Storm Chase of April 27th, 2014.

Storm Chase of April 27th, 2014.

April 27, 2014 Off By Brian
Storm Prediction Center’s 2000z Convective Outlook.

Day two of my storm chase mini-vacation to eastern Nebraska. Also, it was the first High Risk day of 2014, although I did not chase anywhere near the High Risk (or Moderate Risk, for the matter,) location.

I woke up that morning to thunder from a slow moving Mesoscale Convective System that seemed to sit overhead for a good six hours. The MCS made the forecast that day a bit difficult. I debated either following the MCS to the east into Iowa, or staying in Nebraska. After heading east a little ways, I decided to head back towards south central Nebraska. Some storms had already started firing just south of the Nebraska-Kansas border, heading about due north.

As I closed on the most favorable looking storm, it began to rotate. When I was only minutes away, it became tornado warned, and a brief tornado was reported. I had missed the tornado, but stopped to observe the storm for a few minutes anyway. Eventually, that storm began to become more linear and less supercellular, so I abandoned it for another favorable looking storm further east.

As I drove towards that eastern storm, two more storms fired between it and myself. One in particular became very intense. I stopped and observed the storms, letting them roll over me. I was pelted by some pea, dime and then penny sized hail. As the hail came to a stop, one single quarter-sized hail stone fell from the sky; making it a severe thunderstorm. I took a few pictures, reported the hail to Spotter Network, and then followed after the storm.

Soon, that storm became more linear and less supercellular as well, so I abandoned it and went for that easternmost storm, which still looked favorable. Again, as I was a couple minutes away from it a tornado was reported. I followed after the storm, going over some very lousy road conditions (and I learned to avoid from now on roads with a “Minimum Maintenance Road” sigh ahead of them.)

As I was driving north after the storm, I saw something in the distance. It was shrouded in rain and very faint, but looked like a little finger coming from the sky. “Is that a…Nah…Couldn’t be.” I said out load, and then forgot all about it. A few minutes later, a couple tornado reports came in, very near to where I was. I still didn’t put two and two together. Later on, another storm chaser posted on Facebook a picture of what I had seen, only from much closer. It was in fact a tornado.

Eventually, the storm weakened. As it was the last decent looking storm in the entire state of Nebraska, I decided to call it a night and head back to Illinois. Once I got east of Des Moines, Iowa, I ran into a very intense non-severe thunderstorm. It had some of the craziest lightning I have ever seen, with cloud-to-ground bolts striking seemingly all around my car. The lightning I saw with that storm was much more impressive than the brief, distant tornado I saw.

But at the end of the day, I am officially on the board in 2014 with one tornado sighting. Also, since I technically saw a tornado on a High Risk day, I think that means my High Risk curse is finally over.