Iowa Blue Sky Bust

posted in: Storm Chasing | 0
Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: June 18, 2009
Chase Partners:
Abe Kimball

Chasers Encountered:
Steve Polley, Mike Brady, Scott Bennett, Brandon Sullivan, Kenny Grimm, Jesse Risley, Randy Cooper

Miles Logged: 1256
States Chased: IA, WI
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

So I started this day by waking up, and planning on going to work. I knew that Scott Bennett scored a wedge the night before in Nebraska, and had just rewired my truck the night before, getting to bed a little after 1 am.

When I woke up at 6am I looked at the SPC like I do every morning. 10% hatched tornado, Moderate Risk. I started looking at the models and realized that it was going to be an insane day. Of course, I forgot to check cap, but hey, it looked insane right? Who cares?

I went to work, and arrived around 7. I walked in, filled out my time off request, handed it to my boss Nick, and he signed it, and away I went. I came back to my house at 720, picked up abe, got my chasing equipment setup, and we were on the road by 7:30 am EDT.

We made good time, stopping for gas the first time over the border in Iowa. I got almost 380 miles on a tank, which is a ton for my truck. We filled up quick, and then punched through the first crapvection. There was reports of golfball sized hail in the storm, but I missed out on that fun. We didn’t get any hail, and just kept punching west.

We stopped at the Iowa 80 truckstop, since Abe is a big redneck and hadn’t ever been there. I think he had died and gone to heaven.

We continued on, going up through Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, then headed west on US 20. We came across a head on accident, where someone traveling westbound had crossed the median and gone into the eastbound lanes. It looked really horrible, although according to the newspaper, nobody died. The emergency life flight helicopter was landing as we were coming up on the scene.

We made it over to I-35 eventually, and then topped off and met up with Jesse Risley and Steve Polley. I gassed up my truck and then decided I needed to be a bit further north, so I went up to Clear Lake and sat with Brandon Sullivan, Kenny Grimm and Randy Cooper for awhile. Eventually the TIV showed up at the gas station across the road, so I took my friend Abe across the road so he could get his picture with the TIV. This was the highlight of his day.

Scott Bennett showed up after the TIV, then Brandon and Kenny and Randy all left. Scott and I decided to head east a bit to Mason City. Scott then headed out and got his hotel after awhile, and we headed east towards the small blip showing up on radar. Storms started firing, and we managed to intercept them in eastern Iowa.

Realistically, they all blew up into a mess fast, but I did intercept the Tornado Warned cell as it crossed the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, WI. A nice hook-echo was showing up on radar, and I managed to see a large wall cloud.

I continued on into Wisconsin, and quickly realized that southwest Wisconsin is full of hills and mountains, winding roads, etc. I gave up by the time I got over to Wauzeka, and decided the best thing to do would be to bail south at Boscobel to US18 and take that over to Madison, WI and then home.

Abe did most of the driving home, especially his first time through Chicago traffic at 3am. We arrived home somewhere around 8am EDT.