The Tswails.com “Into The Storm” Chase Powered By Dahl Ford finally hit meteorological gold on Friday. We woke up in Bismarck, North Dakota. The day promised an outbreak of super cells to the north. No ambivalence. Time to move. Along with a horde of like-minded chasers (for example Reed Timmer of Discovery Channel fame), we bucketed up to Minot. It was packed with chase tours, professional chasers, tornado hunters from Canada,and even a DOW (Doppler on Wheels).
The day was hot. Pushing 92 degrees and the winds were gusting around twenty to thirty miles per hour. It was a perfect set-up for super cells to develop and mature.
But first we must wait while the atmosphere did it’s thing.
It’s sorta like kicking the tires of a new vehicle.
You pull over on a side road and get out and watch. You amble across the road. Heads are scratched. Eyes roam the sky. Opinions are polled. Sometimes the banter gets animated.
But finally. It. Is. The. Show.
We chose our target. A super cell east of Minot. It was a classic super cell. We could see the rotating updraft from miles away. Just spinning like a top.
A wall cloud appeared and hovered low on the horizon. We had a front row seat. The sky kept producing fascinating images over and over again. It wasn’t long before the cell was tornado warned.
We followed the storm. It was clearly reorganizing and gaining strength. It dropped another wall cloud and we waited. The structure was glorious. There were striations of blues, grey, and black swirling together.
Gustnadoes appeared in the distance. (A gustnado is a short-lived surface-based vortex.) They only last for a minute or so but can be pretty visual. When they cross the highway, it’s like being engulfed in a sandstorm.
We actually saw a gustnado over water which was amazing. It rose up from the lake like a waterspout.
Throw in a few rainbows and it was visual overload.
After five hours of chasing this cell it again recharged. Wham. Another powerful look at the underbelly of the beast.
But at the end of the day there simply wasn’t enough moisture in the air to produce a tornado.
But this chase had all the bells and whistles of a thrill ride. The cell produced hen—egg-sized hail (which we avoided), wind gusts of up 83 m.p.h., lightning, blinding downpours, and dramatic visuals. A complete package.
We ended the chase in Grand Forks, Minnesota. A celebratory dinner at Appleby’s wrapped things up perfectly (Thank you to John Miller who treated us and to Kholby Martin for the adult beverages).
There is simply no weather to chase today, so we are wrapping up the 10th anniversary of the tswails.com “Into The Storm” Chase Powered By Dahl Ford. While there could be some chase opportunities late Sunday, jobs, children, responsibilities beckon us home.
But. We’ll be back.
Because once you chase. You will chase again.