As our storm chase vacation continues, we set up shop in Oakley, KS; located in far NW Kansas, not far from Colby.
Due to time constraints for our vacation, I choose to not take us into Colorado, but still hunt across the potentially ripe northwest Kansas region.
By day’s end, we savor the sweet wildness of some of the best Kansas has to offer.
After an afternoon of our relaxing, getting more road food, etc. , the very first thunderhead of our region pops up to my distant southeast around 6 pm. At first, though it almost immediately appears like a tight cauliflower, it only slowly grows.
I keenly eye this celestial anomaly, and after about 10 minutes, it rapidly swells heavenward. There is no other significant thunderhead anywhere to be seen in our sky, except a cluster of growing cumulus to our distant northwest, beneath the anvil of a far away thunderstorm in Colorado.
Due to the swiftly blossoming nature of this storm and its location in deeper moisture along a old thunderstorm outflow boundary, I choose this one over the cluster off to my distant northwest.
To intercept this storm means a significant drive away from our base, like about 100 miles.
To our advantage, the now exploding cloud mass remains essentially stationary, so despite it being a long shot of about 50 miles east then 50 miles south, we have a pretty good chance of intercepting this storm while it’s in its peak.
This scene beckons us shortly after we turn south down KS 283 at WaKeeney. The still-exploding towers call out to us and invites us to join them.
About 30 miles closer, and gaining fast…What magnificence!
Now from about 20 miles away, a magnificent storm swept panorama opens up before us!
Looking deep into the heart of our supercell…
This storm, while producing no tornadoes, does offer us magnificent skies with wall clouds and funnels:
This second photo shows a wall cloud or potential tornado cloud developing, sucking air from the earth and practically scraping the ground.
This is the tail end of a rope-like horizontal funnel which spins and curls up within the cloud mass.
Here is a crop of the previous photo, showing better detail of the funnel, just before it dissipates.
This pair of funnels beckons from the nearby southern sky.
A new thunderhead tower builds majestically into the main body of the thunderstorm cell. This photo looks straight up.
Then, as dusk arises and deepens, occasional lightning streaks with great beauty across the now weakening cell off to our southeast.
(C) 2015, Stephen Eric Levine; All Rights Reserved.
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