CHASE DEBRIEF: Tracking A Tornado In SW Iowa

IMG_1460I began my chase from West Des Moines at 3:20pm after hearing about the Adams county warning. I quickly headed to Osceola and re-assessed. I managed to capture a shot of the storm towers forming in northern Missouri.  These storms pictured to the left would later affect the Lamoni area.

After a few minutes I moved on towards Creston on Highway 34 as the new tornado warning was issued.  As I made my way into Creston, I had heard of reported touchdowns just southwest of Lenox. I headed south on County Highway P27 from Creston about five miles and turned west on H45. As I came over a hill I saw a tornado on the ground to my west just beyond the town of Kent. This was shortly before 5pm. I quickly called the NWS in DSM to deliver the report.

As I called it in, I drove a little bit and had trees blocking my view on top of a hill. After I got off the phone I had turned back around and by that time the tornado had lifted. I returned to P27 and stopped on the side of the road where you can see from the pictures below a very well defined wall cloud.


This was looking west from P27 just south of Creston. This lasted for about 5-10 minutes before becoming rain wrapped. I then headed to Creston and just west of there, met my storm chase partner Jason Walerius.

IMG_1470Here we snapped a few pictures of what seems to be a shelf cloud or roll cloud forming.  You can see the pictured we snapped to the right. We then quickly headed east on 34 to get ahead of the storm where it began to lose its rotation and then we could clearly see the storm structure from Hwy 34 looking to the NW just northeast of Creston. Overall, it was a brief but fun and successful chase by my definition. I wish I had a dashboard camera to capture the tornado, perhaps in the future. It’s tough chasing, taking pictures and navigating by yourself, and I don’t recommend it! Thoughts and prayers go out to those in Lenox who apparently were directly hit by the tornado.


Zach Sharpe

My name is Zach Sharpe. I am the president and forecaster for the Iowa Storm Chasing Network. You can find me on Twitter @Stormchaserzach and on Facebook at:

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