Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Morgan MN 08/31/14 MODERATE RISK

I bit on the day two forecast of this event hoping that the good fortune from the chase of the previous weekend, 8/24 would continue and we'd be able to catch another late season tornado. As you can see, it was quite promising and changed little in the day one forecast release.

Most of the focus was predicted to be in the MN/IA/NE/SD area with my target being in the Sioux City IA area.

Early convection was expected to fire prior to the main event. It almost became chasable from both radar and visual hints. The intensity of the above storm peaked just NW of Redwood Falls threw off some hail, but really had no elements to create a tornadic storm. I decided to take some time to sit at the St. James airport which gave me a clear view of the storm's lifecycle and gave me the chance to finish setting up my truck and to set up a POV camera on the hood of my truck to capture some time lapse of the storm from forty miles away.

Unfortunately, as is quite common with these cameras encased in a waterproof container, as they become exposed to heat, they fog internally and that's exactly what happens here. However, you can see a bit of storm growth before it becomes completely screened by fog. I am most certainly looking at ways to eliminate this problem for the future.

After leaving the St. James area, I decided since my route to the target included Interstate 90 passing through Luverne MN. and I still had some time before storms were forecast to fire, I thought a visit to pay my respects to storm chaser Andy Gabrielson, a young man who was quite a successful chaser in his own right and who'd lost his life to a drunk driver while chasing in Oklahoma in February of 2012 was in order.

Nice to see someone leaving a Chasercon 2014 "Cheeseburger" as a memorial not only to Gabrielson, but to chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and chase partner Carl Young all of whom lost their lives while chasing a tornado in El Reno Oklahoma on May 31st 2013. The cheeseburger represents a good luck charm of sorts that Samaras would place on the dash of his chase vehicle while chasing.

After my little visit in Luverne, I headed to my target of Sioux City IA. but changed my mind when I began to see a line north of Interstate 90 develop much closer to me than the now ongoing cells on the border of Nebraska and Iowa. My decision was based on the simple cost/benefit analysis of whether the miles I needed to cover to get there was going to be worth the possibility of missing something that was closer to my location. I chose a new target of Fairfax MN.

But first, as I was headed to the new area of development, I roll through the small town of Lakefield MN. and see this:

My research tells me it's a 1975 Ford Pinto. Now how many of these things do you see on the road now days? much less in "showroom new" condition! I could find no other information. no price, no phone number to call, just the for sale sign. Which makes me wonder just how much the owner really wanted to part with this thing. This is thing I love about chasing! You never know what you're going to see when you're on the road and it's not all about storms!

As we continued toward Fairfax, it appeared as though we might see some action in the form of a good hail maker. As we neared Morgan MN. There were clear signs of an intensifying cell with plenty of robust updraft and lowering base. Sheer was nil so tornadoes were out but, it was fun to watch it go through the motions anyway.

Fairfax by this time seemed to be a lost cause so I stayed with the approaching storm coming out of Morgan which at this point had basically morphed into a very large shelf structure stretching at least 20 to 30 miles in length.

As impressive as it was, it signaled the end of my chase day. everything behind it was linear in nature and no way to dive further south to pick up anything else.

Here's a (yawn) 'nother shelf cloud time lapse video that if anything shows the true length of the shelf.

And for my reward? I got to surf the line all the way back to the metro after letting it overtake me in LeSueur MN. Hwy 169 in that area is under construction and down to one lane either direction which adds to the white-knuckle fun of traversing that area during a torrential rain storm.

But there was one added bit of humor and karma to add to the end of the day. Enroute back home I encountered the one lane road construction on North HWY 169 between Mankato and LeSueur. I also encountered this asshole of a driver who try as they might, couldn't get around me because it was ONE LANE! in a torrential downpour no less. They sped up, they slowed down. couldn't just settle in for the trip through the construction zone behind me.

This went on for twenty miles. Until we met at an intersection that ended the one lane road construction for a short period. So, of course what do you suppose nimrod over in the other lane does? Yep, decides to race me across the intersection to "pass" me. and then, starts to play with me. well, watch the video and see what they get in return. and While it may look like I got the worst of the encounter? as the driver slowed down to try to keep from driving off the road, I clobbered them with my side of the roads little pond.

They stayed behind me the rest of the trip.

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