While more ‘tornado warned’ severe storms are going up today in Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and possibly to follow Oklahoma; yesterday produced a preliminary reported 31 tornadoes (See slideshow); with one very large and powerful wedge tornado viewed by many on-scene spotters, local residents, remote internet viewers, and first responders. The powerful tornado was a bit north-north-west of the I-70 and Salina exit, and a bit south west of Bennington, Kansas. The day before Colt Forney, among other top severe weather meteorologists forecasted Salina, Kansas, as a significant tornado target. As the day progressed the dry punch (dryline triple point axis) was augmented with 78/71 surface dew points, an enormous energy helicity index (ehi) of 11+ (nearly off the charts) , excessive tornadic shear, and the area possessed CAPE of 4,800 jules, with an equivalent energy ‘potential’ to initiate an EF4 or EF5 tornado. Colt’s forecast for where a significant tornado would occur was correct again, only week following the Moore EF5.
We viewed the evolving wedge tornado, that became quickly rain wrapped, from several , as the powerful tornado’s forward progress was fairly slow, therefore easily tracked. Our primary view was from a hillside north of Salina and just a bit southeast of the now powerful wedge tornado. Some spotters indicated the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) was in the area scanning the tornado, so if confirmed, possibly more precise data was measured of this event. From our vantage point, the large tornado was seemingly rotating so efficiently that it moved slowly eastward, stalled, then moved back west over nearly the same area, and progressed again slowly bit eastward while widening!
Special thanks to Paul Robinson, John Hallen, Colt Forney, and iTornado Experience for contributions.
Had a tornado of this magnitude have hit a populated area with the same velocity, size, and slow movement this tornado possessed in front of us, the tornado would have produced a significantly large catastrophe. This made us all a bit nervous having experienced recent Moore EF5 damage. However, this now dubbed ‘Bennington, Kansas wedge tornado’ moved primarily over open range land (See slideshow). The large tornado was intermittently visible from the interstate and other locations before becoming quickly rain wrapped, and had enormous structure, with the supercell anvil almost extending clear back to Colorado. At the I-70 exit just north of Salina, we halted and informed a convoy of wind farm blade shippers from driving on a road right in the path of this tornado. Prior to the large violent tornado, a former large and dangerous tornado had formed in northeastern Kansas (See slideshow). The Storm Prdiction Center (SPC) preliminary reports approximately 31 tornadoes yesterday, and will be likely followed by more tornado reports today. Preparedness, early warnings, storm spotters, adequate shelters, and emergency responders are ‘essential tools’ for any municipal government in tornado alley, as this May is demonstrating with deadly force.