EMPORIA, Kan. - Kansas is cap-tacular.
That's what Isaac Sarver would love to put on a Kansas license plate. The Pulaski County High School junior is part of a 12-member storm chasing team that, for the second straight day on Thursday, saw absolutely no storms fire over southeast Kansas because the atmosphere was again capped in its middle levels.
The thunderstorm-inhibiting warm layer aloft, also known as CIN (for convective inhibition), left the team in something of a giddy, sarcastic mood to cope with its disappointment at again not being able to chase storms.
Sarver cracked up his fellow chasers with a series of phrases involving the word "cap," including the much less diplomatic "Go cap yourself."
Radford University freshman Erich Dalton reflected on repeated negative chasing experiences in Kansas. Dalton was on last year's chase team that once endured a capped day in the Wichita area and, another time, missed a tornadic supercell by chasing a second storm that weakened in central Kansas.
Asked about his feelings for Kansas, Dalton said wryly: "You wouldn't be able to print it in the newspaper."
Even chase team leader Dave Carroll got in on the CINful humor, taking more of a gastric angle.
"That cap couldn't even be broken by a Wal-Mart chili dog," the Pulaski County High School meteorology teacher said over the radio between vans, referring to the food that some chasers had for lunch in Independence, Kan.
As the team rode west through southern Kansas' scenic Flint Hills, the puffy cumulus clouds that had dotted the sky began dissipating.
"It's like someone took an eraser and erased the sky, leaving only a little chalk dust," observed Maria Floyd of Aiken, S.C., who serves as the group's co-leader.
The lack of thunderstorms was probably just fine for Kansas residents, who have endured hundreds of deadly tornadoes over the years. But for the storm chasers, it means it's time to go elsewhere. The team was expected to use Friday as a travel day to set up in the Nebraska-South Dakota area for possible weekend storms.
So by the time you're reading this today, the chasers should be able to repeat Dorothy's immortal line in "The Wizard of Oz": "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."