The Tswails.com chase team tracked a huge rain wrapped tornado through northeast Kansas as it thrashed the small community of Linwood. Before the storms struck, our target early in the day was Emporia, Kansas. As expected the storms initiated near Emporia and there were two discrete super cells that developed. We had to choose between the two. We had a half an hour to decide. Eventually it became apparent the southern cell was going to be the dominant super cell as it rapidly intensified. We positioned ourselves to track the southern cell. We approached it from the Northeast and eventually cut back around from the East and were able to watch it turn into a strong violent tornado.
The huge wedge tornado was rain wrapped...which made it difficult to chase because you could not see the actual tornado. The twister was in what's known as the bear's cage. That's the area which the circulation is completely wrapped in rain. Unless you knew from the radar that a tornado existed, you would never be able to see it until you penetrated the bear's cage. When you did, within seconds, the tornado was on you. Which makes this type of storm extremely dangerous.
Because of the difficulty of the terrain with the lakes, rivers, and roads, we had a lot of difficulty staying up we had challenges keeping up with the storm. However it maintained intensity for at least forty five minutes and we were able to reposition several time to get perspective of the tornado.
Once we were within a quarter mile of the storm and that's where we were the first time and we had to hustle to get away.
At this point, we had to run for our lives and were unable to catch up with the tornado for at least fifteen minutes. When we did the second time, it had been a confirmed tornado and on the ground producing damage. A tornado emergency was issued for Lawrence, Kansas as well as Bonner Springs. We were able to take another sneak peak of the tornado for a third time as it quickly approached us.
At this point the tornado was on to take a direct hit on Linnwood producing significant damage before it dissipated near Bonner Springs. It was a heck of a ride!