10/31/97 WA Chase by Dave Steckler

>From:	Dave Steckler 
>Subject:	Western WA mini-chase - 31-Oct-1997
>My entire storm chasing experience consists of going a little out of my
>way driving home from work to see interesting looking thunderstorms (or
>just drive through heavy rain). Until last Friday, I had never seen
>anything *really* cool.
>I left work in Issaquah about 1:15pm. The weather was "scattered
>rainshowers" but mostly sunny. Temps were in the lower 50's. Heading
>down Issaquah-Hobart road, the sky was darker to the south, but no
>storm structure visible; a "scattered rainshower", apparently. Around
>1:35pm, I turned onto Landsburg-Summit road and it started raining as I
>got to the edge of this "rainshower". When I got to the intersection of
>Kent-Kangley and 169 (Maple Valley Hwy) at about 1:40pm, it was raining
>heavier with even more rain to the south. Following my usual pattern of
>minor diversions so as to drive through the heaviest rain, I turned
>left (south) and the rain continued to increase.
>As I approached the intersection of (some E-W street), the last chance
>to head home without *really* going out of my way, the rain was falling
>heavily, but nothing spectacular, no lightning, no winds, no hail, so I
>headed east towards home. At about 1:45, I hit the intersection of
>(some E-W street) and 216th, the rain had stopped, and I looked up.
>Hmmm. Edge of a crisp tower almost directly over me, but slightly
>south. Couldn't really see the size (other clouds in the way), but it
>was rare to see something so crisp in the fall here in Washington in
>October. So instead of heading home (E on Covington-Sawyer), I went
>south on 216th towards Black Diamond. Within a mile or so, the rain got
>heavy, and then *extremely* heavy with small hail(!) mixed in. Zero
>visibility, wipers at high speed. Neat. Standard psuedo-storm chase for
>me, so I thought.
>At about 1:55, I approached the intersection with the Auburn-Black
>Diamond road. The rain stopped abrubtly and, uh, what's *that*? Because
>there is a sizable clearcut, I could see a well defined wall cloud
>approximately 1/4 mile south of the intersection. No rotation was
>visible. The general cloud base was probably 600 AGL but the wall cloud
>was at times on the ground (or darned close!). The upward motion was
>amazing. Ok, I'll fess up. I don't really know if I was relieved or
>dissapointed that there was no significant rotation (and let me tell
>you, I was *looking* :-) This novice had just inadvertantly
>core-punched and was 1/4 mile away from a wall cloud exhibiting *rapid*
>updraft. Whoa.
>With more than a little fear it suddenly occurred to me that this was
>probably moving towards me (I assumed the prevailing winds were out of
>the SW as usual), so I turned around and started slowly back north,
>keeping an eye on the updraft. It quickly became apparent that this
>storm was actually moving to the SE (!?). In retrospect, I find it
>interesting that fear suddenly turned into "It's getting away from
>me!". I quickly turned around, got on Auburn-Black Diamond going East.
>The rain core briefly caught up with me as I turned SE on (I think it's
>called) Railroad Road, cutting the corner back over to hwy 169. I
>re-emerged from the rain only to see the less-organized and
>higher-off-the-ground wall cloud to my SE heading off into the
>Cascades. The storm was moving much faster than I thought. I lost it in
>the trees as I headed south on 169 to (some road heading E). I drove
>all the way out to the Green River Gorge, but never really saw anything
>interesting again. Too many trees and hills.
>Got home to Covington about 2:25. From there I could see some more of
>the storm structure; a pretty generic (big semicircle) looking
>thunderstorm. No anvil or overshooting top, but the whole thing was
>very crisp. My wife, knowing my interest in weather, greeted me with,
>"you just missed a really big storm; lots of lightning and thunder".
>Even though I didn't see any lightning while on the road, I explained
>to her that I really didn't "miss" much :-). Called the Seattle NWS and
>reported seeing a wall cloud near Black Diamond, but I don't think he
>believed me. ("Uh, a wall cloud? near Black Diamond? Um, are you one of
>our spotters? No? Hmmm...well, I guess I'll have to take your word for
>it. Thanks for the report..."). But it was there and it was *awesome*.
>Related Moral: *always* have a camera in the car :-)
>Dave Steckler - davidst@nobeltec.com

Return to Reports Page