The Kyle South Dakota Tornado
of 6 June 2007

 

All images and text
© copyright Gene Moore

   
 

This day was billed as a big tornado outbreak event, at least locally in South Dakota and Nebraska. I had submitted my opinions in weather discussions that I was worried little would happen because of moisture advection problems. As we came up to the morning of the event I got up at 4 AM to see if the model promised moisture, the surface dew points were coming north, they were not. I would have to hit the nail on the head with this one, only the area with the greatest lift and all the best parameters was going to work out.

The following images show how the storm developed from a small group of towering cumulus into a tornado producing supercell.

   

motorcycle rider passes by new storm   developing storm southwest
 

A lone rider buzzes past on his way south and out of danger from the impending storms. Not much later in the afternoon this highway would be engulfed in rain and high wind. This was the first development from a field of midlevel cumulus. Time of this image was 3:22 CDT.

   

Early stages of the storm show how it struggled to get through the capping cirrus layer. The updraft remained elongated for about 30 minutes. There was no rain or lightning at this time.

 
breaking through to sunlight   anvil developing
 

The storm suddenly wakes up bursting through the cirrus and blowing out a clear blue hold to make room for the updraft. The towers looked rock hard in the afternoon sunlight. Time of this image was 3:33 CDT

   

First stages of the developing anvil as the updraft fought against strong shearing winds to push higher. It was at this time the storm begin to show up well on radar and satellite.

 
lowered base   view of storm base
 

A shot of the developing base that had lowered about 50 percent of the way to ground from the original updraft. Some supercell characteristics were taking shape at this time. Time of this image was 3:42 CDT.

   

A mass of hard towers were beginning to fill the sky while the first rain shafts fell through the main updraft region.

 
  funnel lifting dirt
 

The first sign of scud clouds rising to the base of the storm. Already the beginning of an RFD (rear flank down draft) cut were showing on the back of the updraft. At this time we dropped down in a valley to find a gas station, it was time to top off before it got hectic. During this time we could see the wall cloud forming fast. It seemed to take forever to fill the tank.

   

On a hunch I got the camera ready and focused to the left of the road as we topped the hill west of town. I could see the shock on my chase partner's face as he saw the small cone funnel to our west-northwest.

 

vertical of storm  
 

On some sereens the base of this shot is darker to show the towering clouds over the wall cloud and funnel. At first I though we were looking at one wall cloud, but it became apparent later that there were two updraft circulations.

   

The circulation was becoming stronger at the ground, but the small funnel had made only brief attempts to extend further to the ground. Another consequence of our low dew points? A field of low clouds filled the view between us and the tornado but never obstructed the scene.

 

 
 

Finally the tornado is trying to shoot a condensation funnel to the ground, but again fails. Only one during its life cycle did it ever make it totally to the ground, and that was a very thin tube.

   

A more classic circular wall cloud and funnel formed by this time but the debris circulation on the ground was getting weaker. Would this tornado make it or die early, it was hard to tell at this time.

 
   
 

The tornado passes by a house as onlookers stare from the road we were on. While on our gravel road we were accompanied by locals, police and the president of the tribe in the Allen district. Back in the distance people stood in the back of a pick up truck to watch the tornado while residents of this house stood calmly leaning on their vehicles.

 

   
 

The tornado continues on to the north causing no damage in this area. Our dirt road was placed perfectly to watch the tornado through its lifecycle.

 

   
 

The tornado was leaving the Allen area at this time headed north toward Kyle. It would enter its photogenic phase at this time as the funnel widened at the top of the wall cloud and the debris cloud grew stronger. No obstructions, no other chasers in sight, no one bothering us, a perfect chase. Just us and this supercell on the lone prairie.

 

   
 

We moved to a new photography location and stayed here for over 15 minutes as the tornado slowly moved past. It changed shape a couple of times during this time. The lowering on the right was spinning tornadically at times and dirt begin to kick up on the ground. It seemed we would have a second tornado any minute, but it never happened.

 

   
 

My chase partner, Klipsi (Oliver) from Switzerland takes in the view. Although he had seen other tornadoes this spring he said this was why he came to the plains.

   

During this shot we got a thick trunk hanging out at a 90 degree elbow, but it went back to its previous appearance shortly after this image. Note the large RFD cut of dry air in front of the funnel.

 
   
 

The unobstructed view of the tornado to our west. At this time the video showed the condensation funnel reaching the ground. Regardless, the view would have been much the same from dirt being lifted from the fields. So far during this chase we had not been threatened by lightning. Of course that does not mean it won't strike, but it was refreshing not to be under siege with incoming bolts from the anvil canopy.

 

   
 

A couple of times the funnel looked like it would dissipate, but it just kept on going, almost 30 minutes. A second debris cloud was at it again just to the right and behind the tornado, but it would again fail to make it to ground.

   

The outflow boundary form the storm to the north was working hard to stretch the funnel during this time. The circulation extended far from the base of the wall cloud but persisted.

 
   
 

A closer shot of the funnel shows a thin strand extend through the inside of the dirt column. It's during times like this we can see the inner circulation of the funnel.

 

     
 

Now vehicles are beginning to scatter. Click on this image and look closely, a car is now sideways on the Interstate just ahead of me. It appears this driver after seeing the tornado decided to dash back to the nearest exit. Certainly his driving presented more danger than the tornado.

  The local Allen district tribal president watches with relief as the tornado begins to dissipate. He had followed us through our journey across his lands.  

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