Update 1:15 pm CDT 6/5/12: Paducah KY National Weather Service office has confirmed both an EF-2 tornado and a 100 mph+ downburst on one of the supercells we were watching yesterday evening. Tragically it also caused 3 fatalities northeast of Sikeston. Here's a link to their Public Information Statement.
We hadn't totally written off a chase yesterday as we headed eastward from our Wichita area hotel, since the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the short range forecast models indicated a chance at storms in and around the Missouri bootheel. But as the day progressed during our trek toward Sikeston MO nothing convective seemed to happen when and where it was supposed to so we let our guard drop. Biiiiiiigggg mistake!
We stopped in Sikeston to eat dinner at the much-promoted Lambert's Cafe, home of the "throwed rolls" and good eats. As we traipsed inside we noted both visually and on radar that a storm to the north was slowly sliding our way but we didn't pay it much mind. So, we ordered dinner and began catching the rolls as they were tossed our way. As the server took our orders and departed I noted that the flags outside the front windows of the restaurant were indicating the surface winds pointed directly into the storm, a strong sign the storm was organizing itself and intensifying. At first one or two of our crowd slipped outside to look, but as two developing supercells approached more and more of us abandoned our meals and stepped out to grab cameras as night fell.
We wound up hurriedly paying for our meals, packing them in to-go boxes, and speeding out of the parking lot to head back west to both avoid the hail and observe the storm. We stopped west of town to watch as the literally continuous lightning revealed all the details of the two incredible supercells. A very low wall cloud formed and passed right over the town and we held our collective breath as we watched for power flashes, a sure sign of a night-time tornado, as one of the storms became tornado-warned.
What is it about this trip with all the best action occurring at or after dark? This may come to be known as the "Twilight Hokie Stormchase".