Eastern South Dakota
A surface low in northeastern South Dakota, a
warm front draped a long US highway 12, a
cold front coming in from the northwest, an
outflow boundary sinking south from morning
convection in eastern North Dakota and an
MCV over central Minnesota. What could
possibly go wrong? Or possibly go right?
Chased with Jonathan Gabrelcik today. We only live a few miles apart and he had a free day so I offered to have him jump in with me since his
usual chase partner had a family obligation and was out of town. Even though our original target was in southeastern North Dakota, it quickly
became apparent the outflow boundary was going to keep the warm front from lifting. We adjusted the target enroute to northeastern South
Dakota and shortly upon arriving in Roberts county, we had this storm.
|After watching it for about 15 minutes, it became apparent it was struggling.
I dont think it was ever truly surface based. There was plenty of moisture pooling along the warm front right where we were and plenty of CAPE
also. Eric Whitehill and Robert Hahn from KVLY stopped by to chat for a bit. Jon and I decided to reposition to the south a little to keep an eye
on two developing Cu fields. One was near Ortonville, MN and the other to east of Aberdeen, SD,
After spending a couple of hours watching turkey tower after turkey tower die due to a rapid influx of dry mid level air and a low level capping
inversion, we retreated back to the Minnesota side near Ortonville to watch two developing cells about 30 miles to our west. I had a bad feeling
these would also suffer the wrath of an unfavorable environment. The first cell did as we watched it evaporate from the elevated base up.
However, the second cell just to it's north was possibly right on or just on the cool side of the warm front.
The second cell showed a lot of explosive characteristics and evidence of actually being surface based. The hard knuckling on back of the
updraft tower was a good sign. Time to head back across into South Dakota to this cell in Roberts county. It quickly shot up to 45k feet and was
On the way over to the storm, I had to stop and get a shot of the incredible sunset light over a South Dakota field of oats. You can see the
updraft base of our storm on the left side of the image just off the horizon.
|Looking east we could see some nice anticrepuscular rays back towards Minnesota.
We stopped about 4 miles west of Corona SD as the radar signature of the storm was showing evidence of having an actual mesocyclone, The
base on this baby was HUGE. This is looking north / northeast from our position.
Looking due west, Keep in mind these shots are at 11mm so the field of view is very wide making the features very close. Very evident RFD
occlusion in progress cutting hard into the updraft area. Strong rising motion being to rotate rapidly right in front of us. Time is about 9:04 pm.
About a minute later a funnel rapidly formed. The motion at this point was really good and it was evident if it did touch down, it would be in the
cornfield to our southwest and was moving east/southeast rapidly.
9:06 pm. Right after I took this shot a mini van with two men and two women in the 60's stopped and asked what they should do. We assured
them if they turned around and went back north they would be fine. The men wanted to stay and watch with us but the women wanted no part
of it! The women won out of course! The funnel dissipated as quickly as it appeared. The whole time from the RFD occlusion to nothing left
was either side of 3 minutes. Jon got some cool video of the funnel dying out nearly overhead.
Here is a video frame of the funnel as it died out overhead. In hindsight I wish I had grabbed the vid came right away but I was kind of
shocked this was even happening on this unwarned storm. I sent my stuff to the NWS in Aberdeen but they never responded. Oh well.
Nothing came of it anyhow.
|I did save a screen shot of GR3 with our position when the funnel occurred.
|Before we went back east after it I HAD to grab a shot of the back of the storm. Incredible colors and note the two areas of occlusion.
We followed the storm back to the MN/SD border but it never really did much other than generate a lot of scud under the updaft. View looking
east over Big Stone City, SD and Ortonville, MN. As we let that cell go due to another storm had rapidly formed behind this cell.
The new highly electrified cell over the Big Stone Generating Plant outside of Big Stone City, SD. This cell would keep up occupied for the
next 3 hours on the way home.
Wish I had gotten a better shot of the leaders jumping out of the tower. Some went a long ways. Been years since I had seen this close up.
After getting back into MN at Ortonville MN, we were able to flank the cell on highway 12 all the way home. Jon and I stopped a few
times to take in the strobe lightning. No cloud to ground strikes but the cloud to cloud was stunning. It was so bright and so fast it almost
made us feel a little sick. This was shot just east of Benson MN in Swift county.
|Sure was a great way to end a chase day which looked like it was going to be a near bust.