Plenty of Sights to See in the First Storm Chase of 2011

DSC03098It’s drawing close to midnight and I’m sitting at home finally getting my bearings on what happened over the last 12 hours.  We managed to get some quality video of a strong thunderstorm complex.  We didn’t see tornadoes, although there are numerous reports of twisters in the exact areas that we were at.  Either our timing was terrible or the rain created a lot of visibility problems.  We saw a lot of rotation and a lot of strong winds, but alas, no tornadoes where we were.

By the time we got close to the Iowa/Nebraska border we decided not to take any chances in crossing the border and let the storms mature and come to us. They did pretty quickly.  Click here to see a time lapse of the anvil off in the distance that we captured near the border with Nebraska.

This was kind of the beginning of a long day of catch up.  The storms were moving at times around 60mph.  With a less than ideal road network in this part of the state, it made keeping up with the storms very difficult.  Once we got somewhat close to a storm we have to try and anticipate the direction it would go IF it began rotating.

DSC03106It took a couple of hours but we managed to catch up with a rather strong cell making it’s way through southwest Iowa.  That’s where we came across a rather strong mesocyclone.  Ironically we were coming up to the rotation with a rather large and vivid rainbow in the images as well.  Definitely a lot of hail in this storm, but now in retrospect I am wondering if there was also a brief tornado in this sector of the storm.

At any rate, we were still a little bit behind but managed to catch up and track this storm through a couple of counties.  At this point we debated going after another storm, but the dynamics we knew wouldn’t last for very long were fading along with the sunlight. 

It was at that point that we started making our way back to eastern Iowa, following the line of storms the entire way back.  You can see that by clicking here to see our compilation video of what we saw today. The video includes the heavy rain, wind and hail that we ran into.

The hail really didn’t reach severe limits, but there sure was a lot of it.  It was a long and nail-biting drive home in the dark, but eventually we made it.  Although kind of a bust for us there were tornadoes captured on tape which is always good news.  The best news of all is that no one was hurt.  Always the best news. 

As for the days ahead, no real chances for severe weather in the offing, but today sure served as a great warm up chase for the rest of the season that lies ahead.  A reminder, if you have pictures of today’s storm, you can share them with us by emailing them to [email protected]

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