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| The Suck Zone

June 28th, 2008 St. Paul Xcel Smoke Stack Demolition

Posted on June 28th, 2008 by Chris White.
Categories: Photography.

Xcel energy is upgrading with a significantly lower emission power plant. A 550 foot high smoke stack weighing (unconfirmed 5,770 tons) built 36 years ago part of St. Paul’s cityscape was brought down today. I was able to check a few locations to shoot this photographically due to the work of Bill Moss, taking into consideration the excursion zone which police would close off to the public and block traffic. I choose Cliff road as the closest spot that would be open to public, but, I guess, some were just below me I saw on the train tracks. Cliff road runs parallel overlooking Shepard road just below which was closed off for good reason. I had a few reservations if it was wide being so close to such a massive structure being brought down with high explosives, it passed 2 seconds latter. Hundreds lined the streets, the Smith Avenue High bridge to Harriet Island and other locations.

I watched as a family choose to watch from just North of Shepard below but, were eventually reasoned with by St. Paul Police.

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Crowds lining the high bridge. Water canons were used to control the amount of dust released.

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I believe they were trying to land it on the sand berms built with the concrete retaining wall built next to it to control dust and debris but, I speculate they might have been off 15 degrees or so. Here is the initial high explosive charge. I felt a little bit of the shock-wave but, it was nothing compared to the shock-wave of the 10 million+ pound structure hitting solid earth (versus the sand berms) creating a mini earthquake at the same time.

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Crews immediately hit the scene for cleanup and check for damage and other hazzards.

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Fill these baggies and throw them in the dumpster

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HD Video on Vimeo HERE, watch it full screen. If it should shutter or sputter try either Flickr, or YouTube.

1 comment.

June 7th, 2008 Chase – Northern Iowa

Posted on June 8th, 2008 by Chris White.
Categories: Chase Reports.

I headed to Iowa Saturday morning, not too early. I stopped at the tourist barn just over the border of Minnesota and picked up a couple complementary maps and other touristy attraction type material. Then took a right a little ways into IA towards Algona. I passed several decent looking baby cells some that grew to monsters, some that just kind of petered out or were absorbed by larger cells. I was about to keep going but, a passing cell looked interesting so I followed it for 10 to 15 minutes, then turned around. Once I received my NEXRAD updates the thing had surged to epic proportions and I turned around again and followed it back towards I-35 but, Northeast. The first tornado report came soon after, I crossed a nice debris path near Thomson (perhaps before, need to check my GPS logs of where it was that I pulled over, it was right on a tornado report so I did not report the ‘wind damage’ again(I did not witness the tornado I would have had to report wind damage, I did not want to trivialize the tornado report that had already gone out). But, basically take a farm field and scatter sheet metal, insulation and a bunch of other junk all over the place and snap some power line pole’s and that’s about what I saw. I kept after it, I was losing it as it was going NE at 45 to 55mph, where I could only go North or East at 55 but, surprisingly I was able to not lose too much ground very fast. I was positioning myself to drop back for the next cell right behind it which was also tornado warned when I lost data and somehow got sandwiched between the cells so I ended up in Freeborn County on I-35 on the Minnesota side and had to wait a few minutes before I crossed back between the next set of cells. I headed down to Mason City where I stopped just East of the airport and watched a large meso for quite some time that was warned along with the cell right behind it, then watched as a plane landed, he never had a problem. The Meso was directly North, a bit overheadish. The airport was to the West, this is looking SW on approach.

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Storms were moving more East now, and I was just South of the line making it much easier. I ran into one of the DOW’s, the TIV, and some pimped out armoured hummer as if it was patroling for roadside bombs. On each of the four times I left the state to chase this year, I ran into the DOWS and TIV (2 days KS, 1 day NE, 1 day IA). I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad omen until I see the series this fall.

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I gave up around 7pm wanting to get home at a decent time, and I wanted to cross thru the line of severe storms before twilight (it was already pretty dark at the time 2 hours before sunset due to the cloud cover).

It will be a while before I review the video and catch up on the 5 or so missing chases, just trying to keep up at this point. I did however get my laptop back fully repaired and functional (need to find the firewire cable though!!).

I added a couple quick videos of the highlights, if you have difficulties with Vimeo, try You Tube.

EDIT: The second armored vehicle is the TIV2, I had not seen it with the rest of the group previously. It weighs 16,500lbs and is 4 wheel drive with an ATS Super Diesel retrofit.  It is still in testing phase and was undergoing some changes/fixes when I passed by the DOW/TIV caravans on the May 22-24th in various states (KS/KS/NE).

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