October 24, 2012


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
La Crosse, WI
Portage, WI 12:34 PM 10/24/2012
3 miles SSW of Montello, WI 10:48 PM 10/24/2012
Independence, WI
0 mph


Cold front setup in western Wisconsin. Targeted La Crosse area for afternoon supercell activity and chance of tornado. Line of cells developed just west of the MS river in MN, and waited for line to mature but they never. Called it a bust at dusk noting pretty updrafts at twilight, but no real storm structure.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Canon 60D, EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm.




A cold front setup across western Wisconsin looked to give one last chase opportunity of the year and some nice supercell structure or even a tornado would be a nice way to top off a rather all around quiet year. Dewpoints into the upper 50’s or low 60’s were forecast to advect as far north as La Crosse with a strong midlevel jet ejecting over the northern Mississippi valley, and deep surface low further north. The primary focus for storm initiation looked to be a cold front, which is not the ideal boundary for chasing supercells as usually results in undercutting. Shear profiles looked decent though, and SPC issued a modest 5% forecast for tornadoes. I was able to team up with my usual chase partner, Jenn Brindley Ubl for this chase. We decided to meet up at the Wal-Mart in Portage, WI. I left early in the morning and we met up just after noon, making for our target of La Crosse, WI. A line of cells initiating in eastern Minnesota by late afternoon and we waited for them to cross the river and mature before we intercepted. We traveled north out of La Crosse to the small town of Independence, WI. Along the way we noted that there was actually quite a few high vantage points and open fields to work with for spotting storms. I was worried that we were going to be block in my thick forest in western Wisconsin, unable to see the storms. After a couple hours, it became apparent that the little cells were missing some sort of vital ingredient, better instability or lift, perhaps. The cells never amounted to much more than showers. At dusk we decided to call it a bust and started heading back south. After the line passed overhead, the updrafts caught the last bit of twilight and were actually quite photogenic. We stopped for some photos, but months later when I went to write this chase log, I could not find the photos anywhere. Jenn’s were also missing. I hate having logs without pictures, especially since we actually took some on this chase, but at least I didn’t lose the photos from a more noteworthy chase. We were hours away from home and it was getting pretty late, so we decided to crash my parents cabin for the night just outside of Montello. It was a balmy 70 degrees thanks to the warm air advection, and it felt amazing to be outside in short sleeves at midnight, in Wisconsin, at midnight, not a bug in sight.


This chase was a complete bust, further aggrevated by me losing the few pictures I did snag from the trip. There wasn't much of any severe weather across the region, so the setup busted in general. It was worth a shot for one last fall chase, and feeling 70 degree temps in central WI at midnight almost made the trip worth it.

Lessons Learned

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