July 14, 2009


Initial Target: Bethany, MO
Departure: Westchester, IL 10:30 am July 14
Arrival: Westchester, IL 10:00 am July 15
Intercepts: None
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: None
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Rainbow
Miles: 1026


Cold front/triple point play in NW MO.  Targeted St. Joseph for greatest shear and instability combination despite less certain initation due to capping inversion compared to cold front play further north.  Intercepted orphaned anvil near Lathrop, MO.  Met chaser convergence in St. Joseph.  Waited until 9pm under clear skies before calling it a cap bust.

Crew and Equipment:

Solo chase.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Kyocera data card and router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V.


Looking at a rather quiet summer, I decided to play this marginal setup.  A cold front was forecasted to drape south from MN towards Omaha, with a triple point and dryline extending south from Kansas City.  I targeted NW MO where the instability was maxmized with good directional shear.  The capping inversion looked to jeopardize initation.  Further north, the cold front looked like it would have too much forcing and not enough directional shear, leading to garunteed storms, but weak, linears ones.  I decided to gamble with the cap.
Crossing into Missouri from Iowa on 35, I saw a cell go up on the Missouri river.  I intercepted it near Lathrop, MO, hoping that this was the cap breaking.  Instead I found an orphaned anvil.  When a storm dies it sheds its lower layers first, leaving the top part behind.  This is what I found going overhead, as the high based anvil dumped heavy, fat rain on me, while the sun continued to shine brightly.  The contrast was so poor and glare so great that I couldn't get a shot of the orphaned anvil. Despite the blazing sun and downpour, I also disappointingly saw no rainbow.  The sun must have been at the wrong angle or something.
A decent chaser convergence had gathered at a truck stop in St. Joseph, MO so I meandered my way over to them to kill time while waiting for the cap to break.
Brandon Sullivan and Ryan Wichman checking data:
Chris Rice, Steve Polley, and Charles Woods:
Brandon showing off his lights:
Randy Hicks, Charles Woods, and a chaser whose name escapes me.
Sure enough a severe thunderstorm went up to the north and the cold front lit up with some rather junky storms.  The cap never broke where we were, and as dusk set in, I called it a bust, said farewell to the other chasers, and headed for home.  I beat the squall line that had formed up north as I rounded Des Moines, and stopped near the Quad Cities for a few hours of sleep.  I made it home by 10 am the next morning.

The day was a cap bust, but not a complete loss.  I saw some interesting weather, including the orphaned anvil.  I also got to meet a bunch of other chasers.  The northern target along the cold front was mostly a bust as well.  The only tornado reports that came out of it, were way up in central Minnesota.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Kill time on a cap bust with a chaser convergence.