21 April 2011

April 19th, 2011 - Central Illinois Supercell and Tornado

Started off the day in Effingham, IL. Storms developed to the west near Quincy, IL and quickly went tornado warned. Reed Timmer caught a nice tornado near Bowling Green, MO. We went west to Litchfield and a little bit further west to Carlinville to watch a newly develop cell. This cell was splitting on radar and I plotted us to the ESE of the splitting cell in hopes the right split would turn right and tornado. Eventually the cell would get its' act together and drop a beautiful tornado on I 55. It unfortunately damaged a home and was given an EF-2 rating. Pics and video below.

* Large HP base approaching... upon closer glance this was a moderately rotating wall cloud with strong inflow. The storm was just now tornado warned.
* Closer it got. Was moving E at 45-50 mph. The right to left motion on the right side of the wall cloud was getting stronger. It still looked pretty ragged but with rotation increasing it was a good idea to move.
* As we drove east on CR1600N I pointed the video camera behind me to see what I could get. A classic rounded supercell base with inflow bands curling around the cloud base. It was really getting wrapped up!
* Pretty bad screen grab, but this was to illustrate the rounded cloud base of this supercell with a wall cloud forming to the far right.
* Just west of I-55 stopped along the side of 1600N. I was keeping an eye on the far right of the image. I was wondering if some sort of tornado may be hidden in there, but it became clear that the show was directly in front of us... Intense rotation was present in this area.... I knew we had to get east as this storm was moving ENE and was going to drop just north of the road.
* Found a nice spot to pull off on a frontage road just E of I 55. Rapid rotation was ongoing and little rope funnels would develop and then dissipate.
* Thinking we were going to be teased, the storm finally dropped a large funnel and immediately a power flash occurred with tons of dirt being lofted.
* Tornado in progress about to cross I 55.
* Large tornado crossing I 55
* Tornado widens and is about to hit a home just E of I 55
* Tornado inflicting EF-2 damage on log cabin home
* Tornado continues NE into field near Raymond, IL before dissipating
* Tornado dissipates... was rated EF-2 with path length 3.5 miles and width of 200 yards.
* Crossing the damage path we stumble on this home with it's western wall taken off and numerous tree debris
* Wall cloud moving off to the east as the area is in shambles after the tornado passed through
* We go to check on the well-being of the home owner but are unable to make entrance due to down powerlines.... Bart Comstock is seen in front of us.

*Full version of the chase... initial wall cloud to full life cycle of tornado to damage afterwards.

* Just the full life cycle of the tornado here... the meat and potatoes!

Thanks as always for reading!

20 April 2011

April 19th, 2011 - Large tornado crossing I-55 near Litchfield, IL

*Large strong tornado crosses I-55 near Litchfield, IL. Structures were hit and damage was thrown across the road. After repeated 911 calls, the sirens were sounded in Litchfield. Great job by Bart Comstock as well for his accurate reports! Insanity.

16 April 2011

Check out the new lay out, tell me what you think!

I added some sub pages for easier archiving and searching purposes. I hope it makes following this site more enjoyable and you add me to your favorites. I also ask that you please comment on what you like or don't like about the page. Either comment on this post or on Facebook! Thanks fellow chasers and enthusiasts I really appreciate all of you!

Danny Neal

15 April 2011

Priorities people.....

I am not trying to be the chaser police here, but I feel I must take a minute to talk about this.... I am friends with a several NWS mets on facebook. I learn a lot from them and have even grown a friendship with some of them. Well one of these mets I have talked to for a few years now, posted something that pretty much embarrassed me. He posted a link to a tornado filmed in Wisconsin last Sunday and made a comment that made me want to make like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. I won't name anyone's names or the forecasters name or those who commented but this comment should never be uttered by an NWS met....

"The Arkdale tornado, which wasn't called into our office by these chasers. I'd like to think that I wouldn't yell like a school girl when I'd see a tornado like this."

The whole time this tornado was never called into their office... were there attempts made? Maybe a data hole? Perhaps they did call 911? I don't know, but the fact is the NWS never received notification of this tornado and (I assume) just learned of it through this video through a known streaming agency. If that wasn't bad enough a couple more mets expressed their displeasure with chasers in general..

"I feel bad for saying this but Ive grown to dislike most stormchasers in recent years because their #1 goal isnt to observe and help people but rather to get the damned thing on video. Just my $0.02...in a generalizing sort of way."


