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May 24, 2015: Lamar, Colorado Tornadic Supercell

We intercepted several supercells today, the most photogenic supercell being about seven miles south of Lamar, Colorado where at least two tornadoes took place. A satellite tornado (a tornado that happens on the outside edge of the main circulation) briefly touched down just behind our parked location where it destroyed a fence and did some tree damage (there were later horses which escaped due to the destroyed fence and were walking along the highway). In the video here, you can see the funnel of this satellite tornado as it extends up into the mesocyclone. The second tornado also happened just to our north and was occluded in heavy rain, but it’s slightly visible in the video if you look for the contrasting edge in the rain core.

After this tornadic supercell crossed highway 287, moving towards Kansas they begin to become linear. We drove south to a point between Springfield and Campo and shot the video shown in the second scene below. Once this shelf cloud made it to our location, we noticed an extremely large cumulus tower growing to our west and raced into Kansas to intercept that storm’s rotating base where we saw an extremely brief needle-shaped tornado stab the ground for all of the 10-seconds before it dissipated. Soon after this, a truncated cone began to lower to the ground and touched down just north of Liberal, KS at dusk.

Running on vapors, we quickly went into Liberal to refuel, grab some quick food and got back on the road to reacquire the storm, which had by now had a tornado on the ground for well over 30-minutes tracking to the northeast. The scene was a bit haunting with extremely thick fog after dark. We drove nearly all the way to Dodge City, some 80-miles while tracking the storm’s rotating just miles from us along highway 54 and then north on US 283, and got a brief look at a backlit after-dark tornado on Ford Ensign Rd.

Unfortunately, none of this made for great photos or video, but it was interesting and exciting nonetheless, after all, it’s not that often that you intercept tornadoes in thick fog!