the area were saying, there was no visual.

We stayed on the west side of the storm and slowly followed in behind it stopping on occassion to shoot lightning pictures and videos near Wallace, Nebraska. A local came by to check on us to see if we were okay and he unfortunately had his windshield smashed out by the hail on this storm.

NEW Photos: May 24 Chase Day - Lightning, vortices and updrafts

Once we shot all the lightning we could, we started our dangerous trek back to North Platte. To say there were deer along the highway would be an understatement ... There were deer standing directly on the highway, grazing off to the side. The lightning actually helped us spot deer along the way.

Well, we made it safely back to our hotel ... very late. Time to sleep and chase again tomorrow. Tomorrow's risk isn't very high. The areas with a better risk are way to far north. We'll likely stick to northwestern areas of Nebraska for tomorrow.

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