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  1. Today had the potential to be very tasty and we weren't disappointed - the chase in Minnesota was fast paced and gave us our first tornado of the tour. We left Pierre, SD first thing and travelled East towards the general area of Watergate, Minnesota. After a quick stop at Subway for lunch, we waited at a garage on an intersection along I-29. Several stormchasers were starting to hang around the car-park as the first cumulus towers developed. Paul picked the first cell that we would target and at this point my memory becomes quite blurred by the fast pace of the chase. Before long we were surrounded by 5 tornadic supercells - with wall clouds on all sides of the car looking like they could easily drop a tornado at any moment. [img]https://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/600673_379364565450168_2019264841_n.jpg[/img] As we moved East to escape the precip we desperately seeked out sideroads to pull up and take in the absolutely stunning structure of these cells. At one point we passed DOW (Doppler on Wheels - [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppler_on_Wheels"]http://en.wikipedia....ppler_on_Wheels[/url]) . [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/270856_379365942116697_177816266_n.jpg[/img] One of first cells we targeted - and we were quite concerned for the house in the distance at one point. It was here that we attracted a yahoo. [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/556113_379368062116485_1603026561_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/403529_379369238783034_1048748040_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/206196_379369742116317_428596046_n.jpg[/img] Driving on from this spot, we drove over a slight ridge and there it was - a clearly defined cone tornado. One of only two reported tornadoes today and the only one reported in Minnesota. I tried to capture it but we had very little opportunity to see it through the trees and so, with the camera on the wrong setting we just have a very blurry image. Lesson learnt! Short on time so here are some other images that I took through the day of the spectacular 'mothership' structure and a few lightning shots taken when we stopped enroute to Minneapolis for our overnight stop. [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/602999_379372212116070_2135991412_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/533453_379372378782720_476329123_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/551609_379374242115867_642242195_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/403455_379374518782506_271149464_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/521392_379374735449151_1541347943_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/599767_379375748782383_488514327_n.jpg[/img] [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/581307_379376068782351_1231802707_n.jpg[/img] Incase you haven't already seen it - panoramic of the spectacular supercell structure: [img]http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/543343_10151043022231718_928026631_n.jpg[/img] Nicked from Ian's blog as per usual :-) [url="http://irishtwisterchaser.blogspot.com/2012/06/17th-june-structure-heaven-d.html"]http://irishtwisterc...e-heaven-d.html[/url] [color=#ff0000]THE MUST WATCH VIDEO[/color]: [url="http://video.netweather.tv/previews/7tQhnZvZ-C4s17e6m"]http://video.netweat...QhnZvZ-C4s17e6m[/url] Last photo: myself below lightning strike (credit again to Ian) [img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/532778_10151044870901718_383463916_n.jpg[/img] Monday 18th proved to be a bust day for us in Wisconsin. We targeted a couple of cells but they quickly fizzled out. We returned to Minnesota and stayed in Albert Lea. Wisconsin is a truely beautiful part of the world - but too many trees for a storm chase! Minnesota is the focus for today (Tues 19th) and a 5% tornado probability. Will we keep up our 100% strike-rate in Minnesota??
  2. Day 2 was a funny old day. Everyone has a lot of negativity towards Nebraska due to previous busts there and the afternoon took a similar route. A messy group of cells died out as we approached from our night stop in Grand Island, NE. The decision was made to head for a developing cell in Colorado before a swift U-turn to seek some evening lightning shots in Nebraska as cells began to redevelop. Some scenic shots later and we headed for an evening stay in North Platte, NE to reposition for the Kansas threat the next day. The quick development of a cell behind us provided our evening drive entertainment. Nebraska was half forgiven for the earlier bust, stopping to take in a stunning view of sunset with mammatus clouds and a couple of cells that sprung in to life with plenty of inter-cloud lightning. We stopped on a hill to try and capture a CG or two but it was all inter-cloud stuff. [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/522582_378372855549339_1947926315_n.jpg[/img][/center] [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/521499_378373865549238_1566838691_n.jpg[/img][/center] I caught this shot but didn't notice the CG until looking back at the previous nights photography efforts. It's nothing spectacular but my first CG shot nevertheless so I will take it!!! [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/551661_378374045549220_1673155110_n.jpg[/img][/center] Some scenic shots later and we headed for an evening stay in North Platte, NE to reposition for the Kansas threat the next day with this cell providing our entertainment. A late tea at Appleby's before taking in the storm as it caught up and passed over us. A stunning shot taken by Ian...gutted that I was in a room on the other side of the hotel! [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/552858_10151038830986718_137792199_n.jpg[/img][/center] [center][url="http://irishtwisterchaser.blogspot.com/2012/06/no-storms-sure-lets-go-up-mountain.html"]http://irishtwisterc...p-mountain.html[/url][/center] Another shot from Paul. Our hotel was just to the left of the gas station!! [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/428529_378388375547787_1824624610_n.jpg[/img][/center] [center][url="http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/73576-tour-5-day-2-or-revenge-of-nebraska-may-be-a-better-name/"]http://forum.netweat...-a-better-name/[/url][/center] Day 3 and we woke to bad news that SPC had removed the slight risk area over Kansas which had been our aim for the past few days. The day quickly became a travel day, repositioning for the moderate risk in South Dakota the next day (today). The drive into South Dakota provided beautiful scenery and epic rock power ballads - a welcome change from the dull Nebraskan sandy hills. It was clear when we had entered the state of South Dakota with a casino at every gas station! We stayed in Pierre last night next to the MIssouri River and the Pierre Railroad Bridge. [center][img]https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/306992_378388488881109_119763494_n.jpg[/img][/center] There is the excitement in the air over today's chase. SPC have issued a moderate risk and a tornado probability of 15% (since downgraded to 10%). Apparently, the tradition is that you can't eat steak until you have seen a tornado - fingers crossed for steak tonight! [center][img]http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1probotlk_1300_torn.gif[/img][/center] [center][url="http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1otlk.html"]http://www.spc.noaa....k/day1otlk.html[/url][/center]
