Monday, April 4, 2011

4-3-11 Eastern IA/NW IL Wall Clouds/Hail

Tough forecast yesterday paid off big dividends with a couple of rotating wall clouds, and hail up to quarter size....amazing structure!

Because of my proximity to the chase zones of interest, I was able to stay at home in Peoria til a little after 3 PM. My main point of indecision was whether to target the triple point in NE IA/SE WI, or further south, along the cold front. I decided to go with the 4 KM WRF model, which showed decent initiation around 23-00Z (6-7 PM local time).

A bit before I hit Burlington, IA, the SPC issued an MD saying that a watch would be issued soon...based on this, I decided to head a bit further north than I had initially intended. I hit Mt Pleasant and blasted north as storms erupted, going from blips to massive supercells in under 20 minutes. I initially targeted the northernmost storm because of its proximity to the low pressure head.

About 10 miles out from the northernmost cell, near Iowa City, a large lowering became evident. As I got closer, medium rotation became evident, and the wall cycle several times. At one point, it tried to drop a funnel, but it wasn't meant to be.

I pulled off north of Iowa City, and let it go right over me. Absolutely fantastic motion, and it's always great to feel the winds changing at the surface under an area of rotation...ended up getting blasted by 35-40 MPH rear-flank downdraft, and, as the wall cloud became rain-wrapped and started to crumble, I decided to bail and head back south towards another supercell that was starting to show the makings of a hook.

I was able to get onto the southern storm, get onto the wall cloud (which was another beauty), and let that go right over me, as well. Got behind Mike Brady as the RFD blasted us, and ended up tailing him home...not before we core-punched a few hail cores, though. Best we got was a fairly heavy bout of quarters.

Navigation was pretty tricky without a co-pilot, but I managed to pull it off without too much of a problem. Also, I'll need to get a camera of some sort...taking pics with my phone while blasting down the interstate is a supreme pain.

Some good shots of the southern storm/second wall cloud from my friend Brandon can be seen here. Here's one of the shots of the wall cloud he took, not too long before I let it go overhead...

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