The Mosquito Run

02 June 2015

While our initial target for today was in the same state we were starting in, we were starting on the western border of South Dakota and our target was Aberdeen, in the Northeast. It was a mere 5 and a half hours away, but we were taking a slightly longer route as we had a feeling that we’d want to head north before we got that far. Sure enough by the time we reached our road where we had the option of going further north, into North Dakota, we could see an updraft that would need our urgent attention.

Everything looked perfect for an intercept by simply driving on the one road we had available. The updraft repeatedly exhibited the sort of characteristics that give you hope as you see them from a distance. The anvil was spreading out nicely, showing good wind shear, some rotation and air obviously rising fast through the cloud. For once we’d made the exact right call as early as we could have made it, so we felt ahead of the curve. The excitement built as we got closer, some people (or at least one over excited storm chaser cum self-publicist) ahead of us reported a rotating wall cloud on it.

Unfortunately, as we arrived, the storm chucked all its positive attributes out the window and went into full-on fizzle mode. I setup a time lapse and this would be the first time we realised how many mosquitos the area had. In tandem with the natural beauty that lots of lakes bestows on the area, comes the horrendous levels of biting insects. We covered up with DEET and hoped that we’d still have some blood left by the end of the day.

After the storm had well and truly passed we considered our options. A lot of people headed off to get to tomorrow’s chase target in Colorado. There was another storm to the northwest but it was a long way off and roads were not good for getting closer to it, however it was coming our way. We decided to wait and see if either; something popped close by or, this storm would make its way to us. With a long drive to follow, one way or another, it was time to snooze. 45 minutes of snoozing later and the storm was getting much closer, so we headed out to meet it.

Car Under Tree

We found a good position to watch it roll towards us and it showed of some great structure in the evening light.

Weather Photo Cell Over North Dakota Mo River

I setup another time-lapse here, and because I couldn’t risk opening the doors too often as each time would create opportunities to fill the car with the biting bastards so I adopted the mosquito run. This involves running fairly quickly with a tail wind as they can follow more readily with the wind on their side, then you can walk back with a headwind, which means your air relative speed is about the same as when you were running with a tailwind. This essentially precludes them being able to stay with you, provides a bit of exercise, and means that you only lose about a litre of blood per hour.

We stopped in a couple more places and caught some good views from different settings, but the storm was fading as it moved into the same atmospheric environment that had killed off the first storm of the day. There were some great views as it faded though, and some good exercise provided by the mosquito running…

Storm Updraft

Storm Fading Over North Dakota

There were two other storms firing to our east that looked fantastic, though unreachable, but fortunately they didn’t amount to much.

Storm Firing In Eastern North Daktoa

As the storm faded in the last of the light we decided to head on to Nebraska, to put us in good stead to get to Colorado for midday and be ready for what looked like a great setup. It was a long day of driving, but in the end we’d seen some great sights to make it well worth the trip.


SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Tue June 2015

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Tue June 2015

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