Meanwhile, the third storm, to my northwest somewhere north of Cozad, seemed reachable. So, while my wife took a nap before dinner, I headed west on I-80 15 miles or so the Cozad exit and then north to intercept the storm. As it turns out, though, the storm was not really drifting to the SE - its motion was driven mainly by backbuilding, and by the time I was north of Cozad, it had backed west to north of Gothenburg. I headed farther west through Gothenburg and then north, but by then it had backbuilt further, with the main updraft well northwest of Gothenburg and not too far northeast of North Platte. There was a very heavy precipitation core north and northwest of Gothenburg, and an arcus cloud formed along the south edge of the precipitation. The storm was full of in-cloud lightning, and there was a nearly continuous rumble of thunder coming out of the anvil, with occasionally louder bursts of thunder from the closer anvil-crawlers. Here is a picture showing the core, the arcus cloud, and the updraft base much father west, closer to North Platte:
This picture was taken at 7:38 p.m., shortly after the second of three significant weather advisories was issued for this storm. These indicated potential for 40 mph wind, torrential rain, and half-inch hail. I broke off from the storm around 7:55 p.m. to go back to Lexington and meet my wife for dinner at a restaurant next door to our motel - I knew where was no hope of getting much closer to the storm's updraft area before dark, and I was hungry and knew my wife was, too. I could see then that the storm looked to be intensifying, and it did finally get a SVR warning just after 8:30. Ten minutes or so later, it produced a 62 mph gust at the North Platte airport and blew large branches down onto U.S. route 30 near the airport. But by that time it was pretty dark, and chasing it another half-hour would have meant I would not have gotten back until after 9, so I was content to let it go. The other storms farther southwest, incidentally, produced quarter to golfball sized hail, covering the ground in some places, and locally near 2 inches of rain. All of these storms went up on an outflow boundary from a larger convective complex to the south in Kansas.
All and all, this was not a bad little chase to provide a little diversion at the end of what had been a long, boring drive. My first time actually chasing in Nebraska, though some years ago, while at a conference that had been interrupted by a tornado warning, I did watch a rain-wrapped meso move through downtown Omaha.
Total chase distance: 91 miles.
Return to 2013 severe weather observation page