August 6, 2013


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Albert Lea, MN
Hot Springs, SD 12:06 PM 8/5/2013
4 miles NNE of Galesburg, IL 4:35 PM 8/7/2013
Litchfield, MN
0 mph
RFD Gust Front


Late season northwest flow event in Minnesota. Targeted Albert Lea area for afternoon supercell development, but storms fired in west central MN closer to upper air support. Intercepted tornado warned supercell near Litchfield, MN noting HP structure and RFD gust front. Followed storm until it gusted out with smattering of marginally severe hail west of Minneapolis. Dinner outside of the city and then made for home ending plains trip.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




Brindley had spent a few days on the northern plains chasing marginal days. We were following the upper level energy easy, starting to make our way home by August 6. It looked like we had one last chase day as we chased the system home across Minnesota. We had spent the night in Albert Lea, and conditions looked favorable right where we were for some afternoon supercell, so after doing a morning forecast, we hung out in a nearby park waiting for initiation. A broad warm sector, moderate instability, and northwest flow made for a decent chance of supercells or a tornado or two, but focus at the surface for initiation wasn't particular well defined. Robust cumulus were going up in west central MN by midafternoon and it became apparent that storms were going to pop further downstream, closer to the better upper level energy. There was no fast way up there so we took 35 north toward Minneapolis. I had to stop to get some work done, which delayed us getting on the storms, and then we hit afternoon rush hour traffic near Minneapolis further delaying us. One storm became dominant and went tornado warned well before we could get to it, and we were worried we were going to miss the show. We took a series of highways southwest out of Saint Cloud for the intercepted and core punched the storm from the north between Paynesville and Litchfield.

HP Gust Front
2 miles W of Dassel, MN
6:20 PM
We emerged from the core of the storm near Litchfield to see a rain filled RFD clear slot and gust front. The storm was in a high precipitation state and the structure wasn't particularly impressive despite the tornado warning. We got a smattering of hail during the core punch but nothing too big. The gust front was neat looking, but chances didn't look good for a photogenic tornado intercept. We moved east to stay ahead of the storm.
We let the gust front catch up to us a few times. Turbulent clouds roiled overhead, but the base continued to fan out in a more and more disorganized fashion.
Smooth tiers and long stringy bands started to form ahead of the storm as it pulled in stable air and the storm fell apart. The colors and shapes were pretty though.
We were in and out of the storm a couple times as it moved southeast and we moved east. We hit a closed section of highway and had to turn around, falling behind the cell. Sunny skies behind the cell made for some pretty view of convections and sharp contrast. We decided to give the chase up as the warnings had been dropped, and head toward Minneapolis for dinner. While we were stopped a linear complex went up and gave us a smattering of hail at the restaurant. We started our long trek toward home. I dropped Brindley off at her car at the Quad Cities airport the next day and was home by afternoon.


Our last chase of this late season plains run turned out to be a bust, but we did see a tornado warned storm at least, and it was a fun end to a great trip otherwise. We got on the storm a bit late after starting out of position and having to stop to take care of some work, but we wound up not missing much except the earlier supercell structure.

Lessons Learned

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