Big Springs, NE 6/10/04
Big Springs, NE 10 June 2004 Date: 10 June 2004 Location: Ovid, CO – Chappell – Big Springs - Arthur – Tryon, NE Chase Partner : Vail Summary: Moderate Risk day by SPC. I originally targeted Ogallala, NE to start the day. I stopped in Julesburg, CO to top off my tank and get some lunch since I knew I was east of the Dry Line. As I was sitting in the parking lot of the CONOCO station eating a scrumptious Subway sandwich, this incredible looking tower went shooting up near Crook, CO. A tornado watch was issued a short time after the tower started to go up. I watched its progress on the WxWorx radar and it went from nothing to 50dbz in no time. So I headed through Julesburg and headed west to Ovid, CO. I set up my camera and did some time lapse of the towers blooming up and developing into a very impressive storm. I talked with one of the locals and we talked about everything from the previous nights storms to the drought and its effects on cows and chickens in the local area. He asked me how it looked and I actually said “at the rate she is going, she could tornado in about an hour or less.” Little did I know I actually made a prediction that came true. He had some things to do, so he took off and headed west toward Ovid. About 20 minutes later a well defined RFD notch came cutting in and she started to wrap up just to the west of town. Sirens were going off as the wall cloud slowly developed. As the storm tracked NNE I headed up toward Chappell / Big Springs, NE and while enroute I could see a funnel starting to sneak out of the cloud base. I looked below and sure enough there was a small plume of debris on the ground. This was south of I-80 and Chappell. As the tornado moved toward the Interstate I followed. What I thought was a nice road according to the DeLorme Street Altlas ended me up smack dab at a dead end and looking into a corn field. Chase over. So I watched the tornado as it crossed I-80 and shot some stills and video. As it crossed it took a full size pickup truck and its towed RV trailer and rolled it over on the west bound lane. I didn’t realize that until I got on I-80 (there were a number of people helping out and it appeared that everyone in the truck was ok) and headed east bound after losing about 5 minutes of time to the storm. As I was going through Big Springs the sirens were blaring away and there were some people standing in the streets with gazed looks on their faces. I yelled out the window at them and told them they were safe, but there was a tornado on the ground NW of town. They thanked me and I continued on. This brought me to pet peeve number 2 for the day. I got stuck behind a guy in a Cadillac that was doing 35 in a 55. I could tell by the way everyone in the car was pointing and looking they didn’t have a clue as to what was going on and were apprehensive about going north. Okay, so I finally get around them and continue my journey. As I finally got clear of the trees and hills in the area I looked to the NW and there was a very nice stovepipe tornado on the ground. Which led me to an extension of pet peeve number 2. I was now behind a camper trailer that was just as apprehensive? Or clueless as to what they were really getting into, but nonetheless we were back to doing 30-35 in a 55. And it just so happens the shoulders of the road that I was on I felt were really inadequate to set up shop to film the tornado. I could have stopped about 2 miles back, but the tornado was heading into a position of really bad contrast, so I gambled and lost behind the camper. I finally find a place to pull off the road to film and wait………?? Where did the tornado go? It was GONE. I was dumbfounded. And really bummed. I sat and watched for about a minute and out of nowhere the rope stage reappeared as it filled with condensation. I also happened to be in the path. A position I really didn’t want to be in. It was a couple miles away, so I looked at my escape route options. Hmmmmmm…………north or south? Ok, well I sat and watched it since the escape was a no brainer depending on what the tornado was doing. Well, it dissipated before I had to make that choice and it did so in quite graceful fashion. A new meso was developing to my NW. So that meant that I had to head back Se on Hwy 26 to Ogallala and head across Kingsley Dam and re-intercept the storm. After about another 20-30 minute detour to get around Lake McConaughy, I caught back up between the Dam and Arthur, closer to the Arthur side of town. Another funnel appeared out of the heavy precip core. I went north as far as I dared, which led me to another possible close encounter. To my SW looked to me like a huge wedge wrapped in rain. I taped this for about 5 minutes as I was still at a relatively safe distance. There was no mistaking the rotation. She soon dissipated and shot off to my left while the new meso was forming to my west. Well, it was time to get out of dodge for sure now. I only had one option. North……through the core. Oh joy. POW!! BANG!! POW!! Here came the hail. The average size was golfball, but there were occasional hail stones slightly smaller than tennis balls. My truck was officially Christened. After getting through Arthur I headed East on HWY 92 a broke out ahead of the core. As soon as that happened I think every chaser in the alley was on the other side. So I picked a spot to film a little bit and the TIV went driving by. This was the first time I saw this contraption. I think I will keep my opinion to myself on this thing. On with the chase……….the radar showed that the storm was starting to gel into an MCS and after heading north out of Tryon for a bit, I let her go on her merry way.