Sunday, July 24, 2011

Even So, Staying Home Was Not An Option.

After eight hours and three hundred miles of driving the most convoluted chasing route I think I've ever plotted due to Mother Nature not agreeing with my original chase plans, my daughter acting as my chase partner and I finally made it to "Chaser Days" down in Windom MN. I say that because it seemed as though every chaser in the state ended up there by late afternoon or early evening. It seemed as though the only things missing at that point was a tent and a keg of beer.

The setup for the day originally was to head west and wait for initiation but, A line of storms sweeping through the cities from North Dakota early Saturday morning changed the atmosphere enough to where if you wanted to have any chance of seeing a Tornado, southern Minnesota was where we needed to be.

We went South, We went North, West, and East. Finally ending in Windom where the general thought by the great number of chasers present was if anything would happen, it would begin near there. We sat and watched a promising line build as it tried to do something but decided to pull the plug and head home when it was clear things just weren't going to materialize. At least not in the light of day...

Decided to head south to Interstate 90 just on the off chance something would fire in Northern Iowa during the drive back toward Interstate 35. Of course, nothing came to pass with that plan as all of the real fun for Iowa was on the southern fringes of the state.

Began the trek up Interstate 35 toward home when we noticed the storm towers going up to the west of us. We didn't think much of them at that time because the sun had obscured most of the storms progress until they became back lit and by then, no chance to rejoin the party of chasers who had found their target and were circling like a pack of wolves ready for the kill according to our on-board data.

So, rather than come home completely empty handed, we decided to stop just outside of Hope MN. and take some photos and shoot some time lapse since it was a beautiful looking storm with the sun back lighting it. As you can see from the view we had, it had trouble keeping its act together.

My hope was to capture some lightning photos from that vantage point but the cell just wasn't that electrically active at that time. Decided to detour to Waseca for an intercept when we noticed things got more electrically charged just prior to sunset. Saw some great Cloud to Ground lightning enroute but do you think it would throw down one after my camera was set up? Nope.

Punched the storm core between Waterville and New Prague. No real wind to speak of, just a deluge of rain. Thank God for Rain-X. In those situations, it's a life-saver to have that stuff on your windshield.

We were into hour ten by that point. Time to head home.

All in all we had a great day, Saw some parts of Southern and Western Minnesota I rarely get to explore, The on-board technology worked flawlessly for the first time this year, and I got to spend time with my kid who reminded me without saying a word, She's not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shoreview MN 7/19/2011

This had all the makings of something. Plenty of rotation in between St. Cloud and Elk River. Various Radar samples throughout its path showed it as a sizeable mean looking storm.

After a short, aborted trip up 35E. I came back to intercept it by hoping to travel North on 35W and get above the storm and follow it on the backside since the hail markers were indicating 2.5 inch hail embedded in the business end of the cell.

Arrived at the entrance to 35W from Hwy 10 closed due to previous flooding a couple of days before that created some sink holes that were being repaired. Going up Hwy 10 wasn't an option since that would place me dead on with the center of the cell.

Turned around and headed back east on Hwy 96. Just then I remembered a County maintenance facility that was slightly elevated from the rest of the surroundings. It also had a canopy to duck under if the hail reported actually came true. Off I went.

Arrived at the facility with just a few moments to spare. Enough to fire up my camera gear and catch a little of the arriving leading edge of the storm. It wasn't much to photograph and by this time, any rotation was non-existant so, I just sat in my vehicle to watch the show.

Plenty of CG on the front end. One leader came down within 50 yards of me striking a fence just off to my west and of course, out of camera view. What was recorded was the tell tale "Snap" of a side flash discharge as the main leader struck the fence. The side flash discharged through the canopy down spout about five feet from me.

West Central MN. 7/10/11

Being late to the party as usual this season, and after a trooper "meet and greet" in between Starbuck and Cyrus (She said I was her second of the day. Let me off with a warning however...)

I decided to make my way up 75 to Wheaton MN. and wait. Gave me a chance to take some time lapse of the leading edge/shelf that was making its way through and to shoot some structure. Although the structure wasn't what I would call "photogenic" by any means.

One of the cells that was north of me went tornado warned. So, I decided to try for an intercept. After two particularly nasty bursts came across my vehicle almost sending me off 75 and being without a chase partner myself, I decided to remain on the pavement and let the storm roll over me. Surprising how much sustained energy that cell had.

Once I got on the backside. It simply became a losing battle to try to maintain any sort of viewing.

Came back down south on 55 toward Glenwood to attempt another intercept but, by that time it had gained a fair amount of speed and at that point I gave up due to the shortness of light and patience...

The "Half Tank" Rule sure paid off for me this trip. Sauk Centre? Dark. Melrose? Dark. Freeport as well. Then due to the squall line filling in, it made it virtually impossible to exit and fuel up. Wasn't until Rogers able to pull off and fuel up. The canopy over me looked like it was gonna get peeled back like a sardine can while I was under it.

I surfed the leading edge of that line all the way home. 94 was a mess...

Short lived Southern MN. chase 5/22/2011

I want to keep my posts in chronological order. So,this is just a place keeper for the entry that will be forth-coming.

Stay tuned.