Classic Kansas Tornado
(Part 2 of 5) The Stockton tornado followed a classic evolution -- wispy, narrow beginning, then a widening and shrinking period before dissipating (next few images). Rich Thompson and I consider this one of our greatest storm intercept successes. It was far from a straightforward tornado situation, with concern about instability and lift, and doubts about the strength and movement of the boundary. But with favorable shear and storm-relative winds expected, we were confident that if a storm formed, it could become a tornadic supercell. With no laptop, phone calls or other data sources since hand-analyzing surface maps at the Goodland NWS office over 5 hours earlier, we nailed this forecast almost down to the mile. After a long lunch in Colby, we headed straight for a hilltop NW of Hays, waiting for development where we thought the boundary should be by then -- and within a few miles of the very spot where the first towers formed. When they did, almost on cue, we casually cruised N toward Stockton alongside the growing storm. We made a few viewing stops and even detoured to perform a complete E-W-E double transect of the growing updraft area before the mesocyclone cranked up.
5 SSW Stockton KS (15 May 99), looking WNW