For a brief time late this afternoon, things looked good… really good for a shot at some tornadoes in portions of Iowa. Late in the day, the Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for a large portion of eastern Iowa. We waited it out for a while in Iowa City. But as myself and chase partner Barry Hansen began making plans to move south, storms fired directly to our west, prompting a late change in plans.
As storms fired quickly in a matter of minutes, we traveled to Williamsburg before picking our storm and heading south. The hail production of the storms was incredible as initial development was quick and explosive upon breaking the cap that prevented storms from firing earlier in the day. We continued tracking the storm as we moved to the south, attempting to angle ourselves away from the hail and onto the back side of the storm. We were only partially successful.
We navigated some small hail in Keokuk County and continued moving south and west. There were some promising signs of rotation, albeit small, in a cell just to our west. We eventually settled on an area on top of a hill to collect more radar data, take a more focused look at the cloud structure and determine our next step.
After a short five minute stop, we moved back to the east to stay ahead of some rotation within the storm. We allowed it to overtake us a bit just southwest of South English. That’s where we pulled over with a perfect view of what appeared to be a developing wall cloud. You can see a time lapse of what we saw in this video.
Unfortunately the rotation within the storm was not great at all, which was a let down since we tracked it to an open and unpopulated area, the perfect place to spot a tornado. We continued to follow the rotation east for several miles before it became heavily rain wrapped. After spending a lengthy time deep in the core of the cell, we decided we had had enough of the wind, hail and lightning and turned north to get away from the storm.
We did hear some reports of additional wall clouds in the very area we were chasing, but with the exception of the rotation we spotted near South English, we never saw anything that really caught our interest.
Overall it was a short chase day, but certainly not unexciting. I was please Barry and myself managed to get to the point of perfect observation with the cell of our choosing that I believe provided us with the best chance of seeing a tornado. Later, the storms would form into a pretty solid bowing segment, producing strong winds and large hail as it crossed into Missouri and Illinois. It was another good day to chase and I look forward to more of these days in the coming weeks.
To see our entire photo album from today’s chase, just check out our facebook fan page.