As Maxwell Smart used to say: “Missed it by that much”… We departed North Platte Nebraska this morning at 10 a.m. after our morning deliberations pushed us to target northern Kansas instead of staying in the Cornhusker state. We wound up in Hill City Ks where we ate a picnic lunch while waiting for convection to start. When several large storms fired south of us we packed up and headed east and then south to gain position on the developing system.
Finally one storm dominated the others and took over as the King of the Hill (pun intended) as it robbed the surrounding cells of their energy and morphed into a tornadic supercell. We finally got into position on it just south of Hays KS on a dirt road that led right into the heart of the mesocyclone. We parked and gawked for 20 minutes as the storm lumbered directly toward us and tornado sirens sounded all over Hays. It almost put down a tornado but didn’t quite make it but the proximity of the storm (the wall cloud was perhaps a mile from us at closest approach) was breathtaking while we remained perfectly safe, not even getting wet!
We left this position and raced east to Russell KS where we picked up the WDBJ television crew who had finally made it out here from Roanoke and then sped northward to catch back up with the storm. While we were relocating the cycling storm dropped a confirmed tornado five miles north of the eastbound road we were on but we didn’t see it. I did record a funnel via dashcam video as we rolled northward in a vain attempt to catch back up with the now accelerating storm: