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Tornado Visualization and Doppler Radar Analysis Project

Explorers Club Flag Expedition

May 19 - May 29, 2018

Donald Dolan and Tom Dolan


Saturday May 19, 2018 - Denver, Colorado to Garden City, Kansas

We arrived at Denver International and commenced moving towards Eastern Kansas.  Picture taken of clouds looking towards Hays, Kansas.


















Two GPS SPOT devices are accompany this years trip.  They are in a group setup.  Routine check ins will be done along with active tracking when working a storm.  We started in Denver, CO and drove 488 miles to Garden City, KS.








Explorers Club Flag #114 accompanied us on this years research work.  Will be following the storm activity over the weekend and then will back track the May 1, 2018 Tornadoes near Tescott, Kansas to match it up with the 3D radar data.







We completed the day in Garden City, Kansas. Some storms continued during the night.









Sunday May 20, 2018 - Garden City, Kansas to Claremore, Oklahoma

Intercepted Thunderstorm Warned storm west of Appleton City, Missouri.


We had staged our position on Interstate 70 east of Kansas City.  Updated Convective Outlook was issued from the Storm Prediction Center for western Missouri.  We started traveling due south in preparation to intercept storms.











Moving Southwest to intercept thunderstorm.











Base Reflectivity of the storm.
















View to the right shows a stronger anti-cyclonic circulation following the storm on the left side shaded in green.  The blue on the right is the cyclonic circulation which is weak.













Base Velocity of the storm.















Below looking southwest from our position observing the quickly approaching severe warned thunderstorm.

















Looking at the northwest base of the storm in the picture below.













As the storm promptly passed our position and we worked to move out of the way as it was forecasted to have 2 inch hail.  Strong winds and rain making for poor visibility.















GPS tracks of our route as we move towards and around the Severe Thunderstorm Warned storm.  A pair of tracking devices are setup in a group are being tested.










Completed the day in Claremore, Oklahoma.  535 miles driven.  Plan is to move towards the Texas Panhandle.



Monday May 21, 2018 - Claremore, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas

Will be heading towards Moore, Oklahoma.  Moore was hit by an EF-5 tornado five years ago.
















Moore, Oklahoma NWS Survey















The Norman Regional Moore Hospital was in the path of the EF-5 tornado and had extensive damage.  Above is the picture of the new hospital.























Headed to Amarillo, Texas for the evening.



Tuesday May 22, 2018 - Amarillo, Texas to Portales, New Mexico

Worked severe warned thunderstorm west of Roswell, New Mexico.

















































































Wednesday May 23, 2018 - Portales, New Mexico to Perryton, Texas














Thunderstorms developed in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  We move south out of the way of this one.





Donald and Tom posed for a picture with the Explorers Club Flag with the thunderstorm in the background.










Location where we stopped for the initial storms and then we worked our way to the Severe Thunderstorm Warning to be on the east side.










The local rancher stopped by to visit.  He mentioned they have had as little as 2 inches of rain this year.  We mentioned that radar indicates he should be getting a good amount from the thunderstorm approaching his ranch from the west as shown in the picture below.































Lightning west of Perryton, Texas in picture above.



Thursday May 24, 2018 - Perryton, Texas to Goodland, Kansas


Garden City, Kansas warning siren.  Heading towards Scotts City, Kansas to stage for storms.


































































Friday May 25, 2018 - Goodland, Kansas to Salina, Kansas



Visited Oakley, Kansas from the same vantage location when observing the May 25, 2017 event.  The picture to the right is seen a year later with clear skies.

A year ago we had been following a thunderstorm that was ahead of a larger thunderstorm that was further west.  An outflow gust front from the rear storm caught up to the 30,000 feet of cyclonic circulation and pulled it in and up into the circulation.  


The picture below was taken half way through the event.  Over the builds to the right is where a preceding attempt to pull up into the circulation occurred.  The storm was still circulation over the building to the left from the remnant cyclonic circulation.  The rotation on the left pulled up the dust from the vacant cornfield making the outer circulation visible.  The gust front circulation was pulled up and into the cyclone.  The outer circulation is typical not seen unless there is debris circulating around the condensation funnel.








Studied and took damage photos from the May 1, 2018 Tornado path near Tescott, Kansas.















Visited initial start locations for the Niles-Chapman EF-4 Tornado from May 25, 2016.



Saturday May 26, 2018 - Salina, Kansas to Sidney, Nebraska

Saturday we moved our position to Sidney, Nebraska to be for Sunday's storms.


Visited Henry Diehl west of Salina at his farms.  Henry provides live field storm reporting for the KSAL radio group in Salina.  We shared information related to the May 1st  Tornadoes he was tracking live near Tescott, Kansas.



Horn warning siren in Holdrege, Nebraska.




Sunday May 27, 2018 - Sidney, Nebraska to Sterling, Colorado

We moved south and started working Tornado Warned storms in Northeast Colorado.


We moved down the eastern side of the storm and allowed it to move past us.













The next storm we moved further south to get away from the hail that was falling.












Above is the forward facing dash camera with our position facing east towards the tornado warned storm.  Typically is difficult to see a tornado from this side of the storm once precipitation is occurring.



Rotation was present on the tornado warned storm but no tornado occurred with this storm.  On the left is the rotation with the green being anti-cyclonic and the blue being the cyclonic circulation or the area of interest for the tornado formation.  The right image is the rain and hail.  The purple represents hail within the storm.






Monday May 28, 2018 - Sterling, Colorado to Denver, Colorado


Sterling, Colorado warning siren.














On Sunday morning we moved west from Sterling, Colorado the positioned south of Akron, Colorado.  At 2:38 PM Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) a thunderstorm was developing at our location.  The Storm Predication Center had this area of Colorado in a 10% risk for the development of tornadoes.  The area was also in a tornado watch which are the yellow boxes depicted on the right.


Jamie Allen, a tourist from England introduced himself to us while we were parked.  He had come out to see a tornado but had no data coverage.  We offered to him to follow us for the day since we had full radar data coverage on the storm and its movements.





We stayed near the storm but frequently had to adjust our position as it was a hail producing storm.  The samples on the left is a golf ball size hail that is 1-3/4 inches and the one on the right is quarter size hail at 1 inch.  These can do damage to vehicles and do sting a bit when you get hit by them.  We moved.








Below cyclonic rotation (blue) is present in the thunderstorm going up 30,000 feet.   This rotation taking place is at 4:11 PM MDT.














Looking south at the initial tornado at 5:02 PM MDT.
















Donald and Tom Dolan with Explorers Club Flag #114 at 5:17 PM MDT.  Picture taken by Jamie Allen.

















Dual twisters with picture taken at 5:18 PM MDT.

















Tuesday May 29, 2018 - Denver, Colorado

Return flights out of Denver.





Copyright 2009-2018 by Tom Dolan. All rights reserved. Federal copyright law prohibits unauthorized reproduction.


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Last modified: 05/18/20