Friday, October 25, 2013

October 11, 2013: Traverse County Tornado & Funnel Clouds

10-11-13 Western Minnesota Funnel Clouds

 The day turned out to be a highly successful end of season chase back on the home turf in far western Minnesota on what was a Low topped supercell set up with marginal CAPE but high amounts of shear and Helicity on the northeast side of a deep surface Low over central South Dakota.

We knew going in it was going to be a needle in a haystack day but it was worth the shot! 

We left the Cities around Noon to head out to Western MN. We targeted an area in Southeast North Dakota near Fairmount and were in good position to intercept the only semi-discrete low topped supercells of the day in Western MN that tracked rapidly northeast from Big Stone into Traverse and Grant counties producing several Funnel clouds and a possible brief touchdown just northeast of Wheaton along its track. 

We sat just North and West outside of Wheaton, MN and watched the first cell come through the area that looked like it had potential. 


 Funnel producing low topped supercell with a well defined rain free base which did go on to shortly produce funnel clouds shown here south of White Rock. Sugar Beet harvest was well underway today as well and the roads were in severe MUD condition! Glad to be chasing today with 4X4!



Ghost white Funnel cloud on the tail end of a Low Topped Supercell near the town of Wheaton in Traverse county Minnesota.

We did see what resembled a small dirt swirl near the ground as the funnel was over half way down but it just was not conclusive enough to call it in as a tornado owing to the half mile away distance and rain obscurity at the time.


Elephant Trunk Funnel cloud half way down to the ground 5 miles northeast of Wheaton Minnesota shortly after 5PM which may have had a brief touchdown in this area but could not solidly confirm from a half mile west.

We called this in as a funnel cloud. Here is our position in relation to the radar image scan that day.

After we let the storm pass onto the Northeast we took these pictures of how the low topped supercell looked.

A view looking off to the Northeast on the gravel road we were on.

A look at the low topped supercell being illuminated by the sunlight.

Here is a look at the supercell along a cornfield.

Low topped supercell.

Sitting at the crossroads of two counties.

The sunset on our 2013 Chase Season in the Northern Plains. It was a great storm chase season!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10-4-13 Violent Nebraska/Iowa Tornado Outbreak

The day was one to truly test all of one's emotions and the scenes and situations that Nick and I witnessed first hand were nothing short of intense. 

Our original forecast chase target was of Norfolk, Nebraska. It was a good one, as the rapidly approaching dry air punched along with the Warm Front position at max heating and the triple point play all showed up at the table over Wayne & Stanton Counties shortly after 4pm. 

We witnessed 2 separate tornadoes, including the over 1 mile wide preliminary EF-4 wedge that severely damaged the town of Wayne. this tornado only injured 14 people, as it mostly hit industrial areas of the town. 

This storm was from the same violent long track Tornadic Supercell that raked across northeast Nebraska and into southeast South Dakota in Union county. 

This will be one chase day that Nick and I will never forget and we are both truly grateful that our fellow chasers made it home safe and that no fatalities were reported across the outbreak region.

 This image was taken just outside (and to the west) of Stanton, Nebraska. A small EF-0 tornado had developed off this small cell on radar at the time.

Here the tornado is starting to rope out. Outside of Stanton, Nebraska.

The tornado now in rope out stage. Outside of Stanton, Nebraska.

As we left Stanton, NE to head North to keep following the storm; I snapped this picture as we were driving North. There wasn't a tornado at this point yet; but the storm had tons of motion. The storm was moving NE.

We turned North on Hwy 15 towards Wayne, Nebraska and the monster wedge is in front of us. This is a video grab of the tornado straight in front of us.

 Another view of the wedge as it was coming into Wayne, Nebraska.

Another video grab picture of the wedge in front of us.

We encountered RFD winds way outside of the main storm as we were traveling North. Here is a radar image of the storm as it was over Wayne, NE.

 You can notice the very evident debris ball located south of the town of Wayne. All the green cars are spotter network icons of active chasers that day. notice the reports of Funnel Clouds, Wall Clouds and tornadoes on the map as well.

As we got closer to Wayne, Nebraska; we spotted damage to our left and took a left turn onto a gravel road. We saw damage. Trees torn up; grain bin scattered about; power poles down and much more damage. The above picture shows the trees and the grain bin thrown about.

Grain Bin thrown about.

Downed power lines.

Tree grove ripped to shreds

Small house totally flattened.

Cows got loose after the tornado ripped through there pen. There were across from teh farmstead in the open soybean field.

Small house garage completely leveled.

Emergency vehicles responded to farmstead to check on any injuries.

Here is a radar grab image from that day.

We then left the scene of damage, after making sure everyone was okay no injuries or fatalities); and proceeded to head north along Hey 15 towards Wayne, NE. 

We got a few miles down the road and were stopped by a sheriff blocking the road and allowing no travel. High voltage power lines were across the road and the pole was completely down in the residential farm off to our right.

Here is a few pictures from that area.

High Voltage Downed line across part of the driveway. House was totally destroyed with few remaining interior walls remaining.

Sheriff parked on road to block travel going North.

Sheriff of Wayne County patrolling the area and talking with drivers letting them know the situation that lie ahead. The back part of the thunderstorm is shown in the background.

We then turned around and headed south, as it was our only path back out of the area.

Shortly before we encountered Hwy 271 heading East; we stopped to take photos of the storm system.  It was beautiful.

Here is a shot of the massive tornadic supercell as it was still moving to the NE.

We then drove East towards Iowa to catch Interstate 29 to head north. We stopped to take a few photos of the storm before it got too dark out.

Supercell thunderstorm at sunset.

Parting shot of the cell before we lost light.