"After surveying one long track tornado, of which we got one report of a farm damaged due to a tornado (path length ~15 miles), and then surveying two days later a tornado we never heard about, I feel jaded about chasers (although I have/do). I'll be damned if I photo a tor before it's reported to NWS and local..."

It is getting pretty bad folks.... I hate hyping up the "chasing is doomed" talk since I was a big proponent speaking against it. However, if chasers continue to go out and get video of tornadoes and not take the time to dial 911, dial the NWS, or drop an SN icon, then the commonly used excuse "we are out there to save lives" is just a load of BS. I hate when people say they chase to save lives, no you don't. You want to save lives become a firefighter, police officer, paramedic, doctor, etc. Put the damn camera down, pick up a phone, and do the stuff you claim to do. (Not directed at these chasers, just generalizing).

As for myself, I don't use Spotter Network on a chase. I am usually in NWSchat contributing where I can and calling the NWS directly. (I have every plains/midwest office number saved on my phone). I have called 911 more than a few times. I can attest that my goal out there is to get video of severe weather and to enjoy my passion, but I also know when I am the only icon or person around there that it is my duty to call it in. Now I can see if it was a crowded highway full of Law Enforcement, chasers, media, and you don't phone in a report. But in the backwoods of Wisconsin where there are only a handful of chasers? Not a good move, no matter how experienced or good of a chaser you are. Please just remember why we are out here.... if you are out there solely to get extreme video and damage shots then you sure as hell better be calling 911 or the NWS. We don't need our friends at the NWS frowning upon us because we aren't helping with the warning process..

That all being said, I want to applaud ALL the chasers who helped the last few events at the farms and towns that were hit hard. That is how we get our hobby back on the right track. Not only by calling in timely reports, but knowing when to give up the chase and helping out in areas affected by a major event. I have heard through the gravevine that many agencies in Mapleton are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for the help that chasers provided there. Today the devastating Atoka County tornado was flooded by chasers moments after helping out and giving up the chase. In my mind that is what chasing is all about. Chasers made timely ACCURATE reports and showed up on scene not with cameras in hand but with flashlights and tools. Bravo! All of you out there willing to put yourself in the danger area and the traumatic scene of a tornadoes aftermath have my utmost respect.

Priorities people, I don't believe anyone out there intentionally doesn't report severe weather or the thought doesn't cross their mind, but sometimes we all get caught up in the moment and we need to remember what THE most important thing is outside of our own safety......

12 April 2011

April 9th, 2011 - Tornado Outbreak in Iowa

Wow. All I have to say.

Adam Lucio, Matt Cumberland, my g/f and I all went to Western Iowa today. My Illinois target was a complete bust (it was a shot in the dark anyway.) Anyway we ended up near Avoca, IA and sat there for a few hours to wait Mother Nature out.... she did not let us down. We ended up with 6 tornadoes including two at very close range and a couple more wedges including the 2-3 mile wide tornado. My photos didn't come out (I don't have a still camera, just video stills) but Matt has some EXCELLENT photos you can see here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/matthew-cumberland/mapleton-iowa-tornado-out-break-april-9th-part-1/10150152572434263. I will post a couple on my site as well for those who aren't his facebook friend. If you aren't I encourage you to add him!!! I can't really say much about this chase, I am still blown away!

Overall today was an unexpected success in chasing terms. I am glad no body was killed in the tornadoes, but coming up to a devastated house with an older man distraught over losing the home he lived in for 63 years kind of puts things into perspective a little.

Again, thank you Matt and thanks for everyone who helped out on the rescue efforts.

08 April 2011

April 9th, 2011 - Chase Forecast Blurb - IL/IA

Very interesting couple of days on tap for the area. When I say things will be interesting that won't bode well for those who like sunny warm weather. Tomorrow may be one of those days where I get a sun tan, but could also be one of those days where Iowa likes to lure unsuspecting chasers away from Illinois magic. As it looks right now I will be playing the west-central Illinois area near Quincy for supercells. There may not necessarily be tornadoes, but a nice storm will do the mind and body good. Latest check of the models gives me a fairly easy target. Both the NAM and GFS show a bullseye of 4,000 CAPE near the tri-state area and with LI pushing -9 the atmosphere will be cooking. Like last weekend though the question is whether or not a storm can break the cap. The NAM LSI shows a big hole where the cap eroded at 0z in the area of 4,000 CAPE. With this area being just south of an advancing warm front, I think it is a safe bet to say we could be looking at a storm in an area being shadowed by the more substantial risk in W IA. SBCAPE in the area will be over 5,000. Soundings aren't the worst I have ever seen (WEAK SURFACE FLOW :( ), but if you can get over the fact that it will be capped tomorrow for a majority of the day, you may find yourself a lone of a dirt road in W. IL watching TCu blow.

