May 31, 2009 chase account


Strike four! I was reluctant to even chase this day, but since I had just received my new laptop and could now view data away from home and without relying on a nowcaster, I wanted to get out and test things anyway. I didn't (and still don't) have mobile broadband, or a phone that can tether, so I had to find WiFi hotspots to get data. I was fine with that. There are plenty of spots around that have free WiFi and I was excited just to have data.

I targeted southeast Nebraska. Instability and shear were marginal this day, and there was only a weak forcing mechanism as the main cold front was up north in South Dakota. I pushed that target aside, though, because it was farther away and instability looked to be even worse there. Plus it was a cold front...what chance did it have? Well, it turned out to be more productive than anything I chased.

After a pit stop in Council Bluffs, I headed west on I-80 towards Lincoln when I passed by the entire VORTEX2 armada with TIV going the opposite direction. Seeing that, part of me wanted to stop and turn around because the event of 40 professional meteorologists (more knowledgeful and skillful than me) collaborating on a chase target different than the one I picked tugged at my logical side, but I didn't want to look like a copycat or tag-along for doing so. Plus, the only thing I didn't like about heading farther west was subsidence from the shortwave trough that was passing by. Other than that, it looked better towards central NE. Thus, I maintained my target and stopped to watch things in Lincoln.

Finally around 6:00, storms fired southeast of town. They looked like ordinary cells, but I didn't care because, for a brief time while watching things earlier in the day, I thought I would be going home without even seeing a single storm. Well, there were no surprises on this day: these storms indeed never did much. They were little more than glorified ordinary cells. They did produce some hail, but I saw none of it. I saw lightning, high CB bases, and narrow rain shafts. That's about it.

I did meet Mike Hollingshead while watching the crapvection off Highway 34 in Cass County. I am a big fan of his site,, so I was mildly starstruck when I met him. His beat up black Mustang was not hard to recognize, though.

That aside, I followed the storm east across the river (bad crossings on the Missouri river between Nebraska and Iowa! I had to pay a damn toll just to cross in Plattsmouth. If you need to cross it between the two states, cross either at Nebraska City, Omaha, or Sioux City. I don't know about the Blair crossing, though.). It petered out as the sun began to set. However, other storms started to go up around it, so I stopped at the intersection of Highway 184 and J18 in Fremont County to watch what was there. On the way, I passed by much of the V2 armada again and the TIV, which pulled off a three-point turn on 184 right in front of me. I was impressed by its mobility. Luckily no one else was coming the other way, though. That about did it for the day.

Most of these images are more artistic than meteorological. This one is a prime example. Fuzzy anvil with high and narrow updraft base, but moon showing through. *Beats small conga drums* Chase/art picture 1
Another example. For some reason, I took this picture at an angle, so when I uploaded it to my computer, I rotated it so that the content matched how it appeared in reality. That explains the white triangles on the corners. My video camera was on the tripod because I was doing some timelapse on the storm to the southeast/trying to get some lightning on video. Chase/art picture 2
If you look at it from really far off, it looks kind of like a squid... Chase/art picture 3
The most meteorological picture from this chase. Cool how the rain shafts flow into the storm bases as they descend. It shows there must've been some shear there, though, or some strong storm relative inflow near the surface. Chase picture 4

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