Northeast North Dakota
Usually in this area of the country when a strong trough is dropping south out of Canada,
it means a quick 4-6 inches of snow and some wind on the back side. These troughs are
usually referred to as an "Alberta Clipper" as the low forms over the Canadian prairies
before heading south into the states. Well, sometimes these potent little low pressure
systems happen during summer storm season. This is the result:
Sitting 8 miles from Canada just south of Walhalla, ND. Environment Canada had a tornado warning on the storm already
as we wait for it to come across the border. The word was NWS Grand Forks was going to tornado warn it immediately
upon crossing into the US.
|This is what chasing is about. Sharing a beastly storm on a desolate country road with some of my best friends.
Eric Whitehill, Nick Elms, and Amanda Hill. The great thing about these guys is our friendship may have started out
because of chasing, but has grown over the last 10-15 years to include our families. The only regret I have from this day is
David and Kristen Drufke couldn't make the trip due to other commitments. That would have been awesome to have all of
us together for what was about to happen.
|Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.
|Keep in mind all of these shots are with an 11-16 with most being at 11mm. It's very close to us.
Time to fly! Reports of 4" hail just across the border had us discussing road options as a supercell moving almost due
south is kind of rare. You have to take all of your storm behavior knowledge and turn it 90°!
Video grab. After heading south down to highway 5 then making the quick jog to continue on highway 32, things got
interesting real fast. Looking a little north of west heading towards Milton, ND on Cavalier CR 66. This little funnel
would make ground contact as the Osnabrock ND EF0. Periodically I could see ground contact but there was a ridge to
the west. Had I stayed back on 32 the view would actually have been better I think.
After dinging around trying to get a better view of the Osnabrock torn, I headed back over to 32 and headed south again
as this small funnel also made ground contact. I blew out the shot though so it is impossible to see. It was a challenge to
stay between the south/southeast moving tornado and the hail core bearing down from behind. This was the Milton, ND
tornado and was rated an EF1. Still pissed I blew the exposure on the shot.
Video grab. About 10 minutes later this tornado formed just west of me as I still was heading south down 32. This is the
Union, ND EF1. It was getting a little hairy as the cell kept dropping these small tornadoes pretty quickly. I had to get
south still but was slowly boxing myself in as I couldn't go west, the hail core was coming from the north, and the torandic
area was going to cross 32 at some point. Luckily this tornado dissipated fairly quickly and I used the window to get
south of the tornadic ciruclation and shoot south through Milton, ND where I met up with Nick and Amanda again. Turns
out Eric decided to risk the hail back up on 5 and headed west to stay on that side of the storm. That decision cost him
some more hail dents, but he also had full light shining in on the tornadoes! CLICK HERE TO SEE ERIC'S PICS!
|Video grab. Near Adams, ND it puts down another EF0 tornado.
The Adams tornado about to cross highway highway 32 about 11 miles southeast of Adams, ND or about 10 miles south
of Edinburg. Lankin was the closest town to this spot which was 3.5 off to the southwest.
|Click on the image above to visit my YouTube channel for video of the tornado crossing highway 32
|Nick Elms shooting some video. This would appear on NBC 6-28-15.
|It was great to be able to share this day with Nick, Amanda and Eric!
The tornado roped out about 1.5 miles east / southeast of us. I went south about 3.5 miles, east 3 miles then south which
took me directly into Fordville. There was another tornado report 2 NE of Fordville but I never saw it. The contrast was
really bad from my angle. Didn't see the Inkster torn either somehow. Once I got back on 32 and headed south again, I did
get a view of the McVille, ND EF1 but it was a LONG ways away. With LCLs around 1200m and looking slightly up in
elevation, it was visible from about 25 miles away. This particular tornado was well removed from the precip core off to
the southeast. Really weird. No chance at a shot with a 11-16mm lens for sure! The 600mm maybe!
Cut across US2 by Niagra, ND and watched the Arvilla tornado form. As I went east to get a better
view, all I ran into was shelter belt after shelter belt. It was really frustrating as I couldn't quite get a
clean view of the ground contact.
6:15 pm. This local was driving along very slowly 3.5 miles northeast of Hatton. There was another small funnel overhead
and I wanted to get south at the next intersection. The guy wouldn't move over and I was getting a little anxious. We finally
got to where I could head south again but he kept going east. Just about that time a small spin up occurred right next to
him! I'm not totally sure he even noticed. I'll post the video at some point of the whole deal. Kind of entertaining and
thankfully no harm no foul to either of us.
|6:08 pm. Still on CR 18 north of Hatton. Still kicking up dirt and dust but looks more like RFD now.
Heading south down Grand Forks CR 18 towards Hatton, ND at 6:02 pm. Hard to see in there but the EF2 is in progress.
|Looks cooler and is more visible as a black and white.
|6:44pm Disorganized wall cloud passing directly over the Mayville, ND NWS radar site.
|Popped the 70-200 lens on for a little tighter shot at 6:46 pm. Radar dome visible towards the left. It was pretty evident this
cell was rapidly dying so after a brief chat with Tyler Olson I decided to make a run down I29 to catch a cell southwest of
Fargo which was moving southeast. It was tornado warned off and on plus it was on the way home (kind of) so why not?
It's not often I'll core punch but nothing on the cell looked too bad visually or on radar so I went for it and popped out of the
rain and small hail at the Fairmount, ND exit to this. Looking northwest. It was pretty but still didn't look threatening. A
quick fuel stop and I headed east on ND 11 towards Fairmount in Richland county.
|This little storm ramped up in a HURRY! Shot 1.5 miles east of I29. Looking almost due north at 8:50pm.
Impossible to get the whole thing in one frame at 11mm. Now it was starting to look like something was going to happen
as the rear flank downdraft was RIPPING into the meso. The cascading motion in the back, strong inflow, and rapid
rotation were the tell tail signs something was going to happen.
I inched forward to the east down ND 11 as a large bowl shaped lowering spun to my north. 8:54 pm 3.1 miles east of
I29. A definite roar was coming. I was VERY careful to stay on the RFD side of the cut and not risk driving right into a
8:56pm strong RFD. I'm really bad at estimating wind speed as it always sounds worse. This would have been a good one
for the anemometer to sample. Wierd wall of mist was present right up the road. Most likely a rain curtain getting pulled
around. Nick Elms and Amanda Hill were about 1/2 mile back of me. CLICK HERE to see their view.
Click on the image above to see the video. Little shaky but you get the idea.
This was a one and done deal much like the earlier tornado up by Hatton, ND. Once the storm tornadoed, it quickly
weakened so called it a day. What a fantastic chase day spanning 8 hours of on the fly action. The lightning was pretty
lame on the way back so never even stopped. Home by 12:30 am. It was near perfect.