June 19, 2009 chase account


Well, there was definitely a show on this day, but it had little to do with the weather.

After my week with TWISTEX earlier in the month, I figured I was done chasing with them. But I got lucky. Chris was unable to chase with the team today due to other committments, so I was called up to fill in for him! Seeing as the team was already in Iowa from the previous day's cap bust, M2 came home the night before. Thus chase partner Ben and I left from Ames in the morning to meet up with the team in southeast Iowa.

As far as the meteorological setup, it looked like a dud of a day. A cold front was forecast to move through the state during the afternoon. There are at least three things about cold fronts that I don't like to chase:

The best cold frontal severe events (at least chaseable ones) occur when a storm can develop alone ahead of the front. May 13th this year, the Kirksville tornado day, was an example of that. The lifting that day was due to a pre-frontal trough, so the lifting wasn't as linear, and the storms had a chance to fester in the unstable air mass longer before getting swept out by the cold front. This didn't look to happen today. Therefore, I wasn't all that excited about the chances of severe weather, despite the fact that SPC had a moderate risk out for parts of the Midwest, including a 10% tornado probability. With the type of forcing/lifting expected to fire storms today, I figured linear would be the preferred mode and that a wind threat would be much greater than the tornado threat. As is seen in the reports, that is exactly what happened.

Anyway, Ben and I met up with the TWISTEX crew in Ottumwa, after catching a lunch at Taco Johns in Fairfield (hey, we were trying to force some luck upon ourselves). When we met the crew at the Subway in Ottumwa, we saw a small crowd gathering around the building. Not only was it a small building with a small parking lot next to a main road, but the TIV was there, apparently joining the crew for the day. That was the main show of the day, seeing the TIV (only the second time in my life, and the first time from outside my own car...see the May 31st account). At least I got some good pictures of it. Way too many people asking us all the same questions, though.

We "chased" west along Highway 34 towards Albia as widespread storms began firing ahead of the cold front. But that was the problem: storms fired all over the place and took over. Nothing discrete ever got going. We tried to stay ahead of it by turning north towards Oskaloosa, then towards I-80, but the storms continued to build east as well as move east, eventually covering us with a downpour of rain and wind when we finally got to I-80. Even though tornado-warned storms had developed around Burlington at this time, we decided it wasn't worth it to pursue those, or any other storms, due to their likely evolution away from cellular and toward linear, and the distance we would have to travel to get to them. We were already about 1.5 hours behind the storms and they were moving east fast enough that we'd be in Indiana by the time we caught up to them 3 hours later (if we caught them at all). Thus we called it a day there. The team drove west together until Des Moines, where us and M1 (Bruce and Cathy) split north to head home, as did the others, heading west back to Denver. I was happy to at least get to see everyone again.

A profile of the TIV. Non-chase picture 1
Non-chase picture 2Non-chase picture 3Non-chase picture 4
LOLNon-chase picture 5
The TWISTEX armada, with TIV, lined up, interestingly, with the mesonets in reverse numerical order... Non-chase picture 6
A friendly, but meek, farm dog saw us sitting near his throne and decided to come over and say "hi" to us. Cute thing. Non-chase picture 7

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