Bradshaw, NE Tornado June 20, 2011

Date: 20 June 2011

Location: Bradshaw, NE Chase

Partner: Griffin McLaughlin  

Summary: Griffin and I chased the previous day near McCook, NE and finished the day near Kearney, NE. After checking out the morning forecasts and SFC obs, we headed east to York and met up with Ben Holcomb and JR Hehnley. We ran into Simon Brewer there as well and traded war stories for a while and then when it looked like things were starting to get ripe, we topped off our tanks and prepped for the chase. We ended up staying in York, even though there was a lone supercell in Kansas dropping one tornado after another near Hill City. That was hard not to bite on that as the chasers that we talked to along the way in York that did bite on that storm did score multiple tornadoes long after it became a tornado producer. A very well defined boundary was visible on the radar and it ran SE from near Kearney to just south of York and down toward NE Kansas. Storms began to fire all along the boundary and immediately it looked as though things were going to go linear right off the bat. The HRRR kept showing that the cells along I-80 were going to break up, and sure enough, they did. We got on the Bradshaw cell south of there near Grafton where it became very evident that it was rotating with funnel clouds. We stayed ahead of the storm and were battling constant golf ball hail in doing so. We witnessed one tornado roping out near Henderson, NE and began to reposition to a point just NW of Bradshaw. The Bradshaw tornado was actually the 3rd tornado with this storm that we saw. Tornado #2 was rain wrapped and we didn’t see that until well after tornado #3 formed (the Bradshaw Tornado) as it emerged from the precipitation core to the NW of our location. Griffin had a great eye and picked that one out as it was roping out. We watched the approaching Bradshaw Tornado from about 2-4 miles southwest of our location until it passed between .4-.5 mile to our immediate west. This tornado went from a truncated cone to a serious multiple vortex shortly after it passed our location. We then chased it until it roped out some 15 minutes later in a field to our NE. I made the mistake of not stair stepping the road network as I noticed it beginning to rope out as I didn’t want to miss filming the rope stage. This cost me the 1/2 mile wide wedge that was the next tornado this storm produced as there were a number of power lines down blocking the road, and before we even gone up the road it crossed I said to myself what a mistake that would be……but, I am not going to complain one bit. 2011 was a hard luck season for Great Plains chasers and after the botched May 24 Oklahoma event I was beginning to think that a picturesque tornado was not in the cards for me this season. Bradshaw made up for the 2 months of frustration and then some.

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