Southeastern Nebraska Tornadoes
of 15 April 2006

 

All images and text
© copyright Gene Moore

 

My original target for this day was along and north of a warm front in SE Nebraska. After a line of weak high based thunderstorms moved over it became apparent the best storms would form a bit further west along the dryline. The first round of strong storms produced a tornadic supercell on the south end of the line. This storm and tornadoes near Beatrice were photographed my numerous chasers. A second line of cells formed and moved over the warm front into cooler moist air. In this situation the storms were more likely to produce tornadoes along and north of the warm front where the air was cooler. There were hot conditions over much of eastern Kansas and with the same dew points the relative humidity was much higher north of the front. Tornadoes generally favor storms with lower cloud bases so conditions with high relative humidity are better. In eastern Kansas the lower relative humidity made for higher cloud bases, in this case too high for tornado formation.

 

wall cloud in rain east   new funnel develops
 

We chose a line of storms moving north through eastern Nebraska. Each cell was following the next closely and with heavy rain in all of the it made picking one difficult. We waited just behind the line and grabbed this one when it passed. There had already been numerous funnels and one brief tornado with this structure in the moments before this image was shot.

   

New funnel forms under the turbulent wall cloud. When it crossed the road it was a merry-go-round of spinning cloud tags . This image only shows the back side as rain engulfed much of the feature. With this storm it would have been almost impossible to stay ahead of the tornado because of the heavy rain. Later in the lifecycle of the storm the rain near the funnel dissipated.

 

  tornado skips across countryside   funnel gets lost in the rain
 

This tornado sent condensation to the ground then would pull back. I didn't quite catch the condensation on the ground, but the circulation was obvious in the field. Rain around the wall cloud made the contrast low.

   

The funnel is wider during this shot but fading away in the rain. We were on highway 136 near Johnson, Nebraska. We decided to go east to Auburn and north on highway 75.

 

  North of Auburn we see a new funnel   tornado passes west of town  
 

After driving about two miles north of Auburn a funnel appeared from out of the haze. It was to our NNW and the contrast was very bad. I managed to get off a few shots as we tried to catch the tornado. (highlines removed from image)

  I think this is Glenrock and the tornado passed west of town. The dry air was beginning to eat away at the wall cloud and more of the funnel is becoming visible.  

  very large funnel  
 

The funnel is very large in this shot, but the tip that was on the ground was not very wide. We were still plagued by poor lighting and contrast, but the funnel is easy to see across the north side.

   

The further north we followed this storm the more the terrain cleared out with less trees, hills and obstructions. This is one of the few wide open shots we got.

 

  large funnel west  
 

Hills in the foreground high the base of the funnel on the ground but other chasers did capture a white debris swirl at this time. For us, it was all we could do to keep up with this fast moving storm. Fellow chaser Tim Marshall calls this "race chase" and it certainly fit this day.

   

Sunlight was hitting the back of the funnel at this time and made for harsh shooting conditions. Over to the east, or the right side of the picture it was still dark and rainy.

 
   
 

Water and hail cover the fields to the west as the tornado remains over open country, but that's about to change. There are houses up ahead as we near a small town.

   

At the top of the hill there are two houses. A debris cloud is visible in this shot if you look closely and it really comes out if I jack up the contrast in Photoshop, but that ruins the rest of the image.

 
 
 

The tornado swings by this house and misses, but their pretty stand of trees didn't fair so well. Another house just up the road did have damage but it didn't look bad. For such a large funnel very little damage was done across rural Nebraska.

 

The final lift and rope of the tornado occurs just to the north east of highway 75. We watched the storm roar into across the river into Iowa where we could see another tornado in the distance.

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