April 9th – St Ansgar, Iowa Hail

Apr 10, 2017


Cap busted during the day, but intercepted severe hailstorm on the way home during a marginal IA setup.


Tornadoes: 0
Hail: 1.50″ (Ping Pong Ball)
Wind: n/a

The Forecast:

Slowly deepening surface low ahead of large warm sector with ample return flow in place for severe storms. A strong cap was forecast to be in place, and there was no shortwave that appeared to enter to help kick off storms. Still, the triple point/war, front area near the surface low held potential, with favorable low level shear due to backing along a warm front. Otherwise, shear profiles looked unidirectional along the advancing cold front. SPC kept tornado probabilities minimal as a result of all this.

Detailed Account:

This was obviously a marginal setup and expectations were low, but it was a weekend and “relatively” close. I decided to gamble, as it looks like the pattern is about to slow down. A friend in a local weather group im a part of wanted to get his feet wet in chasing, and offered to chip in to fund the chase. I left home early to pick him up, then met up with Alec and the 3 of us set off. We left way too early, and arrived in the target area around 3pm, where we essentially sat around in a small park located in Sac City, IA for a couple hours. Lorraine Mahoney joined us for a bit.

We re-positioned north to keep up with the advancing warm front, trying to up our chances, but as the sun began to set a cap bust was all but certain. Not a big surprise here, but you hate to come all the way for nothing. At least this part of Iowa has great chase terrain, something I’ve missed so far this season.

We grabbed some dinner at a local Perkins and then called the chase. As darkness fell during our drive home, the cap cooled and storms went up. We were taking I-90 home in Minnesota, and detoured south to intercepted what looked like a promising hail core just south of the IA border.

In the town of Mitchell we intercepted the core, noting a hefty barrage of hail up to ping pong ball size. A nice consolation prize since hail is always fun to get into, and the day wasn’t a total loss.
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Radar image of the storm:

We tried to keep up with the storm but it was moving away at a good clip, and after clipping the outer edge of the core a couple times we called the chase for real and set course for home. On the way a crazy driver from Wisconsin decided to embark on some road wage when we attempted to pass him while he was going 10 under. I’ll never understand some people.


We got pretty much what we expected from the day. The daytime cap bust wasn’t a surprise but at least we were able to get into some hail while heading home. I suppose this makes the trip not an official bust since we technically experienced severe weather. Kevin’s first out of state chase unfortunately had to be an Iowa cap bust, but that’s what Iowa is notorious for!

Map. Arrow shows location of hail:

SPC Reports:

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