July 26th 2011 Hoven, South Dakota Tornado

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: MDT
States Driven: MI, IL, WI, MN, ND, SD
Miles: 1306
Departure City: Monticello, MN
Target City: Leola, SD
Ending City: Willmar, MN
Outcome: Tornado, Heavy Rain
Chase Pics: Unavailable

I had been watching this setup closely for about a week based off the Euro (ECMWF) model, as it showed a decent trough ejecting into the northern plains with a decent surface low for late July. I had been longing for a chase ever since 6/20, but the synoptic pattern has really hampered things down. With a large high pressure system dominating the central U.S. and temps surging into the 100's, the only play for decent storms was farther north into the Dakota's where the jet stream was at. Any disturbance or shortwave through that area (along with a few other ingredients) would surely kick off storms - this was what I was waiting for.

4/22/11 St. Louis, MO Supercell

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: MDT
States Driven: MI, IL, MO
Miles: 1002
Departure City: Battle Creek, MI
Target City: St. Louis, MO
Ending City: Effingham, IL
Outcome: Extremely Heavy Rain, Frequent Lightning
Chase Pics: Unavailable

This chase was a quick one, and my first chase of the 2011 season. It was Friday, and I had Cloud Physics in the morning at 9AM. I went to the class, and as soon as it got out at 10AM, I headed straight down to Battle Creek, MI. From there, I switched some of my gear into the new chase vehicle (more details later once it gets finished), and my Dad and I took off to my target city of St. Louis. I wasn't sure if we would be able to make it on time before the storms rolled through, but we managed to make it just on time.

Bombogenesis & 2010 Statistics

The lowest inland (non-tropical) barometric pressure in the United States was recorded today in Big Fork, MN at 2213Z. The recorded pressure was 28.20" or 954.96mb! This potent system laid down a serial derecho that stretched from MI all the way to AL. Along the way, the SPC issued numerous Tornado watches including one PDS Tornado watch due to the incredible amount of shear in the atmosphere. 0-1km helicity values pegged around 900 m^2/s^2 and while not much CAPE was present, the wind shear was enough to produce many small spin-ups embedded in the line. Further south into AL, discrete cells formed out ahead of the line increasing the tornado threat across Dixie Alley as they played with the ample amounts of helicity. The SPC also had an area outlined as a High risk, which is the first high risk since May 19, 2010. Lower Michigan was also included in the High risk for a little while, which makes it the first High risk for Lower Michigan in 9 years, and the first High risk in MI in 3 years. This event was also rare in the fact that it was only the third time in history that the SPC has issued a High risk in the month of October. While I'm on the statistics train, I might as well throw in a few more interesting statistics so far from the 2010 season.

UPDATE: A FEW OF THE RECORDS HAVE BEEN RECALCULATED TO ADJUST FOR TRUE MEAN SEA LEVEL PRESSURE, AND STANDS AT 955.2MB. SEE MORE HERE: Official NWS statement on the pressure record

August 12th, 2010 SD/MN Supercell/Tornado

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: SLGT
States Driven: WI, MN, SD
Miles: 710
Departure City: Tomah, WI
Target City: Wheaton, MN
Ending City: Sioux Falls, SD
Outcome: Tornado (1)
Chase Pics: Gallery

This would be my final "long range" chase of the season before I headed off to CMU. Things were looking really good for Thursday in north-eastern South Dakota, and into west-central MN. Friday had looked alright, but at the time I was focused on Thursday to be the day. We headed out on Wednesday evening, and made it to our usual spot: the 90/94 split in Wisconsin. We drove all morning and early afternoon to our general target area which was the NSD/MN triangle area.

The atmosphere looked primed, as CAPE values climbed with excellent shear and helicity in place. A few things were left to be desired including a rather strong 700mb cap, and weak low level lapse rates.

7/22/10 & 7/23/10 Chase Recaps

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: SLGT, SLGT
States Driven: MI
Miles: 215, 128
Departure City: Battle Creek, MI
Target City: None
Ending City: Battle Creek, MI
Outcome: Heavy Rain, Scud (SLC's)
Chase Pics: Unavilable

July 22nd was kind of a surprise day here in Michigan. I wasn't expecting much this day, because the main action looked to be just across the lake in extreme northern Illinois, and southern Wisconsin. For some reason or another, I stayed up pretty late, and woke up early to assess the weather situation. Not seeing any great potential for us, I ate some breakfast, and did a few things including getting my car ready for the next day. Eventually I went inside, and took a nap. Sometime around 4 o'clock or so, my weather radio went off. Having my radio set to only go off for tornado warnings, I realized our County was indeed in a tornado warning.

7/18/10 Severe Multicells in Southern Michigan

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: SLGT
States Driven: MI
Miles: 224
Departure City: Battle Creek, MI
Target City: Grand Rapids, MI
Ending City: Battle Creek, MI
Outcome: Hail (1/8"), Shelf Cloud, Lowering/Downdraft Feature
Chase Pics: Unavailable

This setup did not look spectacular; then again, how often are Michigan setups amazing? Michigan has lately had problems with anvil blow-off, or cloud cover inhibiting surface heating which results in less instability in the atmosphere. We have also had issues with veered flow. Most setups are usually linear with surface winds from the southwest. To create more directional shear, or turning in the atmosphere, it is helpful to have southeast winds-sometimes referred to as backed winds.

Fortunately for us, the models were indicating some backed winds over towards the lakeshore area and northeast of the surface low. Mesoanalysis showed a nice theta-e axis from St. Joseph to Grand Rapids. While the most CAPE was down south, the better helicity, and moisture convergence was further north near the warm front.

Midwest Tornado Outbreak June 5th, 2010 and Battle Creek Tornado Survey

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: MDT
States Driven: MI, IL, IA
Departure City: Battle Creek, MI
Target City: Peoria, IL
Ending City: Joliet, IL
Outcome: Tornadoes (7), Wall Cloud
Chase Pics: Gallery

6/4/10 Michigan Severe Storms

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: SLGT
States Driven: MI
Departure City: Battle Creek, MI
Target City: Oshtemo, MI
Ending City: Battle Creek, MI
Outcome: Wall Cloud, Brief Downpours
Chase Pics: Unavailable

Not much to say here. This was your average Michigan chase-well maybe a bit better. We headed out in the afternoon, and drove over by Oshtemo. We sat there for a bit, put some rain-x on the windshield, and ate a quick supper at Culver's. The roasted chicken sandwiches are amazing! Anyways, by that time a few cells started firing over the lake, and I wanted to sit tight a little longer to see if they would mature.

As the cells came on shore, they were still just your basic cells, and nothing that stood out as "interesting" or supercellular. At that time I noticed a nice storm forming north of Hastings. We raced back on I-94 towards Battle Creek, and then headed north on I-69. Near Lansing we could begin to see the base, as well as a decent wall cloud. The wall cloud reformed several times, sometimes more prominent than others.

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