April 3rd 2014 Missouri Storm Chase

Apr 04, 2014

Summary:

Went after initial severe storm development close to target area before they moved into bad Ozark terrain. Abandoned initial storms for new round of cold front storms to the south before those died. Called chase, had dinner and left for home.

 

 

Stats:

Tornadoes:  0
Hail: .50″ (Dime)
Wind: n/a

The Forecast:

Deep moisture and strong instability ahead of now advancing cold front. The cold front would provide ample forcing for numerous strong to severe storms, but threatened to undercut them as speed/directional shear was lacking with the best parameters outrunning the front. If storms could move off the cold front, they would become monsters. SPC went with Moderate Risk tornado probabilities due to the expectation for a large number of storms, all of them capable of being tornadic.

Detailed Account:

Today was supposed to be the big day in this chase trip, but still presented a number of problems. First was the target zone. Probably the worst area of the country for a setup to take place. We were not enthused about trying to battle this area, but what can you do? We awoke in Wellington, had breakfast at the diner across the street (FREE, thanks to vouchers that came with our hotel stay.) We were torn between which area to target, the I-70 corridor which overnight models made look good, or stick towards the southern end, and current conditions showed numerous storms that could re-enforce the boundary south. We decided to stick with the southern end, but inch a bit north in case things set up there. We made our way east down hiwghwya 160 in Kansas before reaching our target city of Pittsburg (Kansas, not Pennslyvannia.) We continued a bit east to just over the MO border where we found a nice intersection of highways to wait.

Soon after we arrived, storms started to develop nearby just to our north. The rapid development was evident by the Pileus visible on top of a rapidly growing updraft.

We decided to go after this storm, while keeping an eye on what was happening to our south where the more probable tornadic development was forecast to take place. The sorm began to organize and was now severe warned. We continued to track it through areas of terrain that would alternate between flat and chaseable to hilly and tree-infested. This area wasn’t too bad by Missouri standards though, it was workable. A look at a more developed storm near Milo, MO. I also may have forgot to mention I left my still camera at home so all I have are junky cell phone pics.

The storm was moving into the Ozark area, which would have been awful to track it in, plus visually it was unappealing so we decided to let it go and blast back south towards a new round of isolated storms coming out of northeast Oklahoma. These were SUPPOSED to be the big storms of the day. We made good time getting into position to wait for them in Jasper, MO.  A group of chasers in an overly decked out SUV came up to talk to us, until they spotted Reed Timmers Dominator leaving a nearby gas station and one of them exclaimed “There goes Reed lets follow him!” and they abruptly ended our conversation to follow Reed. Its sad that this is what modern chasing has become, but it is what it is. My guess is Reed was moving to get under the storm as it approached. We chose to hold our ground though. The storm, as it approached, quickly collapsed and vanished into thin air right before our eyes. So much for that…

To add insult to injury, our storm we dumped went tornado warned once it entered Lake of the Ozarks. There was no new development worth going after, and we called the chase early and began to head for home, meeting up with Alec Scholten and stopping for dinner in Springfield, MO. A new line of severe storms went up on the cold front as it moved overhead, and we spent nearly the entire drive home in its wake. We arrived home in Chicago around 2am, and the first multi day run to the plains for 2014 came to a close.

Conclusion:

Despite there being no shortage of severe weather this day was a big let down, but again it wasn’t a surprise. Its hard for these early season cold front systems to pan out favorably. A storm near Dallas TX became a major player, and some supercells ramped up overnight and moved through southeast Missour and Southern Illinois all doing damage, but those were all out of play. I have yet to see anything that makes me wish I played the day differently. Even the storm we let go seemed to only offer a big shelf cloud to those who waited for it near Lake of the Ozarks. We missed some better structured storms and the potential for some hyped up encounters other chasers had with tornadoes that continue to avoid being captured by camera, but even those would only have made the day feel like slightly less of a failure. The season is off to a rough start.

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