May 22nd Iowa Bust

Feb 26, 2012
Picked the wrong storm 2 minutes too late and missed most of the good action. Storm looked good upon initial intercept but quickly became outflow dominant with anything of significance developing out of range.
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: .50″ [dime]
Wind: n/a
State I hate again: Iowa.
Detailed Account:
Today was supposed to be a significant chase setup across the midwest. A very large warm sector and potential target area left the 3 of us in a bit of disagreement on where we wanted to go. We all wanted to be further south, but given the fact Brad had to be back at work the next day and I needed to get back to Chicago so I could pick up my truck and then marathon it back to the plains meant we were stuck with the northern target. I liked further west into Iowa but Brad and Jon were suckered east into IL based off some blips the HRRR model was showing. These blips did infact materialize into storms but they went on to be linear in a hurry and not worth going after. Better storms organized out west and we began to make our move back into IA towards Des Moines where we started the day. A pair of healthy looking storms around I-80 caught our attention but first, a little Iowa driver irresponsibility.
Anyways, we made good time approaching the storms near I-80. A pair of supercells in close proximity to one another had gone tornado warned but with no reports. Radar showed the southern storm quickly gaining on the northern storm. We chose to go for the southern storm since that is usually the best bet for a tornado. Upon first arrival and viewing the base the storm really looked like it was going to organize and I began to get excited.
Our road network was pretty good so we were able to get right into the bears cage and emerged to see a very large, slowly rotating funnel. I thought we were about to get an amazing tornado at close range.
Go figure though after about 2 minutes it completely dissipated, other chasers have tried to say there was dust kicked up but I am not a believer. We had to move to keep up with the storm which was quickly going HP and outflow dominant, I could feel the cool air blowing through the window and knew we missed our chance. To make matters worse, the north storm squeezed out a brief yet nice looking white trunk tornado as the two storms merged. DOH!
We played the storm for awhile, the whole time looking outflow dominant with dramatic HP colors.
Here is Jons video which highlights the events quite well.

By now a whole mess of storms was in progress with anything tornadic either 2 hours north or 2 hours south of us. We called the chase and headed for home. We arrived back at Brads, picked up Jons car and made our way back towards Chicago, stopping along the way to sample some severe warned storms in IL just in case something crazy happened. Brad meanwhile continued his chase solo. Also on our way home we learned of the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, MO head on. We watched in awe on radar as the massive EF-5 tornado plowed straight through town and moved on. I have visited that city many times on my down to Oklahoma City and was quite saddened to hear about it. My thoughts and wishes are definitely with those affected. The tornado ended up killing over 140 people making it one of the 5 deadliest single tornadoes in history. I arrived back home, had a quick dinner, swapped out some laundry, picked up the truck and drove all the way back to Wichita. I arrived at 11am and took a much needed hour long power nap before waking up to chase again.


This was a day that saw quite a few nice tornadoes, with us getting none. It was the worst bust on our trip and stung more and more as I drove to Wichita. Getting suckered east into IL by the HRRR was the downfall as well as not moving on the storms as they initiated in IA sooner. We sat and watched them on radar too long while we worried about which set of storms to go after. It would have been better just to make a plan and stick to it. Skip caught a nice tornado in Missouri as well, adding more insult to injury. The likely thorn in our area we chose to play was surface flow that veered quickly, storms had a very narrow window to produce. Some did and some didn’t and of course ours was one that didn’t. NEXT TIME!
Map not available.
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