May 1, 2008 - Moran, KS Supercells / Lawrence, KS LEWP

Documented by: Scott F. Blair


I departed late in the afternoon from WFO Topeka after a busy shift forecasting for severe weather. Several small storms quickly evolved from an effective dryline across portions of eastern Kansas. I managed to observe two severe storms near Pleasant Grove and Ottawa, experiencing severe hail of 1.25" and 1.50" respectively. I forwarded these reports along to WFO TOP via Spotter Network. There were several interesting stones and a healthy stone variety of rimed and cloudy ice. Eventually, several smaller storms developed within the vicinity along the dryline and seeded downstream convection. Figuring a squall line or mess was likely to evolve, I dropped southward towards the southern end of convection in southeast Kansas.


While approaching the main area of convection near Chanute, a beautiful sky of mammatus littered the underside of the anvil. I went through a few exposures and enjoyed the sights. The supercell near Chanute was placed under a tornado warning, and I continued to position southward out of the anvil and forward-flank precipitation.


I stopped 11 E Chanute, KS around 7:40 pm and waited for the tor-warned supercell to move closer to my location. For whatever reason, I wasn't feeling aggressive to push closer to the storm, so I simply sat back and enjoyed the convection. The structure was very pleasing and the setting sun added to the mixture of colors. The storm contained a long inflow tail that stretched off to the northeast. I moved north on Hwy 59 and stopped south of Elsmore, KS to observe the nearing updraft. There was certainly some good lightning in the vault region with the existing twilight. As the storm passed Moran, it showed clear signs of weakening. Likewise, attention was shifted to two new robust updrafts immediatley to the southwest.


After a quick gas stop, I drove eastward on Hwy 54 and stopped near Uniontown, KS. A newly tor-warned storm was approaching from the southwest. Through the semi-frequent lightning, a well-defined wall cloud was observed underneath the rain-free base. The feature was persistent for nearly 15 minutes and appeared to have decent potential for a tornado. It was difficult to discern the rate of rotation utilizing only lightning flashes. The surface winds were rather poor and this possibly contributed to the lack of a tornado. As the storm passed just to the west, the wall cloud became outflow dominant and elongated. The storm rapidly weakened following the gust-out.


I observed one final supercell near Mound City, but this also met a rapid demise after ingesting a worked-over environment. I figured to call it a day, but a well-organized squall line was developing just west of Topeka. After a long drive, I positioned myself just west of Lawrence on the east side of Clinton Lake. While the shelf cloud structure and lightning left a lot to be desired, the sound of the approaching straight-line winds was amazing. An impressive roar preceded the outflow wind, which was certainly the highlight of the squall. An EF-2 tornado was classified from a damage survey team just northwest of Clinton Lake. Visually the structure showed no signs of tornadic activity, such is the case with many squall line tornadoes. An impressive rotational couplet existed on radar for several scans. After a few wind gusts around 60 mph, I called it a night.



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