Call it a Shotgun Stormchase

From: Nick Weig
Lightning captured in Fairfax, IA on Friday, May 8, 2009

Lightning captured in Fairfax, IA on Friday, May 8, 2009

I say it was a shotgun chase because it was a very unexpected event.  There was no risk for severe weather Friday morning and I admittedly had not put any thought into the possibility.  The atmosphere was relatively stable and with powerful storms well to our south, I felt there was little if any chance of anything chaseable happening.

The Storm Prediction Center put out a slight risk for severe weather around 11:30am.  The risk covered virtually the entire state.  That’s when I swung into gear.  The triggering mechanism was a cold front and low pressure system.  My running theory was although instability was negligible, the “triple point” (point where low pressure, warm front and cold front connect), would pass directly over Cedar Rapids.

As the storms entered eastern Iowa they started to accelerate.  This was also a good sign because it can indicate strong winds.  But the threat never really materialized.  In the end I set up shop in Fairfax and captures some decent lightning and rain shots.  The wind at most gusted to around 45mph and for only a brief moment, a round of pea sized hail.

All in all it was a very weak storm but on the plus side it was a cheap chase, couple bucks in gas and it took just about an hour. What little footage I captured is on the video page. For more you can also go to our facebook fan page.

Later, I’ll write more about the coming week, as the second half looks rather active.

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