Chase target: Carthage, IL
Official forecast: A storm or two pops between 22-0z, explosive development seems possible. Storms move at manageable speeds but with little surface flow I am expecting more of a hail threat. If a storm can blow near the warm front, watch out for a few tornadoes. The T/Td spreads are better than last Sunday (I have seen some models hint at 78/70) so that is a plus. However, if 5-10 kt sfc flow is the best we can muster, it is going to take one strong supercell to be able to put down any appreciable tornado especially the further south you go from the frontal boundary. I will be out getting a sun tan tomorrow. Will you?

04 April 2011

April 3rd, 2011 Chase Recap - Southeast Iowa Supercell

What a nice first chase of 2011! I had targeted far SE IA and was off by about 50 miles. Storms developed as expected in the area, but were further N and W than I figured. I thought the cap would hold convection off until 7 P.M., but to my delight explosive deep convection occurred just after 530 P.M. near Oskaloosa, IA. A tornado was quickly issued and severe thunderstorm warnings for wind and hail were flying off the presses. With such wide T/Td depressions I knew we were going to be in trouble tornadic wise. Veered winds with spreads around 85/60 will give you some nice structure, but not much in the way of low level rotation. Nevertheless as we caught visual of the supercell north of Sigourney the storm decided to defy odds and lower its' base. A big bell shaped lowering was developing and drawing in scud from the rain cooled air to the right. Heavy rain and hail were falling in a tight corridor and a classic rain free base followed. A couple of other storms grabbed our attention to the southwest, but our storm proved to be the one worth sticking with. I got over 15 minutes of footage of the updraft region of this supercell. I wouldn't say this storm came close to producing or even exhibited moderate rotation, but was visually incredible. As the first area of interest was dissipating, a new one developed just to the right of this and actually looked very good for a couple of minutes. The base lowered dramatically and there was good rising motion into it. We tried to keep up with it, but other storms were absorbed into this one and our view of the feature was cut off. After that we decided to go core punching the storms to our south and found them to have more back than bite. For a 2 minute stretch we had windblown nickle hail at I would guestimate 35 mph. We then grabbed a bite to eat in Mt. Pleasant and decided to call it a chase. I was never totally convinced of a tornado threat today, I knew there would be hail stones o plenty and the possibility of great structure (High CAPE days usually do!)  On the scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the greatest.... I would rate this chase a 3.5. Bring on the next round of severe weather!

* On the road to our target destination, hazy but WARM!

*Pit-stop in Dallas City, IL. Adam is really enjoying his cheese and bacon sammich, while Matt Cumberland takes a picture of him. I felt the need to document the whole process :)
*A little later on the cap broke and explosive convection took place near Oskaloosa, IA. The western sky was filled with rock hard convection and anvils. Makes for an amazing scene with sunshine shining through the voids!
*We blasted west out of Washington, IA and were greeted by our storm of choice. The updraft base was relatively flat. We were just south of east of the cell so we were treated to the rock hard towers silhouetted against the sun. Breathtaking!
*As we let the storm mature and approach a small lowering occurred and a wall cloud was forming. It tried to get going and crank up, but it was not meant to be.

*Couldn't really ask for anything better short of a nice rope tornado back lit here.
*The best it looked was right there. (Never mind the ugly ogre to the left) Nothing noteworthy, but was sure interesting there for a minute or two before we lost visual due to heavy rain.

*A little later on we let the line of storms move past up and a brilliant anvil with mammatus was apparent so we sat and drooled over that for a few minutes. 
*While I was trying to film the beautiful towers in the sunset, the lightning was so frequent that when I clicked to take a picture with my cell phone I caught an anvil zit flying out the side of the storm! Pure luck and my only lightning shot I have ever taken!

03 April 2011

Sweet revenge will be ours.... for the taking

Got off work early (THANKFULLY) and was now able to chase today! Was gonna be at the fire house until 6 P.M. but ended up getting out earlier. So 2011's first chase is now underway with Adam Lucifer and Matt Cumberland. We are currently on I 80 near Ottawa, IL heading toward the west to a more favorable area. At this point it is a tough call, I really want to stick to my target of Donnellson, IA, but am getting baited into the idea that we should just follow the warm front into oblivion. Right now we are hitting the mid level cloud deck floating in out of IA, but see some nice clearing to the S and SW. CAPE should be building into the 3,000's. SRH values pushing 200 m2/s2, and boundary layer Td's in the mid 60's spell a volatile situation. Warm 700's will suppress the convection until later afternoon. I am expecting the cap to be breached in two areas. #1 - Near the triple point in E IA, NW IL and #2 along the cold front stretching near KCMO. I am not *too* confident in a robust tornado threat today, but I hope I am wrong. QLCS mode most likely, we may hedge into N MO. I do not like the wide T/Td depressions so I truly hope those mid 60 dews advect into the area. Still on the road through La Salle/Peru. Check back here for updates as they happen!

