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Tornado Visualization and Doppler Radar Analysis Project

Explorers Club Flag Award Expedition

May 14 - May 31, 2015

Donald Dolan and Tom Dolan


Thursday May 14, 2015 - Denver, Colorado to North Platte, Nebraska

We traveled to North Platte, Nebraska after our arrival at the Denver International Airport.  The evening sunset providing an interesting split shadow as the sun dropped behind low clouds. 

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) listed an enhanced outlook for Friday which included the western Nebraska area. 

We will review the models and updates in the morning and adjust our location for Friday's storm initiation. 


Friday May 15, 2015 - North Platte, Nebraska to Ogallala, Nebraska

Moving west we intercept our first storm of the day near Sidney, Nebraska.

The thunderstorm developed further as it passed Sidney with the wall cloud located below, along with what appears to be a funnel descending. The storm was tornado warned with rotation indicated in the radar data.















Tornado Warning issued on the Sidney, NE thunderstorm.  Storm is located northwest of town.





The image on the left below is the Base Reflectivity with red as heavy rain and pink being the hail indication.  There is a pendant pointing towards Sidney which is wrapping around the cyclonic circulation.  On the right is the Normalized Rotation with the blue being cyclonic in circulation in the location of the wall cloud and funnel.  The green is anti-cyclonic circulation.

The image below is a blend of both the Base Reflectivity and the Normalized Rotation.












Worked storms north then back along the Colorado and Nebraska border.

Low precipitation supercell developing phase.  Similar to the type of storm that passed by east of the Yarnell Hill Fire.







Storm Dissipation phase.







Cloud to cloud lightning over Nebraska sky.










Explorers Club flag on the Nebraska and Colorado State Line with a severe warned storm moving towards Ogallala, Nebraska.








Completed the day at Ogallala, NE.


Saturday May 16, 2015 - Ogallala, Nebraska to Dodge City, Kansas

Flooding on the South Platte River.  View of the river in Ogallala, Nebraska.











We decided to work our way into Kansas and see where the storms would develop.  The Severe Weather Outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center shown right displayed the various states where strong storms were likely to develop. 



Tornadoes formed in Eastern Kansas and in Oklahoma outside of our days search area.







We encountered a strong squall line taking visibility down to zero as we were coming into the Dodge City area.







The Doppler Radar located at the National Weather Service Office in Dodge City, Kansas.  Travel through a squall line to reach the town.


Sunday May 17, 2015 - Dodge City, Kansas to Altus, Oklahoma

Sunday was used to reposition south to setup for work in Texas starting on Monday.  Stopped by Greensburg, Kansas and Woodward, Oklahoma and documented recovery progress.


The map on the right is the plot points using the GPS SPOT logging "OK" Status.  The live tracking page can be found on the Current Research page and locating the tracking page. 






Monday May 18, 2015 - Altus, Oklahoma to Fort Stockton, Texas

Initially we worked the eastern side of the Thunderstorm near Pecos, Texas. 

Three tornadoes were reported with this storm.



















Hail reports were baseball size. Decided to drop south to avoid.
















Tornado located south of Pecos, Texas near road FM 1450. We had driven south and this was looking back.


Tuesday May 19, 2015 - Fort Stockton, Texas to Big Spring, Texas

Visited the 2nd largest meteorite site.

Intercepted storms in the Texas Panhandle.











Wednesday May 20, 2015 - Big Spring, Texas to Fort Stockton, Texas

First storm was intercepted east of Big Lake.








Later worked the eastern side of the storm near Fort Stockton.


Thursday May 21, 2015 - Big Spring, Texas to Hobbs, New Mexico

Update pending...


Friday May 22, 2015 - Hobb, New Mexico to Brownsville, Texas










Worked storm from both the north side and also around the south.


Saturday May 23, 2015 - Brownsville, Texas to Vernon, Texas












With the passing of the shelf cloud seen above we arrived in Crowell, Texas and waited out the storms over dinner.  Flood warnings were being issued for the area.



