Day 21 - Twisted

25 June 2010

We woke in our nice little motel with the sun bright over the Missouri River. The models still looked great for some weather today, and we picked a starting point about 100 miles away, in a town called Brookings where we'd found a park a week or so ago - on the day we last saw a Tornado. Bound to be a good omen.On our way there we were messaged by another chaser who had noticed us being in his vicinity a few times on the spotter network tool, where chasers can follow what each other are doing and, after doing some online tests, you can submit reports of severe weather which also feeds off to the NWS storm reports.We had also noticed him being around - he seems to have a knack of teleporting around the U.S. and always being an hour or two nearer the storms, even if we're ahead of him for most of the day. Indeed we'd started using his name as a term for someone teleporting ahead of you on the spotter network maps, so it was good to hear from him.He had also chosen Brookings so soon after we stopped in the park he found us, in his car with a mobile mesonet (a small weather station attached to his roof). He's a bit of a celeb in the storm chasing community, as part of the Twistex research program, run by Tim Samaras - a storm chasing hero such as there are. Twistex are kinda like the good guys in "Twister" while Vortex2 are the baddies (well, the big, bloated, government funded lot, though they're pretty cool to be fair).Twistex are self and university funded, build there own pods to deploy in tornadoes, and have contributed greatly to the research of Tornadoes. It was good to meet some of them, as ever the chasing community continues to astound us with its generally friendly, outgoing and helpful people.Not long after he and his partner went off to join their research team we saw a new cell firing to our north. Time to move. We raced up north to get behind it so we could track it east. It was moving at a hell of a pace, parts of it appeared to be hitting 80kts. But after a very quick start it began to chill out and we were able to catch it up. By this time some new cells were firing up around the area and the cell we were on became Tornado warned.We elected to stay on the first one as long as we could. We got pretty tightly in on it, with new cells springing up behind us. The structure wasn't great from our view point, we could see it had become a powerful storm, but rain was occluding it and we were losing our chances to keep a good view on the interesting parts of the storm. We found a route south, the storm was "lining out" with multiple cells moving together. The tail end looked like a good target, but then there were some new cells forming behind the main line, also to the south. These were going to be out of the main line for a little longer, and though they weren't rotating yet, we had faith.We dropped down to these cells and got just underneath them on a road where we could track in neatly to exactly where the action should be. As we got close, it started to put on a show. First one, then two, three areas of rotation shown on radar. But we didn't need the radar for long, our eyes were enough. We got into a great view of the rotation, from close to it. We've said before in this blog how hard these things are to describe, and it's true. The updraft of the storm is pulling air off the ground so fast, into the cooler air below it, the air condenses into cloud, starting probably 100ft off the ground. This is sucked into the rotation, it's pushed in many different directions by the same shear in the air that encouraged that rotation. The lower surface of these clouds twists and turns, drops and rises, in ways that in a video without time-lapse may appear slow, but when you have a sky full of it above you, it looks eerie and powerful. We didn't need to focus too much on this aspect, however, we could see the larger rotation. We needed to be careful.We pushed on further down the road, about half a mile, and stopped again. The storm moved towards us steadily. Well, the core we were interested in did. We were currently sitting in the "rain free base" and area of the storm where no rain falls within it, as the updraft of the storm is here, and is pushing all the water into the sky, to fall elsewhere. Updrafts can go at 150mph straight upwards, they are the powerbase for the storm, and also where tornadoes form.We waited a moment longer, then pushed on another half mile. As we did, I turned to Cambo and pointed out that this looked exactly like the situation that had dropped a tornado on/behind us before, and if this one didn't drop a tornado any moment I would "eat my face". We rounded the corner, looking for a new place to stop. Suddenly cars going the other way were stopping as fast as they could. I looked in the rear view mirror. A large funnel tornado was about half a mile behind us. Looked round briefly to see it, there was debris flying around its base, it was a stunning view, but in a populated area, again. The traffic was getting hectic with people desperate to get away from it. Caught in the moment, and the adrenaline, we did the same. As we escaped any danger area, and as the tornado began to rise, Cambo got this shot. Her dream shot - of a nada out the back of a 4x4 while driving away from it. Shame it wasn't still quite on the ground, but you get the point.

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Fri June 2010

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Fri June 2010

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