May 6, 2008 - Great Bend, KS Bow Echo

Documented by: Scott F. Blair


After a 4 hour power nap following a midnight shift, I departed Lawrence around 12:45pm for an initial target of WaKeeney to Ness City, KS. Expectations for the chase were relatively low, although I hoped there would be sufficient shear to sustain organized convection in the form of supercells. High-based convection initially developed in the dry air west of the dryline in southeast Colorado near Lamar. The convection on radar was rather anemic and pulse-like early in the evolution, before updrafts congealed into one organized storm. I was in route to the activity while this occurred, but I was hopeful this was an encouraging trend. I arrived in Ness City around 4:30pm with a distant view to the aforementioned storms updraft. Unfortunately shortly after my arrival, additional convection developed all-quads and quickly ended the isolated nature of the earlier storm. Figuring this might be the beginning of either a mess or a line of storms, I shifted east on Hwy 96 towards Rush Center. By 6pm, a cluster of storms had organized nicely and the first signs of decent outflow structure were visible. I made intermittent stops to snap a few photos.


Storm structure drastically improved by 7pm as the storm evolved into a well-organized bow echo west of Great Bend, KS. With the visual apex of the bow targeted just south of GRB, I dropped 5 miles south and eastbound onto SE 50th Rd to Raymond, KS. At this point, the shelf was making serious ground on my location, so I only briefly stopped for photo opportunities. Staying in line with the bowed-out segment, I shifted north to Hwy 56 touching the outskirts of the fast approaching gust front.


I made some ground on the shelf cloud while on Hwy 56 and briefly pulled over several times west of Lyons, KS. The most impressive storm structure was viewed from 7:45pm to 8:15pm in the vicinity of Lyon. The shelf cloud featured a multi-layered appearence across the western horizon. Severe wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were reported within the bowing segment. I allowed the leading edge of outflow overtake me east of Lyons. The storm was beginning to lose organization as the outflow raced well ahead of the precipiation core. The structure featured a classic 'whales mouth' all the while the cool outflow intruded into the spring air. I took a few more photos and called it a day as darkness set in.



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