Just a quick entry on this day. Brad an I ran up from Salina to Albion, Nebraska where we grabbed some lunch in the scorching heat. The restaurant where we grabbed lunch was some type of Faraday cage and I had virtually no cellular signal, so we took off to the south side of town and found a little county park with a sketchy outhouse that was sealed shut with rusty wire and a broken padlock. I had to use the restroom, but I wasn’t up for risking a tetanus shot for the privilege. Here we sat watching for any sign of development in the sky. As we continued to check data, it looked like the best chances for development would be up near the NE/SD border where the cap was starting to show a slight erosion.
So, north we went to Niobrara, where we crossed the river, then hung out for a little bit until Jonathan Williamson caught up with us. The air was pretty soupy here, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was the first time I had seen my Kestrel indicate dew points over 70 this year. The three of us continued north a little bit to a small town called Avon where we unabashedly loitered in a car wash parking lot for the better portion of two hours. Shortly after 23z, cells finally started to develop back to the south a bit, so we left town to intercept.
The next couple of hours may be the most humiliating, yet amusing, time in my chase career as we set our sights on every blip and increase in intensity on radar to continue chasing these storms when it became clear, rather quickly, that they were just not going to take off and do anything. We continued to follow the first cell went up as it peaked at 40,000 foot tops. A few minutes later it waned to 30,000ft, and our spirits would be lifted as it bumped up a couple thousand feet on the next scan. We suspected a strong cap was causing the updrafts to struggle, and a retrospective look at the 700mb temps confirm our suspicions.
Nevertheless, we continued to be suckered in by the storm. Much of this was my fault as I kept watching VIL and Echo Tops for any signs of strengthening. At one point we had conceded that, perhaps, the day was a bust and started heading south, but a bump in VIL and Echo Tops caused me to suggest that the storm might be strengthening: “Hey guys, this might be regrouping!” We then proceeded to do a 30 mile circle to chase a rain shower. Fortunately, we all came to our senses sooner rather than later and realized the day was lost and began the trek back to Grand Island. As a testament to the frustration of this day, I did not take a single photograph, lol.
|Salina, KS @ 26/1202Z
|Grand Island, NE @ 27/0330Z
|15 hours, 27 minutes
|Brad Goddard (38)
Jonathan Williamson (56)