We stayed in Springfield, MO the night before, and after we had grabbed breakfast and ingested the morning data runs, decided to head east to around Poplar Bluff, MO.
It was another high risk day, another day with insane parameters for tornadic development. We sat most of the day in Poplar Bluff, waiting for initiation. Bands of storms with tornado warnings developed as the low pushed further NE, but we sat tight...until a storm started to rotate right on the AR/MO border. As the storm held together, we pushed NW on highway 60 to intercept.
As we neared the storm, we noticed a large lowering about 3 miles ahead of us. Brady pulled the car to the side of the road, and we hiked up the side of a huge embankment...had to be at least 150 feet up. As we got to the top, it became apparent that there was a large tornado in progress!
We raced back down the hill, and tried to get as close to the tornado crossing the highway as we could...we were about a mile away when it crossed. We came across the damage path about a minute afterwards, and noted pretty extensive damage...like the Canton tornado the day before, this would be rated an EF-3, and about 1 mile wide at it's widest point.
Something that I'll never forget...the air smelled like pine. Not pine like I had ever smelled before, but the fresh smell of hundreds of pine trees that had just been snapped. Eerie, and incredible.
We tried to chase the storm through the national forest, but were blocked by trees knocked down by the tornado, which effectively ended our chase. We headed for a well-earned steak dinner in Cape Giraudoux, and then home.