April 22, 2022


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Winner, SD
Springfield, IL 7:29 PM 4/21/2022
15 miles SSE of Frankfort, SD 11:40 PM 4/22/2022
Wolsey, SD
0 mph
Cloud to Ground Lightning, RFD Gust Front, Supercell Updraft


Dryline to warm front play in eastern South Dakota. Targeted Northeast of Valentine, NE for initiation with a tornado chance on the warm front near I-90. Intercepted storm near White Lake, SD tracked to north of Wolsey, SD noting prolific cloud to ground lightning and supercell structure, but did not see reported tornado near Wolsey.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony AX100, Canon 60D with EF-S 10-22, Samsung S9.




I was hoping for a repeat of April 12 on this event, where storms would fire off a push in the dryline and produce on the warm front. A strong dry punch was forecast near the Valentine, NE area and looked to be the focal point for storm initiation, with the warm front draped on and just north of I-90 in South Dakota. Higher tornado probabilities were issued to the west and south, but the Black Hills/Badlands target looked like it would probably be elevated given storms probably riding the cold side of a strong temperature gradient and large t/td spreads. To the south, moisture and capping looked problematic, so I played what looked like a conditional gamble in the 2% instead.
I car camped in a state park in Missouri and was in O’Neill, NE by early afternoon considering going north or west. Dry air was surging into Valentine, so I ran north to I-90, around the scenic Fort Randall Dam and up to White Lake. The HRRR was consistently showing discrete supercell initiation in south central SD with storms peaking by early evening along I-90.
Awaiting initiation in White Lake, SD

CG Lightning
2 miles S of White Lake, SD
6:02 PM
A small cluster of storms fired right on cue. They were extremely electrical from early on with numerous cloud-to-ground strikes. I shot timelapse with the tripod setup outside while I remained in the vehicle for safety’s sake.

CG Lightning
2 miles S of White Lake, SD
6:10 PM

CG Lightning
2 miles S of White Lake, SD
6:15 PM

CG Lightning
2 miles S of White Lake, SD
6:20 PM
A farmer stopping by to see what was up.
I tracked the storm complex north. High based, it took quite a long time to get organized. The prolific lightning continued throughout, however. Finally near Wessington Springs, it started to develop some lowerings. The first appeared to have slow anticyclonic rotation, but there was some scud with rising motion in a more conventional location to the north.

Storm Spotters
11 miles W of Wessington Springs, SD
7:47 PM
A local resident and storm spotter named Rob recognized me from my YouTube videos, and I chatted with him and his family while watching the storm. There wasn’t a good north option that could keep me out of the mud, so I held my ground as the contrast slowly faded. Multiple mesocyclones were present on an east to west line. I could see the striated updrafts approaching from the west, and the lead one moving out of sight to the northeast. By early evening it looked like they were starting to consolidate. Meanwhile, the inflow was steadily and impressively intensifying. Inhibition was forecast to fill back in after 7pm and the updraft striations suggested they might be starting to go elevated, yet the surging inflow made me suspect the storm was getting ready to produce. The lead area of rotation was still holding its own and was finally getting to the north south highway from Huron into Wolsey. I scrambled east through Wessington Springs and then north to get back in front of it. A report of tight low level rotation came in while I was repositioning but I fortunately didn’t miss a tornado show.

Supercell and Lightning
2 miles W of Virgil, SD
8:57 PM
Back in front of the now consolidated supercell, nice striated updraft structure came into view, but the lightning activity was going absolutely crazy. Branching bolts of CG lightning struck ahead of the storm in dramatic fashion. I quickly pulled off to the shoot the scene with my ultra-wide angle DSLR. I wasn’t fast enough and missed a couple of spectacular bolts, but still managed to snag a really great strike in the following minutes. The shot probably made the whole chase trip for me.

Inflow howled into the storm, and I used the car to block the tripod from blowing over. Some of the CGs arced overhead, and I could see the beaded break-up of the channel looking straight up. I crouched on the back seat of the car watching from the open door in order to keep my feet off the ground and minimize the lightning risk.
Finally my phone went off for a storm chaser reported tornado warning. In the fading dusk light I couldn’t see much underneath the storm. Lightning occasionally back lit various shapes, but I wasn’t sure any of them were the tornado. After reviewing video and stills it looked like all I had was scud. I chased the storm north of Wolsey into the night, in intercept mode after the tornado warning, but the storm started to dissipate as it began to move north of the warm front. I car camped east of Hitchcock on an empty dirt road. Howling winds rocked the car all night long.


I went out on this chase looking for tornadoes, but found an impressive lightning show instead. The CG display was probably more impressive than the nocturnal tornado near Wolsey anyway.

Lessons Learned

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