BIG tornado in Beloit, Kansas

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 12:48 PM

Science is a team sport. Tuesday started with our Purdue University group joining a briefing run by TORUS (Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells). It’s a two-year research project that utilizes drones (that’s the UAS part), radar, and chasers to study tornadoes. The P3 hurricane-hunter airplane is contributing data, too. 

The Purdue University team agreed to help out in the day’s operations in central and northern Kansas. The team took a number of soundings of the atmosphere by releasing weather balloons an hour apart, as well as taking wind measurements. Below is what the sounding data looks like.

After a third balloon launch, tornadoes began forming near Russell, Kansas, so the chase began! We drove around west of Beloit trying to find a clear view of the forming wall cloud. Who knew there were so many pesky trees and little hills in Kansas! Finally we found a good watching spot with a view to the southwest, deployed the PIPS, and waited. (Radar below.)

And then it happened! A big upside-down triangle shaped furnnel cloud dropped out of the wall cloud to the ground about 20 miles away. TORNADO! It stayed on the ground for a good ten minutes. Plenty of time for everyone to see it. YEAH!