June 23, 2010


Initial Target: Davenport, IA
Departure: Malcom, IA 8:00 am CDT
Arrival: Westchester, IL 7:30 pm CDT
Intercepts: Muscatine, IA
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: None
Miles: 394


Cold front setup across eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Targeted eastern Iowa for afternoon initiation of initial supercells followed by transition to linear mode in Illinois. Intercepted tiny, unwarned cell with a wall cloud outside of Davenport before intercepting a tornado warned supercell near Muscatine, IA. Observed very little structure and wound up in core while crossing MS river. Wound up behind the storms and without data on the IL side of the river, so called it a chase and headed for home.

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.




After the previous day's chase in northwest Iowa, I found myself trying to pull something out of Iowa again. This time I was playing a cold front setup in the extreme eastern portion of the state, hoping to catch some supercells right after initiation before they transitioned into more of a linear mode. I spent most of the day around Davenport, checking data, before storms finally went up just to my west and southwest.

I caught a storm just outside of Davenport. It was unwarned and quite small, but despite its size, I was surprised to see a wall cloud underneath the updraft base. The wall cloud wasn't rotating, but it was an interesting feature anyway. I let the storm go as it started to merge with other small cells.

These next few shots are from this first small storm as I had nothing really photogenic to shoot for the rest of the chase. Camera lens fogging was also an issue because of oppressive humidity:

There was more discrete activity to the south and I intercepted a supercell just as it went tornado warned outside the town of Muscatine. I was greeted by hazy low contrast structure. I couldn't see any updraft base, just a large whale's mouth and a big precipitation core. Great, the storm was done just as it went tornado warned.
I tried to get south of the storm before it moved into Muscatine but wound up stuck in the core, trying to navigate twisting and hilly roads, looking for a river crossing. I finally crossed the MS and made it into Illinois but the storm was now moving away to my west rather rapidly. I also lost data thanks to ATT's lack of coverage in Illinois. It was about this time that I decided to head for home and call it a chase as storms were morphing into more of an unchaseable linear complex. Along the way home I saw one supercell ahead of the line with a nice hook echo pass right over my home in Westchester. Luckily the storm didn't produce at the time, and I found my house intact when I arrived.




This event turned out to be more of a damaging wind/derecho type event. I conclude another Iowa chase without having seen a tornado in the state. Despite ending the chase with little in the way of photogenic structure, it could have been worse. I could have come home to find the house damaged from the supercell that passed disturbingly close. Instead we just had a few hours of power outage from downed lines.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Cross the Mississippi before you get caught in the core.