Anyone that thinks meteorology and forecasting is easy, Sunday was a day Mother Nature again established her dominance over our knowledge of weather. All signs pointed to a major severe weather outbreak in the great plains. Long tracked, strong tornadoes were possible in a portion of Kansas and Oklahoma. There was also a good tornadic setup in Western Iowa the promised a good chance of tornadic activity.
In preparing for the chase there was one last second variable that created some issues for us. A lingering line of showers and thunderstorms were pushing through the state, leftover from the night before. At any rate, Barry and myself departed Cedar Rapids with the plan to head to Des Moines and points westward, all the while reassessing the threat that lie ahead.
During the drive, the Storm Prediction Center went ahead with a Tornado Watch for a large portion of the state. The main threat again, was focused on the southwest quadrant of Iowa. Barry and I determined we would head a few dozen miles west of Des Moines, then wait to head south and intercept storms developing and intensifying.
But the storms never came, a weak cap remained in the mid levels of the atmosphere. We waited and waited, seeing some thunderstorms but little else. Eventually we caught up with a cell that was showing signs of intensifying near the Stuart area but with little luck. We saw the initial stages of a shelf cloud, but no strong organization.
It was around this time that the texts and phone calls came from back home. A tornado was spotted in northeastern Linn County. As frustrating it can be when you drive so far without catching any storms, finding out the one tornado that dropped in the area was just miles from home was an extra jab in the gut. In discussions and emails with coworkers I learned that the pictures of the tornado were impressive, a classic weak stovepipe tornado. The National Weather Service determined the tornado was an EF-1. Of course the most important part to the day was no one was hurt, regardless of personal frustration that’s the one bit of important good news.
As for the next chance to chase, will keep an eye on Thursday, but long range models keep eastern Iowa relatively calm until next week. Keep checking back as we keep up with the forecast.