July 17
Northeastern South Dakota
A slow moving cold front was entering eastern North Dakota and draped itself into
northeastern South Dakota.  A shortwave trough was also entering western South Dakota
enhancing the lift over the area.  In addition, a subtle surface low formed along the cold
front over  northeastern South Dakota enhancing the vertical shear.  The Buffalo Ridge
area always seems to have a least one event per year showing what 25 kts of directional
shear and 3000 j/kg of surface CAPE can do in terms of creating supercell thunderstorms.
The Monday-Friday gig kept me tied up a lot longer than I was planning on so I got a late start.  I texted Drufke in the
morning asking if he was interested in heading out east of Aberdeen with the intent of heading west no later than 11 am
to be in position for initiation.  Well, luckily for David he slept in as I didn't even leave Minneapolis until a little after 3 pm.  
I  exchanged phone calls with Eric Whitehill who was sitting on the ND/SD border on I29.  I urged him to head southwest
towards Britton, SD to be  the eyes on what the developing TCu were doing.  It drove me nuts as I could see the huge
towers to the west once I got to Willmar, MN and see another tower just southwest of Ortonville, MN pushing against the
cap only to orphan out and try again.
Once I got to Ortonville,MN and crossed into SD, I turned north on SD 109 towards Milmot with the idea of intercepting
a tornado warned supercell between Sisseton SD and Browns Valley MN.  About 10 miles north of Big Stone City SD I  
finally got to see what that tower I had been watching for hours while driving looked like west of Ortonville.
I turned north at Wilmot SD heading for Peever SD when I started to get my first good look at the base.  I was very aware of
my river crossings and really wanted to make sure Browns Valley was a real option.  Nick Elms had sent me a text a little
Be sure to check out Nick and Amanda's pics of the hail on their blog by clicking HERE!  Impressive stuff.
Nice looking storm between Peever SD and Browns Valley MN.  It actually looked a little elevated after dropping off the
ridge.  Over the years I've noticed sometimes you get localized pooling of moisture along the Big Stone and Traverse
valley from a combination of orographic features and evapotranspiration and the LCL will lower again.  Not today or not
immediately anyhow.
Almost into Browns Valley MN now as the cell moves a little southeast. Trying to beat the hail core which looks to pass
just north of the town...maybe.
The storm was just crawling along.  Maybe 20 mph tops.  Easily made the corner at Browns Valley and set up just
southeast of town.  There were other tornado warned supercells just to the west and southwest of this one.  If you look
closely it the bright spot on the horizon, you can see a lowering just off to the side of the rain and hail core from another
tornado warned storm.  This photo was taken at 7:26 pm.
Was able to stay at the same spot fort about 15 minutes.  Decided the other storms to the west would be a better play as
this one did not look tornadic at all.  It looked awesome on radar but that was about it.
I didn't want to risk baseball sized hail back at Browns Valley so headed back to Ortonville to cross the river but took a
moment to make a photo stop at an overlook on Big Stone Lake.
Looking southwest over Big Stone Lake at mammatus on the anvil.
After a splash and dash fuel stop in Milbank, SD, everything lined out really fast.  There were still tornado warnings on the
line, but nothing looked like it may produce a tornado as a bow echo took over.  Eric Whitehill and I decided to ride it out in
a car wash so I popped back over the border and met him in Madison, MN.  Photo is a two shot stitch taken at 9:19 pm
looking northwest about a mile up 75 from the 75/40 intersection.
Top wind gust was only 63 mph but it did knock out power in town for about 15 minutes.  Once the core passed us, the
decision to head home was made.  Eric had an easy north route but I had to head east at some point.  Decided to take the
7/59/9/23/55 route home and stay out of the southeast moving line and maybe catch some lightning on the way back.
Most of the lightning was pretty lame once I did turn east and the food stuff was really infrequent so kept driving.  Once I
got west of Kimball MN and almost home, I thought I would at least give it a try.  Most of the spider lightning was really
dim and the cloud to ground strikes were far off so I set the f stop about 2 stops off from where I usually do in hopes of
getting at least something salvageable for the website.
And of course this happens.  This is 11 mm at f4.5.  Pretty flippin' close ad of course it blew out the origin.  Decided
enough of this and make the last 25 miles home without incident.
Click the image above to go to the YouTube page for some video clips for the day.  Not a bad day
considering I left 4 hours late!