CHASE DEBRIEF: Fighting Wind & Hail To Capture A Tornado

DSC03534It was not an easy chase by any means.  with such a large area under the gun for a potential tornado outbreak, it was hard to nail down exactly where to go.  We decided to sit tight in Tama before we decided whether to go north or south.  Eventually some development south of Interstate 80 caught our attention and we decided to go after it.  On our way to the Interstate we ran in some large hail, reaching the worst of it in the Malcolm.

It was then we noticed some rotation and our first tornado warning of the day was issued.  We traveled (very slowly) eastward on Interstate 80 until we reached the Brooklyn exit.  We then went north and east to get on Highway 6. As we approached the Ladora and Marengo area, we looked to our north and found this tornado emerging from the rain shield.  It was a good stovepipe shaped tornado that we tracked on the ground for approximately 5 minutes.  Eventually the tornado lifted and the system did not appear to be rotating as well anymore.

We then turned our attention to the south where another storm was showing signs of rotation.  We tracked into Williamsburg and then tried to catch it by moving east.  But by then it was moving too fast, heading for the North Liberty area. We tried to catch up but were unable to.  We called the chase after making a stop in West Branch to analyze additional storms to our south and west.  But by this time, the storms were taking a more linear shape and moving out of a desired chase terrain.

2011-05-22 16.47.24In the end from our point of view it was a successful chase on two levels. We captured the tornado and we have heard of no reports of any injuries that it caused.  We did hear that some power poles were snapped by this tornado.  Some people in Howard County in northern Iowa were not as lucky. Hopefully the destruction in those areas is not serious.

The other big aspect of these storms was the hail.  Take a look at the image to the right.  This is from storm chaser Dan Gottschalk and it shows the size of the hail he found in the Olin area (Jones County).

Thanks to everyone who was patient with us today as we tried to track a tornado and keep a live chat going from the field. It was a great experience and I’m glad we were able to keep it all up and running.

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