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For a successful chase day, everything has to go right. In addition to sheer luck that atmospheric paramters will come together in the correct quantites and ratios to warrant severe weather, every decision must play out perfectly.

We camped out in Pratt, KS in the early afternoon, with the dryline off to our west. Storms began firing around 4 PM about an hour to our north, by I-70. With the NNE storm motion, we figured these cells were out of reach. In reality, if we had just gone for it and busted north, we probably could have arrived in time to see one of the cells drop a confirmed tornado. Instead we messed around with stuff that might have gone up near us, backtracking several times. Unfortunately, as ripe as the sky appeared overhead, these cells never became anything.

Moral of the day: if storms begin to form where they are supposed to form, don’t think twice about going for it, even if they seem out of reach. They probably aren’t.

By the time we finally made it north (with almost no data up to this point), the storm had retreated even further north, out of reach. When we passed both the TIV and Silver Lining Tours headed in the opposite direction, we knew that had missed the action. We called it a night and had dinner at Taco Bell in Salina, KS, reserving a room there.

After we ate, there was one more new storm that had formed on the flanking line of the big one, and it was easily within reach. We booked it north, just for fun, because we had nothing to lose. A funnel was reported with this storm near Minneapolis, KS, but we got there just too late to see it. Instead, we got to drive back and forth through the heavy precipitation core, promptly turning around as we entered marble-sized hail.

It was getting dark. One of our shorter road options back to Salina ended up turning to dirt. We were eager to turn in, so we decided to brave it. The road looked pretty solid. Major mistake. We crawled along for about two miles on this mess of a road, freshly-slick from the torrential rain an hour earlier. Things were going fairly well, if a little hairy, until we reached a part of the road that had not been traveled recently. The car instantly sunk an inch into the mud, and was sliding all over the place. With some careful maneuvering, we were able to about-face and retrace our steps back to pavement. Getting stuck out there was the absolute last thing we needed.

We made it back safe and sound, with not much to show for our trek today. Oh well. Two more days left.

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