Chase Log: May 16, 2017

Photo of author

By Scott Roberts


Chase team for today was Scott Roberts, Nolan Banks, Michael Stueven and Steve Boleski. We departed Wichita about 1:30pm heading for an initial target between Greensburg and Meade.

We caught the storm of the day at the US-283 and US-160 junction, where we sat for more than an hour and a half with local storm spotters and a number of chasers and others. We followed the storm and documented damage south of Minneola, picking it up again north of Greensburg and following it into Barton county just after it hit Pawnee Rock. We documented damage in Pawnee Rock and trailed the tornado from US 56 as it passed over rural Barton County.


The chase ended at the northern end of the tornado path, a farmstead a little over 2 miles northwest of Hoisington. Damage from the tornado was rated at F-3 near the Grat Bend airport.

Near Englewood, KS – 4:19 until 5:54 pm

This storm produced at least two wall clouds and multiple funnels. Clark County, Minneola and Ashland first responders arrived at the KDOT Maintenance area at the US-283 and US-160 junction east of Meade a few minutes after we stopped, and there was someone from public safety spotting along with us the entire time we sat there. We had two distinct areas of RFD pass over us about an hour apart. At one point we noted at least three needle funnels rotating around the edge of a broad wall cloud, which then developed a single cone funnel. We did not see a tornado touch down during this storm evolution, though we questioned a couple of times if one was down behind a rain shaft.

Photo Gallery

Click any photo to view full size. You can move through the gallery with the arrows on either side of the full-size images.

Video of the two cores’ lifecycles (35 minutes)

…and I’ve figured out what I need next for the truck: a rear-view video camera with monitor. The dashcam that’s facing backwards caught a couple of things we kind of missed in real-time. The first one happened here:

South of Minneola, KS – 6:05pm

Bucklin to Mullinville – Tornado warning to our north – about 6:45pm

Rear-facing camera capture, wall cloud/funnel north of Bucklin, from US 54 east of town.
Capture of tornado reported north of Mullinville, taken as we passed town on US 54

(I should probably tell Nolan the rear dashcam records our speed)

Kiowa/Edwards County line vicinity

Here, we got some good images of general stormy skies and of RFD as it tried to spin up a small funnel. Also had the opportunity to meet some men in from New Zealand to chase the plains.

Photo Gallery

Pawnee Rock, KS – 8:10pm

I think we got to Pawnee Rock a couple of minutes after the tornado. We’d been driving in blinding rain most of the way since Larned. I scrubbed the video from the Dashcam for half an hour, and could not make out the funnel althoguh I do see developing wall cloud in a clearer area to our southeast, a few minutes before we got to town.

Again, the rear-facing dashcam shows something we missed in real-time:

Photo gallery

Barton County Tornado – 8:19pm

After doing a damage scan in Pawnee Rock, we headed northeast along US 56. At the time we were not sure if we were seeing the funnel, but dash cam and regular video clearly shows the white funnel, then it dissipating and re-forming. I believe the second one is what caused the EF-3 damage west of the Great Bend airport.


Video camera

Hoisington-Area Damage – 8:54pm

After doing a live report for KWCH in the 9pm KSCW newscast, we headed for home.


  • On the storm of the day for 5 hours, 4 minutes (4:19pm to 9:23pm) and 155.6 miles, crossing parts of 6 counties.
  • Provided photo/video confirmation via Twitter to NWS Dodge City (Clark/Meade county cyclic storm, Minneola wind damage, Pawnee Rock tornado damage) and NWS Wichita (Pawnee Rock tornado damage, Hoisington tornado damage). Provided additional reports via NWSChat to both offices.
  • Live reports in the 5pm and 9pm KWCH newscasts, streaming video used throughout the night.
  • Total mileage: 475
  • Duration (depart my home to return my home): 12 hours, 4 minutes (12:22pm to 12:26am)

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