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« May 29 - Chase Day 14 - Messy Storms in Kansas | Main | May 27 - Chase Day 12 - A Bust ... Kind Of »

May 28 - Chase Day 13 - Wedge Tornado in Kansas!

Hello from Salina, Kansas!

We saw it ... we finally saw a wedge tornado today near Bennington, Kansas. Before I get to the story I would like to mention that we have had reports of damage from this tornado and while we love seeing tornadoes we're always devastated by the news of damage and injuries. We heard there was damage and saw some ourselves but we have yet to hear of injuries and death. For the most part the tornado seemed to be over field. The tornado could have taken a track directly through town which would have been more devastating.

Ok, onto the day ...

Quickly enhanced image of wedge tornado today near Bennington, Kansas.

We started off in Hays, Kansas this morning and let's just say that the risk for tornadoes was there but very wide spread. I think someone calculated that the 5% tornado risk issued by the SPC was about 5000 square miles?

SPC's 1300Z tornado risk from this morning (May 28).

Narrowing down a target was going to be difficult but we decided headed south toward Great Bend, Kansas would put us in play for southwestern Kansas target or north-central Kansas target. En route to Great Bend we saw the CU-field (cumulus field) taking shape to our east and north. We quickly had a bite to eat and headed northeast toward Salina, Kansas.

We saw a couple of towers go up and fizzle out but then Bill Hark (Dr. Wedge, as we call him) saw a towering cumulus in his rear view mirror and decided that was the one!

We watched it grow and headed north so we were southeast of Bennington and Minneapolis, Kansas. The tower grew into a massive supercell and we saw it produce a well shaped funnel cloud. We pulled over and watched and it was really starting to get its act together. Our group split at that point as the more hail-shy chasers moved east and south to stay out of the hail. As we got south a very large tornado formed.

At first this tornado was a very large cone and it was moving in and out of the rain. Eventually it formed into a massive wedge tornado and we watched it as it remained almost stationary for 30 minutes! The storm was just not moving like a traditional supercell would and eventually it just became too immersed in rain. If this supercell had tracked like a traditional storm would, we would have been in closer and perfect position but alas every storm is different.

In hindsight we could have stayed in our original position and been fine but hindsight is 20/20 and we still managed to see the tornado. So far we've heard of some damage but no deaths or injuries and I hope that doesn't change. The tornado did stay south of the towns which we're thankful for.

And finally some NEW PHOTO GALLERIES ADDED - Check them out here: 2013 Storm Chase Pictures

Two new videos added from our May 26 chase day with incredible structure: 

I will try to get some more uploading done tonight but the internet here is hit or miss and we have a few long days of chasing ahead of us this week before we head home for the weekend.

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