After seeing tornadoes in Northern Oklahoma the prior day, we knew the number of chases we had left was very small — so we ended up taking a risk on a day in Northern Kansas where instability was extreme and wind shear was just good enough for potential supercells. Our hopes of seeing a tornado weren’t high, but it was a day worth rolling the dice on.
We started the day along a warm front in NC Kansas but a surface trough met the front to our east and it became apparent we either had to go way west to western Nebraska or bail back east towards Salina to see a storm. Given the lower-end nature of the day, the route which was already taking us home made more sense.
We watched a storm grow and mature into a supercell from the west as we drove towards it, eventually catching up to it and observing a needle/rope tornado coming from an old occlusion.
The storm itself looked pretty cool after that and we were treated to a fantastic lightning show.
We had a pretty funny moment at the end of the chase — which wasn’t so funny at the time. I remember looking down and seeing my low fuel light was on at sunset and we were 40 miles from the nearest gas station. At the time, I had no idea how long my low fuel light had been on and I had no idea if we were going to make it to Junction City for gas.
We did make it to Junction City and ended up putting 13.4 gallons into the tank (out of 13.5 gallons possible). That still remains the closest I’ve ever come to running out of gas on a chase.