  3. I've been putting off writting this blog entry for as long as possible - simply because I don't know where to begin and feel unable to do justice to what was an incredible introduction to the world of storm chasing in Kansas. Meteorology glossary at the ready... After a quick visit to Walmart we headed East into Kansas towards the cold front advancing Southeastward. We stopped for a typical stormchaser lunch at Burger King in Burlington before moving in on the towering cumulus and developing cells. The radar was looking very messy to our North and so we drove East with a cell to our North and South. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity of the developing cell to our NW after noticing that the cloud base had lowered. This cell had a spectacular Rain Foot and provided our first CG (Cloud-to-ground ligtning strike) of the day. The hail roar was phenomenal - a constant rumbling from large hail bumping into one another and easily mistaken for a jet passing overhead. With photos taken, we continued Eastward. The in-car weather tracking software called Baron lost it's connection which lost us 10 minutes and resulted in us core punching a HP (High Precipitation) supercell. The green tint in the clouds was a beautiful site. The core punch was mental - ridiculously poor visibility, hail fog, golf ball sized hail banging against the roof of the car (dints to prove it!) and trees down on the road. We took shelter in Norton, Kansas where SPC (Storm Prediction Centre) reported "PARTS OF ROOFING RIPPED OFF BUILDING. TWO BRANCHES OVER 4 INCHES IN DIAMETER BLOWN DOWN ONTO ROAD." As cells were merging in to one messy MCS (Mesoscale Convective System), we sat out the worst in Noron, KS. Driving through Hill City, we witnessed fire started by a CG, drove through Gust Fronts and dust storms and saw Gustnadoes and the odd funnel cloud. WHAT A DAY! We stopped for a bite to eat at Pizza Hut in Osbourne, KS and once again the portion size defeated me. Before eating, we advanced ahead of the storm line and watched it pass through from the shelter of a car wash. During the meal we were treated to a spectacle of anvil crawlers (lightning that appears to crawl along the underside of the anvil) and CGs. The drive up to Grand Island, Nebraska for our night stopover gave us an awesome lightning show, although the action-packed day started to takes it's toll and I did nod off a coupe of times - disgraceful! The other highlight of the drive North was stopping for a freight train that went on for miles and miles and was occasionally lit up by the incredible lightning show. All in all, an incredible first day of chasing and one that will take alot to top (tornado perhaps? :-) ) My only regret on the tour so far is that I have not yet got to grips with my DSLR and feel clueless at capturing such stunning conditions. The baron display at the end of the evening was a sight to behold - a squall line spanning from Canada all the way down to Mexico! Change of plan for today due to model shift in the risk area - NE Colorado way instead of South Dakota (I think?) [img]http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1otlk_1300.gif[/img]
  4. So 2 months ago tomorrow, I had the most amazing phonecall - a phonecall that I doubt will ever be topped. Winner of the Netweather storm chasing competition with the opportunity to go chasing in the Great Plains for ten days. The moment has arrived and after a slightly eventful day of traveling yesterday, I had a great night with fellow guests at a local sports bar. I'm a bit of a lightweight at the best of times without the toll of 24 hours travelling through some pretty chaotic American airports, but nonetheless everyone has been very welcoming and I have a feeling that the next ten days are going to be thoroughly enjoyable, regardless of convective weather. The flight from Heathrow to Chicago was laid back with more empty seats than people. The only negative being that the one time I did nod off, I slept through breakfast! Chicago proved to be chaotic, with a 1 hour period to clear immigration and catch a train from terminal 5 to terminal 1. It didn't help that I then waited outside boarding gate B7 as instructed on my boarding pass, only to realise with 5 minutes to spare before take-off that I actually needed borading gate C17!! One training session for the Norwich half-marathon later and I was aboard the United Airlines flight for Denver, Colorado.. Denver airport and the pilot informs us that it is 85°F outisde as we land at approx 13.40 local time. First stop was the gents/tornado shelter! [center][img]http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/180206_10151033270991718_1996166526_n.jpg[/img][/center] (Stolen the photo from Ian's blog [url="http://irishtwisterchaser.blogspot.com/2012/06/touchdown-denver.html"]http://irishtwisterc...own-denver.html[/url]) Baggage collection was not the easiest to find - requiring another train journey and an elderley lady who decided to only put her left foot on the escalator and nothing else, resulting in her doing the splits and me freaking out trying to lift her up before the top! Good deed out the way, a quick shower before meeting the rest of tour 5 and hitting the local sports bar for an ambition full rack of ribs and a few pints of Colorado Cider. I can't wait to hit the road now and explore the central states of the U.S. I gather that the outlook for next week in particular is looking rather exciting with the Storm Prediction Centre claiming "CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING IN POTENTIAL FOR A HIGHER-END SEVERE THREAT IN PORTIONS OF THE N-CNTRL CONUS EARLY NEXT WEEK". We are due to hit the road shortly and head over to Kansas, before travelling further North to South Dakota for the end of the week. Hail is expected to be the main focus today with only a low tornado risk. [center][img]http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1probotlk_1300_hail.gif[/img][/center]
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