Scott F. Blair
2012 Chase Days

3/18, 3/27, 3/30, 4/13, 4/14, 5/5, 5/6, 5/17, 5/18, 5/19,
5/22, 5/23, 5/24, 5/25, 5/27, 5/29, 5/30, 6/10, and extras

March 18, 2012. Dighton, KS
Additional Photos Here Due to work obligations, I departed in the early afternoon for western Kansas, which was the only logistical target due to the distance. My Dad accompanied me on the chase, with the expectations set to show him his first Great Plains supercell. We followed persistent convection for just under 3 hours, from Sublette to Garden City to Gove. The storm was consistently a text-book, low-precipitation supercell, with good storm-scale rotation through its narrow updraft structure. It became highly photogenic towards sunset, and we drove closer to capture a few finer details in the structure. As sunset approached, the LP supercell was quite majestic. The storm and sky were mixed in pastel colors, with spring-laced green fields, and no other nearby vehicles or human-made sounds. The updraft gradually tilted and shrank with time, signaling the beginning of the end for the persistent LP.

March 27, 2012. Lawrence, KS
Additional Photos Here Sub-severe convection developed during the morning hours across northeast Kansas. I ventured out to snap a few photos across Lawrence, KS. The storms brought some photogenic opportunities with a tumultuous sky contrasted to the many vibrant colors of springtime. Hail between 0.25" to 0.88" was common across areas to the west of Lawrence. The storms passed Lawrence, KS before noon, leaving wet grounds and a near-perfect air temperature near 70 degrees.

March 30, 2012. Ashland, NE
Jenni Laflin and I targeted far eastern Nebraska along a surface confluence line in advance of a stout shortwave trough. Just enough moisture/instability existed, with ample deep-layer shear, to support supercell structures. Convection quickly initiated ahead of the upper disturbance over eastern NE, but unfortunately well west of the deeper moisture. We targeted a robust storm near Humphrey, NE, and it slowly weakened with time as we acquired a good view of it near Schuyler. The storm was very high-based and initially only mildly photogenic, although it became pretty by early evening. It was an efficient lightning producer throughout its lifespan, and we stopped just north of Ashland to take a few photos of the daytime bolts. The storm vanished shortly after, and we headed to OMA for the night.

April 13, 2012. Grenola, KS
I chased a somewhat marginal setup for tornadoes across southeast Kansas during the mid afternoon into the early evening hours. Convection quickly developed and presented supercell structure characteristics for the first 30 minutes, before moving off the dryline and gradually weakening. I watched a new storm along Hwy160 southwest of Burden, KS. It was a small compact storm and it too eventually met an untimely demise. I drove east and watched new storms near Sedan, KS. I pulled off Hwy160 near Grenola, KS to enjoy the backside convection. I decided to make one last attempt at observing convection east of Independence, KS. The encounter was visually uninteresting with lots of rain, occasional pea-sized hail, and a barrage of uncomfortable cg-lightning. I ended the day at sunset and headed back to TOP.

April 14, 2012. Kansas Tornado Outbreak
Additional Photos Here I observed 4 tornadoes from two supercells across central Kansas. The latter two tornadoes were long-lived and observed at times from close range. The highlight of the chase occurred near Kanopolis Lake, KS along Highway 4. This road provided a very unique opportunity to closely parallel the tornado for over a 3 mile stretch as the road and vortex moved in a northeast fashion. I was able to observe intricate details of the tornado within a one mile range for about 5 minutes. I decided to position further down Highway 4 where the road makes an east turn. I judged the trajectory of the tornado and stopped on an east-facing hill that would presumably contain a favorable view of the vortex crossing the road. The tornado’s audible roar was very impressive as it approached the road. Most of the precipitation had ended at my location, and the high-contrast combined with the rapidly rotating tornado made for a spectacular sight. The tornado unfortunately struck a farmstead shortly after crossing the road, resulting in an EF4 damage rating. The violent tornado continued on its northeast journey across sparsely populated countryside. The flat and colorful terrain of the Smoky Hill River basin made for a very picturesque sight.

May 5, 2012. Ansley, NE
A marginal day for severe weather existed across central Nebraska, where a narrow corridor of instability and moisture resided between a highly-mixed warm sector and a surging cold pool north of a frontal boundary. Jenni Laflin and I met up with Al Pietrycha and Pam Murray just south of Ansley, NE on Hwy183 and we watched modest towers develop and anvil out east of LBF. Unfortunately, the surging cold pool seemed to be partially responsible for quick deaths of the towers. We drove to Lexington and had a nice conversation with Chuck Doswell and William Reid at Taco Bell. Convection north of the boundary became aggressive after dark and we watched distant towers illuminate in the distance before the long drive home.

