May 5th, 2007 Tornado Outbreak Central Kansas
May 5th, 2007 Tornado Outbreak Central Kansas

(x) in the summary correspond to photos below.

I brought my g/f (now wife) along for another chase with my friend Dave. I got to find out what was too close for her late in the day. I also found out I have no internet anywhere in NW OK, so if I ever chase there is going be doing it blind (they added service there in the winter of 07-08). We caught the first storm that tracked near Buffalo, OK. Looked pretty good for a few moments and gusted out before it made its way into KS, but it got its act back together as it traveled north into KS. After realizing we needed internet we dropped back to Woodward for an update.

After 30 mins in Woodward a new cell went up in the Panhandles west of Buffalo, so we jumped back on the highway to intercept them. As we went into KS, I went down a dirt road trying to head east that was not too bad, but that changed though. After making it through a gate we came across a large stretch of the road that went through a valley... of all mud. So we turned around to see a small wall cloud with weak rotation coming right at us (1). I figured it was best to drive under before it got any more organized. It gusted out as we drove under it. We then stayed on paved roads and got back in front of it at Protection, just in time to see decent rotation pass north of the city and hear the sirens go off.

We jumped up to Coldwater and was going to follow it till we a got a new radar image and notice the amazing tower coming behind the storm we were on to the SW of us (2). We stayed just east of Coldwater waiting for this storm to get there. Got some pretty good pictures of a couple wall clouds and funnels hanging down with town of Coldwater in the foreground (3). Later learned this was a reported tornado. The race was on from here on. Took some back roads through the countryside till we saw the first real good couple of funnels south of Haviland (4). We repositioned north of highway 54 and were travel down NW 140th (wet sandy road, very dangerous) in Pratt county. We then noticed a cone funnel coming down on the horizon to the west. A second funnel formed that was wrapping behind the meso (5). Both funnels came all the way down to make it 2 tornadoes down at the same time (6). After having to head east to keep crossing paths with the storm.

We caught back up with the area of circulation on NW 110th and drove east and took Dillwyn road north. We could see the large tornado on the ground near Macksville as we approached traveled north (7)(8). We passed through one road block, but not really noticing it because someone had moved it off the road. We then came across another road block that was still in place. Though there was room to get around I didn't really want to go through it, but after looking at how muddy every road was it was our only option to continue the chase.The day was over if we didn't go around the roadblock, so the choice was easy at this point. I figure there would be powerlines across the road or something for them to have blocked the road, so i took it pretty slow down the road and turned on my flasher. A larger group of other chasers came speeding down the road behind me after I went through the roadblock. There was miles of power poles laid down next to the road. The large Macksville tornado was still on the ground at this point, but we got distracted by a new funnel dropping down directly in front of about a mile down the road (9). Some people started to try and pass me, because I was driving pretty slow. I was going slow because of poor visibility (low light) and I didn't know what could be blocking the road ahead, not to mention the tornado in front of us. As we passed a small substation with some guys doing repairs there, I noticed powerlines laying across the road but it was way too late to try and stop with the people on my bumper. I tried to slow down what I could, but we crossed over them no problem. The chasers who were taking their sweet time to pass me slowed backed down and got inline behind me again. The rope funnel in front of us lasted a good couple minutes and was very breathtaking (10). It had a very nice debris cloud which I think just about hit some people sitting on highway 50 when it first came down.

After making it to highway 50 we flew east to reposition to the north of St. John on 281 and waited for the storm to catch up. We missed another tornado or 2 by doing so, but it felt like the right move at the time. It got dark fairly quick at this point. After getting heavy rain and so marble size hail, the rain and hail stopped and we were left in foggy conditions with a low base approaching us from the southwest. After 5 minutes of watching this base approach we saw the discovery channel crew pass by with the TIV heading south. Shortly After that I began to hear a loud roaring noise. Sounded something like a semi coming down the highway, but there was no one driving near us (everyone was parked watching the storm). I looked to my south to see what seemed like a heavy rain shaft just south of the people sitting south of me. The noise just got louder and louder. My g/f and Dave both heard the noise so we quickly decided we had overstayed our welcome at that location and decided it was time to hightail it to the east to a safer location. After seeing the discovery channel's show "Storm Chasers" that showed the TIV get hit by a tornado very close to our location that evening, it answered our question to what that noise was. After we repositioned on Stafford Rd, we saw numerous lowerings and a powerflash on Stafford road to our north as the circulation passed over that area.

We then called it a night and began the head back to Norman after nearly wrecking numerous times while trying to navigate the wet sandy roads. The roads that day had very large ruts in them and some very large water puddles we had to drive through (some were small ponds it seemed like). Anyday you bag 6 or so tornadoes is a good day. A very stressful chase, but a very amazing day. Kansas treated me well again where I am 3 for 3 this year. 6 for 10 on chases this year and over 25 tornadoes.

Path I drove and where photos were taken on May 5, 2007.

(1) Wall cloud SW of Protection, KS
(2) Tower SW of Coldwater, KS

(3) Tornado west of Coldwater, KS
(4) Tornado East of Greensburg, KS

(5) Beginning of the twins near Trousdale, KS
(6) Twin Tornadoes near Trousdale, KS

(7) Large Tornado nears Macksville, KS
(8) Large Tornado nears Macksville, KS

(9) Tornado on RFD nears Macksville, KS
(10) "Wizard of Oz" Tornado nears Macksville, KS

Video of the chase: