CHASE DEBRIEF: No Twisters But Plenty of Hail

mcd0766Once again our chase started out in the late afternoon hours about 3:30pm. My chase partner, Jason Walerius, and I knew we had to go west but were unsure as to go south or north from I-80 as we left the Des Moines area.

The surface front that was nearly stationary was already firing up showers at this time but the better dynamics were in SW IA near Red Oak and SE Nebraska. However, this area remained cloudy longer throughout the day and thus remained capped and less unstable. So, once we got to Avoca, we decided to take a look at the storms that would most likely be hailers along the front and just north of the front between Hwy 30 and Hwy 20.

IMG_1483Here you can see a picture (PICTURE ONE) of the towers going up around 430-5pm as we drove north on Hwy 59. About this time is when Monona county went warned with the cell straddling the Missouri river.

As we drove north we could tell that we drove through an outflow boundary as the lower cloud ceilings and north winds were evident. As we crossed into Ida county along the boundary we noticed this suspicious lowering in southern Ida county around 630pm.

IMG_1491There was no rotation but we did have good inflow and rising motion so we continued to watch for about ten minutes before it quickly dissipated. We then headed north towards Ida Grove on Jasper Rd where we saw the hail and rain core evident from afar.

IMG_1493Deciding that this storm was not going to be tornadic and we knew we wouldn’t miss anything, we decided to punch the core to see how big the hail would be.

On the west side of Ida Grove, we encountered quarter to occasional golf ball sized hail.


This was the "highlight" of our chase day, and while we don’t normally punch the core or want to get hit by hail; having seen the lack of activity in SW IA, we knew that we would only get to experience this storm so we went with it and notched a few more dents on my roof of my car.On the drive back we did manage to stop for the severe warned storm in Crawford county.

IMG_1501This pic shows the storm around 8:05pm with the rain core. We were about ten miles away so it was tough to see much. Overall, this system seemed to progress slower than we thought and thus we didn’t get the chase we thought we would but that is how chasing goes. And, with the cooler weather heading our way for the next week…we had to get some chasing in while we could!

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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