June 14 2010 Minnesota Storms

Feb 27, 2012


Played southern target where instability was forecast to be extreme but flow was also to veer. Storms initiated and quickly went linear. Intercepted southern storm as it merged with northern tornado producing storm. Never noted much structure but got into some brief hail and noted lots of limbs down while tracking storm through horrible river valley terrain. Saw interesting fog type gustnado before calling it a chase and meeting up with Jesse Risley and crew back in WI for dinner.
Tornadoes: 0
Hail” .88″ [Nickel]
Wind: est 40mph thunderstorm gust.
States reputation ruined: MN
Detailed Account:
It takes allot to lure me out in the summer. Typical lazy flow aloft and warm mid levels often spell doom for chase setups. However, there are a handful of setups a year that can bait me. This was one. An unseasonably strong jet streak was forecast to eject into the upper midwest with borderline cap strength. The added bonus was extreme cape values forecasted by an air mass that is about as moist as it can get. Model parameters were all maxing out and if something went. It would be huge. The major gamble was if storms could go up before the flow veered. Regardless, the setup was close enough to where I took the gamble. SPC put out some pretty high probabilities on the day and I was excited. A MDT risk for tornadoes with a 60% risk for wind. Wow.
I teamed up with Brett Wright again and we made our way into WI. Stopping in Sparta of all places.
I was torn between a northern target near Minneapolis and a southern target of Rochester. Morning storms left a boundary near the northern target while local observations showed max clearing and cape to the south. Elevated junk storms were ongoing all over the place that likely contaminated the whole setup. I stuck to my original target area near Rochester. Local WFO forecasts along with SPC seemed to agree with my thinking. We sat and waited and chase-able storms eventually went up closer to the northern target so we made our move.
One particular storm caught my interest but a storm quickly went up to the south of it which became our target, the northern storm managed to produce a brief tornado though before the southern storm gobbled it up. I was hoping the southern storm would then go nuts like I have seen happen many times…but the flow had already veered out and storms were going up all over the place. Both of these factors lead to all storms in the area not being able to realize their maximum potential.
The southern storm as we intercept with nothing really to look at other than a rain free base area and no wall cloud.
Moving to keep up with it I did spot a pretty cool rain shaft.
The air was disgusting. I hung my arm out to snap the picture and my skin instantly became sponge. It was probably the most humid air I’ve ever felt. Stunk to think that these storms couldn’t better use that to their advantage. Keeping up with the storm never revealed much other than a whales mouth:
An area of RFD looked like it was trying to cut in but could never wrap around.
The terrain in this part of MN which was not far from the MS river was bitter-sweet. Rolling farm land would quickly give way to steep river valleys and vice versa. We spent the entire chase going in and out of this terrain. Data was never a big issue except in the river valleys. We followed the storms for as long as we could before calling the chase as we approached the river and storms were just a linear mess. We did have several brief run ins with hail that was nickel size at largest. We also noted lots of downed limbs in the 6 inch range over the roads but nothing extreme.
After calling the chase we botch noticed something rather weird at the same time. It appeared to be rotating clouds in a field of corn that narrowed into a nice pillar maybe 25 feet high. The best way I can describe it is if you’ve ever seen mist on a lake in the early morning, picture that coming out of a corn field but only in one spot and rotating into a pillar. The motions were slow and gentle. Looking above for any type of funnel feature I saw some turbulent motions but never any real rotation. What was going on there I have no idea but I will file it under the funky gustnado category.
We met up Jesse Risley and crew in LaCrosse, WI for some dinner and hashed over the day before heading for home. On the way the setting sun amidst the chaotic storm environment provided some cool photos.
Black/White Mammatus:
I had zero sleep the night before and was now awake for a good 36 hours with fatigue setting in quick so I had Brett take over the driving which allowed me to catch a quick 20 minute cat nap. I am thankful for that. Eventually we made it back home around midnight.
While we missed a brief tornado, and considering what we got from a day that was really hyped up, overall the day did not really live up to expectations. The forecast verified well though and unfortunately what did happen is what I expected to happen with flow quickly veering and a huge mess of storms going up given the extreme instability. We made a perfect intercept and play on the southern end of the storm complex though and had things fared out better we likely would have seen something. I can’t complain with how we handled the day though, its just the way they go in these summer setups.

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