June 20, 2011 Bradshaw Nebraska Tornado

After a most insane night supercell the night before, I was fairly content, but I was still wanting more and to not screw up day 2. Before I'd even leave home, a supercell was tracking across northern KS. It'd be putting on a tornadofest as I drove west down highway 30. I really don't like going a long distance for something that has already been going a while and wasn't overly entertaining the thought. I wanted something off the dryline arc. The northeast side of the arc looked like as good of target as any, as it often will. But man it sure took its time to finally fire. Before then I'd gotten within a shot of the long-lived KS storm. It gets hard to have patience and not bust after something like that when nothing else is firing. I'm learning more often than not it's not good to have patience only to end it early and head for what had been in progress. A lot of the time you'll wind up late to that and then out of position on what you'd been so patient on earlier. Each chase and setup is different obviously.

Sat west of Osceola with Chris and Evan for a good while. While there we at least got comfort in the tops shrinking on the long-lived KS storm finally. But then a storm pops up ahead of it and was basically a hand off. It went nuts. Yet you are still over an hour from seeing it and who knows how that area will turn out now, especially as a couple other storms fire ahead of it close by. Eventually Evan and Chris head west for that and I turn south for the arc. The arc that only now was really firing storms, a cluster south of I80. The cluster of them at first didn't seem promising. But they had nice and strong easterly winds and mid-level flow was crossing the boundary there, not running more along it like it would be to the southeast in KS. They also had a 70 knot upper jet from the south and seemed they'd be vented well while being fed easterlies as they moved north off the boundary.

I get into and south of Aurora and come to a 1 lane bridge over I80 and a long line. This light was a nightmare at nearing 5pm now. I get through there and right away am having nightmares of needing quickly back north through it. Storms just had went severe to my south. I also start getting precip from them. Given they weren't organized yet I quickly flipped the car around and went back through the nightmare 1 lane bridge. Even the interstate ramps had a light for this. Had I thought more I should have just used the shoulder to go onto the I80 east ramp there and skipped the light and traffic. Least a north option there. The options south of I80 weren't real good for that storm if you wanted to move east and then north. So anyway I at least knew I needed north of I80.

In the above I'm between Hampton and Bradshaw. Note the area of trees on the right to my west. Storm moves north and I have to move west to get a view around those trees. Not very far. (Later tornado would go almost directly through where I'm sitting in the image above).

This storm was a rainy pain in the ass right now. Your area of interest was always shrouded in rain and you were always in rain too. I saw one small tornado with that area and one ropey dope funnel almost down. I kept trying to see in there but wasn't having much luck. That area ends up producing a wedge tornado just west not far away. But I never noticed. I believe that started to happen at least same time the area that would produce the Bradshaw tornado here got interesting.

Before the above shot I was noticing on radar the hail and VIL max was due south of me. It seemed odd given the storm was tracking west already. All there was was this really benign base, hardly even a base. I kept thinking, that is making this VIL max? Then in no time it formed this tornado. It was hard to film and shoot at first because decent sized hail was coming down at enough of a nw angle to want in my window. I was saying screw it as much as I could and leaving the window down anyway. Got a nice one in the shin that got the window back up for a bit. The area of trees I mentioned before, on the right/west, is now on the left/east of the shot. Boy did this cost me, at least as far as video is concerned. I didn't even think about it till the tornado was behind them. It was moving fast north then and no real time to move, since I needed to be taking stills too. Massive sigh on the video I could have gotten. I'd imagine the tornado crosses 2 blocks away. Zoomed in steady video of this would have been crazy. It derails a train right there.

It looked on video like it was throwing some trees now, or at least tree parts.

I get so caught up with the tornado and storm above ground I actually don't even think about how crazy the base part would be. I really really want to bang my head for not being back east of these trees. These stills are ultrawide angle. It's way way closer than it looks.

Tornado intercept vehicle(TIV) going east to intercept the tornado. For a while they were sitting just west of me either on the road or shoulder. Feels odd being sitting between them and the tornado.

This is 10mm. On my camera it gives a 107 degree angle the long way. So if put it vertical and put the ground at the bottom of the frame, beyond directly overhead would be at the top.

Really close right now and really really damn cool to watch. It's not at all scary to be close when you can see it and watch its direction easily. That and you can easily move out of the way. At first while it was coming north I thought, well the base of the thing isn't that big so it's pretty damn unlikely it would happen to cross exactly where I'm sitting. And it didn't. Now had I been sitting back east of these trees still, it'd been damn close. The thing is, amazing video could have been had at this range, had I simply been on the other side of the damn trees here. I'd have seen enough of the base violence to zoom in. And unlike a whole lot of video it'd have been steady, mounted to my window. It boggles my mind how so many that aren't also shooting stills and aren't even drivers(!) shoot shaky as hell video of this stuff. Window clamps are your friend! I chase alone so I have to drive and navigate and I do stills and video. Got stills and got steady video lol. But damn the stupid ass trees and not thinking ahead for them. That is the biggest problem with chasing alone I think(especially when you do stills and video at the same time) is you keep so busy you fail to think of some obvious positioning changes. It drives me clear up a freaking wall. I think, man if I only shot video this wouldn't have happened. But when you are there trying to keep getting stills you really don't have time to be moving the car around much. I then blow the crap out of the part I could have had good zoomed video. It's almost to the highway and I am realizing I am going to need to flip the car around and point east so I can shoot northeast out my window. For video sake I do this at the dumbest freaking time. I could have had it mounted and zoomed right down there as it is crossing and hitting the tornado intercept vehicle.....and throwing crap and blowing up a transformer. I flip around at the dumbest time and then I don't even zoom the video in but keep it going wide. That is the other part, you tend to let it stay wide because you are trying to take stills too and if you zoom the video, you will have to come right back to it and babysit it as the tornado moves. I think this is the biggest reason I end up so unhappy after good chases lol. Stuff is way more obvious and easily observed after the fact, when you aren't multitasking like a madman.

See this is a video grab up that isn't zoomed in. Ground contact 2 blocks away and the vortex aloft is going to appear about on you. It's so cool.

See I moved the car and then didn't even zoom in!

As much as I hate the video I love the stills anyway. Why was this racing north so damn fast in June is what I'd like to know. Yes I know it was windy aloft. You could do a lot more if the tornado isn't hauling ass, which it now was.

Discovery channel support vehicle. TIV up there looked close to the track.

Now I zoom in some! SIGH. And then the mount was giving me fits. Screwing with it as the tornado races north, soon as I get it stable again WHAM comes the rain wrap. Yay for new video I can barely stomach watching because of not doing this or that.

This appeared as if it came out of the vortex. Wasn't seeing crap for lightning otherwise.

Wide still again.

Looked like TIV got close to being inside it as it crossed the road.

Heading north after it, it was amazing now. Had repeated wild white whipping vortices at the base.

My blacktop turns to wet gravel and I say screw it. It was hauling butt too. I pull over there and do some telephoto shots of it.

Actually these are 50mm, the next ones are with the 100-400 on.

I head for home more or less, giving some hope to the south of Lincoln storms. East of York on I80 a ways dust starts racing north and really strong winds hit. Seemed microburst from evaporating rain showers just over and south of I80 were the culprit. Soon as it hit I see brake lights. Flipped a semi over just ahead. People were there checking on him, so like everyone else I kept going. Being across both lanes I bet I80 was backed up for a good while. Hope the driver was alright. Looked like really long skid marks so may have slowed up before flipping over.

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