This was the synoptic setup that was to give rise to the dynamics and instability for the afternoon storms.
Surprisingly, the WRF NAM and later 12Z/13Z HRRR models handled the forecast extremely well. They were practically bang on with the storms location.
Waking up in eastern Nebraska was not exactly part of the plan, but I figured we were better off resting for the night and hitting the road early. Plus we were gong to be time zone hopping which saved us an hour.
Jen and I took a quick detour in Gothenburg to visit one of the few remaining Pony Express stations. I've always been fascinated by the Pony Express, an early courier service that lasted 18 months, but remains an iconic symbol of the wild western frontier.
If you're a fan of old western films, you might remember the film "The Pony Express" 1925 or "The Pony Express" 1953 and of course "Frontier Pony Express" from 1939. These were fictional films based around the Pony Express, but there are countless others were the express courier service makes an appearance.
Definitely a classic part of wild western Americana.
The façade and structure of the building have been preserved well.
The complete station.
The original structure would have had a sod roof. Much of the central and western plain states including the Canadian Prairie had severe wood shortages in the 1860s. So shingles, planks and other covering were not practical due to supply limitation.
The few trees in the area were harvested and the vast majority of the land was grassland that would have fed the millions of roaming buffalo.
So you can understand why sod was the best worst option.
The station which is freely open to the public sits in a small park in the middle of Gothenburg.
Alright back to storm chasing! After visiting the Pony Express Station I did a quick analysis and everything was on track. The NWS also issued a mesoscale discussion highlighting the risk of a few isolated but well organized thunderstorms much later in the evening in far western Nebraska.
The initial target of Alliance NE remained relatively unchanged but along the way we found this neat pioneer settlement in the Ash Hollow State History Park.
The site is known as the "Windlass Hill Pioneer Homestead"
It was very similar to the Pony Express station but a much cruder and older structure.
The fence outside of the restored settlement had a bunch of these boots along it. I'm not sure what the significance is but I did notice after I took these photos a bunch of our Nebraska tourist magazines had photos of these boots too!