October 12, 2023
Hildreth, NE Tornado

Nick Nolte / Blog, Storm Chasing / / 0 Comments / Like this

The 12th looked like a pretty decent local day. A surface low in Southwest Nebraska was forecast to drift east. A cold front draped south from it through Kansas and a warm front extending eastward towards Omaha. Cloud cover was pretty strong in the morning so the play would be to watch for clearing in the warm sector for a favorable target.

1630z SPC Day 1 Tornado Outlook

SPC had a 5% encompassing the triple point area. Despite the cloud cover they were expecting a couple hours of destabilization to prime the atmosphere. With southeasterly surface flow in the warm sector, the storm relative helicity was expected to be conducive to a couple of tornadoes. Watching visible satellite from home a bit of clearing was presenting itself south of Lexington, so it seemed prudent to head in that direction.

17z Visible Satellite with location marked

I took off from Grand Island around 1730z and at about the same time the SPC issued a mesoscale discussion for much of the triple point area with the expectation of storm development near the triple point with the possibility of a couple tornadoes.

I arrived in Kearney around 1830z and a cluster of storms were present west of the US 183 corridor. They were pretty disorganized at the time so I started to drift southwest to catch the cluster at the southern end. Eventually I caught that as the southern cell strengthened as it approached Elm Creek and went tornado warned.

Hastings radar at 1922z with location marked

Even though it was tornado warned, there wasn’t much to look at. I followed it north a little bit until there was additional development on the southern flank. At that point I turned around and headed back south to get in front of the storm. As I did that, a new storm down by Oxford went tornado warned.

Hastings radar at 1953z with location marked

OK fine, I’ll drop south some more to the newly warned cell. Which I did, getting on it a few minutes later.

The southern end of the line continued to develop and strengthen so I continued south to keep in position. Eventually I approached the main cell near Hildreth where a nice RFD cut emerged and a bowl funnel developed and debris kicked up at the ground. It was barely a tornado, but we’ll count it.

This feature was confirmed to be the longest and strongest tornado of the day in the Hastings forecast area, rated EF-1. Although it never fully condensed, it was on the ground for about 6 miles and did damage to a house, garage, and grain bin about 2 miles north of this photo.

I continued to track the storm east while it continued to remain tornado warned, and between Ayr and Roseland there was a debris cloud on the ground, but I’m pretty sure this was just a gustnado on the rear flank.

I continued to track the storm all the way to Fairmont before calling the chase as the storms began to weaken as the sunset.

Chase Recap

Grand Island, NE @ 12/1734ZGrand Island, NE @ 13/0036Z07 hours, 2 minutes

EF-1 12/2045Z @ 3 E Hildreth, NE

Chase Map

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