Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chase 051717 Northern Iowa, Owatonna MN, New Prague MN

We get two route maps on this one. GPS tracking unexpectedly quit on the first leg so, the backup was put to work. This is why we have backups.

Exactly one day after the Chetek WI tornado, a major portion of  Iowa, and slivers of SE MN and SW WI were under an enhanced outline in the 1630Z (i.e. 1130 CDT) day one outlook from the Storm Prediction Center.

10% TOR? Yeah, let's go.

Target: Mason City IA. As I head down to meet the front, this greets me.

I decided to keep out of Mason City proper choosing to hang out just North of the city. By this time, the sky was really beginning to boil.

A short time later, things just exploded and the chase was on... North.

And then the second tornado watch of the afternoon popped up. How fortunate, right where I was going...

Storm Prediction Center's Severe Weather Event Archive of this day

More to come as I sort through the photos and videos...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chase 051617 Chetek WI. (EF-3)

First chase of the season found me dashing out of work at 1635 right into rush hour traffic at 1645. Heading east on I94 at that time of the day is not for the faint-hearted or impatient. And I dove head long right into it. No matter, the storm I was interested in was dead ahead and churning wildly.

Radar at the time was showing things moving in an east north-east direction and if I was going to have any chance of getting near it,  I was going to have to move North... Quickly.

I ended taking Hwy 95 to Stillwater where I prayed to the nautical gods that the bridge spanning the St.Croix was down and letting vehicles pass through to the Wisconsin side.


With that little bit of drama set aside. I bolted up WI 35 just as fast as I safely could falsely empowered by the new radar detector perched upon my windshield. 90% of the time, I drive in a realistic fashion (i.e. following with the pace of present traffic. I mean, think herd mentality, they can only chase a couple of us down right?)

I will say the detector is a nice addition just to tell me what I'm coming up on even when speed isn't a factor. If it's not barking at me, In this situation, i'm getting a little heavy on the pedal to make up lost ground. Maybe 10% more speed. Detectors mean nothing if you're in a ditch.

East on WI 64 gave me a wonderful view of what I would eventually be under (provided I caught up to it of course.)

Finally within reach, I made the fatal move of not continuing east on Hwy 64 choosing to follow Hwy 53 North toward Chetek which by then, had already had the storm pass through it. The better choice would've been to continue east and then intercept north on Co Rd. 73.

In all, it was good to get the rust out. Plenty of items that need to be reassessed before the next time out. Time to go have a beer.

The National Weather Service survey of the event can be found here.  As it turns out this tornado is now the longest track in Wisconsin at 83 miles!