2015 Chase Diaries, Day 6, 6/2: Southern ND Supercells

GPS logs, zoomed-in for the chasing part (edited to add Herreid marker):

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And zoomed-out for the entire day’s travels:

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Started the day in Rapid City on a mission. This was my last chase day, and I had seen some amazing supercells, but a not yet a tornado. With an improving 500mb pattern with a trough ejecting from the Pacific Northwest, I thought this was the day to do it.

I had been looking at this setup for a few days and I never really wavered from favoring North Dakota even though I knew I would have to blast southward back to KC for my flight the next day. Since I know I wanted to see tornadoes, I figured being close to the warm front, surface low, and backed surface flow would be critical. In the morning, the short-range models yielded another factor: potential cap issues in SD. So it was decided; I booked it onto Mobridge, SD to better position myself.

But first, passed by the UDX radar site in New Underwood! Was hoping this was a good omen for me.

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Anyway, no later than I made it to Mobridge did storms initiate south of Bismarck. I quickly position myself to intercept it on US 83. Then, a roadblock.

1) I get stopped by police. Again. THIRD TIME WHILE CHASING. WHAT THE HECK. Thankfully, for the third time in as many instances, I am left off with a warning. For the record, the police officers this time were VERY nice to me. I drove much slower after receiving the warning.

2) A good thing I drove slower, because right when I reach Herreid, SD, my vehicle warns me of low tire pressure. I park along the side of the road and see I have a leaking tire. Great. I can actually see the base of the what is now a decent supercell now. So close, yet so far.

Really superb timing. And maybe sarcastic, but maybe not, because I’m in a town with an auto shop, so I get the tire patched up in a half hour. Turns out a screwdriver head had punctured my tire. Oh South Dakota.

The mechanic at the shop was pretty cool and nice. Asked me about storm chasing and my career. 10/10 would get work done there again.

Off I go, I reach the storm west of Hague, ND, just in time.

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This is the only decent picture I got, because the storm dissipates after it crosses US 83. Gone as soon as it showed up.

I have three options now: go to a new supercell intensifying SW of Bismarck, or race off to developing storms near Jamestown, or watch towers to the east percolate along a subtle boundary west of Aberdeen. I choose to defer the decision and instead stay put at Strasburg. The new supercell SW of Bismarck is backbuilding and moving pretty quickly so I reason that I will be fairly positioned to intercept the flank if I stay put anyway for about an hour or so.

I was correct. Neither the Aberdeen towers nor the Jamestown storms looked decent, and the SW Bismarck cell was intensifying as it neared the Missouri River west of Linton. I race off to it from Strasburg and stumble upon a beautiful updraft:

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Like all the other cells I had seen, this one was trying to produce a tornado. But the low-level flow was just too weak, and it couldn’t get anything sustained going.

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After a while the hail core is getting close, so I drop down south. A beautiful view of the Missouri River in all its glory awaited.

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Even saw the Reed Timmer’s Dominator, which was a plus!

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Met a couple of Nat Geo storm chasers vacationing from New York at this location. Had a couple of laughs with them as Reed Timmer’s team shut their doors after we tried to walk up to them. (They’re kind of celebrities in the chaser world.)

At this point the aforementioned towers near Aberdeen have really gotten themselves organized. In fact, one of them is a full fledged supercell now off in the distance.

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With the hail core once again approaching our location, I had to make another decision, whether to stick with this cell, which was obviously not going to produce a tornado (and at this time, was weakening), or to head off east. View of the hail core below:

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I decide to loop around back into extreme northern SD, and back to Hague where the first cell died, and then race off to the cell north of Aberdeen. But before I complete the loop, I step back and see an awesome scene in the small town of Pollock, SD.

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The meso had reintensified somewhat to engulf Pollock! Probably one of my favorite photos this entire trip.

Back on US 83 now where I watched the first supercell earlier in the day, the dying meso from this second supercell passes over me and drops some rain and small hail. And this:

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Double rainbow all the way! This is my third rainbow of the trip. I think I’ve successfully photographed one rainbow from college till before the trip. Rainbow chasing ftw.

By this time I’d stop caring about the storm north of Aberdeen because it too had choked. I still take the route towards it anyway, while watching CG’s from a new storm in the Aberdeen area pop up. Thought it taking some photos but knew I’d be devoured by mosquitoes. They were EVERYWHERE. Mosquitoes smashing against my vehicle sounded like rain. The end result was a lot of dead mosquitoes plastered in the front of my vehicle.

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My flight was in Kansas City the next day so I tried to get as far east and south as possible to position myself to make it down in time. Ended up in Brookings, SD at 1:30 AM.

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