Tornado in Kansas on May 19, 2013. (Ian Livingston)
Ponca City, OK — Last Friday, Mark Ellinwood, James Hyde and I headed west on a marathon overnight trip to the Plains. We had been planning to start our three week chasecation on Saturday, but odds of significant storminess over the weekend and into early week helped motivate us to set off early.
Both May 18 and May 19 featured “moderate risks,” which are elevated threats of the type that often only occur on a dozen or so days per year throughout the country.
The storms in the broader region were both damaging and deadly. We missed the Oklahoma City area tornadoes, partly due to the fact that we did not want to chase in that area because it is less “friendly” (terrain, visuals, traffic). However, over just the first two days of our three week trip, we’ve seen a lot — and perhaps already had our best day.
Below are some photos that tell the tale of our weekend… (all images can be selected for larger versions)
The first supercell of the trip begins to take shape near Greensburg, Kansas May 18. (Ian Livingston) Maturing supercell over Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) A funnel cloud drops out of the storm near Rozel, Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) A tornado touches down near Rozel, Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) Stovepipe tornado in Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) Supercell with a stovepipe tornado near Rozel, Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) Later in the evening, another tornado is seen near Rozel, Kansas as the sunset begins to cast more color on the clouds. (Ian Livingston) Mammatus under sunset light in Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) Tornado roping out on May 18. (Ian Livingston) In cloud lightning and a rainbow near sunset in Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston) Rainbow and cloud to ground lightning in Kansas on May 18. (Ian Livingston)
Supercell forming to our north in southern Kansas on May 19. (Ian Livingston) Supercell over southeast Kansas on May 19, 2013. (Ian Livingston) Funnel cloud attempts to develop into a tornado in southern Kansas on May 19. The storm did not stay independent long and became part of a line, and outflow dominant. (Ian Livingston) The supercell in the image above this one eventually became part of a line with an outflow based gust front seen above. (Ian Livingston) As the line developed, we continually dropped south to the tail, trying to catch any spinups in that favored area. We saw this one near South Haven just to the north of the Oklahoma border in Kansas on May 19. (Ian Livingston) A supercell developing in northern Oklahoma on May 19. A rear flank downdraft cut is seen in the middle. This is often a precursor to a tornado. The storm was later tornado warned after it passed our location. (Ian Livingston) A second storm that looked like a mix between a low precipitation supercell and a line segment passes by the same location in northern Oklahoma on May 19. (Ian Livingston) A developing supercell during the late evening to the north of Ponca City, Oklahoma. (Ian Livingston) The same supercell as in the image above about 10 minutes later. At this point it is fairly outflow dominant, though it had some broad rotation. (Ian Livingston)
Roadtripping the Great Plains: Starring a lull in the 2011 tornado season
Storm chasing: Photographs from the Plains, late May into early June 2012
Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.