Thursday, June 28, 2007

06/27/07 Mesocyclone in the Backyard

Mesocyclone in the backyard

June is finally ending and summer has begun. However, mother nature left one more surprise for this year's spring season yesterday. Yesterday featured a warm and humid airmass ahead of an approaching cold front. No SLGT risk was issued due to minimal shear in my area so only isolated severe wx was possible. ISOLATED it was! For me however not so isolated. Just a few miles from my house to be precise. After now-casting from home and taking some video earlier of agitated cumulus I noticed some intensification on one storm. I preceded to check the radar and noticed this cell to my southwest had just intensified and was beginning to interact with an outflow boundary that was accelerating southward. Knowing how outflow boundaries sometimes can cause crazy things to happen and boundaries enhance low-level shear. I ventured out and noticed an odd feature in the sky. At first glance it looked like a mesocyclone and I had to say to myself a million times "IT CAN"T BE", not with the lack of shear and chance for severe weather today. I was proven wrong however and we will get to that. While taking some video for around 15 min all of a sudden and I mean all of the sudden ROTATION! I couldn't believe my eyes so while video taping I quickly ran into a farm field taking some pics. It was unreal at the time that this was taking place on a day that you don't expect it and SO CLOSE to home. Sometimes it's hard to see rotation with the naked eye but I was seeing it. Then a funnel protrudes from the main meso's base! I probably jumped up and down 5 times in the next minute or so. The only downer was that the funnel didn't have enough strength to make it to the ground. All we needed was just a little more shear and turning of the winds with height and that sucker would have been on the ground. I've drove thousands of miles so far this year to IA, all over IL, and even rode to WI. Yesterday, 0 miles!!!! Now currently looking at the horizon from my backyard I've seen 2 tornadoes in the field to my northwest in 2004, one to the southeast (rain-wrapped), and today's funnel cloud to the southwest. They've always missed us, but sooner or later I know that luck is gonna run out. What a day though, totally unexpected and it was by a little bit of now-casting with my radars and pure luck that I witnessed this.

 Bout to kaboom!

Friday, June 1, 2007

06/01/07 My 1st Storm Chase of the Year

Picturesque shelf cloud near Walnut, IL

Well, after a rough night at work and a long night-er I woke up at around noon. A big mistake on my part. I didn't think we had a decent setup for severe weather today until i woke up and found a tornado watch was out till 7:00pm for all of west-central Illinois. I looked at the radar and I knew it was time to pack up and hit the roads. I got out around 1:00pm and the first "incident" of the day began when I blew not one but two fuses on my truck for the cigarette lighter. I was less then pleased for sure. I had no choice, but not start chasing and get it fixed so i did at the Kewanee Auto Zone. Finally, with radar up and ready to chase I come only to find my GPS on Mobile Threat Net is not working. So plan B which I have never used till today went into effect. I used Microsoft Streets & Trips which actually worked alright I must say. After not chasing for awhile I found lots of equipment problems unfortunately. Anyway, after solving the problems I stopped at Black Hawk East College in Kewanee, IL for some wireless internet to get up to speed. I debated heading south where better instability was and get a supercell on the end of the line of storms. However, better dynamics were farther to the north and with this being so I decided to head north and east. I made it to Sheffield, IL and was unhappy that I heard there was a tornado in Galena, IL and I missed it if I only I woke up earlier in the morning I could have got there possibly. However, that happens so I preceded to head toward a town in Bureau County called Walnut, IL where I ran into someone I know. It's always great to see fellow chasers and people I know while I'm doing what I love. Walker Ashley one of my professors in the dept. of meteorology at NIU was chasing the same storm. We chated for a few minutes before we both headed east to keep up with the storms. I got some great shots of shelf clouds which was fine by me after a terrible spring severe weather season around these parts. After seeing the storms were losing some vigor new storms fired finally to the south so on the ride back home I intercepted them at Princeton,IL on I-80. Just about got flooded off the interstate with blinding rain. It was really ugly!!! I managed to capture a rainbow off the interstate and took some more pics before I wrapped up the chase after a decent drive and to save some fuel. I've included a couple pics below:

Chaotic motion going on here...

Overall, I'll take this chase and well...wake up earlier next time!