Sunday, June 30, 2013

6/29/13 Stevens County,MN Tornado Disaster Response Exercise

The Stevens County emergency services held a multi-agency Tornado disaster response and mitigation exercise on Saturday in the city of Donnelly just northwest of Morris MN. The exercise was well attended by over 130 participants and volunteers who put their skills to action in a real world scenario of a EF-3 tornado forming west of the town of Donnelly and tracking Northeastward through the towns northern and central quadrants damaging over 85% of the town and presenting multiple issues and challenges to the first responders and personnel who were first on the scene of this mock drill event. 
The exercise was attended by many agencies including local,county,state and federal entities. 

Nick and I also participated in the exercise and gave a opening severe weather spotter overview as well as a talk on the real world and mental aspects that those first on the scene of severe tornado damage may encounter.

Nick speaking to a crowd of over 130 participants in the Stevens county Minnesota Mock Tornado Disaster Response Exercise on Saturday.

Nick showing some recent storm photos of tornadic storms we have shot from the last few weeks.

A large crowd at the Donnelly City Hall with many of the real world scenario volunteers painted up and dirt and mud covered ready for the event to begin.

Local Stevens County First responders and Fire Fighters tend to the needs of tornado victims during the drill in Donnelly.

A injured citizen being cared for by Stevens counties finest responders including our friend, Justin Howe.

The Morris fire rig on state HWY 9 in Donnelly staging at the AG CO-OP as in a scenario of a HAZ-MAT chemical leak or release caused by the tornado in the damage track.

Donnelly Minnesota Town Marque.

Emergency responders taking things seriously in a real world tornado disaster drill exercise.

American Red Cross on the scene as well as the Stevens county mobile emergency communications and disaster response trailer at the command and control point outside of town.
Stevens County Sheriff's Office Mobile command center trailer in full use.
Stevens County ambulance service on the scene at the Temporary triage check point on the outside of the damage track.
A roll playing victim lay in the side of the street in Donnelly with a severe neck laceration and broken bones caused by the EF-3 tornado.

Morris and Hancock Fire Departments working together in helping aide a victim during the drill.

The Sheriff Posse lent a hand in traffic control around the perimeter of the exercise area during the drill. Steve Stock here pictured was one of the of those participating that day.

The Command Trailer.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 20 - 23rd, 2013 : Northern Plain Severe Storms

Nick and I have been across the Dakotas in the past several days; in what turned out to be a busy time frame - severe weather wise! 

Here is our blog entry from the last few days for the Emmons County North Dakota storm to the violent bow echo that raced across South Dakota through to Minnesota on Friday.

June 19th, 2013 late evening
We got on a cell that was entering into Big Stone County, MN about midnight to take some lightning video and pictures. The storm was producing warnings in SD, but was dying as it reached MN. The winds were gusting to 40 by the time it reached us.

Here is a picture of one of the lightning shots we got that night.


June 20, 2013
North Dakota

We targeted a spot in western ND. We first stopped in the town of Jamestown, ND to visit the BIG Friendly Buffalo that was greeting our arrival into town.

From Jamestown, ND we headed a little more west and further south to near Linton, SD. Here we watched a supercell rotate and produce wall cloud.

It had great inflow into the storm.

During parts of the storm it would go from producing a wall cloud to start to get linear and produce a shelf cloud. In this picture above and below it shows the storm going outflow - but showing the nice shelf cloud on the leading edge of the storm.

Here the storm is trying to do it again big time! The wall cloud really begin to rotate once again with wild upward rising motion. We are sitting east of Linton, ND.

Picture of the car, with radar screen shot and looking directly west to the storm - looking right into the beast.  We were East of Linton, ND.

We then headed south to South Dakota after this storm to set up for the next day's chase.

June 21, 2013
South Dakota

A storm was already firing off and over the Rapid City area early in the morning (around 9am) and lo and behold that became the main player for the day.

We started out near Chamberlain, SD and initially got on the storm and quickly raced east to get out in front of the storm. The storm was producing massive hail and intense winds.

This is a shot of the shelf cloud that was racing east. We just got on the storm here just Northeast of Chamberlain, SD.

Here is a shot of inside the car looking west at the shelf cloud. You could see how dark it was.

