29 MAY: KEARNEY, NEBRASKA & GLEN ELDER, KANSAS TORNADOES
Tornado southwest of Glen Elder, Kansas on May 29, 2008
A fun and productive chase day alongside mssrs Blair, Burtis, Currens, Deroche, Pietycha, Kampas, Davis, and Wellman at various points. Observed the Kearney, Nebraska tornado from inside Kearney, Nebraska. Condensation about two-thirds to the ground witnessed from the railroad bridge, but as would become the theme of the day we couldn't stop and shoot it. Too much traffic. Grew alarmingly clear a tornado was about to roll through town so I bolted for the eastern fringe on SR 30 and turned to watch. A narrow funnel to the southwest and a large, blocky tornado were ongoing simultaneously; some will claim the smaller funnel was a tornado, maybe so. But any question about the larger one was put to bed when it struck an electrical substation and a round of transformers exploded like pinwheel firework plunging Kearney, grid section by grid section, into darkness.
Debris floated overhead and I smelled acrid electrical smoke, almost within seconds of the transformers blowing. I don't know where the debris came from or what caused the scent, but the juxtaposition of phenomena made me decide to get the hell out of there.
Later we bailed on Nebraska to head south. What would become the "Glen Elder storm" was isolated with a consistent radar presentation for over an hour before we arrived about five minutes into its first tornado, very close or just west of Osborne, Kansas. This was a large cone that narrowed into a tapered elephant trunk with a great rope-out. I shot this on video for some reason instead of with the DSLR despite the calm circumstances and great, green foreground. I guess it was the camera I had in my hand at the time. Ten minutes later, rejoined by the rest of the crew, our storm opened a thirty minute round of barrels, cones, ropes, blocks, and bowls, a free-wheeling display of condensed tornadoes as if to make up for all the complaints about 2008 and the lack of clean tubes.