June 1, 2010


Initial Target: Nebraska City, NE
Departure: Westchester, IL 7 am CDT
Arrival: Westchester, IL 12 am CDT
Intercepts: Creston, IA
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: updraft Tower
Miles: 1,006


Cold front/dryline setup across Nebraska and western Iowa. Targeted the southeast NE corner chasing with Adam Lucio and Deb Saunders. Stopped near Nebraska City for lunch and data then rendezvousing with Michael O'Keeffe and Brandon Sullivan as storms initiated northwest of Omaha and in western Iowa. Went after Iowa storms due to discrete nature. Failed to intercept storm before it produced due to storm motion and road options. Headed home with a new crack in the windshield from a rock, arriving at midnight.

Crew and Equipment:

Chase partners included Adam Lucio and Deb Saunders.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Kyocera data card and router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V.




With a decent shot at some supercells as a shortwave trough was forecasted to track across Nebraska into Iowa, Adam, Deb, and I agreed to team up for a chase with the initial target being southeast Nebraska. We arrived at our target early and grabbed some lunch at the Wendy's I had stopped at a couple times before while chasing. We were joined by Brandon Sullivan and Michael O'Keeffe just as storms erupted in a line northwest of Omaha and in western Iowa.

The storms northwest of Omaha were tornado warned, but looked like they were congealing into a more linear looking line rather quickly. We decided to go with the new development to our east in Iowa despite the fact that it was moving away from us. Three cells emerged in southern Iowa with one becoming dominant and going tornado warned. We got within a few miles of it to the northwest, but the highways in southern Iowa were plagued by slow traffic (as always) and lots of towns with speed zones. We could only look at the back end of the updraft tower and core, unable to get out ahead of the storm. It was probably only moving somewhere between 30-40 mph but with us only being able to average 40-50 mph, it was taking us hours to make up the miles on it.

This is about as close as we got to the storm, while it produced a tornado several miles to our south. Chasing in Iowa is frustrating due its stereotypical bad drivers and history of storms that don't cooperate. This chase was no exception. We encountered one driver who refused to let us pass, speeding up once we had the opportunity and then slowing down again later. One of these days I will just give up chasing Iowa altogether.
The anvil of the supercell stretching overhead with some mammatus:
Adding insult to injury, we passed a semi truck that kicked up a rock and hit the windshield. It sounded like a gun went off when it hit the windshield and we all jumped. We were thankful it didn't go through the windshield as it hit straight in line with driver (Adam at the time), creating several new circular cracks.

We continued to follow behind the storms as they started to weaken, before we finally decide to cut our losses and head back up to 80 and start heading home.



This chase was a rather frustrating bust, missing a tornado, being stuck behind traffic, and taking some damage from a flying rock. A couple of chasers did manage to intercept the tornado in Iowa which lasted a few minutes and had a weird shape, being a skinny rope with a fat tail. Most of the chasers went for the Nebraska targets on this day with some reporting rain wrapped tornadoes north of Omaha.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Don't fall behind a storm and expect to catch it on slow Iowan highways.