Sunday May 24, 2015 - Vernon Texas to Liberal, Kansas

We staged for the afternoon in the Texas Panhandle.  With active thunderstorm activity in Colorado we heading towards Kansas and then diverted east to storms that where developing.






Wall cloud near Liberal, Kansas.








We caught up to the storm and stopped to observe after Kismet, Kansas as night had fallen.  Lightning would illuminate the storm but we decided based on radar information that following was no longer safe.  Tornado reports started coming in and we monitored the radar data as it traveled and the rotation we south of Dodge City.


















Above is a look at the 3D view of the tornado structure using the Doppler Radar data.  This is a blend of the Base Reflectivity and the Normalized Rotation.  The image to the right blends the Base Velocity with the Normalized Rotation.








Tornado Damage just northeast of Plains, Kansas. Numerous irrigations systems were damaged north of this location.






Numerous irrigations systems were damaged north of this location.








Monday May 25, 2015 - Liberal, Kansas to Pratt, Kansas

Storms developed in Kansas with this one located at Jetmore, Kansas.











Evening storms in Pratt, Kansas.










Tuesday May 26, 2015 - Pratt, Kansas to El Reno, Oklahoma

Tornado formed north of our position near Interstate 40.









Canadian River shown above flowing strong located south of El Reno, Oklahoma.

The El Reno Tornado on May 31, 2013 with a width of 2.6 miles took the lives of 3 storm researchers.  Below is the location of the memorial site.















Wednesday May 27, 2015 - El Reno, Oklahoma to Woodward, Oklahoma

Tornado seen driving into Canadian Texas.
























Tornado ropes out.


This tornado was viewed south of the airport near Canadian, Texas.

















Tornado picture above taken from GPS plot position #14 looking approximately northwest.

























Thursday May 28, 2015 - Woodward, Oklahoma to Dodge City, Kansas

Storm activity is  expected today and we will likely work western Kansas. 

Field report status pending.





Held up to observe the rainstorm in Gunyon, Oklahoma and then continued north into Kansas to a tornado warned storm near Garden City.






Garden City Siren.  Tornadoes had developed earlier in the day west of town.






Observed the storm for a while and then we headed to Dodge City for the evening.







Friday May 29, 2015 - Dodge City, Kansas to Goodland, Kansas

Went by the Dodge City National Weather Service office and shared some of the 3D radar observations from the May 24 Plains, Kansas Tornado.

Pictured are left: Kelly Sugden, Meteorologist, Tom Dolan, and Matt Gerard, Lead Forecaster Meteorologist. Larry Ruthi, Meteorologist in Charge, took the photo.





Thunderstorm warned storm North of Oakley, Kansas. 

Forecast for wind gusts of 60 MPH and Nickel size hail.  Wind gust can be seen in the dust rising beyond the farmstead in the distance







Base Reflectivity view of the thunderstorm.










Saturday May 30, 2015 - Goodland, Kansas to Denver, Colorado

Fair weather today for our travels.  Photo mural at Limon, Colorado stop.













Sunday May 31, 2015 - Denver, Colorado to California

+Scheduled return flights depart from Denver, Colorado.

Miles Driven:5615

Field Days: 18

States Covered: Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

Pictured: Tom Dolan and Donald Dolan.

Explorers Club Flag #213

Sculpture: "Proud Past" based on Cheyenne Warrior on the plains.  By Theodore Gall, JR. 1982

End of field research season.









Pre-Field Research Season Storm Analysis of strong tornado

Radar analysis of the Thursday April 9, 2015 - Rochelle and Fairdale, IL EF-4 tornado

View of the Base Velocity with the tornado debris column.








Radar Analysis Video Link on YouTube "Outdoorstorms" Channel:

Link: Rochelle-Fairdale, IL EF-4 Tornado April 9, 2015

Base Velocity view with missing data returns at the tornado funnel location.








Debris ball can be seen in this Base Velocity side angle view.






The Correlation Coefficient view to the right as the tornado passes over the town. 








Copyright 2009-2017 by Tom Dolan. All rights reserved. Federal copyright law prohibits unauthorized reproduction.


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Last modified: 05/18/20