Monday, August 22, 2016

04/24/16 Nebraska & Iowa Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm in western Iowa near sunset producing a lightning strike east of Omaha, NE

On April 24th, I ended up traveling into eastern Nebraska in hopes of catching some severe thunderstorms on my day-off as it appeared there would be a decent shot of some supercells on this day. I hit the road fairly early in the morning to begin the long drive west. Some pesky cloud-cover and some elevated showers ahead of the cold front unfortunately held down instability across much of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa through most of the afternoon. This area featured around 1,500J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 50kts, and dew points around 56°F. This was a tough chase day since it quickly became apparent that the storms with the best potential would be much farther southwest than forecast especially in Kansas and there wouldn't be much in the way of convection way out ahead of the cold front in this area. By late afternoon, I continued to head west of Omaha, NE just south of I-80 despite knowing I had to work the very next day back in Illinois. My hands were kind of tied the whole day with how far west I could actually travel so I could get back home at a "decent" hour. By evening, storms initiated along the cold front and were too far west to chase so I decided to try to catch some storms that were developing near Omaha, NE. These storms struggled to get going though in this area unlike the storms in Kansas that were supercells and more isolated. Most of the evening I kept heading back east to keep up with the convection. I ended up spending most of the late evening in western Iowa for some photo-ops before these thunderstorms began to outrun the instability axis and dissipate. I was lucky enough to photograph some decent lightning strikes and a few rainbows however. Overall, this chase day was quite frustrating as the storms just never really got going in this area so I began to head home a couple hours before sunset to arrive back in Illinois. I've added a few photos of some lightning and rainbow photo-ops below:

These storms weren't as organized as I would have hoped for, but they did put on a electrical show...
 A little wet to the west...
 Some photogenic skies from these elevated thunderstorms in western Iowa near sunset!
This storm is just about to overtake me just south of I-80 in western Iowa at this point...
Storms are dissipating, but back-lit by the setting sun!
Iowa farmland and a distant thunderstorm's anvil looking north...
At least it was nice to see some dark skies again!
 When a hopeful storm chase turns into a "rainbow chase"
 Quite a photogenic rainbow to my east!
 Dissipating thunderstorms can still give you some good photo-ops!
 Another rainbow!
An Iowa prairie and a rainbow as a backdrop!
Trying my best to find the "pot-of-gold" on this evening...

That wraps up this chase day. I was able to find some photogenic skies on this day despite the storms not living up to my expectations. I'll be adding more posts from this spring and summer as I finally catch up on updating this blog over the next few weeks.