May 28th, 2019. Was an absolutely incredible chase day.
This story begins on the previous day, May 27th. I set out to chase near Ness City, KS. with fellow Chasers Tom Smetana, Shannon Bileski, And Braydon Mourisseau. As a supercell began to form directly over top of us, we began tracking it, about 20 minutes into the chase, I hit a bump in a gravel road and the car I was driving stalled, at this time I didn’t think it was a very big deal, I pulled over and started checking things out, maybe I knocked something loose when I hit the bump? after about 15 minutes of trying to diagnose the problem, the storm was beginning to get away from us, so I hopped in Toms truck and left the car where it sat, We had bigger fish to fry at the moment and the car could wait until later, We then continued our chase, seeing a few wall clouds and 1 funnel cloud that was very close to touching down, at the end of the day we pulled over to shoot some lightning in the distance for a while before returning to my broken down car to deal with it.
When I returned to my car, the battery was dead from leaving the 4-way flashers on, So tom grabbed his battery booster pack and we went to work attempting to diagnose the issue eventually, we determined the fuel pump must have failed so I proceeded to call a tow truck (Keeping in mind it was about 3 am and we were at least an hour from the nearest tow truck) While I sat and waited for my Tow, Tom Shannon, And Braydon Proceeded to Hays, KS. to get a hotel, I told them I would meet them there in a couple of hours. 1 hour passed still no tow truck, then 2 hours passed and I received a call saying they would be there in approx. 15 minutes.
The tow truck arrives shortly after 5:00 am and gives me and my car a ride to the hotel in Hays, KS. when I arrive (shortly after 6:00 am) I do a quick google search to see which shops are around and what time they open, I find 3 shops, all open at 8 am, I make the decision to set an alarm for 7:50, then I will wake up and call around to see if any shops can check out the car that day and then I will likely get my car towed there and go back to sleep, deciding not to chase that day.
7:50 quickly comes and I wake up and start making phone calls, the first shop I call tells me they won’t have time to look at my car for the next 3 days, I hang up and proceed to call the 2nd shop (Which happened to be Recommended to me by Tom who had to deal with them in the past) when they answer, I explain the situation and ask if they had time to look at it today, “Sure, bring it on by” the guy on the phone says so I then proceed to call for a tow.
When we get to the shop I go inside and hand the guy my keys, then begin my walk back to the hotel, the shop was only about 10 blocks away from the hotel, but as I walk out of the shop I happen to look across the street and see a sign that tells me I need to chase today, the sign reads “Enterprise Rent-A-Car”
I Walk over and proceed to rent the only AWD SUV they have on the lot, a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, and make my way back to the hotel.
When I arrive Tom, Shannon, And Braydon are in the middle of packing up their vehicles and getting ready to hit the road, I hop out of the new car and they say “You Coming?”, “You know it” I Respond.
We proceeded to head towards our Target of Salina, KS. where we sat in the Chic’ Fil-A parking-lot waiting for storms to begin to develop, I took this waiting period to take a nap in the back of the Equinox, after only getting about 45 minutes of sleep that night.
After a couple of hours attempting to nap in a very uncomfortable trunk, it was “Go Time” as a supercell quickly formed overtop of Hays (The Town We started our day in) this storm quickly went tornado warned as it produced a Landspout tornado almost immediately when it began to build.
We hopped in our vehicles and hit the highway back towards Hays, We stopped at a gas station along I-70 just north of the town of Wilson, KS. to quickly top up our tanks, as we were in the middle of fueling up a new tornado warning was issued, Storm Chasers were reporting a tornado on the ground, we paid for our fuel and continued towards the storm, We were now traveling North on HWY 232 towards the Town of Lucas, KS.
As we got closer to Lucas we Crested a hill and finally got our first view of the Tornado, A beautiful EF-2 Wedge underneath an Impressive looking supercell.
When we reached Lucas we turned West on highway 18 to get closer and get a better view of the tornado, at this point, it was beginning to weaken and take more of an elephant trunk shape, but before it entered its Rope out stage a new tornado formed to its north, We now had Sisters!
Shortly after the new tornado formed to the north, the original EF-2 turned into one of the most beautiful Ropes I have ever seen, this rope was still acting very violent, with a massive semi-translucent kink in the center clearly showing the “Elevator motion” within it as it twisted and curled in an almost choreographic dance in the sky!
During the rope out phase, the new tornado also died off so we then turned north on HWY 281 to keep along-side the Southeast corner of the storm, Not even 1 minute after turning north, a new tornado was on the ground to our west, a beautiful bright white needle grazing across open land.
This storm continued to produce multiple weak tornados as it carved its path towards Tipton, KS. We counted a total of 8 tornadoes this day, unfortunately, we were only able to capture 4 or 5 of them on camera, below is a replay of my Livestream from this chase. I hope you enjoy! I apologize for the shaky footage as I didn’t have any of my camera mounts in the rental car!
It’s safe to say, I’m happy I saw that Enterprise sign!