Monday, February 14, 2011

Overlooked photos, day 10 - The great Missouri bust.

This is probably the most painful and spite filled structure shot I have.

April 23 2010 was going to be MY day. Go back through my archives and read my forecast posts in days leading up to the 23rd. I knew this day had sleeper tornado day written all over it and could not for the life of me get anyone to believe me. There were two areas of interest this day, neither of which was in eastern Missouri where I was looking. Nebraska had chasers flocking to it after tornadoes in Texas the day before, while a moderate risk was slapped over the entire state of Arkansas. Perhaps I really was seeing things as others suggested, but I had given myself an early birthday present with a Friday off from classes and was going to head out to confirm the thoughts of others.

I wound up heading to the town of Moberly early in the afternoon and grabbing lunch there. I began noting from strong backed winds near St. Louis along the warm front and thought to myself "yeah, something is going to go down there". However, the warm front was inching northward into my area as well and rather than give up on my target, I held strong. Little areas of convection would flare up over and over in this one area just west of town. I figured one of these pulses was going to go and I would be in tornado city. It just wouldn't go though. Up and down, up and down the towers went. The warm front was now lightning up to my south and east, from just south of my area to the St. Louis area, where those strongly backed winds were located. No moving though I thought, hold strong, let the storms to your south hit the front and you will be glad you stayed.

One storm tried, it really tried. As I rode out the core allowing myself to get into position, the storm briefly took on a weak hook echo signature. Business time! Not. As I quickly jogged north to keep up with the storm, it took a turn for the worse. That's when I looked to my southeast. A -classic- supercell was now producing multiple tornadoes right where those backed winds were in the St. Louis area. My poor little heart sunk. The sun was almost at the horizon, and there was no way I could quickly intercept this cyclic tornadic supercell only 30 miles away.

Hope lived, as a new supercell began approaching the warm front near Columbia. I had to get there fast, but I could do it. Sprinting south down Hwy 63 approaching the storm just south of Columbia. The chase terrain in this area, not ideal for last second dusk chasing. I could see a beautiful base between the trees but for the life of me I couldn't find anywhere to stop. If this storm put down a tornado behind the trees I may not have been here talking to you right now. After 10 minutes of cursing and steering wheel pounding I found a school yard on a hill where I was able to drive down a questionable gravel drive way and get a decent view to my southwest. The storm was dying, and the structure was not all that great, but it was -something-. After seeing the incredible structure and tornadoes that the storm near St. Louis, knowing that my sleeper call of the year had verified and these average at best structure shots were hardly soothing. Here you go, my forecast from 48 hours out:

I made my way down a rain soaked Interstate 70 (even watching the car directly in front of me do a 360 turn before sliding off the road into the ditch) before returning to Illinois, uploading a couple photos and forgetting the day ever happened. It's hard to have your forecast verify beautifully and miss the main event, but I've proven before and will prove again that it is indeed possible. Case and point... one day short of exactly a month after this day in the state of South Dakota. :)

Anyway, the photo looking across the school yard at the supercell at twilight.

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