Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Day 2: good storms, including a spectacular supercell

We got initiation to the north and west of Glendive. A storm seemed to be taking over to the NW so we took off in that direction--sort of. We ended up taking a road that ran NE-SW. The storm got tornado-warned (trained spotters, funnel cloud, I really doubt it) and then it kind of got absorbed.

A bunch of storms decided to fire off, and the main one seemed to take over. Where was it? Just east of Glendive. D'oh!

So we went back to GDV, dodging some sizable (nickel) hail, and then got stuck behind the now-tornado-warned storm because ThreatNet showed it was putting down some huge hail. We eventually got to the other side and observed a pretty good updraft base from a closed weigh scale. It eventually pooped out and we had to go east.

We did a pit stop east of Dickinson, and the storms (rather inconveniently) were at that time in a RADAR dead zone. Well, mostly--there are actually a couple of hail suppression RADARs out in western ND, but they don't get ingested into ThreatNet so we were essentially blind.

Anyhow, whilst at the pit stop, Chase 1 got a wi-fi signal and saw the storm via the intert00bz, yes I'm tired, and blasted south. Uh, okay, what's going on? We followed them and asked over and over again on the walkie-talkies what they had seen--no answer, until someone in Chase 1 texted us and told us their walkies had died. D'oh!

Well, when we got a good 40 miles south of I-94, we saw why they were in such an almighty hurry-a well-defined wall cloud was off to our southwest, and it looked good. I mean the kind of wall cloud that produces tornadoes good.

I won't keep you in suspense--while we were on it, it never did, but what it did do was give us lots of tantalizing looks at striations, stacked plates and some exquisite colours interspersed while the whole lot of us shutterbugs snapped away. This was by far the best storm the U of M storm chase class has ever intercepted. We kept following it on its SSE course, getting into the inflow air (warm and moist) and then letting ourselves be blasted with outflow (cool and moist, winds about 60 mph). This went on until sunset, when we happened into the town of Buffalo, SD, where we decided we needed to eat. And so we did. Just as we were going into the place to eat (well, most people; I had gone back to the van because I had forgotten something, and some locals stopped me and chatted me up about storms for about 5 minutes) the outflow came through, thoroughly sandblasting everything. I still have some grit in my teeth (yes, I will brush) and my hair.

We're overnighting in Spearfish, SD, just northeast of Rapid City. Tomorrow (well, today, and HAPPY CANADA DAY!) we should be somewhere around here--maybe a bit more south, but the Black Hills will likely have something to say about where we can chase. But we will figure out the details in the morning--analysis saved our hide this morning (was there ever any doubt?) and, if anything will tomorrow and the next day and forevermore, it's analysis. Hand analysis.

Analysis, diagnosis, prognosis. It's amazing when the theory works out so well.


At 3:08 AM, Blogger Teresa said...

I'm pretty sure that second core we busted had some quarter-sized hail in there, too. I agree mainly penny-nickle sized.

whatta day!

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Brandon Brown said...

Whenever I read the words ''spectacular Supercell'', I immediately want to see pictures! Sounds like the chase was a blast, good job guys!

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous mattzi said...

Congrats on making a great forecast and seeing it through, especially for such an inhospitable chase area! I look forward to seeing pics when you guys get some down time.


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