|2004 MAY 22: HALLAM, NEBRASKA TORNADO|
This is the damage track with the red dots marking out locations at various times. Unfortunately, we were often focused on development directly in front of us, at the storm's southern flank. This distracted us from concentrating on the bear's cage and older meso where the tornado was still rampaging, so our glimpses were brief and mainly on video. Because of Garry Wellman's XM radar, we were able to maintain a fix on this rotation, so we knew there was a tornado in there, but it was impossible to discern. I'm sure that many times between Daykin and Cortland (just south of the track), we were looking right at it, but our imagery is on the whole inconclusive.
The Weathervine gang, Garry Wellman, and his chase partner Travis observed two or three tornadoes with the initial supercell that moved from Thayer County into Jefferson and then Saline Counties. I may have observed a tornado west of De Witt, and another near Plymouth after dark, all pending video review. I didn't get a good look at any of them.
We targeted an area from Hebron to Red Oak and left Schuyler about 12:30. We reached York and stopped to check data. We decided York was a good location and waited for over an hour, watching bubbling cu as the boundary remained in place. I analyzed the intersection of another outflow boundary oriented from north to south which seemed to intersect the main line of cu around Hastings.
We watched the McCook storm rotate and hook on radar, and watched the storms to our north form as a line of linear multicell clusters along the cool front/wind shift. Later, these cells morphed into one of the first supercells to earn a tornado warning west of Omaha. Our area remained quiet as the cap eroded from west to east. We grew restless, and though our instinct was to remain in place, when activity fired to the east of the McCook supercell, we rolled west on Interstate 80. I thought it might be possible that the widespread anvil from the McCook storm and cluster might rob our target area of some instability. Also, this activity moved so quickly that it seemed possible they would overtake any storms firing in front of them.
Twenty minutes after we left York, the storm in Thayer County, over our original Hebron target, erupted and became severe as fast as any storm I've ever seen. We bolted south to Hastings then back east on State Road 6. We intended to flank the storm to the north, then cut in front of it using 81 or 15 southbound. However, as we gained on it rapidly, the storm split, and the northern core bulged out in front of us, blocking our path with golfball and baseball hail. At this point, my heart sank, knowing we would have to return west, then south, then race east to flank the storm from the southern side. It seemed almost no time before the phone rang and Doug Kiesling told me he heard reports of a wedge tornado north of Hebron.
North of Alexandria, we crossed the damage path
created by the first violent tornado from the Thayer County storm.
At 7:50 PM, we went through Daykin on State Road 4, not realizing that
the tornado was directly to our north northeast, though we had Wx-Worx in
Garry Wellman's vehicle and were aware of the TVS. The
tornado was already well-shrouded from our vantage point and would not
emerge more clearly until a few moments later.
We then observed a massive lowering twisted at the bottom in a
between 8:10 and 8:20.
This didn't seem like a tornado at the time, but comparing our position
from GPS records and video synchronization with the damage path times,
it may have been.
8:01 PM 9 miles west of Plymouth looking north, possibly a tornado