A week ago Friday saw a severe weather day that has been exceedingly rare for what is suppose to be the peak in severe weather season. The month of May has seen a record low for tornadoes and severe weather in general, and last Friday's mini-outbreak in Kansas provided quite a show.
NO PLANS TO CHASE
Forecasts going into Friday were not very promising. The two days leading up to Friday were northern plains events, including a forecasted outbreak in Wisconsin which was mostly a squall line. A lot of storm chasers were up in Wisconsin with the same thoughts as me regarding Friday; not good enough to chase. I went to bed late, even after seeing the evening runs, I wasn't convinced of the Kansas target to the point where I was planning to pick up work in Denver.
8:45am rolls around, and I kinda wake up and roll over. My fuzzy orange cat, Zipperfoot, is sound asleep next to me. I glance down at my phone and go to look at something when I hit the touchscreen and bring up the SPC page. I see the 5% tornado probs for central Kansas, so decide I'll give it a look. I was not really comprehending anything, but saw warm front, dryline, and triple point mixed in there and of course noted the easy 5-hour drive and didn't hesitate. I literally sprang out of bed, grabbed my gear, loaded the car, and was on the road to Kansas.
THE FIRST TORNADOES SOUTH OF WALKER
I got to Hays, which was about 15 miles north of the warm front, so I spent the day not sitting in 90-plus degree heat, but beneath the cooler clouds and nice breeze north of the front. I stalked Facebook for chasers posting pictures of the building Cu and when I saw an image from the south that looked good, I drove 15 miles south and watched the storm's birth.
The first few tornadoes were kinda ratty... a lot of dust was being blown around and there were quite a few tornado-look-alikes. I can confirm three myself, one of which I didn't notice right away as a tornado even the as the funnel is clear as day on my video (even as I never focus on it, just the ground swirl). Another was a large rotating wall cloud with a large, broad dust circulation beneath (no visual connection). The third tornado was a sight to behold, a anti-cyclonic tornado that spun up south of the ongoing tornadic circulation to my north and rolled through some vegetation and scattered it through the air. I would estimate myself within a half-mile of this gustnado-looking thing. Fortunately I had stopped to observe this feature after a glance in my passenger side mirror and was able to note a funnel with this.
The storm continued northwest, eventually crossing the warm front and becoming elevated, it's base raising higher above the ground significantly reducing the tornado risk. I was closing in on Russell and decided to break off with dark approaching.
So Russell I went... meanwhile, two storms formed southwest of me, the second storm developing south of Hays near LaCrosse would soon have a large, often rain-wrapped tornado with it. I hung in Russell taking occasional filming/photographing the intense lightning occurring with the storm immediately to my southwest. When I was done with the video, I decided that I couldn't make the tornadic LaCrosse storm before dark, so I was going to core punch the currently non-tornadic storm immediately to my southwest.
I retraced my steps back to the southwest, looking for a route to get into this core. I had driven all of 10 minutes when I observed a very well organized wall cloud. It produced at least one very brief snakey tornado and possibly another that I attached, but can't really identify as such. Both those minor events convinced me that I needed to give this a chance. After the second tornado (or the one real tornado), the wall cloud was disorganizing. I noted that in a report on Spotternetwork only to immediately