April 15th – Minnesota Storm Chase Bust

Apr 22, 2012


Detoured on the way home for low confidence, moderate risk setup near the MN/IA border. Watched numerous storms go up in highly sheared environment with little cape noting nothing more than a couple small rain cores and no real severe weather. Called chase early and headed for home.





Tornadoes: 0

Hail: 0.00

Wind: < 58mph


Detailed Account:

I had very low confidence in this setup, despite moderate risk tornado probabilities issued by the SPC. There was very little cape with an occluding surface low along with some insane shear. Still, it was only a couple hours detour from the ride home and it is better to try and fail, than to ignore it and miss something. So rather than heading east for home out of Des Moines, we kept north into Minnesota. Passing Albert Lea we were able to spot some damage still evident from the crazy outbreak on June 17th 2010, which is my career chase thus far. A broken line of weak storms fired well to the west of there moving almost due north at warp speeds up to 80mph. Given the low cape scenario I figured these storms would need sometime to mature if they were going to at all.

We stopped in the small town of Wells where we met up with local chasers Jarrod Shoenecker and Dan Melby in a Caseys parking lot. Always nice to meet new faces while out in the field. Sustained surface winds were really strong, sustained at at least 25mph with frequent gusts over 50. We could see the low towers from the storms behind the Caseys, flying to the north in the distance.

Eventually I had the brilliant idea to move a couple miles out of town so we could at least watch the entire storms as opposed to seeing them from behind a building so we relocated to a dirt road just outside of town. There was a slight photogenic quality to the storms, but overall they were sheared pieces of junk that offered no real severe weather.

We made a brief attempt at a core punch when the hail on one of the storms spiked to an inch on radar, but even that didn’t produce anything other than an amusing drive down a muddy road. We mostly spent the day goofing around and taking funny pictures which were then put to use in the video you will see below. It was getting near 7pm and since I had roughly a 7 hour drive home I wanted to try and salvage a couple hours sleep before work the next morning. Not having anymore confidence in the setup we called the chase and set course for home, snagging a water-fire sunset on the way to end the day.

A comedic video put together by Jarrod to highlight the day.


Given the low confidence I already had in the day I am not at all surprised it turned out the way it did so it was not that big of a letdown. Still though, you remain hopeful when there are moderate risk tornado probabilities assigned for the day. It is always fun to goof around on a bust day though, so the day is never a total loss, I would rather be out there busting then not be out there at all.


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