2/2/98 Chase Summary by Jim Leonard

From: Jim Leonard (jmlcat-5@IX.NETCOM.COM):
Subject:      I should have stayed home!

   On Monday I decided to make my first chase for 1998. I thought it would
be best if I went toward the southwest coast of the state of Florida. I
thought with the warm front comming up from the Florida straits also with a
deepening low in the central Gulf of Mexico and also the upper wind profile
would be best in the area around Ft. Myers. I arrived in that area around
4pm. At the time I arrived in the Ft.Myers I noticed an increasing amount of
cloud to groung lightning toward the west. One problem is the sky was
completely overcast with several layers of clouds so visibility was not at
all good for seeing individual storm cells. After that I decided to drive
over to Sanibal Island to get a south exposure in case a severe storm were
to move in because at this time it was quite rainy and visibility was only
less than a mile. The best I could hope to see at this time would be some
hurricane type scenes if a severe thunderstorm came my way.
    Long about 7pm I decided to go back to I-75 to a truckstop and get some
radar data on my laptop.(Thanks to the truckers directory book) I found one
then downloaded the latest nexrad images and saw that I was screwed!! That
is when I saw the intense cells heading toward Dade county. That is a
chasers worst fears. You go hundreds of miles to chase and it hits in your
own backyard!
    This was probably the biggest severe weather event not counting
hurricanes for Dade county since June 17,1959 when a tornado moved across
the county from the Coconut Grove and exited in the area of 125 st cswy that
also occured after dark.
     I did a damage survey in the Carol City area of North Dade county. That
portion of the damage looked to me like a very intense downburst more that a
tornado. Most of the trees are broken off from the SSW or 190 degrees with a
few trees on the eastern part or right side of the path from 120 degrees. I
did notice trees on the west side of the path or left side broken off also
at 190 degrees. I didn't check the damage further south today because the
traffic is miserable. I would say the Carol City portion of the track was
probably was probably experienced winds as high as 140mph in some spots. I
also asked some people who were there during the event and they said it
lasted at least two minutes along with extremely heavy rain.

Jim Leonard

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