April 10, 2011


Initial Target: Davenport, IA
Departure: Fort Dodge, IA 10:00 am CDT
Arrival: Westchester, IL 11:00 pm CDT
Intercepts: None
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: None
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Wall cloud
Miles: 411


Cold front play across WI/eastern IA/northern IL. Targeted Tail-End-Charlie on line of cells forecast to extend southward from Wisconsin but wound up cap busting in clear air on I-80 not wanting to pursue cells in the trees of central Wisconsin.

Crew and Equipment:

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley, Mike Boik.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Millenicom 760 USB datacard and cradlepoint router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V. Canon 60D and EF-S 10-22mm



After our amazing chase the day before, April 10 was shaping up to be another big tornado play with even stronger wind shear and severe parameters. The Storm Prediction Center actually went with higher tornado probabilities than they did the day before, issuing a moderate risk for tornadoes across Wisconsin.
Central and northern Wisconsin is a terrible place to chase, however. The trees make it impossible to see anything. Not wanting to break our backs getting up there for a frustrating, fast paced chase through the trees, Mike Boik, Jennifer Brindley and I decided to take it easy on this day. We targeted what would hopefully be "Tail End Charlie" on a line of storms extending southward along a cold front from central Wisconsin into eastern Iowa. Winds were more veered down there which would limit the tornado potential, but we were willing to take the lesser play for an easier chase.

We wound up meeting up with Brad Goddard, Jesse Risley, Jodi Irvin, Scott Bennett, Danny Neal, Adam Lucio, and Nick Nolte at a gas station in Dyersville, IA, and wound up hanging out there most of the day waiting for initiation.

Scott shows his multicamera and DVR rig to Brad:

Scott's chase setup:
Nick's mobile mesonet and camera dome:
Discrete supercells fired in central and northern Wisconsin, but the line did not extend down to us. A more linear line fired in Missouri to our south and we wound up stuck in an area of sinking area where nothing went up. We cap busted, but gave it one last shot, chasing home and following the the front through Galena into Illinois. We stopped with Adam and Danny at a truck stop diner off of 80 in central IL as weak storms went up around, but they quickly fizzled and we called it a bust and headed for home.

We cap busted terribly on this chase. We were still ecstatic from our tornado fest the day before, and it was good fun hanging out with friends, so we still had a great time. We also didn't waste a lot of mile going out of the way for this chase, basically just heading straight home. We might have had a shot at a tornado if we raced into Wisconsin, but with the trees and terrain our view would have probably been less than spectacular.


Lessons Learned: 

  • If you half heartedly select chase targets, you'll more than likely bust, although sometimes it's just not worth it going all out to see a tornado.