Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008: northwest Iowa

So Miss Shannon Cool Beans (CB) and I left at about 8:30 AM to go chasing on Wednesday morning. I had just gotten off night shift, so I was a touch tired. Despite that, I didn't sleep much in the car--maybe an hour or so after Fargo.

Anyhow, we got to Sioux Falls, SD just before 4:00 PM, and coincidentally JJH called us to ask where we were. We told him and he said that we were in a good spot, as initiation was occurring just west of us, and that we should be able to see it. As we had been clagged in with cloud since about Fargo (along with some brutal near-zero visibility fog north of Watertown), we weren't looking hard enough. But then we opened our eyes and could see, just off to our west, a line of darker cloud bases embedded
within the cloud deck. We did a data stop and saw that we were, indeed, in just about the right spot. So we went east by about 10 miles, where we were much better able to see things off to our west.

Towers were going up but they were kinda fuzzy--indication that the instability wasn't yet being realized well enough to complement the shear.

Well, we kept on going east, trying to stay ahead of the line and trying to see if one storm would take over. It was hard to be sure, but one off to our southwest looked pretty good. We headed in that direction and soon heard the first tornado warning of the day on the weatheradio. We extrapolated its future location (seeing as how we were chasing as luddites, that is without mobile internet), and got in place. When we got there, we could see an area of rotation, but it was hard to pick out because the storm had started to rain pretty heavily. Still, this is what we could see:

Well, after that it got ugly. The line of storms had grown, evolving into a north-south line of HP supercells. Some tornadic circulations were in there, but it was mostly heavy rain. Here's an example of what the RADAR looked like.

The rest of the chase was done "visually", although I use that term loosely. What we could mostly see was a lot of rain. At one point we were in the middle of a tornado warning, where the town we were in (Primghar) was named. It got windy and the rain got even heavier, and I got scared. Turns out I was right to be scared, as some other chasers got a direct hit from a tornado that evening that they couldn't even see. Scary.

Iowa is flooded. Well, at least the part of it we saw. I didn't take any pictures of all the standing water, but I did take a picture of what the rain was doing in Primghar.

We got some pictures of another developing storm, but we were pretty much done for the day; a line of embedded HP supercells is not something I think I want to chase, ever again. Too scary, as you can't see anything.

We overnighted in Omaha. A town where you can't get anything to eat aside from Taco Bell at 1 AM. Unless you go to the casino. Yikes.


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