June 15, 2022


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Prairie du Chien, WI
Mason City, IA 10:38 AM 6/15/2022
Springfield, IL 10:50 PM 6/15/2022
Spring Green, WI
0 mph
Wall Cloud


Strongly sheared warm front/warm sector setup over southwestern Wisconsin. Targeted Prairie du Chien for afternoon tornadic supercells. Pursued messy clusters through bad terrain, noting grungy gust front structure and a wall cloud on a tornado warned storm near Spring Green, WI. Attempted to retarget new development in northeastern Iowa but cells quickly fizzled so ended chase.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Photography courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl on a Nikon Z 7II.




Our last day of our June “chasecation” had one last big hurrah in store for us on the way home, at least that’s what we hoped. A potent warm front setup was taking shape on the Mississippi River Valley in the Upper Midwest, the Storm Prediction Center even issuing a Moderate risk for tornadoes due to the strongly sheared environment.
The problem was the location. The terrain over the highlighted risk area, southwestern Wisconsin, is frightfully bad with steep hills and dense forests. Still we had to get Brindley back to Wisconsin anyway, and we held out hope that the biggest Tail End Charlie cells would get going and produce in far northeastern Iowa before crossing the river.

Kwik Trip
Prairie du Chien, WI
2:49 PM
After a great stay at the Historic Park Inn in Mason City, a hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, we hit the road in the morning.

We decided hedge a bit and get downstream in case cells went up right on the river. We crossed into Wisconsin and setup camp in Prairie du Chien at a Kwik Trip gas station. The floodplain right on the river was the last strip of flat, chaseable terrain. We could see the imposing hills just to the east.

Kwik Trip
Prairie du Chien, WI
2:49 PM
And there we spent the better part of the day, at the Kwik Trip. The people watching was entertaining at least, and wound up being better than the storm watching.
The whole warm sector gradually erupted with clusters of messy cells. We held at the Kwik Trip until they eventually developed into more robust storms and we had a decent target cell to pursue.

Rainy Tornado Warned Storm
3 miles W of Spring Green, WI
5:04 PM
We moved to head off a severe warned cell coming up from our south, which meant the chase would immediately take us into treacherous terrain. We spent hours on twisting, winding roads, in and out of the rain, looking for any kind of view. But it was all just trees and grey skies.

Scuddy Gust Front
Spring Green, WI
5:07 PM
Near Spring Green the terrain opened up just enough and we had a view of a tornado warned storm. But it was just a big grungy, scud filled gust front.

Wall Cloud Maybe
3 miles WSW of Arena, WI
5:12 PM
To our north, we had a brief view of what was probably a wall cloud, but it looked disorganized and we didn’t have the means to properly track it. Cells over central Wisconsin were faring better, but storm speeds in the strongly sheared environment precluded any chance of intercepting something we weren’t already in front of. Meanwhile, new cells were firing in northeast Iowa. One briefly went tornado warned. We doubled back for the intercept, but they seemingly died within minutes, like the atmosphere there had already been squeezed of any instability.
We called the chase and headed south into Illinois. The Subaru threw a bunch of error codes and lurched along in safe mode. I exited to let the car cool down and clear the error codes. It took a couple attempts, but after a half hour or so we were able to drive the car again and get everybody home. This would be the last chase for my Subaru. Plagued with stalling problems since I bought the turbo Forester in 2016 with 9,000 miles on it, the transmission went bad at 134,000 miles. It finally died for good on me a month later in my driveway on the way home from an errand. I had it junked, and wasn’t sad to see it go.


Lessons Learned

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