Barton Co Kansas, page 2

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore and Mike Watts
unless otherwise indicated

  swings wide to the right  

At this point in the chase we finally get what we have been waiting to see drop out of the cloud. The tornado consolidates into one vortex again and takes off in size. The second shot is our best tornado of the 1997 chase season and is known as a wedge.

  tornado at strongest  

Dust may be seen in the foreground in front of the tornado. Very little damage was caused by these large tornadoes as they moved little during their life and stayed in open country. As listed in Storm Data "a few out-buildings were destroyed from these F-0, 100 yard wide tornadoes." Obviously the width was an estimate from someone that didn't witness the event. Interestingly, all the times in Storm Data were correct.

tornado at widest

The main tornado is now at it's widest of the day. This shot depicts a wide solid tornado with some light cloud material moving about the outside of the vortex. Very little movement to the east was noted from the whole system. The base of the barrel cloud was also spinning like a huge merry-go-round.

  break down to 3 suction spots

In this image the large tornado is breaking down into three suction spot tornadoes, or three smaller vortices. The individual tornadoes were moving about the larger circulation in the barrel cloud. The only light is the front light getting under the southeast side of the barrel cloud. As the funnels move to the back side away from the light the contrast gets poor and they are hard to see. Additionally, the back of the barrel cloud is up against the rain which eventually wraps around the circulation. At this time some of the rain is combining with the mesocyclone. Three circulations are evident with the one on the right a reasonably sized tornado.

two tornadoes on right moving east

Since we saw numerous small elephant trunk tornadoes in conjunction with the larger tornado it's hard to come up with an accurate total number of tornadoes. In this shot, one small but well defined tornado is being followed by another to the left. A third circulation is seen on the far right probably a half mile behind the two leading funnels and was the remains of the large tornado getting wrapped in the rain. These two lead tornadoes accompanied the main circulation east. We believe no more large tornadoes were produced by this mesocyclone.

A couple of minutes after this shot we gave up on this circulation. Rain and westerly winds were moving in on our position from the west. A new updraft was forming to our southeast and would merge with the downstream rain from this storm. Our next tornado target. Tornado reports continued on this storm for about 30 minutes after we left to go east. At our last decision point to break off the storm a Kansas Sheriff's vehicle was headed north into this circulation. We could see it persisting to our north but it was getting further wrapped into the rain. We assume the Sheriff's car was responsible for the continuing storm reports.

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