May 25, 2012

La Crosse, KS

May 25 was an unforgettable chase day with Silver Lining Tours. We spent the entire day sitting on the triple point, waiting under blue skies and hoping for the cap to break. Finally, just as the sun was beginning to set, storms exploded. Even though the storm to our north went tornado warned first, we stayed with Tail End Charlie as it developed into an incredibly structured supercell with a large, bowled wall cloud.

This wall cloud developed before the storm produced a tornado at La Crosse Kansas on May 25, 2012. Photo by Travis Farncombe

As the storm approached, funnel clouds began darting down and up again but none was able to touch down. Then, after what seemed like forever, an RFD surge wrapped around the wall cloud and a large cone funnel descended to the ground. Finally we had a tornado on the ground! It grew into a large cone and then into a stovepipe as it intensified and neared our location.

For the next 45 minutes, we followed the tornado in the rain and the darkness as it churned north of La Crosse. Fortunately for us, lightning in the storm was constant, and it was as if the tornado was backlit for us by a continuous strobe. Near the end of its life, it became tall and dart-like, one of the most stunning tornadoes I have ever seen.