Every chaser in North America was out on this system, touted to be “The Event of the Season”, this day was forecast over a week out. 4000+ CAPE and a clearly defined dryline from Nebraska all the way to central Texas, this looked to be an incredible chase day.
Zach Sharpe, Dan Auel and myself (Todd Rector) left in the T-Rex Storm Rocket with a second support vehicle following behind, our initial target was Salina Kansas.
Enroute, it looked like storms were going to fire closer to Junction City, so we decided to hang out there for a bit, where we had highway options in all directions. A decent cell fired near us and was slowly moving toward Manhattan, KS. The chase was ON! We laughed at all the chasers who were camping out in Salina, as we watched them start heading toward us – we had a 45 minute jump on them!
Because we had laughed at the other chasers and reveled in how far ahead of them we were, suddenly we found ourselves dealing with a huge traffic jam. Apparently it was shift-change at Fort Riley. Traffic. Ugh. And hail.
We had to go about 10 miles out of our way and wait in order to avoid a significant hail core. Meanwhile, other storms were firing up all around us, stealing energy from the atmosphere and weakening the cell we were chasing. Lots of a stratus made it difficult to see anything in the distance, so we had to rely mostly on radar for position. This was getting ugly, fast. Soon enough most of the region was filled with mature cells that were HP (High Precipitation). Due to heavy rain and surface winds, visibility was greatly reduced and the threat of hail loomed almost everywhere we tried to go. At one point we sat at the side of the road with flashers on (along with about a dozen other cars) while visibility was zero and 60mph winds were flinging pea-sized hail sideways at us. Good times.
Flash flooding was occurring, and the threat of hydroplaning from accumulated water made driving a chore. We decided to call the chase and head home. It is my understanding there were no tornadoes reported by anybody within 150 mile radius of our location, making this an epic BUST for all the Kansas chasers that day.