Tornado North of Tonovay, Kansas
on May 30th 1982

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

The target area for this chase was a warm front extending east from a low pressure system over Wichita, Kansas. A large classic supercell developed on US highway 54 and moved slowly northeast. An extensive line of flanking cumulus towers (called a flanking line) was feeding into the storm from the southwest. This line contained individual towers that were producing light rain, but no lightning along the southern extent. The line was about 7-10 miles in length and three areas along the line were developing tornadic circulations, or wall clouds. Considering the distance involved these were probably different mesocyclones. Our first tornado came from the far southwest edge of the line.

Developing tornado northwest   Condensation funnel on ground

A thin trail of condensation extended to the ground as the tornado formed. No thunder or lightning occurred during the tornado and very little rain.


The condensation funnel is on the ground during this shot. Rapid up motion extend from the base of the funnel to the cloud base in the far right side of the image. A thin veil of rain extended along the flanking line to the tornado.

Tornado proceeds east   Tornado begins to weaken

The mature tornado persisted on the ground but movement was slow enough to allow photography from one position. At this time we could see the other wall cloud circulations becoming better organized. These features were buried in the dark sky to the north making photography difficult.


The tornado remained on the ground during this image, but was beginning to weaken and would lift soon. We broke off this tornado early to began the search for a dirt road north through the Flint Hills. Another tornado, possibly larger was gathering strength further north.

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