Friday, July 8, 2011

06/15/11 Illinois Twilight Supercell

A surprise twilight supercell outside Neponset, IL

Wednesday, (June 15) was a surprise day if one wasn't keeping a close eye on the mesoscale setup during the late-afternoon and evening in northern Illinois. I was busy most of the day as I photographed a local wind farm not really paying much attention to the weather. One of those rare days in my life when I'm not all-in when it comes to keeping a close tab on severe weather potential to say the least. Anyhow, after doing some photography at a local wind farm I drove home where I noticed some nice convection to my northwest. I quickly pulled out the laptop and saw a rather nice-looking supercell along the Mississippi River diving southeast. If only I paid more attention during the day...argh! This supercell was entering a region characterized by marginal instability with 1,000J/kg, 0-6km shear at 30kts, and dew points around 60°F. Doesn't sound like much right?! Well, here is the thing their was plenty of CAPE in the low-levels (vertical stretching) for tornadogenesis and low-level rotation. Add just enough shear aloft and that's a recipe for a supercell! Check out a fellow NIU classmate Victor Gensini's blog as he shot a few photos on this evening as well. After watching the storm get closer on radar I got set up on the north-side of our backyard taking in the approaching supercell as the sun began to set. This allowed me to take a few photos at sunset and twilight of the northern horizon looking north and northeast towards Neponset, IL. I will tell you though I really regret not being closer to this storm and chasing it because at times it really had some nice structure. I also shot some time-lapse video at this point showing the robust CAPE in the low-levels accelerate into the atmosphere. I've added photos and some time-lapse video below:

A random idea turns into a spectacular photo!
Talk about a beautiful (rotating) tilted updraft at dusk...
Twilight photo here...this supercell was tough
to photograph though as it struggled
to put out much
lightning which is what I needed for photography-purposes...

Pretty cool shot at dusk of the robust
convection and (CAPE) evident
View here was probably 20 miles away...
(Canon telephoto-zoom lens 70-300mm)
Mother Nature was just playing with me
all evening I swear...grr!

I was just waiting and waiting for a big CG to light up this
rotating updraft, but it was all for naught...
Sunset shot...kind of amazing what a simple
$650 telephoto-zoom lens will do!
One last shot of the distant (bell-shaped) updraft...
Bubbling cumulus at sunset...
I've added a YouTube time-lapse of the supercell (above)

This was one of those weird kind of days where you expect to see no convection or even severe weather and you end up with a supercell. Mother Nature is unpredictable! I'll be posting more from several chases over my chasecation shortly...