Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 2 recap

This was a day filled with all sorts of interesting little adventures. We left Billings, MT, aiming for western Nebraska and southwest SD (the dreaded Black Hills).

When we got to Buffalo, WY, we stopped for a brief time and saw a beautiful striated shelf cloud. A few pictures were taken, then a few more, and we carried on to areas east. Here are some pictures of it.

We accidentally punched through a core of a storm that was closer than we had thought, picking up 30 mm hail, and carried on toward the north. That storm was interesting because the shear for the day was straight-line, favouring splitting cells but favouring neither split to be dominant. The one that gave us our hail was actually the left split, and we could even see the rotating updraft of that left-moving storm.

Oh, I should mention that we had not had data since Buffalo, because someone (shame) had forgotten to pay the Verizon bill and the service was cut off.

In Lusk, WY, I got that straightened out and we carried on east, aiming for a cluster of storms near Chadron, NE, which was pretty much the only game in town. After driving for an hour, it became readily apparent that the storms weren't catchable, so we decided on a new target: storms dropping southeastward through the Black Hills.

The storm was a beast, according to RADAR, with a pretty nasty bowing segment and embedded hail hitting Rapid City. (It turns out the city got 2" hail over a large area.) Then a weird thing happened, something I'd never seen before: the bow echo transitioned to a potentially tornadic supercell. It never produced, but if it had, we would have been there. And, so far as I know, we were the only chasers there, too.

While sitting and watching it, some people who had gone through the hail core stopped and showed us their battle scars: their windshield was cracked from the 2" hail and there were many dents in their van. They had cell phone video to show us, too.

This is what the storm looked like (and our later location, so don't get confused) just before and after the transition.

That was quite the awesome day and one I'm sure none of us will forget.

Today we're going to target the area near here--there's no obvious wave and Black Hills magic will be the play, I think.


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