Monday provided a sampler of what storm chasing in the Plains is about. We encountered downdraft winds of about 60 mph twice, saw gustnadoes (low to the ground spinups of dust or debris on the front edge of an outflow), saw wall clouds (escaped south just ahead of one once) and witnessed rotation in storm clouds as sirens wailed through the north-central Nebraska town of O’Neill. In an effort to avoid big hail farther south along the storms as they congealed into a line, we picked out a relatively weak point and “core-punched” the line to get west of the precipitation for the evening. On the back side of the storm, we were treated to a goregous display of mammatus clouds — hanging lobes of clouds caused by sinking air motions out of the storm — as the late day sunset provided a golden touch. There was one thing we didn’t see, though there were reports in the area — a tornado. For a time, the storm we were on was the only tornado-warned storm in the United States — a forecasting and positioning success. Trees, hills and the sparse road network in the region frustrated some of our attempts to be where we wanted to be, so we were evading storms a lot.
Today (Wednesday) is a calm weather day — clear, cool and windy, compared to the searing heat back home in Virginia — and we’ll enjoy it by taking a driving tour through the Sand Hills. Severe weather is expected to pick up again on Wednesday — once again, in central Nebraska — so we won’t have far to go.
— Kevin Myatt