The World's Greatest Natural Sandblaster!
This picture (above) was taken 4 miles northeast of woonsocket, SD in Sanborn County. The shot was taken just 3 miles east of the actual leading edge of the storm. As you can see, the shelf cloud is just making its way into the right side of the picture. We measure a 65 MPH wind gust just before this photo was taken.

We slowed down several times as we tracked east and got just ahead of the storm to let it briefly overtake up so we could sample the wind gusts as it tracked along. We encountered many instanced with zero visibility with the extreme blowing dirt and sand from the surprisingly dry topsoil conditions; and seen dozens of well organized gustnadoes that we spinning up on the initial cutting edge of the wind shift line.

It took us a whole bag of quarters at a self serve car wash to get all the dirt and sand from every nook and cranny on the car!

Here the storm is turning into a violent HABOOB with over 70 MPH winds, and blowing dust was being pushed out 6 miles out ahead of the storm. This was taken just east of Woonsocket, SD.

Below are a few more pictures of the storm structure as it kept moving east.

Here the storm is now approaching our position east of Madison, South Dakota. We encountered 1 inch hail in diameter shortly after this picture.

Unfortunately this storm raced all the way to the East to the Twin Cities metro area where 80 MPH winds were recorded. Numerous trees fell and toppled onto power lines causing a massive power outage for a widespread of the Twin Cities area. 

June 22, 2013
South Dakota / Iowa / Nebraska

We started out in Sioux Falls, SD. We headed to the southern tip of SD to await the storms. We crossed into Iowa and Nebraska to re-center ourselves for development of storms.

Nothing fired until late that night (around 9pm).

We busted weather wise - but totally didn't bust as we got to see one of our favorite birds! The Eastern Meadowlark greeted us as we entered the southern part of the state.

June 16, 2013: Eastern South Dakota Shelf Cloud

We went just over the border from Western Minnesota to the west of Sisseston, SD. Here the initial storm approached us from the west. We got on the storm just shortly after the initiated just East of Groton, South Dakota and stayed with them until the cell pulsed up to is peak, near Roslyn, SD. There is where we recorded a wind gust of 4 MPH. We also saw lots of scattered tree damage between Day County and the Minnesota border.

Here is a shot of me taking photos of the storm (Nick took the picture).

It was a beautiful landscape to see the shelf come on over the small pond to our west.

Here is a few pictures of the shelf cloud passing overhead near Roslyn, SD. Almost a year to the day we were chasing in the same general area on another great storm.

This storm produced 60 MPH + winds which prompted warnings and up to quarter size hail. We encountered a tree branch thrown east onto the road that was due to the storm. 

The storm went all the way to the East to the Twin Cities. In the Cities you could see rainbows.

It was a great chase on Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 4, 2013: SD / ND Border Chase

Nick and I took off the afternoon to head to the SD and ND border to see if any possible cold core tornadoes could form. A nice clearing of the clouds was happening, there was a low off to our Northwest, an occulated front in the area - it had all the makings of an April 21, 2012 event.

We set up our Target south of New Effington, SD. We saw small topped T-CU starting to happen. The winds are right, but there wasn't enough of the daytime heating to get anything to go.

Below is a shot of some storms trying to go, but ended up only being some rain showers in the end, at least for western MN and Northeastern South Dakota.

It was a great day to finally see the sun and have an afternoon off.

Rare Songbirds from Western MN: June 1 & 2

With the sombering news over the weekend about fellow storm chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young dying in what they did best: Storm chasing; we took a break and headed west and reflected our time with Nature.

We were able to capture some amazing rare birds! Some were at Amanda's parent's bird feeders, and others were along groves and woods. Below are some pictures of are rare birds we spotted that day.

American Pelican


 Merganser Momma with babies (Lac Qui Parle State Park)

Whitetail Deer

Baltimore Oriole

 Ringneck Pheasant

 Yellow Head Blackbird doing its call

 Yellow Head Blackbird in flight

Yellow Head Blackbird

 Teal sitting on the nest. I thought this shot was awesome with the reflection in the water.

 A healthy brood of goslings! Papa on the left, Momma on the right. The goslings this year have been a more rare sight to see.

Scarlet Tanager

Cat Bird

American Robin

Yellow Finch

Female Grosbeak

Johnny Jump Ups growing at my parent's place