Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clark County SD 7/26/2011

Decided to make my way to the Dakotas without a real plan of action since there seemed to be a fair amount of variability in where initiation would occur. Flipped a coin and decided to play the northern section of the moderate risk area. Figured Webster would be a good area to start.

Once I made it to 29, it was clear that events would occur south. Aberdeen seemed to be the collection point for the chasers able to get an early start. The line south of ABR quickly went linear and my fear of the day ending before it even started.

Decided for a Tail End Charlie on the southern flank of the line which took me through Watertown and points west. The opportunity for that play diminished as the southern edge continued to extend further as I drove west on 212.

Finally settled on an area north of Huron in between Hitchcock and Willow Lake on Hwy 212 where a tasty looking cell was divorcing itself from the rest of the line and looking rather well defined as it intensified.

As I monitored things, this cell produced several wall clouds with only one demonstrating any real rotation to speak of. In the end, it's bark seemed to be worse that its bite but was one of the most beautiful mesos i've ever photographed.

I was positioned North of a couple of chasers and during their funnel cloud encounter and swear i witnessed a small tube decend about 3 miles SW of my position on 212. I can't confirm this since the sighting was brief, lit only by lightning, and became rain wrapped shortly after. Level 3 data showed definite rotation in the cell so it was entirely possible.

The chasers stated there was no warning given, yet there was a warning polygon that popped up right over the area of rotation for about 5 minutes in my Level 3 data. There one minute, gone the next... Going back and looking at the ABR data for the day shows no evidence of a warning, yet I managed to get a screen grab on GR3 of it before it disappeared.

Caught up to the remnants of the northern storms on my way east on 12 between Benson and Willmar and entered what seemed to be a never ending core punch. I forgot how desolate Hwy 12 is between the two towns and I was pretty much committed by that point. The chase day ended for me at the Willmar Holiday Inn hotel bar five minutes prior to close with a beer in my hand...

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