Drove up to Sauk Center and saw some nice Mammatus and Virga on the way up. I stopped at McDonald’s for a number 3 with a large iced tea. I then went to Holiday to fill up the gas tank, then to BP for their view to the North (180 degrees as far as the eye can see). After about 10 minutes I notice the wxpage.com group were parked about 50 feet in front of me. I also chatted with a few others to kill time waiting for the cap to break. I actually got rained on a couple times and saw lightning. I experimented with the McDonald’s Fry as compared to a DQ Fry and their effects on a large group of Pigeons. The Pigeons in Sauk Center are ‘Minnesota Nice’ when presented with a single fry at a time the one closest grabs it(however, they do that big convergence thing the first time a fry is released, the one closest to the fry get’s it after the initial convergence thing occurs. Little repositioning occurs while the fry’s drop.). Their was no clear winner in the taste test. I held hope that the cap would go in a few minutes for an hour or two, while others were taunting me to hit the Supercell to the North that had been working it’s way in from Grand Forks since morning. We had several wind shifts during the wait where the temps would drop 15 degrees, it would get really dry, and vice versa. It sprinkled twice, saw several CTG’s visually.
It was in some very dry air at the time, dewpoints just 10 miles North were like 55 while 10 miles South West were 75, (I might have this wrong but, I think those numbers are accurate). But, it must of sucked up our moisture (I assume) because I started to get a sunburn. I noted a slight Southward shift in the Supercells movement as it had begun to move along the ‘warm front’, also transitioning into a linear system with embedded Supercell to a bow echo. But, it also meant I could intercept on my way home if I jump on I-94. The cell was moving fast, I don’t recall the speed, 55mph, SE, it was on an almost parallel course with I-94 but, it would hit the N&E Metro.
I made it back to St. Cloud alot faster than I made it to Sauk Center (I went the same speed, just seemed alot faster, generally it’s the reverse). Getting thru St. Cloud was nuts. I made it onto Hwy 10 that runs SE from St. Cloud to Elk River, about parallel with the storms movement. At Elk River Hwy 10 turns Eastbound where the cell would pass over.
I did’nt get any decent photos all day long. So I made a short video with the dashcam footage, it’s 32meg. Initially I came across a fantastic looking shelf surrounding the precipitation core, the shelf trailing backwards as far as the eye could see. As I came closer to the core, I could see teeth developing on the shelf, and dust being kicked up in front of it like a big bulldozer, towards the end of the video you can see a big dirt/dust blowoff from high-winds possibly from a downburst(I need to review more video, long highway, lots of trees). I believe this was the blowoff event reported in an LSR. It had crazy winds, meso’s and TVS’s aplenty. However, I saw no rotation or any rapid movement the appeared to be just teeth with high winds blowing dirt off the ground out in front. As I came close to Elk River I stopped and let the cell pass in front of me. It was at that point tornado warned (I had not read the warning text if it was radar indicated or a spotter report, I have read second hand it was a funnel report in my general vicinity from law enforcement). I only captured a few screen shots while I was waiting for the cell to pass. I might grab some archived NEXRAD and satellite data from NCDC later.
Saturday, Round 1
The day began at 3:30am after having watched storm cells fire in North Dakota at 3pm on Friday(on Nexrad) and fire Southeastward into South Dakota (Mobridge, SD) producing tornado’s. The system traveled across the Missouri, into Minnesota only to go to bed at 2am after having watched the lightning in the distance for a half hour. My Weather Alert Radio went off about 7 times, I have 3 counties programmed in Hennepin, Carver,and Scott. At 3:30 or so, it was continuous lightning, I could see trees coming down all over the place but, was not able to do a quick survey of the damage until 4am. It was a Bow Echo. I submitted a Wind Damage report 8-12 inch trees down (of course their were 24 inchers all over the place uprooted, I found later). We lost power, were not expected to get it back until maybe Monday, or Tuesday. I filed two insurance claims, one for my garage that has damage and trees on it, as well as possibly my house (I need to inspect the shingles and look for damage). My car also has a dent in the front of the hood, it must have been hit when a limb was on it’s way down, as well as a few dents that appear to be from perhaps ‘hail’. We have a power line down in the backyard as well, the kids lost their 3 story playhouse along with the tree that was next to it. I have alot of work tomorrow. We hit Denny’s across the street, and just after we received our food they lost power. On my way out I was walking off the handicap ramp I lost my footing and my ankle went 90 degrees and I put all my weight on it. I have had an ice pack strapped to my foot with a t-shirt all day. The people at Mc Donald’s are so nice, free ice.