May 6, 2012. Pleasant Grove, KS
After arriving home very late from the previous chase day, we leisurely chose to observe any robust convection in close proximity. Scattered convection developed just ahead of a cold front by midafternoon across the Lawrence-Kansas City metro area. One storm managed to produce several weak tornadoes on the south side of the metro. We observed three storms with fair low-level rotation in all quads of Lawrence between 530-8pm CDT. The final storm observed near Pleasant Grove appeared to have a small RFD occlusion that eventually rain-wrapped a wall cloud.

May 17, 2012. Rexford, KS
While this day served as a travel day, we took advantage of the potential for high-based convection to practice HailSTONE operations and enjoy the sights. We first acquired a glimpse of some high-based convection west of Hoxie along Highway 24. The group stopped to take a dirt bath as strong outflow winds lofted copious amounts of dust from the fields. We shifted west and north and stopped one final time south of Rexford near the Rexford Cemetery. The storms were fairly efficient lightning producers and the turbulent skies made for some pretty scenery. We made a brief stop and ate at a decent restaurant in McCook, NE before ending the day at LBF.

May 18, 2012. Arthur, NE
A difficult forecast existed for severe convection as the environment was characterized by meager boundary layer moisture combined with modest shear. We waited in Ogallala, NE for several hours and weak convection eventually developed just to the west. A few stronger storms eventually evolved and HailSTONE initially operated south of Lake McConaughy. More robust convection developed across the sandhills, and we operated within the limited road network for several hours. The strongest storm materialized west of Hwy92 and we sampled it along Wilson Road. Intense lightning and decent storm structure were noted before daylight faded. We ended the day watching distant lightning along the dam of Lake McConaughy before driving to Colby for the night.

May 19, 2012. Rago, KS Tornadoes
Additional Photos Here A much more promising setup existed on the 19th, yielding an opportunity for supercell structures. We initially targeted an area near Kinsley, KS and convection rapidly developed upon our arrival. HailSTONE operated for several hours on multiple severe storms over south central Kansas. An unexpected surprise occurred later in the day when several updrafts began producing landspout-type tornadoes during the early evening hours. We observed two tornadoes within two miles of each other during their dissipation stage. The latter tornado was very photogenic, with a subtle illumination of white color. The vortex eventually moved across a plowed field and lofted a tremendous amount of dirt around the circulation. Upon the tornado's dissipation, we continued operations before ending the day near Anthony, KS and driving to ICT for the night after an excellent day of field work.

May 22, 2012. Gackle, ND
photo here The HailSTONE group made the long drive to initially target an area near Bismarck, but limited surface heating and weak ascent partially contributed to limited convection in the warm sector. We eventually repositioned and targeted new convection developing just north of the SD/ND border. We observed a fairly stout left-split storm near Gackle, ND but the quick storm motion made it nearly impossible to follow. The roads were quite unique with several of them skirting the edges of low-lying lakes. Additional storms developed in close proximity and we briefly targeted several of them before winding down the day near Monango, ND for a quick look at nocturnal lightning, and the long drive to Watertown, SD for the night.

May 23, 2012. Wahoo, NE
photo here text goes here

May 24, 2012. Lone Star, KS
An outside chance at severe convection existed across northeast Kansas. Storms developed by late afternoon, but warm mid-level temperatures and weak subsidence hindered the opportunity for deep, persistent convection for much of the daylight hours. While the HailSTONE group attempted several hail transects, the storms were simply too weak for notable hail. The highlight of the day occurred near LWC at sunset with a photogenic anvil and mammatus.

May 25, 2012. Russell, KS
Limited HailSTONE operations were conducted with the initial supercell storm that developed northwest of Rush Center, KS and moved towards Russell. The storm made a decent tornado attempt near Hwy183 south of Hays with an impressive RFD surge lofting large quantities of dust. The supercell eventually crossed the warm front, became elevated, and weakened with time. Sampled another supercell at twilight near Russell, and decided to end the chase day as the town lost power just prior to a rope tornado striking the southern outskirts of town.

May 27, 2012. Hays, KS
Jared Leighton and I observed several supercells within 30 miles of Hays during the late-afternoon and evening hours. We took several dirt roads to briefly sample hail in a left-split storm southwest of Hays. We followed the storm north of town and sampled some highly irregular hailstones along Hwy183. We watched a new LP supercell approach I-70 east of Ellis and go through some sort of low-level occlusion process. After the storm passed overhead, we drove down Old Highway 40 and south on an obscure dirt road to photograph the backside of a supercell at sunset. The plan did not disappoint as the updraft tower turned a golden-red over beautiful terrain.

May 29, 2012. Kingfisher, OK
text goes here

May 30, 2012. Estelline, TX
text goes here

June 10, 2012. Nortonville, KS
text goes here

Direct questions and comments here.

Return to chase accounts by year