The Conway Springs KS Night Tornadoes
of 29 May 2004

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore.

This set of images occurred after the Conway Springs wedge shots. I had to drive south a few mile to get a road east. I also had to navigate through a roadblock, fortunately they let me pass. In retrospect I think I would have been better to stay where I was and shoot east into the darkness. The large Conway Springs tornado rapidly narrowed down to the trunk shown in the first image and I missed that transition while driving, although I could see it going to my north. While driving I could see occasional ground flashes to my northeast. Watching that area closely while proceeding east I saw a narrow elephant trunk tornado about 3 miles east of the large tornado. Then it lit up a bunch of power lines again with flashes reflecting off the cloud base above the tornado's debris cloud. I immediately stopped to video tape the action, it was totally dark at this time so I had to wait for another flash to frame the the tornado. Meanwhile the west tornado was still in progress and I could see ambient light reflection off the side of the funnel. Then a third tornado formed west of the large one and I had three tornadoes in progress at the same time. All these images are shot with the video camera into total darkness which accounts for the grain. Unfortunately there was not time for me to set up the digital still camera, that would have been great. This storm system had kept me on the run since it started many hours ago near Alva, Oklahoma and this was the final performance.

night tornado moving northeast     night tornado

The original Conway Springs wedge tornado narrowed down to an elephant trunk in the darkness. It was visible in the darkness. Tornadoes with a smooth laminar wall are occasionally seen in total darkness as light reflects off the side of the funnel.

The tornado is slowly leaving me as they always get the hypotenuse going northeast. I was beginning to run out of good zigzag roads and also nearing a higher population area which would slow me down.

second night tornado     new tornado further west  

My first shot of the tornado hidden in darkness to the east. My guess on this funnel was that in formed in the shear of the inflow jet of the larger Conway Springs tornado then slowly moved west to converge with the main funnel. This shot was after I saw it hit the power lines.

Another tornado quickly forms to my north or about 2 miles behind the Conway Springs tornado. So we had three tornados in progress at this time. Hidden the grain you may be able to see the debris cloud. This tornado was violent but I don't know how long it lasted.

tornadoes begin to come together    

Here the two funnels appear to be merging as the large one travels northeast and the small one continues west. I assure you, seeing this at night will increase your heart rate!

It seemed for a while the two tornadoes were not going to get closer than this image depicts. I could see little movement in the smaller east tornado.


As strange as it seems the old Conway Springs tornado was getting larger. That is, the condensation trunk of the tornado had thickened in size during this time. Had it entered an area of higher convergence and shear due to the other tornado?

Finally the two tornadoes get closer together, I did get a shot after this that shows the small tornado behind or north of the large funnel. I never did see them merge though. Perhaps other chasers can verify this.

During this time the other tornado directly to my north is still in progress, but getting almost impossible to see. I did not capture the demise of this funnel, I just lost it in the darkness. After these shots I tried to drive north and that resulted in congestion and road blocks where the east tornado had brought down power lines.

If I expected to continue the chase I would have to drive further east and wait for the storm to approach. I tried this tactic but by the time I got on the supercell again the tornados had dissipated. More storms with continuous lightning formed to my southwest and approached my area. The lightning was spectacular from these cells, but I did not see any tornadic activity.


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