Searching for Storms: Part Three - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Searching for Storms: Part Three

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- Day three of our storm chase trip once again welcomed us with ideal weather conditions for chasing. A severe weather outbreak for the plains was in the forecast---and the threat for tornadoes was on the rise. Although we were satisfied with the sights and sounds the plains had provided for us on the previous two days...we were all waiting for the moment that many of us had only dreamed about. The moment when we would witness one of natures greatest wonders. here's part three of Searching for Storms.'

It was Tuesday, May 28th--the third day of stormchasing. After spending the night in Salina, Kansas we determined that we were already in a good spot to set up for the day, and it didn't take long for a thunderstorm to develop nearby.

This storm gave us our first viewing of yet another textbook weather phenomenon--Mammatus clouds. These rounded clouds often develop from sinking air within a thunderstorm, and they're one of the most beautiful cloud types to see.

It didn't take long for the storm become tornado warned, and just after 5:30 PM a tornado was reported to be on the ground west of Bennington, Kansas moving to the southeast.

Our group was soon able to confirm that first hand.

A massive wedge tornado was moving in our direction, but it's speed was extremely slow. We were able to watch the storm from our position just south of U.S. Route 81.

With the exception of our instructors, it was the first tornado that any of us had seen. And, it was a moment that I personally had been waiting for since I first became interested in weather when I was a little kid. After all, it was tornadoes that drove me to study meteorology.

It was a moment of guilt free awe and amazement--we were watching the storm rotate over an open field. While several out buildings, trees, and power lines were damaged, there were no injuries or deaths from this storm.

Unbelievably, the tornado stayed on the ground for more than an hour and moved just a few miles in a cyclonic loop pattern.

After the tornado lifted we drove through Bennington, which was largely untouched, and moved in for a closer look at the storm that produced this monster tornado. Measurements taken by a mobile Doppler radar unit scanning the storm estimated surface wind speeds as high as 180 miles per hour--making the tornado an EF-4.

As many of us checked 'tornado' off of our bucket lists, the day's adventures soon moved to the top of our trip's list of most memorable....but that was only temporary.

Be sure to tune into the finale of Searching for Storms next week as we head to Oklahoma to chase down the biggest tornado in history--and it does a little chasing too, leaving storm chasers from across the country with an invaluable lesson. You can catch part four next Wednesday right here on News Channel 5 at 6 & 10 PM. I'm Rachael Penton.

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