June 12, 2004 - Mulvane, KS Tornadoes

Chase Account by: Scott Blair

June 12th remains perhaps the most incredible tornado day I've observed to date. Jason Politte and I (meeting up at times with Eric Nguyen and Scott Currens) observed four tornadoes southeast of Wichita, KS. We first observed a developing supercell near Hutchinson, KS but quickly left the storm when it failed to present any real signs of sustained maturity. Blasting down I-135 towards Wichita, we took Hwy15 that led us through the core in Derby towards Mulvane, KS.

The rain-free base was soon visible and the entire storm was striated. The wall cloud continued to rotate and slowly tighten inward. Large hail just under 4" sporadically fell due north of the wall cloud. Jason's vehicle took a hit and lost the entire side window (even with significant hail protection). Within ten minutes, a pointy funnel began to develop nearly overhead and I pulled off to shoot some tripoded video. The color and contrast of the tornado was excellent as it fully condensed downward. As the vortex approached Hwy15, I elected to blast towards the tornado. A significant amount of debris poured from the tube as it crossed the road, damaging several structures and numerous vegetation.


*** Awesome storm structure was noted on the north side of the meso. Mulvane, KS tornado first touches down just west of Hwy15. View is looking due south. Tornado then crosses highway within close proximity of our location. ***

Debris continued to fly as the strong multi-vortex tornado spun across the area. A rainbow slowly formed as we pushed southeast along Hwy15. The rotation at the surface of the tornado was very violent as full-sized trees were lofted and swung around the vortex. The highlight of the day occurred when the tornado moved southeastward, virtually paralleling Hwy15. Outflow pushed the tornado on this new motion and the sun entered the tornado's region. The end result was an incredible ghostly bright white tornado with a vivid rainbow stretching across the sky observed from very close proximity.


*** Dramatic tornado becomes breathtaking as it becomes bright white with a rainbow. Very frequent cloud-to-ground lightning was observed during the entire event. ***

The tornado took dead aim on one well-structured two-story house, leveling the object within a matter of seconds and sending large amounts of debris into the air. Luckily the occupants survived without injury. This powerful tornado finally stretched outward and slowly shrunk into a thin rope before dissipating. The 12 minutes of this spectacle was without a doubt one of the most incredible moments of my life.


*** Tornado largely affected by outflow moves southeast and strikes a house. Large amounts of debris are violently scattered through the sky. Note the horizontal thin tubes wrapping around the tornado in the first image. The tornado shortly after leveling the home dissipates. ***

We continued eastward and observed another beautiful tornado at sunset near Rock, KS. The sky was illuminated gold as the tornado transitioned from a truncated cone to an elephant trunk before roping out. We finished the chase observing two more tornadoes at twilight near Wilmot and Atlanta, KS as debris was kicked up under thin tubes. Without a doubt this chase will always remain one of the most memorable of my life.


*** Rock, KS tornado spins across the open Kansas countryside with beautiful colors. ***

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