Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stuttsman and Barnes County Chase - 5-15-19

So it's been a while since I've updated by blog.  I know there were people wondering "What happened to 2018?".  Well, there wasn't much in 2018 chase wise, and the photos I shot I didn't feel were blog-worthy.  Yes, we had a couple of dates which had some pretty storms, but nothing which I would consider overtly spectacular.  Maybe in the future I'll go back and edit a few blogs and toss up some photos - not entirely sure.  If there's anything you want to see for dates, let me know and I'll work on tossing some pictures up from that day! 

Now it's 2019. Time for the first blog of the new year. 

There's been a few changes over the last year as well - one of the largest and most recognizable to the public is I am no longer using my trusty old Dodge Durango for chasing.    You'll see a new vehicle on the road this year!  It's not quite ready for prime-time, so this first chase really was to work out some of the bugs associated with getting a new vehicle chase ready.  I don't have all the radios wired in yet or the logos on the side, but the core of it is ready - and no time like the present to use it!  I did find there's a few things which will need to be altered before my first 'major' chase.  (And we still have a few surprises in store for our viewers!)

But, on to the chase log! 

We need there was a chance for some storms on Wednesday - I even had this in my 7-Day outlook from when I filled in on air last week.  But, it wasn't going to become apparent until the day of. 

I then woke up to this:

20190515 1200 UTC Day 1 Outlook Graphic

And I knew I would be chasing today! 

Our expectations were not all that high - we knew we'd have some storms, but with high bases, it should make for some decent storm structure with supercell-characteristics, but I was amazed with what I saw today. 

By the 3pm Outlook, we had a 2% risk for a tornado, but with the overly high bases, it would be a stretch:

20190515 2000 UTC Day 1 Tornado Probabilities Graphic

After I ran to the station to pick up some camera gear and to chat with our news director and producers, a quick conversation with Justin on targeting, the chase was on!

I blasted west on I-94 towards Jamestown, and there's a couple of things I need on a chase - water, food, and occasionally, caffeine!  I wasn't able to get a good lunch in and I haven't been sleeping the best lately, so a quick pit stop, top off the new truck, and get fuel for the chase and I ended up a few miles west of Jamestown just off of I-94.

Just west of Jamestown. 

Not too much for storm structure, but I knew I needed to wait.  There were two areas of convection I was watching - one south of Bismarck, and then another area northeast of Bismarck.  The computer models (HRRR really) was consistent with taking a cell, and then sending off to the southeast, and with it giving it supercell-like-structures.  The catch is, which one was it?  I also looked at mesoanalysis, and after a little while of waiting it was easy to figure out it was going to be the northern cell. 

I then headed north towards Pingree, and with the storm motions and lack of good road options I opted to let the storm come to me. 

Getting the planting done! 

Then the storm quickly became severe warned and it started to show much better organization on radar. 

This is what the cell near Linton, ND looked like...from Pingree. Note the clearing behind it - this was the cold front! 

Showing organization!

I was then treated to an almost constant rumble of thunder! 

In watching radar, I was seeing the cell cycle - it would get stronger, rain on it's inflow, and then pulse down.  Then, it started to really get it's act together and the VIL started to spike and my hail markers on my laptop started showing 2-3 inch hail possible!  Yikes!  Time to get out of the way.  (I don't want to have to explain to my insurance agent how I need a new windshield after the FIRST chase of the year!)

Note the hail shaft off to the right.

About this time I noted it was starting to get a wall cloud going and showing rotation.

The entire inflow was rotating into the cloud base!  Pretty neat!

It was about this time I called NWS Bismarck to let them know what I was seeing.  Now, the chances of this thing dropping a tornado was pretty slim, simply due to the very high cloud bases. 

Pano of the cell. 
But, it still made for a pretty sight! 

The cell continued to be severe warned, and then really started to get it's act together near Spiritwood.  

At this point 3+ inch hail was possible with over 60mph winds, which would result in a very bad day for me if I continued east.  I then dropped down by the Spiritwood exit off of I-94 and watched as the cell put on one heck of a show: 

Wall Cloud
It showed almost constant lightning, and then a very pretty pink wall cloud developed!  There was some rotation to it, but it was not overly impressive.  

After watching this and talking with our staff back at the station, I started to make my way back to Fargo, and made it home in time to be in bed before midnight.  Not too bad for the first chase of the year!  

Not bad for storm reports!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Richland and Wilkin County 6-21-17 Chase

I know I've been really slow with my blog updates over the last few chases, as life has kept us very busy.  This chase though was really fun, as it was for the most part a very slow moving supercell.  I ended up out near Leonard, ND, where it started to show signs of life.

As a few of us hung out and waited, it started to get a little more organized.

Nice developing wall cloud!
It was around this time the storm became severe warned, and the chase was on!

I followed it through Richland county, where it kept getting more and more organized.  There was a boundary in Ottertail County and there was concern of what would happen when this storm interacted with that boundary.

