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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.


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


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.


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


Fill these baggies and throw them in the dumpster


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

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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.


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.



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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