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!


  1. Your second to last shot is incredible, congratulations.

  2. Thanks Paul, I am in no way claiming to be a photog, more of a videographer than anything.... but I really LOVED that shot. Probably my favorite still pic of all time.

  3. Nice shot of the bolt. It is hard to get a shot like that, even with my digital SLR camera. Nice work.