02 April 2011

April 3rd, 2011 - Chase forecast blurb 0z - IL/MO/IA

Severe weather will probably happen at some point across the Central Plains into the Mid MS River Valley. A pretty dynamic and fast moving system is on our hands. With each model run the CF has sped up and splitting hairs on whether Sunday or Monday will be the day. Sunday's set up has been looking absolutely yummy except for one glaring issue. The CAP/EML/Inversion *insert term here*. The Lid Strength Index has areas in the warm sector in the 3-4 range. As a rule of thumb I go by, 0 - No Cap, 3 - Strong Cap, 5 - GOOD LUCK! Most of the area have been in the 2-3 range with hints of a hole opening up before filling back in at night. The 0z NAM has a big hole of 0 to -1 LSI opening up right over Burlington, IA. Low-level instability is pretty robust as well. The low-level lapse rates could be better, but we aren't asking for the perfect set up.... or are we?

As another rule of thumb I have learned over my years chasing is that YOU DO NOT IGNORE AN ILLINOIS WARM FRONT!!! No matter how strong a cap, how favorable the wind shear is in another state, or what the SPC is targeting. If there is clearing, plus a boundary/warm front, and you start mounting instability and your indicies are raising....then your ass needs to be parked under that Cu field. EHI's are looking much better near Kansas City, but the cap fails to erode whatsoever back there.

So what does this mean? All I am doing is spitting out indicies and numbers from what the models say.... I am saying this. With projected 1700+ SFC based CAPE, an eroding cap, meager low level lapse rates, and decent wind shear, we may be looking at the first tornado threat for N. IL for the 2011 season.

*LSI down to 0 and -1 over target area

*Instability nosing into the TA

*Moisture return feeding into the TA
*60 degree dews nosing in
*Temperatures in the low to mid 70's
*Appreciable instability nearing 2,000 J K/G
*Slightly backed winds along and just to the S of the WF (depends if a secondary low develops in IA to wrap more moisture into the system and further back the winds
* An eroding cap (possibility) 
* Low level jet ramping up

* No real forcing mechanism outside of the CF itself later at night
* Veered flow throughout the majority of the warm sector.
* Twilight chase perhaps
* Fast moving progressive system - by the time the next set up model runs come out, the threat could be in W IN for all we know.

To conclude, we would be looking at a major severe weather outbreak Sunday afternoon into the evening if the EML/700 temps/CAP/LSI/WHATEVER wouldn't be in Mid-June Iowa form. The most likely scenario is chasers will get a nice sun tan in a fast food joint of their choice. With a dryline likely to be intersected by the quickly moving cold front; thunderstorms should erupt after sunset in E IA down into E KS and move ESE along the front. Main threats would be damaging winds and hail. However, if the previous ingredients fall into place and a breach of the cap occurs, we could be looking at a couple isolated supercells from SE IA toward the KC area. A tornado threat would exist with these storms as a S low level jet enhances the low level shear. But the latter half of this forecast at this point in time is still <10% certainty.

Final prediction;
Virtual target: Donnelson, IA (I have work on Sunday so FAIL I can't actually chase it)

Ideal scenario: Supercell develops 21z in N. MO. Crosses the MS River near Ft. Madison and tracks along the WF into N IL. Producing photogenic tornadoes in the open farm land.

Official Forecast:. TCu galore with a struggling storm by sunset near Burlington, IA. With the projected LSI weakening, there is a small window for this storm to become supercellular and utilize meager low level instability and briefly become surface based and hopefully root on the WF. Otherwise the aforementioned erosion of the cap will allow for explosive thunderstorm development along the WF and CF stretching an MCS from NW IL to E KS. Severe winds and hail will be prevalent after 02z and reach me in Chicago perhaps toward 04z.

Total tornado reports: <7
Total Hail reports >30
Total Wind reports >60

Been a while since I have done one of these, I have to knock the rust off sometime. Let's hope my forecast won't bust!