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.


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