10/31/97 FL Chase by Steve Sponsler


From: Steve Sponsler (vortex2@palmnet.net):
Subject:      Fl. Trick Or Treat Chase Bags Excitement!

Hi All!

Halloween- October 31, 1997, Central Fl.:  I was at work all day
watching the tension mount over the internet...in particular, watching a

very rare Fl. supercell migrate from south of Tampa as it progressed
across the state on it's ENE course! (Our area was under an incredible
diffluent jet pattern...vertical wind shear was accommodating with ample

moisture.) The tension was unbearable as 4:30pm approached.

The supercell which had been in contention all day was still in the game

and
approaching Brevard County where I live! When it was time to finally go
home this
storm I had been eyeing since lunch break was going to enter the county
(Brevard) within the hour. I drove home through the moderate, persistent

rain, tornado music blasting....adrenalin pumping (pontential chase
ensuing)...we were densely OVC and LGT-MDT rain was falling on the drive

home. There was no clue that a supercell was quickly approaching from
the WSW. It just seemed like an early Halloween evening, rainy and
gloomy. (Place yourself in Present Tense)... I pull in at 4:55pm..by
now..it is VERY DARK OUTSIDE..LGT RW..and now hearing distant
thunder..also in the clouds above. It rolled, and rolled, and
rolled...weird thunder. And for living in Florida where thunder is
common..this JUST DIDN'T SOUND THE SAME. I look at the clock in the
kitchen on the way in the door...4:55pm...NO WAY!!! It's almost TOTALLY
DARK OUT...Looking out the living room window I see distant flashes on
the Western horizon over the apt. complex behind me. This is WEIRD...I'm

starting to get..SPOOKED!

Dashing past 'Twister' (my cat greeting me at the door) I grab the Wx
Radio on top of the fridge, flip it on, and dash to click on TWC. The
Radio is honking (NEEP, BEEP, GEEP, "this a severe wx statement issued
by the...." ) as the TV comes on.... Perfect timing..it's verified from
what I saw on the internet at work..the radar loop shows the SCELL is
maintaining  course...

INTERCEPT is 10 miles West on the BeeLine (Highway 528). It's time to
buzz out, now!   Looking out the window facing West..sure
enough..lightning still above the horizon.....and now even brighter.
Load the 'corder..I didn't thing I'd be in the right set up..thought
it'd be too far North to be in contention......things like this don't
EVEN HAPPEN HERE...but suddenly it's all coming together. Hop in the
car...turn on to AIA then start to head west on 528
..FLASH..CG dead ahead..it's coming WAY faster than anticipated...VIDEO
ON...NOW RECORDING..."okay...it's suddenly getting darker..there seems
to be a lowering ahead" (remember..this is a SUPERCELL Imbedded within
an area of moderate rain..and it's now almost sunset 5:20PM). Okay, so
I'm driving West and the 'corder is on...suddenly...CG!!!!
WHOA..where'd that come from...now it's getting darker
....darker...darker..DARK AS NIGHT!...I've NEVER seen it this BLACK in a

Florida Storm. You'd never believe the sun hadn't even set yet. The core

of the SuperCell is obviously
to the WSW..I'm in it's path...so I keep driving to get just west of
it's course. I'll let it pass...then turn around. If there is a
tornado..it's so rainwrapped..and so dark...I'd never see it. No sense
in placing myself directly in the path of this monster. Afterall, the
cloud base was so
low ...and so dense..it was like midnight..in an area where folks
normally drive at 60-70mph they were down to 30mph..creeping..some
pulling off...not because of heavy precip or hail..just because it's SO
DARK.. THIS WAS SCARY...and it was barely raining!!!  I couldn't believe

this was happening 10 miles from home..I felt like I was in a totally
different world..I'd never seen anything like this before..not in
FLorida. ..it
is now raining less than it had been for the past two hours!..
.Persistant lightining embedded
in the low cloud deck..obscured and observed as only low, glowing
flashes (were these power flashes?..Oh God, I hope not)...I filmed the
lowered area...observed the veering wind as I let the core pass just to
the South and East..then turned around as the wind shift verified it had

just passed...re-enterd the cell..then noted.."WHOA..what's
happening here?...the storm seemed to QUICKLY diffuse..spread out..lose
it's identity. Later radar loop obs verified..it reached the coast then
"poofed out". Although  this chase didn't "SCORE a TOR"...it was very
exciting..the way conditions changed DRAMATICALLY within seconds..and
the way that by the time I wanted to turn around....I briefly looked up
into the darkness and could tell..could SEE..the back edge rotation of a

supercell pulling out LOWER than the persistant OVC and MDT RW.

The Video will be a Treat I can enjoy for many "Weens" to Come.

Happy Halloween To All Chasers...Halloweenies!!



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