Much more organized
Shortly thereafter, the storm went tornado warned, after a couple of calls to the NWS office in Grand Forks.

 Once I got onto the Minnesota side, it did produce a tornado.  This was the best shot of it I could get, as it was wrapped in rain and hail.  The bright white area is most likely the tornado.  Chasing rain wrapped and hail wrapped storms are never fun.

I kept following this storm into Ottertail County, where it was clearly starting to become undercut.  While the image below looks scary, it is just outflow from the storm hitting the dusty roads.

One more shot near Ashby. 

After this chase, I ended up having some dinner with my fellow chaser and good friend Bill Doms at Ten Mile Lake Resort.  Great good and great people!  Of course, when I showed up people were a little nervous as they had just seen me on TV doing reports for Valley News Live, but I assured them we were just fine as I was ordering a burger.

After dinner, Bill and I were treated with an awesome sunset on the longest day of the year.

Many more chases to come, but I wanted to at least get some pictures from this day out for you to see!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

South Dakota 6-13-17 Chase

Not too many chase blogs so far for 2017!  This is both a good and a bad thing.  Good, because most of us really don't want severe weather.  Bad because we really do need the moisture as a good portion of ND and SD are in a slight drought and I know the farmers need some rain.

This day was a day where it looked like we were going to have some pretty decent parameters for severe weather, primarily in the southern valley and into SD and MN - wherever the warm front set up.  North of the warm front we'd see elevated showers and thunderstorms which might just drop some larger hail and have some gusty winds.  But, it looked like a decent day for a tornado, which brought in chasers from all over, from the tour groups to people on their storm chasing vacations.

Originally though, the warm front looked like it was going to lift much further north into central North Dakota - however, that all changed when we had that line of storms blow through the morning of the 13th.  If you remember that morning, we had the line of thunderstorms blow through, and then we had very strong winds behind it.  This basically created a wake low which helped to prevent the progression of the warm front to the north.  While it still surged north, it did not go as far north as many of the weather models were predicting that day.  It made our job at Valley News Live all that much harder with trying to put together our weather plan for that day.

But, even though we had a 10% risk for tornadoes in the valley, it still made for a tricky day!

It started off with me running to the station and then during our weather meeting with Hutch, Robert, and Lisa, it was determined I would have someone go with me to help with navigation and phoners back to the station in the event things got a little crazy.

Since Alex Eagan has the day off, I called him and said "How fast can you make it to the station?".  Within a few minutes he was on his way, and so were we.

We made our way down towards Britton, SD and then watched this supercell in central SD go up and then go tornado warned.  We watched it and boy, did it put on a good show!

We ended up playing catch up and keep ahead of this storm as much as we could.  Very fun chase with lots of good shelf cloud action!

We were able to run into a few other chasers this day, including my good friend Bill Doms.  (Granted, he did end up spending the night before as well!)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Alex Eagan.  Sports and weather extraordinaire. 

As the storm kept getting closer, it eventually got north of the warm front and started to surge to the east.  This made it difficult for us to keep up and at some point, we knew we would have to fight with two things - 1.  Road network to get back to I-29 or I-94.  2. Where do we want this to overtake us.

We were finally able to get into ND at the Havana, ND crossing and we started to make our way to the east, the line was overtaking us at every turn.  At one point near Lidgerwood, we had a number of gustnadoes right along the leading edge giving us a couple of moments of pause.  Then, we made our way to Hankinson and ended up letting the line overtake us there and we made our way back to Fargo.

This system started a little bit more of an active pattern for us which is bringing some much needed rain, but also colder temperatures!  As I write this it's barley 60 degrees outside with winds out of the north giving us, dare I say it...WIND CHILLS!  Where's our summer gone?

One of the neat items we started to do with this chase is we started to stream my live chase cam on Facebook and I think through the VNL Weather App!  Let us know what you think - you'll be able to hear and see inside the VNL Storm Team vehicle along the way!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A relaxing day in Buffalo River State Park

After a pretty stressful month, not just watching what happened earlier this week, but just a very busy month with the end of hockey and everything else, I took the day off and went hiking at the Buffalo River State Park and brought along my camera.

I was hoping for more wildlife today, maybe see some deer, but they all appeared to be hiding.  Instead, I had a couple of Robins who followed me around a good portion of my hike today!

Nice little bend in the Buffalo River.  No ice on the river.  

Here's two of the robins which were following me around. 

I could hear them long before I could see them!  

I love listening to the running water.  I stood here for probably 10 minutes just watching and listening to the water run. 

Two Robins, caught mid-fight.  

I think this little guy followed me around for about 45 minutes.  He was always right behind me.  Every once in a while I'd hear a chirp out of him, but he just kept a close eye on me.

Still watching me. 
 As I was getting ready to leave, I could hear some more geese honking away on a section of river.  I made my way down the trail to where I thought they would be, and they just hung out for a little while, and then took off.

My camera wasn't quite on the right setting for today, with the sun being almost directly overhead, so it made for a difficult shot.

Overall, a very enjoyable spring day!