Update(Sunday 8/12): Power may not be restored until Wed/Thursday, as of Sunday afternoon, still no power. Cleanup has begun, chainsaws buzzing everywhere. Need someone with a really big chipper… I am being told the tree house is a ‘split’ 4 level, wonder if insurance is going to cover it.
Update(December 07): Power was restored on Wed, primary damage was bent electrical mast (replaced), hole in the garage roof and other damage (garage roof replaced), received $1500 for the tree house(rebuilt), food spoilage(bought more food), a few minor items. I opted to take the cash for the damage to the 11+ year old Saturn.
Round 2 – Outer West Metro MN
I sit here in the dark as my laptop battery dies down typing this, I charged it on the inverter today…once, then chased so it’s fully charged right now. I was holding off until today to look at the setup for today’s severe weather to determine what the overnight MCS (bow-echo for us) would leave (trees everywhere) in it’s wake. Anyway, this morning, I checked the low, and looked for surface boundaries, I found a ‘cold front’ (that’s what I really need right now is a cold front, sitting in the dark with no air-conditioning, windows open, no fan, like 88 degrees). I did not have time for much else except looking at a quick surface chart, satellite, and index’s. The index’s told me the best possibilities for severe weather were in SE/MN (I ingore WI now, don’t have a clue what it looked like). A couple bands of Cu were present, one was in the position of the cold front advancing, a couple of horizontal tiny bands in the center and bottom of the state. I picked Hutchinson because I like 212/5 West out of the Metro (Just N of Glencoe), it had a slight NNW component to it’s winds(but, only 5mph, versus N @ 5 everywhere else), mositure was about the highest anyway, dewpoint of 75, and it had a narrow strip of CU over it. I don’t like chasing near the metro for any reason. I waited until maybe 5pm? Wrapped ice around my ankle and decided to go to Mankato or New Ulm last minute. On my way out of town I grabbed an ice refill at McDonald’s for my leg and pondered. I started off Southbound on 169, and noticed Nexrad was not updating, pulled over, fixed it and cells were poppin up by Wilmar/Litchfield, Heading S/SE, so I turned around.
I intercepted the cell around Silver Lake/New Germany Just S of 7, went around to the updraft from the S (I believe initially it was moving E along 12, I was going W on 7). Fantastic looking cell from the distance, I made it to near the updraft, a few persistent meso’s(per nexrad). I grabbed some gas as the dashcam rolled(good of spot as any, fueling at the pump), then began to head SE to Glencoe. Headed down thur Norwood, passed the observatory, it was rolled back, fantastic looking shelf and hail core in the background rapidly passing further E. Several occasions I saw massive outflow feeding the next cell behind it. Took some great photos but, had my camera set to ASA 1600 with Mirror Lock and LX Noise reduction set (I figured out the mirror lock and noise reduction right away, did’nt check the ISO settings, bummer). Hopefully some of the video turns out… Ran across and introduced myself to Bob Conzemius,(1). I made it down to Fairbuilt(a couple hours latter, will update, batteries are croaking), took lots of dashcam video (edit latter, photos are not going to be very good @ 1600ASA). Shot some nice lightning shots in Elko, and here I am. I will add more detail in this last paragraph when the power is back on and add a half dozen photos, and edit a couple of video clips. Saw some outstanding structure today, had alot of fun, and it was air conditioned!
Round 3 Lightning
I pulled over in Elko/New Market to take some lightning shots.