24 May 2016: 'Tornado machine' supercell at Dodge City, Kansas
May 24, 2016: Kathy Velasquez and I targeted southwestern Kansas today and saw one of the most extraordinarily prolific tornado-producing storms of my career south of Dodge City, Kansas. (We also met up with or chased in the vicinity of Stephen Barabas, Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison, Jaclyn Whittal, George Kourounis, Mark Robinson, Bill Hark, Jason Persoff, Robert Balogh and John Mann - and a couple hundred other chasers!) We actually lost count of the tornadoes. Getting close was a challenge because of muddy roads, but the wide shots of the structure with the tornado were glorious, especially since it missed the bulk of Dodge City. And the day ended with even more spectacular skies.
Above is a video showing the parade of tornadoes near Dodge City, Kansas, on May 24, 2016. I made a second video of just the time-lapse of the supercell with tornadoes underneath and light rays shooting out from behind the clouds, below. For best quality, click on gear symbol at lower right of video and choose 1080HD. Video by Chris Kridler.
Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.
We checked out the building clouds in southern Kansas, just north of the border, waiting for storms to fire.
We watched a couple of promising cells and followed them to Minneola, where one began to dominate.
Almost immediately, it showed signs of rotation.
The first lowerings started about 5:30 p.m. CDT.
Along a dirt alley on the west side of Minneola, residents eyed the developing supercell, which had two obvious areas of rotation.
The first tornado was a long time in the making; this was close to 6 p.m. CDT.
Tornado over a wheat field.
Another wide shot of the tornado in progress.
The tornado kept churning ...
What a pretty funnel!
The tornado was getting bigger - and farther away. We finally went north while it was still on the ground.
We still weren't close enough, and it was wrapping up in rain.
We went north again to watch this tornado ...
Make that multiple tornadoes! Here, it appears three are likely on the ground - with two funnels at right.
The cone was pretty through the haze.
Another shot shows multiple tornadoes on the ground north of Minneola.
The cone became fat - and finally we moved north again, vainly trying to get closer.
South of Dodge City, the supercell showed off a forbidding mesocyclone.
The meso threatened to become a large wedge tornado.
For much of the time, a multi-vortex tornado spun on the ground.
So much traffic was heading north toward the storm and the city, which was under threat at the time, that we held back, allowing me to get this once-in-a-lifetime shot of the storm structure with a large tornado beneath and the sun's rays beaming through - heaven and hell.
A closer shot of the structure with the tornado.
Looking up, the view was just as magnificent.
Bam! As the tornadoes went up and down, we had lightning, too.
Tiny tornado under the supercell - and another storm encroaching.
The sunset lit up the rain and the tornado.
A nice cone tornado.
The tornado began to rope out - and Dodge City was spared the worst damage.
As we let the storm go north and dodged a hail core, we took a look at the radar - tornado warnings (red boxes) everywhere! (And chasers - the red dots.)
The sun sets against a dramatic sky behind the National Weather Service office in Dodge City, Kansas.
Then - anti-crepuscular rays, the best I've ever seen!
We'd caught up with chaser friends in Dodge City and shot these rays from town.
Double rainbow, mammatus and anti-crepuscular rays in Dodge City, Kansas.
The sky showed a hint of the mammatus display to come.
Oh, yes - gorgeous mammatus!
Chasers enjoy the mammatus show - Kathy Velasquez, with (in background) George Kourounis, Jaclyn Whittal, Mark Robinson and Dave Lewison.
Even over a parking lot,the mammatus were amazing.
A field of orange-lit mammatus.
The mammatus skyscape ripened with color and depth.
To the east, hail and lightning fell from a storm amid the mammatus display.
More lovely mammatus.
This is a panorama of multiple frames shot with my Nikon D7100. What a sky!
Here's a phone panorama of the whole sky over Dodge City.
The next day, several of us surveyed the damage at Dodge City's landfill, well to the north of town.
Debris had hammered this garage door.
The structure was ripped apart.
Bill Hark, George Kourounis, Scott McPartland, Jaclyn Whittal and others document the scene.
Telephone poles and fences were ripped apart by the tornado.
But the power company was already installing new poles.
Insulation and twisted metal are tangled in tattered bushes after the tornado.
The tornado destroyed this landfill building.
Looks like a lot of "solid waste" after the tornado.
The tornado left crushed swirls of wheat behind in the fields.
The twister tossed corrugated metal across the fields, and some got tangled in these massive power line supports.
A closeup of the tornado-tossed metal pieces.
Damaged building, damaged truck post-tornado.01
All the glass was shattered in this truck.
More window damage on this truck at the landfill after the tornado.
Here's what the impact of tornado debris will do to your vehicle window.