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Day 9 (22-5-2002)
Click on any of the the Photos to Enlarge
Our target area today is Hastings Kansas, there are reports of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes in the late afternoon.
We leave the Big Western at Ogallala Nebraska. Click on me
East along the I-80, we go under a bride like structure that is in fact the Platt river museum. Click on me
The dopplar radar at Hastings Kansas. Click on me
We get there in plenty of time, it gives us a chance to have a breath and watch everything build up and to get a chance to work out he direction of the clouds. After a couple of hours we head back into town to make sure we have toped up the tank with fuel, and to have a watch to the west, it's coming in from the west so we park up in a small road. Click on me
We then see a rotating wall cloud drop out from bottom cloud mass, it was as if the ground was trying to shuck it up. All of us stare spellbound just waiting to see rotation. Unfortunately thats as far as it got, it was just teasing us, we follow the cell north east. Click on me
It drops a smaller one an hour later but nothing comes of that either, we then hear reports of someone spotting a tornado 35 miles south west of us from another cell that was following along behind, we decide this cell has show us everything it had and turn around and head back towards the other one. Click on me
We ended up driving straight into heavy rain, it was so strong we has to pull onto the side of the road at one point as we could no longer see where we where going. After it had cleared we found somewhere to stop and have a look around. Click on me
We watched the sun set over the horizon and the chance of seeing a tornado disappear. Click on me
In the dark to our south west and south east where two thunder storms, we headed south to get a better view, as we drove down to Beloit we could see lightning to the south as well, I'd never seen lightning so rapid before, 95% of it was just flashes up in the cloud with the occasional CG (cloud to ground), you could see 3-4 strikes go off in the cloud within a second, unfortunately this was happening above the cloud base but it just showed the energy still in this cell. Steve got out of the car to have a closer look (much against my advice), just after he got out there was a massive clap of thunder and Steve jumped back into the car complaining of a flash of heat that came from the car. Click on me
Tom looked out of the window and from the lights of the town to his left, there was a vertical dividing line. On the right hand side was black and to the left was white, followed shortly by a thudding noise. It then dawned, there was a shower of hail coming our way (in the UK hail isn't really a big problem but out here it can sometimes come down the size of baseballs). Tom started the car and headed east, the wind started to whistle against the car and all we could think of was not getting the hire car damaged. Click on me
We went back up to Jewel, stopping to pause to see if it was safe and the direction it was coming from (normally southwest). We looked around for cover to sit the hail shower out, apart from parking against a wall there was no cover in the town, then in the lightning flashes close to our west we could see the cloud lowering again. It wasn't going to be a good idea to sit this out as there was a chance of a tornado dropping in the dark, and if you can't see something you can't avoid it. we plotted a route out of the town to the east and outrun the storm finally ending up in Belleville Kansas. Click on me
We came across a Super 8 Motel where we pressed the night time bell, getting a grumpy lady out of bed, we checked in. Steve tried head butting a glass hatch not realising it was there (I guess he was still in shock), we then went back down the road to see the end of the storm in the distance, as we got back to the motel again we noticed on the sign the words "Laughter is free" remember the lady we found that very amusing.
Steve name his video tape "The night we nearly died!". I think he regretted getting out of the car and I will certainly remember that moment we realised hail was coming and the danger of a tornado dropping that we would never have seen because of the dark.
I will sort out some pictures of the storm as soon as I get some time to look though the video tape.
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Map of route
22nd Map