Monday, August 14, 2017

06/14/17 Iowa Shelf Cloud & Laura, IL Severe Thunderstorm

An photogenic shelf cloud in western Iowa near Adair, IA

On June 14th, I woke up at my hotel in Walnut, IA just after sunrise. I spent the previous day traveling east on I-80 most of the day while at the same time hoping for some decent storms in central Nebraska but I ended up with not much of anything on that day. I was planning on storm chasing in Illinois on my way back home on this particular day, but I noticed some intensifying convection on radar to my south and packed up and headed out the door. I began to head east on I-80 as convection blossomed along the interstate. This storm did go severe-warned briefly and then became quite outflow dominate however. I had to pull-over several times at many exits along I-80 west of Des Moines, IA to photograph quite an epic shelf cloud. This convection was surprisingly photogenic despite looking disorganized on radar. Once when the convection began to shift much farther north along the interstate I continued east and arrived back in Peoria, IL to chase convection later in the afternoon. I spent most of the afternoon waiting for convection to develop in west-central Illinois. I didn't expect much from this day given that the lack of wind shear would be the limiting factor in a more widespread severe weather event on this day. By mid-afternoon, convection began to blossom along the cold front to my northwest. This area northwest of Peoria, IL along the I-74 corridor featured 3,000J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 30kts, and a very moist boundary-layer with dew points near 70°F. I ended up traveling north on IL Rt. 78 and stopped just east of Laura, IL to allow the developing convection move closer and overtake me from the south. This convection was mostly outflow dominate, but did provide a few decent photos. At one moment, this storm did provide a weak circulation but got choked off quite quickly thanks to outflow from the southwest gusting to the northeast. All the photos I've added below I shot with my Canon 5D Mark III and a Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I've added several photos from the chase day below:

A wicked looking shelf cloud along I-80!
I was really impressive how photogenic this shelf cloud was given how the storms were not really organized at all...
Getting closer, time to head east again...
It sure was an interesting sight along the interstate as many other drivers pulled off snapping photos with their phones...
Mean looking shelf cloud, but more bark then bite...
Amazing view!
They don't get much better than this!
Quite an epic shelf cloud!
"It's gonna rain!"
"Iowa corn and a storm"
It was a good morning of photography as I really didn't expect much of anything...
Circulation for a brief period!
This got dominated quick by outflow, but for a minute or two looked suspicious!
Gusty outflow and gustnadoes galore...
The outflow did pack a punch!

Overall, this day had some bonus photography in the morning with a photogenic shelf cloud while the afternoon storms went pretty much as expected being quite outflow dominate and provided a few good photos. I would later also storm chase on June 17th in Illinois and I'll add that post in the coming days.