Highway 14 Tornados and on to DeSmet
24 June 2003

Almost numb from the destruction brought by the Manchester tornado we turned east on highway 14. The buildings of this little town were just gone, looked F-5 to me, but we later learned it was rated F-4. While making haste to the next wall cloud we were shocked at the wild turbulence this lowering displayed. It spun violently over a large area much like the Manchester wall cloud and for a moment we thought we would get another monster tornado. Then the circulation relaxed a bit and concentrated the rotation in one small area, quickly producing a tornado that I was unable to photograph. We were quite close, but I couldn't get a clear shot with my still camera. I did get a short clip of video before a long sweeping turn combined with a big hill obscured the rotation. As we broke into the flat prairie again a second tornado developed, the one pictured below.

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore unless otherwise indicated.


Chasers casually rattle off pictures while an emergency vehicle frantically blasts its horn on the way to Manchester. It was getting late in the day, now after 8 PM, but our supercell complex continued to generate new wall clouds and more tornados. On any chase the DeSmet tornadoes would have been a grand prize, but today, after Manchester, what could top that?

Our once lone supercell is now surrounded by massive storms. The encroachment of the huge complex coming out of Nebraska will end much of the tornadic activity within the next hour.


Images courtesy of WeatherTap Inc.

The Manchester supercell is slowly decreasing in size but persists with strong rotation. More storm pour in from Nebraska and western South Dakota.

tornado north of highway 14 DeSmet tornado

This tornado started out in a fairly basic pattern, but then it went through some outrageous changes, proving again that this day was special performance.


The main tornado from this wall cloud lasted from 8:03 - 8:12 PM.

DeSmet tornado inner tube develops

The funnel snaked back and forth under a black cloud base and turbulent wall cloud. It was astonishing to see beautiful sunlit clouds tower above the tornado, boiling in the wind. I captured a few wide angle shots of the bright storm tops, but my scanner refused to render them suitable for Internet display. There were too many stops of light from the dark base to the white cloud tops.


Now it gets interesting, the inside of the funnel becomes visible revealing a "tornado within a tornado." The spectacular turbulence within the interior of the funnels is vivid witness of how a tornado does such chaotic damage.

transparant tornado base bottom becoming clearer
outer sheath dissipates inner rope grows

Finally the outer condensation of the funnel dissipates leaving the narrower tornado inside.


Amazingly this show is far from over, a smaller rope expands into a larger tornado.

tornado widens outer shell dissipates again

A larger tornado develops for a few short minutes then the outer sheath of condensation again dissipates revealing another funnel inside.......funnel within a funnel with a funnel.......I wonder just how far this could go?


sheath around inner funnel inner tube narrows

The tornado maintains this rather unique appearance for a few minutes with the inner vortex spinning violently.


Now the outer wrapping of condensation grows as the inside weakens, a strange turn of events that will lead to the final and quick death of the tornado.

tornado getting weaker new wall cloud east-northeast

At the finish the inner funnel lifts and dissipates while the outer sheath remains, but slowly "spins down" and dies.


Again we look to the northeast and see yet another violently rotating cloud mass, the day's final show is about to begin near Spirit Lake.

On to Spirit Lake for the final tornadoes of the day

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