Tornadoes Part 4

Three Tornadoes at Once

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore
unless otherwise indicated

twin tornadoes third tornado just west of pair

Recently in Kansas three tornadoes were in progress at the same time and as close as about 2 miles apart. Some storm systems are capable of producing multiple tornadoes. Tornadoes can travel side by side or occasionally they rotate around either other. Usually different tornadoes form from discreet updrafts and wall clouds. In the example on the left, both occurred from the same wall cloud structure. These shots are grainy because they are screen captures from a video camera capable of shooting tornadoes in the darkness.

The Two Dusty Extremes

dust indicates tornado trying to form

The first tornado of the day is trying to form, and we only see a vortex of dust. Many tornadoes begin in this mannor. Dry fields can aid the chaser in finding forming tornadoes as dust will lift into a circulation alerting both chasers and spotters to impending trouble. Occasionally a tornado remains in this form and causes damage without a visible condensation funnel In this particular situation a condensation funnel never formed. On dry windy days considerable blowing dust may mask the formation stage of a tornado like this one. This storm complex continued to produced six tornadoes across northeast Texas.

A Dusty Iowa Monster

  The hog killer

The large circulation is a collection of more than one vortex all buried in heavy dust and dirt. The dense obscuring dust of the Prescott, Iowa "hog killer" as it was known hides the tornado from view. An unsuspecting motorist may drive into this wall of dirt without knowing what's inside. During this event we signaled passing cars to the possible danger just to their northwest. Many had shock on their face as they realized what was actually happening. This tornado was rated F-3 at 300 yards wide with a family path of 50 miles. For the first part of the path the tornado was tall and narrow with a big cloud of dust around the bottom of the funnel. Later, the tornado took on this block appearance. It did not strike the farmstead in the foreground. When the tornado dissipated, it occurred in a most unusual manner. There were three separate vortices within the large circulation. These circulations "diverged apart" and spun out until they dissipated. The strongest was the dark column on the far right. No rope stage occurred.

The HP (heavy precipitation) Supercell Dilemma

  Tornado appears out of fog

Drylines are the favorite of chasers and the reason why is obvious here. This is a HP (heavy precipitation) supercell along a warm front at Arkansas City, Kansas. This damaging tornado appeared out of the fog and haze. It was never very photogenic. The two shots are about 10 seconds apart as the tornado moves toward our position, but dissipated before arriving. Finding as spot to capture this tube was difficult and this was one of the few open vantage points in the area. We could have easily missed it; although, we new it was there.

  tornado in fog - west

Part of our success is due to the "dry slot" that has wrapped drier air around the vortex contributing to some acceptable visibility. We experienced a chilly and damp east wind while taking these photographs.