April 10th 2011 Arkansas Storm Chase With TIV – Very Close Lightning Strike!

Apr 19, 2013

Summary:

Final day with the TIV. Diverted from original target for more challenging play in Arkansas. Intercepted tornado warned storms in difficult terrain noting some quick rising motion but no real rotation or tornado.  Caught my best and closest lightning strike on video near the end of the day.

 

 

Stats:

Tornadoes: 0

Hail: .25″ (pea)

Wind: n/a

The Forecast:

Advancing cold front ahead of vast warm sector. Strong instability would be present along with increasing favorable moisture.  Jet energy missing from the day before was more in place today and with a slower moving cold front it meant storms stood a better chance at tornado production than the day before. Instability was a concern initially due to clouds, but the clouds cleared and SPC upped the tornado potential across eastern Arkansas.

Detailed Account:

Today was originally supposed to be a gentleman’s chase on the way home across IL as a warm front was forecast to lift through bringing the usual IL warm front magic hopes. We convinced the TIV to head into the area as well.
Brandon Ivey was unable to chase so Skip took over navigation duties while Sean and I split the driving.

We awoke at our hotel in Joplin, got organized and set sail for the day. On our way conditions began to come better together across Arkansas than originally forecast. In addition, veering surface winds in IL began to concern us. We made the decision to divert south into Arkansas despite the general loathe for the terrain. Our hope was something could get going in the eastern part of the state where terrain is very favorable for chasing.

Skip navigating:

Sean driving:

Abandoned building in rural Arkansas:

Supercells began to form well to our west ahead of the cold front in the bad terrain. I took over driving so Sean could work his camera. One particular storm showed a classic shape on radar with velocity couplet and hook echo. We didn’t want to tangle in the jungle and held out hope a little longer that storms would form further east in the better area. After awhile it appeared this would not be the case and we turned around to head for the storm. Since we were not using my laptop setup I only have an image from my mobile app.

We caught the storm northeast of Clinton near a town called Mountain View. As expected the terrain and road network were quite difficult. We pulled off briefly and began to discuss the best plan to intercept.

As we wound our way through town with sirens blaring the storm had began weakening. A local had tipped us off to where we might be able to find a view and using that tip we did manage to find at least a somewhat decent view, but it was not ideal to put us in the path of the storm so we had to settle for watching it from a distance. We noted some rapid rising motion on what looked to be a wall cloud, at one point there was a coney lowering which could have been an attempt at a funnel/tornado but we could never confirm anything reaching the ground.

We decided not to pursue the weakening storm in the unfavorable terrain. There were no other good storms in the area so we called the chase and pulled over outside of town to discuss what would happen next. This looked to be the end of the mission and we would soon pack all our things and head back into our original vehicles. Skip in his van, and me back with Alec and Jon.

While getting organized, an approaching line of storms dealt us quite a lightning show. I could hear frequent CG getting closer and closer so I started rolling, hoping to catch a close strike, and for once nature dealt me what I asked as a CG bolt came crashing down behind us. Perhaps I am a bit crazy for not being scared sitting inside a giant metal tank, but I love lightning and thunder so I was a happy man at this point.

Video:

Video Still:

Once the strike assault was over we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Driving all the way home to Illinois through the night.

Conclusion:

Today fell short of expectations, but at least had a couple redeeming qualities in the lightning strike and least being on a tornado warned storm. The original target in Illinois lit up with similar storms, so it may have been better just to have stuck with the original target where there would have been at least more favorable roads to mess with.

Chasing with the TIV the past 3 days was an awesome experience and I would like to thank Sean and Jen Casey with proving me the opportunity. They have expressed interest in having me do it again and I am definitely excited about that!

Map/radar not available.

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