Start: York, NE
Lunch: Beatrice, NE/Runza
End: Wichita, KS
From York, Nebraska, our tour group dove south into eastern Kansas for the chase. SPC had a marginal risk for that area early on, and then upgraded to slight in their 20Z update. The tornado risk was very low, as low-level turning was poor and any upper-level support appeared to be ill-timed and weak. A mad dash to the east from York — to the slight risk in eastern Iowa or the trees of Missouri — did not appear to be warranted. The skies remained storm-free as we made our way to the Emporia area, where the air was thick with humidity. Not much was happening as the clock ticked past 5 and 6 p.m., and it was looking like a cap bust might be in the cards. A perusal of the moisture convergence charts drew my attention towards the Wichita area. Though the Emporia area still appeared to be a reasonable place to wait and hope, I rolled the dice and headed down the turnpike towards Wichita.
This decision worked out, as convection developed and slowly matured southwest of Augusta, Kansas.
This cell to our west was not moving much, so we made our way across the river at Augusta and set up for the sunset a few miles west of Douglass. The storm had some decent supercell structure, but it was rather anemic and non-stimulating. The cell moved above us and to the east with little fanfare, though there was a large RFD cut/clear slot in the base.
As the sun set, it appeared that this supercell was getting its act together some. It was now to our east by maybe 5 miles, and the look on radar was looking better. Might this storm try to tornado? We got back into the vans to catch back up, and several minutes later the backside of the updraft lit up brilliantly in oranges and pinks. I found a spot to stop, just east of Udall, and grabbed the wide angle lens!
Another highly-electrified supercell (or two) came out of the Wichita area and tracked across the same path as the original storm, so we had the tripods set up and kept shooting into the evening. This was at the same location, just east of Udall. Additional cells formed and we had to dodge hail cores on the way to the motel in Wichita.