Pretty depressing convective setup for mid-May, but I'm not too good for anything. It was a warm one during the afternoon with temperatures in the middle to upper 80s, but surface dew points were relatively meager for mid-May, sitting in the middle 50s. This got us about 1500 j/kg of mixed layer cape, combined with absolutely no wind shear. Not even weak shear, there really was essentially zero flow for these storms to work with. I sat at home until things began to pop about 10 miles outside of town, grabbed my brother and headed out to take some photos locally.
I went to one of my usual spots south of Urbana (which would have been a fantastic spot to view the Champaign area tornado from a couple of weeks ago). Stuff just really did not look very fun at all and my camera remained in my bag for quite some time. Eventually I noticed a good updraft going up to our south, which did eventually become a substantial cell as it progressed northward slowly toward us. I figured why bother moving and just let it overtake us. Just before reaching us, the updraft of the storm collapsed, kicking up some dust on the leading edge of the outflow as it raced toward us. The core finally overtook us with some sub-severe hailstones and some gusty winds, also below severe limits. Even so, it was fun to ride out a core.
I noticed two outflow boundaries were going to collide on the west side of the county. This was the only time during the entire outing that I bothered to move the car. I drove us about 10 miles west to where these boundaries would collide, and set up shot. I shot a little time lapse of the two boundaries, but unfortunately I was a little bit late on the actual collision.
The coolest thing happened when the boundaries did meet though. While standing out there watching the boundaries overhead, a little cluster of intense dust devils began to kick up about 50 yards in front of us in a bare farm field. These things became intense enough that you could actually hear them in the field in front of us. Looking up, there were a couple of little 'swirls' in the base of the cu. We were likely almost in the right spot at the right time for a landspout tornado, but it never quite rooted itself. It eventually moved over a field with much less dirt and debris and we lost the circulation.
The rest of the evening was spent in this very spot on the side of some road in flat Champaign County. Eventually the boundary collision led to more numerous thunderstorms in the area, and it became a lightning effort. Called it quits around 9:30 as the cluster of storms congealed into a big rainy blob, making it about 4 hours out in the same little spot.
Here's the time lapse from Sunday... really didn't have it setup early enough, and unfortunately didn't have the storms erupting out of frame following the collision.
July 11 2016 Litchfield /Watkins Minnesota Tornadoes
2 months ago