7/1/97 chases by Don Lloyd

From: Don Lloyd (dlloyd@INC.NET):
Subject:      Chase Notes for July 1

This system caught my interest last Wednesday or Thursday already on
the MRF--very strong for this time of year. I only hoped that no one
else would notice and jinx the thing, but by Friday, it was showing up
on TWC five day forecasts, then SPC had to go and high-risk it, and finally,
Gilbert made a big deal out of it on wx-chase and BOOM, a thermonuclear cap
was guaranteed. Anyway....

I set out Monday night with a target area between Omaha and Souix City
in mind, stopping in Iowa City (my Earthlink account is a local call).
Spend morning pouring over maps and models and decided on Souix City,
based on wind profile (best helicities here), favored quandrant of jet
streak, surging cold front to west and dry punch aloft. 18Z special
soundings confirm south half (maybe 2/3) of Iowa is too capped. At Souix
City, I revise target further north to Sheldon. Before 3pm, a red box is
issued for Minnesota...any moment, they'll issue for Iowa. A large cell is
moving into Lac Quiparle county, acquiring supercell characteristics, but
I stick with the chosen target area, expecting storms to bust through cap
in a southward propagation. At 4:30, a line of towering cumulus start
trying to push through cap just to the east and northeast...this is it!
They punch up and fizzle, punch up and fizzle--any moment, one of them is
going through and then it will be a supercell fest. Drive east, up to IA9
through Estherville, up IA/MN15 to Fairmont, east on I90 to Albert Lee.
Cells continue to push up, flatten out, rain out. By 7, I know the cap
will not be broken until dark--meanwhile, tornado warnings continue out
of cell to north which I blew off. I continue east on I90 at an easy
pace, disgusted yet hoping. Another tower tries to punch cap to my south
near Decorah, IA--big towers which would flatten up against the cap and
rain out. Is it my imagination, or is each successive punch pushing higher?
Hard to tell in the fading light of twilight. It's after 9 when I cross the
river at La Crosse, lightning is visible in the tower, and suddenly, it
blasts through the cap into a beautiful cell with knuckled anvil and an
overshooting top, visible enough in a ghostly white hue. Tornado warning
is issued Allamakee County in Iowa. Decide to wait on the east side of
the river--it's heading east into Vernon and Crawford counties--nowhere
to cross if I go back after it anyway. Head south, through Chaseburg,
appropriately enough, but the core beats me across the river. This is
a terrible area to chase: trees, hills, non-stop curves and hairpin
turns. Shoot, I'm lost, didn't I just go through Genoa ten minutes ago?
I manage to get around back of the storm, but even with intense lightning,
not much is visible. There's another storm just south but it's 11:40 and
I'm in Gays Mills, facing long ride home. Manage to navigate a dry path
between the storms until I turn northeast at Columbus. The lightning
display on the ride up US151 almost made this day worthwhile--almost.
I'm so tired by the time I reach Fond du Lac, I'm still hearing the
bleating of the EAS tone long after I turned the radio off.

Chase distance: 1196 miles

(they must've cut the chases like this out of *that* movie, eh?)

Don and Jennie Lloyd  (dlloyd@inc.net) (KB9OXW)
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

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