2014 continued it's ways of taking me to the north with a setup on the Kansas/Oklahoma border, but this time it was at least only three hours away instead of the 6-8 hour trips I had been taking all year.
The storms fired just north of the Kansas border near South Haven, where only a year ago I was chasing a beautiful rope tornado. I thought there might be magic again as only one cell formed in the beginning and quickly produced a wall cloud. It was heavily rotating and floated over Geuda Springs as it moved east and eventually made its way to Arkansas City, so close to producing a tornado. As it started getting dark, another huge cell came in from the west and I had to make a choice whether to stay on the storm I was on or drop to the south so I didn't get blasted. I chose to drop off and go south because it was the only road that would take me south for another 50 miles, and that choice would be my biggest mistake in a great day, as it produced a tornado about 20 minutes after I left it. Here's the haul from the day:
When you get in to late August and early September the summer starts to give way to fall in many parts of the country. Usually the ridge of high pressure starts to relieve and the heat gets displaced by colder air which arrives via a cold front. This was the setup on the day before Labor Day in Nebraska. Cold front chases are a little tougher because they tend to become linear fairly quickly and when that happens the tornado risk reduces greatly. So, getting out early and being right on top of the storms from initiation is of utmost importance to capture not only a possible tornado but to get the most photogenic shots of the day.
I traveled up I-35 through Kansas and arrived in Nebraska shortly after 1pm, and after I looked at the forecast models I decided to move further west than I had initially planned. I set up shop in Red Cloud, Nebraska and waited for storms to form. I chose a pretty good spot that day because it wasn't long before storms started to fire up just to the south in Kansas and quickly they moved northeast into Nebraska.
The storms stayed discrete for a short time as expected then moved to linear mode quickly. There was a short time where I got a wall cloud with some rotation in it, and it appeared it might have a shot at producing a tornado, but quickly dissipated. I landed a few structure shots and once I lost visibility to the individual cells I dropped south into Kansas to catch the southern part of the line of storms. I battled intense rain and quick moving storms the rest of the way, eventually stopping in Salina, KS to let them pass and got a bite to eat.
Here are a few of my catches from the day:
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