Wednesday, August 3, 2011

07/27/11 Northern Illinois Supercells

A developing (LP) supercell along U.S. 20
north of Worthington, IA

Last Wednesday, featured a local storm chase for my standards in eastern Iowa and northern Illinois. I was forecasting for this potential chase day for a few days and kept a close eye on this date. It appeared that along a surface warm front on the edge of the heat dome the "cap" (warm-layer aloft) could be broken which meant a chance for supercells and maybe even tornadoes. I remained skeptical however since Iowa is notorious for busts thanks to warm 700mb temps in late-July. With that being said, I pulled the plug on my day off to take a chance on this chase day since I hadn't chased in nearly over a month. It was time to get a supercell and/or tornado right? I started the day in my hometown "rooming" at my parent's house the night before. By noon, I was out the door initially targeting an outflow boundary near Waterloo, IA. I arrived to my target shortly after 2:00pm. After enjoying some Arby's in the area for lunch I kept a close eye on the atmospheric setup. I quickly began to notice some towering (Cu) cumulus to my northeast. This is when I had to make a "gutsy" decision or well you can use another word for it if you wish. All the mesoscale models were indicating storms initiating in my area, but I wasn't buying it. I relied solely on instinct rather than models that didn't perform well the previous day for chasers as well. Everything seemed it was shifting east where a weaker cap resided so I made the call to head east on U.S. 20 before any storm initiated. I found myself along the warm front in an area characterized with extreme instability in place with 5,000J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 40kts, a supercell composite of 20, 0-3km shear nearing 300m2/s2, and a moist boundary-layer. This area seemed prime for supercells along the warm front, but it all was conditional on whether the cap would break. Storms began to initiate however after 5:00pm. The most photogenic photos I took actually were at this moment as storms were (LP) low-precipitation in nature creating some awesome supercell structure at this point. The first cell developed along U.S. 20 north of Worthington, IA and would later interact with the warm front off to the east. I continued to head east keeping up with the developing supercell. I ended up getting flooded in Dubuque, IA. Good thing I got out of there before the real "deluge" began as that area was already starting to flood severely. Once across the Mississippi River that supercell started really getting going wrapping up a nice hook on radar right behind me along U.S. 20. I jogged southeast along U.S. 20 setting up shop on the north-side of Galena, IL looking northwest as the supercell approached. This is where I witnessed intermittent brief tornado touchdowns to my north/northwest. These touchdowns however, lasted only a few seconds where it was hard to discern any damage. The topography in this area also didn't help much. A local sheriff from Galena, IL also observed these vorticies as well at my location. Anyhow, once the storm gobbled me up I progressed further and further south to get out of the flooding while taking some photos of the developing MCS as it began to interact with its cold pool. Once sunset came I called it a chase quite happy with the chase day. I've added photos and some video below:

Condensation funnel with vorticies responsible for
some intermittent
tornado touchdowns
north/northwest of Galena, IL

First shot of the developing mesocyclone
(rotating updraft)

Cool shot with this cell phone tower in
the foreground
showing off the vertical nature
of this rotating updraft...

(LP) supercell a couple miles to my west along U.S. 20
Beautiful (LP) supercell for late-July!
You spin me right around, baby
right around like a record, baby
right round, round round...

Cool perspective that's meeting under the meso eh?
(also notice the mobile weather station giving you a clue

of how the surface winds are blowing (SE))

Supercell crosses the Mississippi River
looking due west towards the river...

Storms begin to interact creating a
cold pool and shelf cloud (above)

Evil looking shelf cloud at dusk...
One last storm photo at least before dark...
I've added a YouTube time-lapse from
my GoPro camera (above)

A successful chase day this ended up being for myself. Storm reports can be found here. I still may chase locally in the next couple of months if it's "warranted". Stay tuned if I do end up again on the open road. Until then...

07/26/11 Summer Convection

Summer convection blossoms
near Camp Grove, IL

About a week ago I shot some picturesque convection in rural-Stark County, IL looking southeast toward Camp Grove, IL. All of these photos were shot with my Canon telephoto-zoom lens (70-300mm) and my newly acquired Canon 7D. The late-July heat and humidity sparked off some summer convection near sunset on this evening as convective temperatures were reached in the local-area. The isolated nature of this convection provided some excellent photography near sunset. I've added some photos of the bubbling convection near sunset below:

Beautiful shot of my new ride this year as
"she" just got washed and waxed just prior...

Awesome shot here as the sun sets behind a distant
anvil creating a "shadow effect"

Got to love CAPE!
(Convective Available Potential Energy)

Towering (Cb) Cumulonimbus cloud
Sun dips below an anvil casting a shadow on the
updraft in the background...

Prime example of isolated convection!
What goes up, must come down...
Moderate instability + convergence = thunderstorms
An example of what deep moist convection
looks like in the summer months...

Distant thunderstorm looking east toward Elmira, IL
Convection at sunset near Geneseo, IL
A distant severe thunderstorm
along the Mississippi River...

That wraps up this post. I actually storm chased last week in far eastern Iowa and northern Illinois. Stay tuned for a future post in regards to that chase day...

07/19/11 Pulse Thunderstorm

A distant severe thunderstorm that produced a
funnel cloud near Washington, IL

A few weeks ago I had to head back to my hometown of Kewanee, IL for some dental work to lose some "wisdom" so to speak. I took this photo on the short drive home as a severe thunderstorm initiated behind me near the Illinois River. It turns out this severe thunderstorm actually produced a brief funnel cloud in Washington, IL as many people documented the funnel on the local news during a summer event in the area. Take a look at the story in the local newspaper in this area here. That's about all for this post though. Stay tuned for some more posts shortly...

07/18/11 Summer: 2011 Part II

Summer rains in Kewanee, IL creating
some picturesque photography...

Over the last few weeks I've done some photography in the area mostly in my hometown of Kewanee, IL testing out my new Canon 7D. I decided it was time to post a few of my photos that I considered were "post worthy" on here. Some of the photos I have taken in the last few weeks can be found below:

The sun sets on our pool enclosure creating
a pretty cool effect with the setting sun...

A tree frog I found in the backyard bout to
take a dip in this fountain...

This year I was finally able to photograph the local
crop-dusters in rural-Stark County, IL

A favorite for local butterfly's in the area

The approach...
Now that's an action shot!
And another...
Close-up shot! (Looks like I'll have to
attend an airshow in the next year or so...
One last photo maybe a few feet off the ground...
Summer is full of colors!
Maybe one of my favorites in this bunch of photos...
One last photo of some summer
flowers in the backyard

I must say I'm very impressed with the Canon 7D and it's sure to be worth the investment for many years to come. I'll post a few photos over the last week or two as well of some convection and even a local storm chase about a week ago in northern Illinois. Check back in the near future...