Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chase 051015 NW Iowa / SE South Dakota

I love driving to the target. But, this was a pretty aggressive day trip track without a partner.

This was certainly one of those days that was either going to be big, or bust for many of us. What gave the appearance of a promising setup midday, turned out to be an exercise in confusion and frustration. Many chasers were successful in the activity down in the OK panhandle and Central TX on Friday and Saturday and were planning on catching this days setup on the travel day back north.

Early in the day however, the small town of Delmont SD was wracked by an EF2 tornado which basically went through the center of the tiny town. Further details of this and other incidents of the day can be found on Wikipedia.

Those who landed in West Central IA late in the day and were patient enough, were rewarded with a tornado going through Lake City IA. I however, did not and was halfway home before the storm was even served up.

Not that I wasn't close. I sat in Sioux Center IA directly north of the Lake City area that afternoon. I could have had lunch, taken in a couple of movies, had dinner and still had time to drive to the target area in time for the show. But my need to wake up in my own bed aborted any chance of that occurring.

After watching things interact with the boundary, It was clear nothing was really going to TOR immediately. So, I decided to head north toward FSD and take up residence on I90 just east of town since the entire line crossing the boundary was as expected, moving to the NE.

Shortly after arriving in Brandon SD the cell embedded in the line to the south of me, went TOR warned.

Looking at VIL identified a cell just to my SE that was beginning to show some serious activity. I guess I must have been living right since I decided to stay put and monitor the progress of both the storm due east of me as well as the quickly intensifying storm to the south. Had I chosen to head toward Luverne, I would have no doubt driven right in to the eventual heavy rain and hail core that crossed over I90 minutes later.

Having driven through the remnants of the first cell crossing I90, I maintained watch over the cell south of my position now moving toward Luverne. Unfortunately, the atmosphere had basically been scrubbed forward of the cell and killed off any further progress and basically sent me the message that unless I was willing to hunker down and head south, My likelihood of seeing any tornado activity was heading toward nil.

At this point I decided the chase was over for me. Time to head back home. But first, I noticed my frequent chase partner, Brad Winger had decided to make the trip down at the last moment and was located just east of my position. Maybe the day wasn't over quite yet.

A quick phone call found he'd just been hammered with some sizable hail from the cell directly north of his current position. Yet another moment of good fortune since I was headed down the same stretch of road and would have no doubt driven into it had I not stopped for our phone chat.

As you can see by the video, while on my commute to meet up with Brad, things were really churning with plenty of low level sheer and visible updrafts. So much so that I half expected my own personal hail core to develop over me and make my life miserable for a few minutes. Fortunately, that was not the case. 

We decided the best course was to "stair-step" our way toward home and chase the cells developing on the outflow boundaries of the storms to the south. Nothing ever really developed from it but it kept our heads in the game while making the journey home.

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