Friday, June 6, 2014

6-5-14 Cass/Ransom County Tornado Warned Storms

So first of all, I have to say a BIG thank you to someone for letting me go chase today.  So, uhm, THANK YOU mysterious person!  :)

Now, this was a day which I got up, looked at the HRRR, and said "yeah, we're going to see some pop up storms today.  Maybe a few hailers."  Robert Hahn on the other hand, said at about 1pm "The non-supercell tornado parameter looks interesting in ND today."  Note to self, listen more to Robert, because boy, was he right!  Right around 4pm, we saw our first tornado warning show up for Cass County.  And, I was out the door like a flash. I think between door to chasing was all of 4.5 minutes.  Not that I was counting, but it helps when you keep your summer 'go bag' ready at all times.

I was off for Casselton as quick as I could, while Ashley Bishop and Matt Moore were already off covering the storm.

Once I got a little south on 18, I was treated with a really nice rotating wall cloud.  Too bad I was on the wrong side of it, and got a ton of rain and hail so nothing turned out.  Boo for being late to the party.

I kept party rocking on though, and got a little south and got out of the core and was treated to this on the leading edge.  You can see the precip core off to the right.
Lighting anyone? 

During this entire time, the storm was tornado warned.  The wall cloud I had previously seen had gotten eaten up on the backside and totally fell apart, but this did not mean the storm was totally done.

Better shot of the leading edge.

The storm started to gain strength again, and as I went south, I went through the town of Leonard, and went west a little bit.  I could tell from my radar updates things were starting to get a little more interesting.  I also could tell the storm was starting to get much more organized, and I knew where the action area most likely would be.  This meant giving up some road options in the event something happened, but I knew I still could be safe if need be. And here's why:

This is a textbook North Dakota wall cloud.  Hi there!  Precip off to the right, with the updraft area starting to get cranking.  This wall cloud was rotating and spinning quite nicely.

Mmmm...wall cloud up close and personal. 
Yep, and it started to get it's act together.  While I was sitting here, someone came up behind me.  And it just so happened to be this guy.

Some unknown Kansas guy in front of a wall cloud.  To that I say, BOOMER SOONER!
I know he works for 'the other guys', but it's nice to know even though we compete against each other, we were able to watch the storm and chat about weather for a bit.

It was while Aaron and I were talking that things REALLY got cranking.  The inflow into the storm started to pick up to the point of where the trees were bending over, and we could see the inflow into the wall cloud start to pick up.  Would we see something today?

More wall cloud....and then?

Yep, we would.
If you look to the center of the main wall cloud, you can see a little needle-shaped thing sticking out.  That is called a funnel cloud, the precursor to a tornado.  Yes, the inflow was cranking.  Yes, this wall cloud was rotating.  Did I call the NWS?  You bet I sure did.

Another shot of the wall cloud.  You can see the inflow off to the right, and the RFD cutting in behind it. 
While this wall cloud was cranking away, we started to get some precip in here.  It sure left an interesting feature.  Hutch and I talked a long time last night about what this feature was, including looking at video, speeding the video up, looking at it in real time, and whatever it is, it sure looks like a neat little feature.

Hrm...I vote downburst.

Maybe not my brightest move of the day. 
Once the wall cloud started to surge south, I knew it was time to get out of the way.  The VIL's on this thing had spiked to over 70, and the hail marker was getting bigger.  Yep, time to get east.

At one point here, the updraft was so strong, it was sucking up the precip off the field and pulling it into the updraft.  This means we had some strong inflow just cooking into this storm.  Not many times have I seen a storm suck stuff up like this and not produce.  I tried to go east, but the hail started to get a little large for my liking, and I ended up backing off.  I think this was a pretty good idea, as I didn't feel like explaining why I needed a new windshield to someone.

Once the storm got south of 46, it started to lose strength quickly.  I was at least treated with a nice rainbow to end my day!

Overall, a pretty good chase for short notice.  One thing I did notice is there were a number of other spotters/chasers out on the road, many more than I have noticed in years past.  I'm not sure why on this storm, if it was just because it was Cass County, or just because it was close to Fargo, or people are now getting more excited about weather.  Either way, it was good to see everyone respectful of everyone else, no one driving poorly, no traffic jams, etc.  To all of our viewers on VNL, thank you for tuning in and watching all of us work to bring you your severe weather coverage.  Thank you for trusting us to help keep you and your family safe.  As we get into the heart of severe weather season for the valley, I hope you continue to tune in.  I know I couldn't be more lucky and blessed to work with such a dedicated and hard working group of folks, from Hutch, Robert, Lisa, and Mick, to our awesome news staff and management, to our production and camera operators.  We're really a team over at VNL and I feel proud every day I get the opportunity to work with these fine folks.

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