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This Memorial Day was quite a bit less productive Hokie stormchase experience compared to Memorial Day 2014 (4 tornadic supercells intercepted in Texas). Instability today was incomparable but shear was very wimpy. Throw in cold air aloft and what we got was a multicellular mess of hail storms.

We departed Guymon OK for Great Bend KS as our initial target even tho’ parameters further south and east looked better. (We chose our target to avoid the inevitable chaser convergence around Wichita.) By the time we reached Great Bend storms were already going up east of us so we pushed to Lyons where we stopped for a midafternoon “lunch” and to watch the radar as convection went up just east of town.

Dinner stop in Lyons

Unfortunately chasing a generally discrete cell northeast of town was a dubious prospect as more storms were heading northeast toward the area and would have trapped us between multiple hail cores….not really a course of action we were willing to take.

So we sat in town for a while before backing up west a couple of miles while an outflow boundary from the Wichita storms fired more convection over Lyons. We waited until the “Tail End Charlie” cell on a line passed north of our easterly route and scooted in that direction to watch. Unfortunately the storms by this point were a globular mess and were also training over the already soaked ground:

Wet fields outside Lyons KSThe road network in this area of Kansas contains very few paved roads but has a nice network of dirt roads. However with the monumental amounts of rain the past few weeks these routes were no-nos for minivans, so we watched for a while and called it a chase by 6:15 pm CDT.

We decided to overnight in Pratt KS (Yay!! My favorite KS town!). As we pulled into the hotel parking lot a mammatus field built directly overhead:

Mammatus over Pratt KS

I was hoping the westering sun would dip beneath the cloud deck long enough to illuminate these clouds but it didn’t happen. Nonetheless the sight was mesmerizing.

Tomorrow’s target? Likely somewhere in western OK. TBD during tomorrow morning’s planning meeting. It’s time for the students to make the call again!!

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