May 17, 2019 KS/OK Tornadoes

May 17th was definitely not a day where I woke up and said “today we’re going to see tornadoes”, in fact, I think I said something on the lines of “we might get some storms today, but we also might not”. It turned out to be a pretty amazing day.

May 17, 2019 near Plains, KS

The forecast

SPC 2000Z outlook

The Storm Prediction Center outlook is seen above. It’s only at their 1630Z outlook did they expanded the 2% tornado risk into the Oklahoma panhandle.

SPC surface analysis at 1927Z

The setup was a typical dryline ejecting east throughout the day with associated low pressure in Colorado, which is almost a daily occurrence in spring down in the Southern Plains. Most chasers picked the low in northeast Colorado and its associated stationary front extending into Nebraska. We picked the dryline. We thought it would do it for us and that the storms would be less messy than up north. Both targets saw some pretty photogenic tornadoes on this day, but we were on the southern target.

The chase

Around 7:00 pm (local time), I almost wanted to give up while we were sitting in the northern Texas panhandle, thinking the cap held its ground. However, storms bubbling in the Oklahoma panhandle got our attention and we headed north. The storm intensified and waited for us to drop a tornado.

Forgan, OK EF0 tornado

We observed our first tornado of the day near Forgan, OK (seen above). This tornado was classified as an EF0. After it dissipated, the storm wasn’t done, however my stomach was xD. I needed to find food ASAP!

NWS Dodge City, KS survey. KS/OK radar during EF0 tornado
NWS Dodge City, KS survey of EF0 tornado track

While I was looking for a place to eat, we decided to head to Dodge City, KS for the night and follow the storm there and grab some steak! We were treated with some pretty amazing sights:

Backlit storm near Meade, KS

The storm wasn’t done dropping tornadoes. As we approached Minneola, KS it dropped an EF3 tornado:

Start of Minneola, KS EF3 tornado
Minneola, KS EF3 radar screenshot from NWS Dodge City, KS survey

This tornado lasted for a surprising 45 minutes before dissipating. While it was getting dark, we observed the tornado “wedge out”. According to the NWS Dodge City, KS survey, the tornado’s max width was about 500 metres and that is quite accurate.

NWS Dodge City, KS survey of Minneola EF3 track
Time lapse video of Forgan, OK EF0 tornado

A pretty good day, would definitely do it again! Haha.



Community Comments

Forever Chasing Forever Chasing   •   August 21, 2019 5:35pm

My chase partner Beth chased this day solo....she begged me to ride along, but like you, wondered if the cap would break. She scored big and I watched from home. What an incredible day!

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