Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Central MN 05-01-12

Took the day off to chase this setup. Didn't get the prize, but wasn't disappointed either.

My original forecast was to head to Milaca MN and adjust as the day went on. That plan was thwarted almost immediately after looking at cloud cover in the area. Instead, I chose to head west where more favorable clearing and surface heating was taking place.

Decided Hwy 212 would be my best option and headed west toward Olivia MN. By the time I reached Glencoe later in the afternoon, it was pretty clear the atmosphere would play nice along the dryline. Towers were clearly going up. Question was, how far further west would I have to go to intercept?

Olivia was a pretty good guess given that temperature profiles showed my position very close to the dryline yet, I found myself adjusting north later on with later temperature updates.

Sat outside Belgrade for a short period waiting for initiation and watched things explode practically right over my head. The chase was on...

First cell to catch my attention appeared just west of Eden Valley. Saw some great structure en route, but distance kept me from being under it. Appeared to be more of an ice maker than anything else.

A much more promising cell popped up just behind the Eden Valley one. Dove south on Hwy 24 from Kimball to intercept and it too, failed to produce.

Stopped for a moment to chat with John Wetter and his chase partner on a side road as I was travelling south. I was ready to pack it in locally and head south west but John reminded me that the group of cells we were on presently was the "game in town" because of the backing winds supplying fuel to the line. A good call on his part. I heeded his observation and stuck around.

Heading back north on 24, I decided to take a few minutes and monitor progress on an access road just off the Highway. Shortly after, I was joined by Andy Revering, Shawn Hewitt and another gentleman who seemed to be on his first chase. As we chatted, we noted a lowering of the base of the cloud directly west of us less than a half mile away.

This gave us all pause for a few moments as it really looked like it was going to produce something. Shawn pointed out that it wasn't connected to the parent cell to our north and was unlikely to produce anything. His observation was correct and soon the wall lifted back into the base.

They were kind enough to let me tag along with them for the remainder of the chase. The decision was made to catch up to the parent cell further north and track that for a bit.

Our most promising moment for a close encounter was on the east side of Annendale MN where a wall cloud that was rotating subtly was about two thirds of the way to the ground.


Stopped at the end of a driveway off the highway to view the wall cloud's progress when the owner of the property joined us and joked with us for a few moments while we snapped photos and shot video of the slowly diminishing wall cloud. We appreciated his hospitality and thanked him.

En route to the next intercept, I caught this shot of a rainbow seemingly directly behind Shawn's truck:

Since the storm we were tracking appeared to be getting into a more stable environment, We decided to end the run on this one and focus on cells now percolating over Sauk Rapids.

After a fuel stop in Monticello, We bolted up to the north in the hopes of intercepting a cell that was now east of St. Cloud travelling E/NE.

We ended up settling for a roadside view of the action about 8 miles to the east where we were treated to a well defined rotating wall cloud that was on the verge of producing.

With light fading fast, it was fairly evident we weren't going to be treated to a tornado. But, plenty of hail was on tap for those who stuck around. We decided against getting bombed and headed toward home.

Thanks again to Andy Revering and Shawn Hewitt for allowing me to tag along with them for the latter portion of the chase with them. Always nice to enjoy the show with others rather than alone...

Chase Duration: 9:03

Chase Mileage: 367 Miles

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