May 5th Central Kansas Storm Chase - Tornado Damage from Night Before, Stafford Tornado and Funnels

05-05-07 CHASE LOG:  KS   This was the day after the Greensburg Tornado so it was rather somber, especially considering this was a High Risk day in the same area that was devasted by tornadoes the night before.  We started out in Claflin, KS where we found tornado damage from the night before.  The tornado had done a lot of tree and power pole damage in the area and actually did some structural damage in the town, including tearing a grain bin from its foundation and throwing it around 100 yards into a building near another grain elevator.  As MaryLynn and I progressed south towards the town of Ellinwood, KS we came across a church that had its steeple and part of the roof torn off as well as a lot of other, more minor damage in the area.  As we progressed further southwest towards St John and Macksville, we came across additional damage from the 12 tornadoes that touched down in central KS the previous night.

  As we neared St John, KS storms began firing on the dryline that was well forecast for mid afternoon.  Between St John and Pratt, we approached our first storm of the day.  This storm quickly produced a funnel cloud and was 3/4 of the way to the ground before lifting.  This is where we also saw the TIV and the DOWS vehicles that were attempting to intercept this developing tornado.  Our group that included two vehicles, with Beau Gjerdingen and Eric Whitehill in the other vehicles, followed the storm up towards Stafford, KS.  The storm had been cycling quite a bit with several wall clouds and areas of rotation.  North of Stafford, our vehicle was about to pass very near the mesocyclone and this is where the storm decided to drop a very brief tornado, only about 40 yards from our location.  The tornado touched down momentarily and then lifted, producing a beautiful funnel that was well lit as it crossed the road directly in front of us.  The funnel soon roped out and dissipated a few minutes later.  We continued to follow the storm to the north of Claflin, all the while having the storm cycle and produce wall clouds but not any more funnels.  It was very eery following a tornado warned storm into the same area that was hit the night before with tornadoes.  Nearing sunset, our group met back up in Hays, KS for the night.

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Power pole snapped by a tornado the night before near Claflin, KS.

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Grain bin thrown around 100 yards from a weak tornado that came through Claflin, KS the night before.

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A tornado ripped the steeple off of this country church between Claflin and Ellinwood, KS the night before.

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The tornado also took part of the roof and broke a few of the stain glass windows of the church.

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Funnel cloud that came within 3/4 of the way to the ground between St John and Pratt, KS.

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very-close-funnel

This is one of my favorite pictures, if not the favorite, I have ever taken.  This tornado did briefly touch down in the field about 40 yards in front of us.  It then crossed the road about 2 power poles away from our location.  This was near Stafford, KS.

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 Image of the funnel as it crossed the road and began to occlude and rope out just to our north.

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Image of funnel roping out and dissipating just to our north.

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 View of a large funnel cloud directly ahead of us and the rear flank downdraft and subsequent hail core to our left.

 More photos from this day can be found here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/39991047@N02/sets/72157621653451679/

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