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So...How Close do we actually get?

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we are often asked by chase virgins, how close do we get to the storms?  We make each and every decision based on facts that we have in front of us from radar scans, forecasts, surface obs and general common sense.  We are always making sure we have exit roads in all/most directions just incase a bug out is needed.

we do have some hair raising moments when one of those factors has been eliminated!

For the first time, Netweather/Weatherholidays Chase tours ventured into Canada.  this was a last minute decision to chase the biggest risk of the season.  Moderate risk in North Dakota (SPC) and a High Risk in Canada (Environment Canada).  We thought, 'well, we are here now, lets go!)  a little bit hasty looking back at it.

One of the lessons we had learnt on this chase day was that the SPC/Allisonhouse/Radarscope cover radar selectivity/velocity in Canada BUT the Warnings that are given out in the form of Severe warning and most of all Tornado warnings, are ONLY available in North America! 

Below is a video dash cam of the storm we got a little too close to the storm due to the lack of data.  If we had the warnings to hand we wouldn't have got anywhere near this close!

The video description (below) give a more in depth reasoning for our positioning!


This was our first ever chase in Canada and was a last minute affair. We are a UK Tour Group with all the necessary tools - we had Baron Mobile Threat Net, GRLevel3 & Radarscope. None of our feeds where showing the warnings when we were on the Canadian side which we found out was crucial to our accidental possible intercept. We had planned to get ahead of the storm on a Southern road heading for the border but cutting off East allowing us to track the path of the storm and head for Pivotal US Border crossing. Our East road we found out it was a county gravel road which was unsuitable so we proceeded to head for the closer border control. We were approximately 7 miles South of Estevan on Highway 47. The storm motion was rapidly increasing and we admitted defeat once the core hit us. The moment we feel we where within the circulation of a deep area of rotation was at the 3:30 - 3:50 mark with the trees losing their leaves. IF our tools had showed us the Canadian warnings we would have never crossed the path of a storm of this strength. Typically, once we had entered back on to US soil, our warnings popped up!



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Posted (edited)

I'm a bit confused here, Canada is North America? Shouldn't require warnings to avoid this though 😬

Having said that, everyone gets caught out once in a while, at least you lived to tell the tale ha

Edited by Nick L
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I've chased in Canada once as well a couple years ago and the signal coverage, even near the border, was extremely poor (just used my roaming data plan and Verizon where I could get it from the US). I also have Mobile Threat Net and for some reason it just froze at the time we entered Canada so it was useless there (guess it's the same problem as when a time zone is crossed I have to change laptop time manually so it updates the radar). I can easily see that with such a fast moving storm and radar being delayed due to poor signal and no Threat Net it'd be very easy to loose control of where the storm is and get hit, especially with a limited road network. I was chasing this storm from the US side, but it was moving extremely fast, couldn't see much from the south so just gave up and tried a few storms developing further south later on, but didn't see anything of great interest that day other than incredible mammatus (for some reason moderate and high risk days have never delivered tornadoes for me). My advice would be to research canadian mobile coverage and make sure data is available as much of the time as possible before heading there, especially if it's a high risk. I wouldn't rely only on the warnings, other than perhaps if I know there is a tornado warning and I have no data, I'd get out of the way fast. Having said that, I've done a fair share of my dangerous approaches including a few "hook slices". The conditions in the hook were similar to those observed in the video, though I haven't seen leaves flying off trees like that. Could have been an embedded EF0, did you have any instruments or feel any cracking in ears etc.?

Anyway, I'm from the UK as well and wish you best of luck and many safe tornado encounters.


P.S. Is the last tour still streaming video?

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Hi Miroslav

Last question first, sorry, the team are not streaming. The tour is mainly photographic and so they will not necessarily be concentrating on storms, however they are photogenic and with the right backdrop can look insane.

its fair to say we had an interesting journey to the border crossing and were surprised not to lose a window or two.


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