Friday, March 9, 2012

March 2nd Indiana Intercept

Only a week to the day late, but here are the two images that sum up my first chase of 2012. I had originally planned on chasing in southern Illinois, intercepting storms shortly after they developed near St. Louis. I left DeKalb in the northern part of the state around 8:30 AM, and this apparently was still too late. By 10 AM there is a healthy supercell approaching my original target, and I was still an hour plus away. With storms moving at 60 mph or faster, there was no getting in front of this stuff before it hit the Wabash River and crossed into Indiana. So, along Interstate 74 I made the decision to carry on eastward into Indiana, and then drop south at some point to get ahead of the storms.

I took I-74 to Crawfordsville, IN before flying south on I believe it was 231. The tail end storm looked like it wanted to take off, and one of my chase partners Mark Sefried even submitted a report that noted some rotation beginning to take shape. I decided that I would pick the storm up around Spencer, IN, southwest of Indianapolis. Out of curiosity I pulled up the Google Maps terrain imagery for this area and just started laughing. I'd be intercepting in the middle of a forest, literally. Not that this wasn't already a good possibility when I left the house in the morning. Much to my disbelief, I suddenly emerged into this incredible clearing a top a hill that overlooked the entire forest. And low and behold, there was my storm base to the southwest, along with a mean bow echo to my west and northwest.

I got out to watch the storm approach me, but it became quickly evident that the bow echo was surging ahead and the associated cold outflow was going to be stealing the show and choking off any hope for tornado time. Outflow winds were not even very intense, and I picked up some pea to dime sized hail before my day was over.

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