August 18, 2011 Ewing Nebraska Tornado

One of my favorite things to chase and catch are north central Nebraska summer tornadic storms. Or summer beast supercells in that area, like the 2009 Valentine beast. They are my favorite, who am I kidding. Often slower moving, nice to look at, difficult to get to happen, and as chaser free as it gets...now-a-days anyway. Usually they require a boundary, or something to cause them to go very deviant of flow and make up for often what was a lack of storm relative flow. I also just love the area anytime of year(chasing). There is a very concentrated area where I've seen stuff. You have that 09 beast around Valentine. In 2000 I saw an amazing tornadic supercell in July near Ainsworth. 2003 June I saw the O'Neill NE tornadoes and supercell. May 04 Amelia NE tornadoes and supercell. July 04 deviant tornadic monster near Bartlett. And now this Ewing NE storm which fired at O'Neill. I've missed plenty of others there too. I live north of Omaha along the river, at the edge of the state. Northeast areas of NE are much closer to home, yet I have ZERO tornadoes there. There is something to north central NE, at least for sure in summer. It gets a lot harder to get nice tornadic supercells dropping south, west of Valentine. Get there and east to O'Neill and there's a bigtime zone in there for it. About a week ago, a nice stovepipe tornado was produced near Johnstown NE near Ainsworth. There's not even a huge north-south window for these things it seems either. I missed another good one in 2001 near Burwell NE. Eastern NE it's hard to even get a good storm in the summer, let alone tornadoes, not so much north central NE. Of course on this same day Omaha area gets pounded with an insane hail storm.

Anyway I went to O'Neill early and sat there for a couple hours. Storm of the day ends up firing basically on O'Neill. I dropped south of town thinking maybe it would turn south hard like others in the past had. Mid-level flow wasn't all that great yet so figured it could. Pretty defined area of cu to the south, with a clear western edge to them not far west. I worried another storm would go a bit further west yet and anchor down that. But I figured I was close enough to come back west if need be. As I drove south for this one, it was quickly apparent it was going to keep going east for a while. So back north I went then went southeast down 20.

It was turning into a nice supercell quickly now. This heading southeast from O'Neill.

It's sorta amazing to me for as few roads that are out there, these events seem to like to use the highways pretty well. Valentine 09 couldn't have any better, neither could Bartlett 04..and neither could this one. It went straight down the darn highway! I played in the hail under it a few times, then while talking to Steve he mentions a tennis ball sized stone where he was. I asked where and he said north of Ewing. I then said, ok, I'll be there in a minute.

I drove north past him a bit, trying to find big hail. I'm trying to finish off my windshield, so I figure I may as well play in hail. Back in 05 I put a big spider in the corner, then nothing since then till this year. April added a bigger spider and a crack. Then on another chase I added a couple more cracks. Well on this I added a few more spiders and a few more cracks. It's still not quite toast though, sigh lol. If I'm going to pay for a new windshield I want it to count. I may need to stop just from the damage happening to the plastic part around the wipers, between the hood and windshield. It's not doing so well.

Anyway, I drove north and it was messed up how fast it went from nothing, to big hail storm. Probably less than one block. Trees were raining leaves as up to baseballs fell. Mostly under that. I wanted to go and find big stones after it let up, but never could, which is annoying.

As I talk to Steve again, he mentions it produced a brief tornado. Figures, I'm playing here with a big hill to my west and it does that at the same time.

Two of the new spiders. If the right and left sides switched, I'd probably replace it. As it stands now, I need yet another whack at it. That'd be 5 window cracking times in hail to finish it off. Now had I been back home this evening and chasing just 5 miles south of town, my entire car would have been smashed in a dense softball sized hail core. A friends car there is so completely screwed up. Wondering how they'll even replace his windshield, as the frame around it is that smashed up. Those stones were about coming through the windshield. Back window of course all gone in his car.

A good bit is skipped now as it almost produced a tornado in Ewing itself. Shot some video there for a bit then moved southeast again. The storm would frequently have two entities trying to rotate. In the above pano, center area would be trying to spin cyclonically, as would an area to the left of it. Usually the one will send rfd and outflow into the other, screwing up that one's rotation.

Looking at the southwestern entity that was rotating. Big cone getting cut out in there. Can see how if the right edge of the frame is spinning, rfd will want to come down behind it and go under the other area nearby. Didn't really think it would allow the other area to produce, though it was noted at the time it wasn't pushing down at it as hard at the moment and it had a chance.

The big bowl was actually a tornado for a while before it condensed into this. You could clearly see tornadic winds under the bowl.

It looked decently intense. It also looked like now it was being pushed faster and faster by the rest of the storm's outflow and rfd.

We were parked on what amounts to a long driveway off the highway. Out there if you get off gravel, you will likely be on sand, sand like a beach in many cases. It'd have been smarter had I already had my car flipped around and ready to drive back out to the highway. Soon as it was getting lost in the rain, it had that way way closer look to it. I threw stuff in the car and started my 20 point turn, telling Steve who was right there to make sure I came behind him. Least if one of us got our tires in sand and got stuck, we could hop in the other's car.

We got on the highway and go southeast a bit and pull over, circulation of what was left, crossing the highway up there. I don't seem to have great luck with nice tornadoes staying nice as they cross highways I'm on.

Driving southeast again, left over tornado cyclone in the wrap is up there on the left side.

We had more rain core on the highway issues, so dropped southeast to Neligh then drove south of town. There we were now well southeast of the storm we'd been on. Soon as we stop, an entirely new base formed on the boundary ahead of our other storm. These were trying to track down an outflow boundary off earlier storms. This new deal was rapidly deepening and juicy and getting a big rfd cut into it. We creeped back north to it. There to our northwest we watched probably the best cascading rfd action I've seen. You could hear it even. Very cool motion to the clouds. Then the corn begins to whip around wildly. Same moment you can hear this almost whistling noise on my video. Like a tiny vortex crossed the camera or something. Then the corn action let right back up just as fast. Maybe a minute later I see crap in the air above the corn, then a vortex cross in front of Steve's car, literally on the other side of this highway.

I look up a moment later and saw this funnel, which was clearly responsible for that vortex in the field. Pretty sure it was anticyclonic which would make sense given where it is and what we had been watching further nw of it. That rfd action would be cutting through up there on the other side of the funnel, leading to anticyclonic spin there.

Bit later near Petersburg. Was cool to see all these windmills shut down as the storm hit.

I was basically done chasing, as it seemed too elongated and shelfy. Then it turns due south and gets a ball hook on it. It got real windy right behind that, with this big carved out updraft rotating around and reaching down to my southeast. Seemed something nasty was happening in there now. This just south of Albion.

View to my west from there as corn gets blown over in those winds behind the updraft.

And here is a shot from back home(not same corn field as image before). This is what the hail storm at home did. It's bad when it's able to mow down cornstalks.