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Storm Chasing

May 14, 2003, 4:41 PM by Brian Karstens

Storm Chasing

With the beginning of yet another storm season here in KELOLAND, it's time once again for Dorothy and our trained storm chasing crew to hit the road in search of bad weather. Meteorologist Brian Karstens leads many of our chases and joins us with his account of what he saw yesterday.

For a few weeks every year, we at KELOLAND TV hop into our mobile WeatherNet van not to visit schools, but to visit storms. Storm chasing is all about finding and witnessing the awesome power of Mother Nature.

Shawn Cable and myself ventured into northern Nebraska, just west of Niobrara. Shortly after we arrived, a tornado warning was issued for the storm. These pictures show the rotating clouds, which at times produced weak funnel clouds. No tornadoes were confirmed in the area and that's part of our job when we chase, spotting and confirming what is seen on Doppler radar. It's no easy task.

Just getting to the storm can be a battle in itself. The roads we find are often poor at best, especially in the rain. Finding the route to the storm takes careful planning, usually with a use of a street level map.

Storms often move quickly, so we try to intercept them before they arrive at our location. But sometimes that's not possible.

In April we found a storm traveling east at 55 mph, but we were still able to find a small funnel cloud moving away in the distance.

We don't just find tornadoes. Sometimes we see a little hail. But the technology we have on board helps us stay clear of the golf ball and baseball variety.

We prefer to view the hail from a distance. A white column called a hail shaft is an area of the storm chasers avoid. I've witnessed those with little experience drive right into these dangerous areas.

So far this year, our severe weather season has been rather quiet, but we all know that can change at a moment's notice. And when the storm rolls in, don't be surprised to see "Dorothy" not far behind.

For some, storm chasing may seem like a fun thing to try, but it's not something we recommend just anybody. It takes a trained eye to keep out of harms way to make it a safe experience.

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