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May 15 - Storms and Lightning in Nebraska

Hello from Colby, Kansas!

What a day… We’re all exhausted. It’s about 2:30am CT. Originally we thought we’d make it into the hotel by just after midnight but unfortunately one of our chase friends hit a deer and her vehicle was rendered un-driveable. More on that in a moment… 

We started the day off in Dodge City, KS. Getting up very early we made our way north with our goal of setting up shop in Lexington, NE (our ninth state of the trip!). When we rolled into town, we met up with Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison and Stephen Barabas! They just finished their very long journey from New York and Connecticut. We hung around in Lexington for a while waiting for storms to initiate. They were firing in north-western and western so we decided to head west making our way along the I-80 and hung around in Big Springs, NE, very close to the Colorado border. We had a few storms in the area showing rotation.

To our south was a storm showing very evident signs of rotation. We saw it produce several wall clouds and possibly a funnel. We repositioned south to get a better look. At that point, the storm started to “gust out” and become outflow dominant which produced a beautiful shelf cloud and lightning show. We started back east along highway 30 so we could keep ahead of the shelf cloud and get some pictures and video (and stay safe with all the lightning). Just around the town of Roscoe, NE we found a great spot up on a hill with a clear view of the storm. We set up our tripods and cameras and let them roll. 

It started getting late and we had a very long drive to our hotel for the night in Colby, KS. We stopped off in Sutherland, NE to gas up and the attendants were nice enough to make us pizza! Most of our convoy continued south on highway 25 but Chris Kridler stopped to continue doing some lightning photography. We also started south but them pulled over once we saw how amazing the lightning was lighting up the updrafts of the thunderstorms to our north and west. After some time doing photography, we began south.

 

If you’ve never driven highway 25 in Nebraska, or ANY highway at night in Nebraska, it is one of the scariest experiences. Towns are few and far between and deer are EVERYWHERE! We came across many deer with Brad, Matt and I all keeping an eye in the fields around us. Several times we had to slam on the brakes coming across deer along the road. We started closing in on the town of Trenton, NE when we got a message from Scott McPartland saying Chris Kridler had hit a deer and they were all pulled off. We found their convoy pulled off and pulled over with them.

Thankfully, Chris was okay; shaken up but unharmed. Several other chasers were there with us including Daniel Shaw. Unfortunately Chris’ vehicle was heavily damaged and could not be driven. She was able to spend the night in McCook, NE and will be dealing with the items today in North Platte, NE.

By this time it was midnight so we continued our drive south to the hotel.  We pulled in at about 2:00am CT and are in the process of crashing into bed.

Tomorrow looks like another big chase day. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a MODERATE risk for storms with a 15% hatched area of tornadoes that stretches from the Red River in southern Oklahoma all the way to North Platte, NE; big area to cover. One thing’s for sure, we will NOT be chasing anywhere near the Oklahoma City metro or south-western Oklahoma.  With the imminent and guaranteed traffic jams plus the oversaturated terrain, there are bound to be too many chasers on few and flooded roads… No thanks.

The Storm Prediction Center's tornado risk for tomorrow (May 16).

The Storm Prediction Center's storm risk for tomorrow (May 16).