Monday, April 30, 2012

Possible Chase Day 5/1/12

Things are lining up for a favorable chase tomorrow 5/1/12. Nice start to the season if it pans out.

Friday, April 20, 2012

04/15/12 MDT Risk South Central MN

After a bad 19 hour outing on Saturday in NE/IA, (Yes, seems I was one of the few) I was hoping to redeem myself in Southern MN on Sunday.

My fiancee announced she wasn't going to spend another day home alone so, she decided to join me. We've gone on several short chases in the past but this was her first full day chase with me.

After a leisurely trip to Albert Lea where we stopped for lunch and a fill up, we ran into Brad Winger another local chaser. Brad and I have chased together a couple of times previous over the years so we agreed to pair up for this outing. It was nice to have a little time to chat prior to initiation and catch up.

After assessing things, we decided to move further west as it appeared that things were beginning to pop just south of Fairmont MN. In hindsight, we might have pulled the trigger a bit soon because after a brief stop in Fairmont, we realized the dry line had zipped past us to our east causing us to double back toward our previous location with a planned attempt at riding the dryline as while things were moving quickly to the north, movement of the line was much slower to the east. The towers building to the north of us were very photogenic, I wished we would've stopped for a moment to get a few shots. Hanging a camera out the window while in motion just doesn't do them justice.

We enjoyed a laugh when a couple of folks in a car pulled up along side of us as we waited in the Wal-Mart parking lot. They said that they were watching our stream, recognized where we were, and decided to drive over and say "Hi".

My fiancee remarked, "Chaser Groupies?"

I kind of felt bad that we had to drive off without so much as even a minutes conversation with our "groupie" friends. I hope they understood...

We were back on track as we joined MN Hwy 169 northbound and followed a couple of promising cells slightly to our east as they hit dryer air but failed to produce anything but some small hail.

And that seemed to be pretty much the case for the remainder of the chase back to the Twin Cities. As quickly as one cell appeared promising, It would die shortly thereafter.

We managed to catch up to a pretty stout rain and ice maker just south of Prior Lake where we had to face slowing traffic. Thankfully, Brad being from the area found an alternative route in Carver Co. Hwy 14 east which put us on the back side of the storm and right into our first promising situation: a very ominous wall cloud that had some rotation associated with it. Hung with it for several minutes until it lifted back up.

From that point on it was a battle in traffic through the western suburbs northbound to catch up with an intensifying cell making a beeline through Minneapolis moving NE but had slowed from it's previous motion placing us in a position to chase to our front door on our return trip. Something I've never been able to do before.

As we barreled through Minneapolis we picked up Hwy 36 east and was treated to one of the flatest storm bases I've ever seen. You would've been able to see a lowering wall cloud from 20 miles away compared to the rest of the base.

The most intense cell at that point was to our north so we decided to attempt an intercept and joined Hwy 61 northbound. We chose 61 over I35 as there was ongoing construction limiting traffic to one lane northbound.

As we moved up Hwy 61, I took note of the increasing sheer in the lower levels and an increase in helicity. Unfortunately, numerous traffic control stops and an increase in storm speed gave way to making the decision to call the chase. But not before we took note of the increasing number of viewers on our ChaserTV stream.

Wanting not to disappoint our "viewership" we decided to continue north for a short time more. By this time the cell we were heading towards, had pretty much decreased in intensity yet, still looked ominous on the stream so, we continued to pick up more viewers.

We were getting hungry and it was time to hang things up. So, just for the fun of it I wanted to see how quickly our "viewership" would bail once they realized our chase day was ending.

I parked the vehicle in front of a popular bar/restaraunt in the area. And we waited...

Our viewership increased.

Apparently, everyone wanted to join us.

During our post-chase dinner "debriefing" we remarked to each other how fun it was to be together outside of our daily routines and that she will definately be joining me in future chases...

And we never even saw a tornado.

I caught this photo of the sun peeking out the side of a tower going up just south of Fairmont MN.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

04/14/12 IA/NE High Risk Craptastic, HP Crapfest.

Decided to take a shot at the triple point taking aim at IA/NE this run. Models all seemed to agree that conditions were ripe for a wedgefest on or near the borders.

