June 10, 2004

Big Springs, NE Tornadoes

Chase Account by: Scott Blair

Overview: An excellent day across southwest Nebraska took place along a dryline punch by mid-afternoon. We observed three tornadoes in Deuel and Keith counties. The most significant tornado lasted for nearly twenty minutes northwest of Big Springs, NE. This tornado first started as a large funnel with dust circulating below. As the storm evolved, the tornado became quite strong as numerous vortices whipped about the base of the tornado. Eventually, the tornado roped out within 75 yards of our location, resulting in power flashes and a very dramatic sight. We observed a brief dust whirl tornado under a new meso shortly after the first tornado. The last tornado observed occurred northeast of Lemoyne, NE as a long condensed tornado stretched down for a few minutes. An excellent chase across southwest Nebraska.

*** The position was excellent as tornadogenesis occurred to our southwest. The tornado first developed across I-80 as dust circulated below the funnel. Some oblivious motorists were injured while driving through the circulation. A solid ten minutes of timelapse video was possible due to the positioning as the tornado moved for our exact location. The vortex continued to mature as it approached Hwy30. ***


*** Moving northwest of Big Springs, the strong tornado matured into a large barrel shape with awesome multi-vortex action. Numerous power poles were destroyed as the tornado plowed through the relatively open fields. Contrast was near perfect as the tornado slowly shifted closer to our road as we paralleled its motion. A good debris swirl was noted with a similar appearance to a vacuum cleaner drilling into the ground. ***


*** The long-lived tornado finally roped out as it crossed our road within 75 yards from our stationary location. Power flashes were observed as the tornado crossed followed by spectacular motion in the dissipating tube. The sight was unbelievable as a snake-like vortex stretched overhead while dirt swirled in the field just down the road and into the field. Certainly a memorable experience and one of the best rope outs observed. ***


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