May 3, 2018


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Creston, IA
Wellington, KS 8:01 AM 5/3/2018
Springfield, IL 12:31 AM 5/4/2018
Nodaway, IA
0 mph
Wall Cloud, RFD Gust Front, Shelf Cloud


Warm front/cold front play in southwestern Iowa. Intercepted initially scuddy storm near Stanton that organized with wall cloud and supercell features near Nodaway. Tracked toward Des Moines area before storms fell apart north of warm front.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung Galaxy S7.




My third day of chasing was an Iowa setup on the way home, and my expectations were not very high.

Wake Up Call
4 miles NNW of Wellington, KS
7:50 AM
I awoke outside the Wellington, KS airport, car camping after the previous day's chase.

Hail Cracks
6 miles NNW of Forest City, MO
1:21 PM
My smashed up windshield from my encounter with baseball sized hail in Kansas on May 1:

Gust Front
2 miles SSE of Stanton, IA
4:15 PM
Clusters of storms went up across southern Iowa and I picked up a stronger cell near Stanton which exhibited a prominent gust front.

Storm Pano
4 miles W of Villisca, IA
4:21 PM
The north end even sported a wall cloud while an inflow band stretched off to the east making for some scruffy supercell structure.

Scuddy Lowering over Barn
4 miles W of Villisca, IA
4:23 PM
Scuddy lowering over barn:

Wall with Tail Cloud
3 miles NNW of Nodaway, IA
4:37 PM
Structure improved with a more classic looking wall cloud and tail cloud ahead of a rain filled rear flank precipitation core.

RFD Clear Slot
8 miles SSE of Spring Hill, IA
7:11 PM
Looking north at the rain filled RFD clear slot.

Gust Front Pano
4 miles WSW of Pleasantville, IA
7:34 PM
The storm picked up a tornado warning, and structure turned out better than I hoped for the marginal, low expectations day.
I started to lose my position on the storm approaching the Des Moines area. Heading south, a huge block shelf cloud put on a dramatic display.
"Possible Crosswind On Bridge" the sign warned in comically obvious fashion as the core of a supercell passed over a Des Moines River. The area of rotation was well to my north, but severe straight line winds were more than possible in the trailing precipitation core and flanking line.
Despite the warning signs and ongoing tornado warnings on the storms themselves, trucks were still going across the bridge. I'm sure the drivers thought their loads were heavy enough, but every season I see multiple overturned tractors and trailers in the wakes of the storms I chase.


This day exceeded my expectations and put on a show of photogenic supercell structure. In terms of storm features, the day wasn't much better than the previous day's bust in Oklahoma, but I enjoyed the chase and got some pretty shots so I'll tally this one as a noteworthy intercept. There were a couple tornado reports further downstream, out of reach from where I was playing, and right on the warm front of course. They seemed like needles in a haystack, however, so I wasn't too bummed about missing them.

Lessons Learned

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