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High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

June 27, 2010

Chase Trip Day Ten and Eleven (June 26-27) Summary

Day Ten (June 26th) — HP Supercell from Tripp to Freeman, South Dakota

After dropping Evan off the day before, I decided to make one last go at a decent chase setup on Saturday, June 26th, which was my second to last day of my vacation.  I left KC around 7:30am hoping to get up into the Yankton-Sioux Falls area by early to mid afternoon which would give me plenty of time for repositioning if needed (say, farther west deeper into South Dakota).  I reached Vermillion and decided not to go any farther north as an outflow boundary was pushing slowly south from early day elevated convection north of I-90 in east-central South Dakota.  The thermal nose and highest dewpoints (mid 70s!) were pointing to a location from Lake Andes to Tyndall, SD, so after lunch in Yankton, I decided to head to Lake Andes.  I drove about halfway to Lake Andes when a surface-based cumulus field was developing along the outflow boundary.  For fears of overshooting possible chaseable surface-based storm development, I decided not to drive any farther west and just hung out around the Tripp-Parkston area.

A storm rapidly developed to my west-southwest and I was perfectly positioned.  I noticed on SpotterNetwork I was the only one out here close to this new rapidly developing storm as most other chasers were staging in Sioux Falls.  As expected, visibility was fairly poor given the very high dewpoints.  I didn’t really like this, from a photographic standpoint.  This was NOT a structure chase, I was totally in “tornado photography” mode at this point, and pretty much told myself that once this storm became outflow dominant or an “HP” beastie, I would most likely jump ship early.  I stopped southwest of Parkston watching the storm develop, and it had that very nice “constant grumbling” sound that signifies a very healthy updraft.  The storm was rather elongated and it was also moving fairly quickly once it developed.  I didn’t like this.  Upper level winds were not all that strong, so the storm would have to become “anchored” in order to put on a nice show of tornadoes without much precipitation screwing things up.  That was not the case.  The storm was moving fairly quickly, and since the anvil level flow was not that great, the storm-relative anvil flow was meager at best, and thus given the tremendous dewpoints, the storm quickly became an HP.  I had to navigate some county roads east of Parkston since Hwy 44 was blocked about 15 miles east of Parkston.  I drove first north of Hwy 44 to Milltown then south of the highway in hopes of getting a better view of the storm.  At this point, the storm re-organized and appeared to perhaps right-turn a little bit.  There is a county road along the James River (County Road 11) that I thought would be a great road to take to get southeast of the updraft area, but after a couple miles of this road heading southeast, it was blocked as the Wolf Creek was flooded over it.  So much for that idea.  Now I had to retreat back to Hwy 44.  Fortunately, I passed a local along the county road and asked how much of Hwy 44 was closed and he told me that if I just went a quarter mile east to the next section line road it would take me back to Hwy 44 where it wasn’t blocked.  Whew.  So I got back to 44 and continued east.  By this point, all the chasers were on the storm, most of them on Hwy 44.  A big nasty outflow surge was pushing east along the Hwy and an occluded area was noted to the northwest where there could have been a tornadic circulation.  It was so poorly visible and wrapped in rain it was hardly worth taking the camera out of the bag.  Nevertheless, I did take a few images.  This was around the 5:25 to 5:30pm or so, which was near the time that Andy Gabrielson reported a brief cone-shaped tornado as he was much closer.  I took a look at his youtube video, and yeah, there was probably a weak, brief tornado in there, but I couldn’t see it from my perspective.

That was it.  Shortly after this as I continued east on Hwy 44, the storm became less and less interesting as it was becoming a big wind and rain machine with a huge wet RFD taking over the storm.  Another small storm developed behind it which I was tempted to chase briefly back west.  I then just decided to head south, semi-blowing off the rest of the chase in favor it driving in the direction closer to home.  A more isolated storm was approaching Yankton, and I went after that.  I entered Yankton from the north and got into the core of this storm in Yankton with some half-dollar size hail exploding on the main north-south road in town.  There was a very brilliant double rainbow as I entered town, and I should have stopped to photograph this, as this was the most photogenic thing I saw all day.  I continued east a little bit on Hwy 50 to Gayville which was the farthest east I would go and ultimately blew this storm off too given the very poor photography potential.  This was essentially the end of the chase.  I grabbed a crappy Applebee’s dinner in Norfolk (par for the course for the day, I suppose) then continued on to Kearney.  I didn’t get into Kearney until about 2:15am since more storms formed very near me along the advancing cold front… and with the full moon out… provided for some interesting late night photography.  Nothing outstanding, but did get some distant lightning/moon illuminated storm structure north of Grand Island, NE.

Start:  Overland Park, KS
End:  Kearney, NE

Day Ten mileage:  848 mi.
Chase Trip mileage: 4800 mi.







Chase Trip Day Eleven (June 27th) — Drive Home

There was a slight temptation leaving Kearney, NE this morning of chasing later on this afternoon/evening in eastern Colorado as the NAM model was fairly aggressive with storm development.  Meager CAPE was an issue and the overall wind shear was not all that great either.  As I was driving south into Kansas, I made the ultimate decision to just head on home, as the setup was way too marginal to chase given I would have to drive back to Dodge City after the chase since I was due back to work Monday morning the 28th.  I got back to Dodge City around 3:00pm or so.  Photographically, this was a fine chase trip… certainly not the best ever, but it was fun to spend some time with my good friend Evan Bookbinder for a week on the road.  This will conclude organized storm chasing for the 2010 season as summer sets in.  There will probably be a few more spot chases from July to October to complete 2010, as in year’s past, on days off work perhaps.

Start:  Kearney, NE
End:  Dodge City, KS (home!)

Day Eleven mileage: 313 mi.
Final chase trip total mileage:  5113 mi.

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