April 29, 2014


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Columbus, MS
Fayette, AL 11:22 AM 4/29/2014
Springfield, IL 7:46 PM 4/30/2014
De Kalb, MS
0 mph
Wall Cloud


Warm sector play over eastern MS/western AL. Targeted Columbus, MS area for afternoon supercells. Noted tree damage from previous day en route to target and sat under developing cu field. Weak updrafts went up in worked over airmass and struggled to reach and maintain supercell status. Targeted warned supercell near De Kalb, MS but storm quickly fell apart as did following updrafts so called off chase and started heading for home.

Crew and Equipment

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




It was day 2 for Brindley and I chasing “Dixie Alley”. Similar but less potent conditions were present over the same hard hit areas as the previous day’s setup. The bulk of the upper level jet was leaving the area to the east, but strong flow aloft persisted and moderate instability was forecast across the warm sector. Supercells and tornadoes seemed possible again over the same areas, prompting a moderate risk from the Storm Prediction Center. Questions about whether the air mass would be too worked over from previous storms remained though.
Using high resolution weather models for guidance, Brindley and I targeted the Columbus, MS area for afternoon supercells. We started heading west out of Fayette, AL where we had spent the night. Along the way we saw numerous very large trees down, the same ones that had prevented us from getting into Columbus the previous night.
West of Columbus we started looking for perches and clearings where we could actually see the sky through the trees. The South is notoriously difficult to chase because of the trees. We found one west of town along the interstate and a nice cumulus field was starting to develop.
Hanging out under the cu field.
Storms fired in a north south line to our west and one cell to the southwest was becoming dominant and showing supercellular characteristics. We left the interstate and went in on a smaller highway for the intercept. There are no views off the interstate, which we expected, but we were hoping to get lucky.

Weak Wall Cloud
5 miles W of De Kalb, MS
5:23 PM
West of De Kalb we finally had a bit of clearing and could see the storm approaching. It was rapidly falling apart, however. It seemed that indeed the previous storms had worked over the warm sector air mass too much, and the lapse rates were no longer steep enough to support robust updrafts. We watched a mediocre, rainy updraft pass by to the west and north with a couple other chasers. A weak attempt at a wall cloud:
As the storm fell apart, we decided to call it a chase and start making for home. New updrafts were still going up to the south, which were tempting to go after. We figured they would quickly follow the same fate as all the other storms that day, despite shear profiles becoming more favorable in the evening. Instead of adding more mileage to the van, we headed away from them, traveling west out of Jackson. We stopped in Grenada, MS for the night before making the drive back to Springfield in the morning, still riding the high from our intercept on the 28th.


The 29th turned out to be a big bust, without a single tornado in the warm sector despite the moderate risk calling for potentially strong tornadoes. It seemed that earlier storms had ruined the warm sector air mass for the main show in the afternoon and evening, and the updrafts could not maintain themselves long enough to utilize the favorable shear profiles. We were already down in Mississippi, however, so it wasn’t much of a loss for us to spend an extra day down there.

Lessons Learned

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