With an initial target of Lincoln NE, I headed down 35 for the long, arduous, trip to what I thought was going to be a twister turkey shoot. I whiled away the time thinking of the grand total I was going to encounter and just how close I was willing to get to the action being a solo.

My determination was to get through the Omaha area as quick as possible to avoid the weekend stumble of Home Depot and Target shoppers. Dodged that, but headed right into a cell that dumped quite a bit of rain in my path and made me rethink my decision of target.

I decided to stick with my guns as it was still early in the game and I gave myself some latitude thinking my adjustments would be more East/West than North/South.

Boy, could I have been more wrong?

After a brief stop in Lincoln, it was off to Nebraska City to sit and look at things and weigh my options. Dive South to KS? or make a leisurely easterly trip across southern IA in the hope that initiation would occur further north and east as I had predicted.

As I made my way east on IA State Hwy 2, things began to take an interesting turn as the sky literally exploded over me.

At some point, I actually became positioned ahead of the storms and as you can see, I was within fourty five minutes of meeting the Thurman storm face to face. Being impatient, I continued my drive across Hwy 2 with the thinking that a cell would initialize south of Hwy 2 and I would find myself in perfect position for an intercept.

Once the cell initiated and took out the town of Thurman, it stayed north of Hwy 2 and ran parallel to my course. This was an HP cell that was fully letting loose. I decided that it wasn't worth the risk to run the core not knowing what was on the other side. So I continued on Hwy 2. toward I35 hopefully making some headway east and into something more organized and visible.

Made it to I35 and headed north toward Des Moines as things looked like they were becoming active up there completely ignoring what was going on to my south in KS. That turned out to be the biggest mistake of this chase.

As I barreled up 35 while trying to make some sense of the radar, an alarm begins screaming from the back of my vehicle. Something I'd never heard before, especially in the REAR of the truck... Great.

When I finally had the opportunity to pull over to check things, I'd realized the only thing back in the area was my inverter and batteries. Yes, my Inverter was screaming that I was on borrowed time. Apparently, this inverter alarms when the battery level reaches a certain point. A point I'd never reached up to then.

With no way to silence the alarm, I had to make a choice. Listen to this damn thing scream all the way to Des Moines? or shut it down and hope the various equipment's own batteries would get me there.

I shut it down.

From that point things went down hill... Quickly.

What was once a promising day quickly turned to crap as the last of my day's opportunities became a huge linear squall. as I moved north to Des Moines.

Meanwhile as you can see, KS exploded. So did a cell I left behind 30 minutes earlier in Osceola IA.

An expensive lesson to learn that sometimes, Mother Nature drives a hard bargain...

Plenty more of the season left...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And another Chase Day ends...

Fortunately a lot earlier than yesterday. I'll be posting my weekend adventures in later updates.

Friday, April 13, 2012

HIGH RISK! ERN NE/ WRN IA Saturday 4/14/2012

As expected, SPC expanded the High Risk Area for Saturday 4/14. This is a VERY dangerous situation! When warnings are issued take IMMEDIATE action to protect yourself!

Plans are to chase the newly identified High Risk area.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Iowa, Saturday 04/14/11

Looking like an interesting day. And I don't think we'll need to travel to KS to make a play. I'm going to wait for a couple more model runs before deciding...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The YouTube Tornado DFW 04/03/2012

Someone is going to die at the hands of a smartphone.

Scratch that.

Someone is going to die with a smartphone in their hands.

We clearly saw yesterday what LP Supercell Tornadoes mixed with a densely populated metro area can bring:

Abject stupidity.

That was Royse City.

That one was from Kennedale.

And that one in Arlington.

But truly the most ridiculous and head shaking case is this one, from Lancaster:

At what point in any of these recordings do you think the individual thought "Hmmm, I better get the hell out of here before this thing kills me."

The common point to all of these videos is how close the subject was to the smartphone operator.

And no matter how many warnings are given, We are going to witness human ignorance and stupidity overcome common sense so that YouTube can be supplied yet another "Wicked Shot!"

And eventually, one will contain the greatest shot EVER!

Too bad the person shooting the perfect shot took a 2X4 to the side of their skull killing them instantly.