Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: April 9, 2011
Miles Logged: 1440
States Chased: NE, IA
Tornadoes Witnessed: 8
Highest Wind Encountered: 60MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

I had been watching this system with quite interest for the better part of a week since last Sunday in Kansas. It seemed pretty much a given that Saturday would be the day, although SPC wasn’t always on board with it.

The original plan was to chase Friday and Saturday, however the Friday chase was mostly squashed by an outage at the datacenter. The joys of working in IT. Once we got done getting our equipment back online, everything had fired in northern Oklahoma, so I headed home from the datacenter and got supper and waited for the 00Z NAM to come out.

The target I picked out was Sioux City, IA and realized I probably needed to try and get north to Wichita or Salina for the night to setup for a drive the next day.

So about 10 pm I departed for Salina. I was nearing the OK/KS state line where there was still a storm ongoing. OUN issued a Tornado Warning so I took a side trip east towards Ponca City to intercept. I ended up experiencing 70-80 mph winds and wind driven golf ball sized hail. I cracked up my windshield finally, and got some decent video.

I eventually bailed on that storm, and got back on the road, arriving in Salina around 2 am. I got some rest and woke up Saturday morning around 10 am and got showered and on the road to Lincoln where I met up with Scott Bennett and Tyler Burg to get lunch at Raising Canes.

Scott and I decided that a target as far north as Sioux City wasn’t the best idea, and we discussed river crossings. Blair, Onawa and Sioux City were the 3 main crossings. Blair seemed too far south to me, so I decided on Onawa, IA.

The storms fired in Eastern NE and came across the river. We wanted to go slightly north, but the next exit north was closed so we ended up going a little too far north when the storm turned right. We managed to get back in position just southwest of Mapleton and waited for the storm to mature. I headed east on highway 34 to 141 north. The storm put down a tornado right about the time I started north on 141. I got up to Highway 16 then east and went all the way to just a couple miles short of US59 then headed north on back roads.

I measured 63.7MPH RFD winds, then parked right next to US59 a couple miles short of state highway 175 southwest of Arthur. I started to edit video, and then looked up to see a beautiful stovepipe just to my east a couple miles in the darkness. I tried to get video but was unable to get my camera to focus. I need to work at getting night time video better!

I saw one more cone tornado after the stovepipe dissipated, then headed up to 175 and east. I went through Arthur, and kept east on 175, seeing another elephant trunk to my north and then a wedge. I was skeptical at first that it was a wedge, when it looked like it could have been just a large rain core.

The rest of the evening was a series of stair stepping on the amazing iowa gridded road network, witnessing more tornadoes until giving up just north of Fort Dodge. I witnessed another tornado north of Fonda, which I managed to capture video of.

I finished off the night witnessing a tornado go north of the city of Pocahontas, then one way off in the distance near St Joseph, IA before giving up due to the fact the storm had become outflow dominant.

We celebrated in Fort Dodge.


Mapleton, Iowa Tornado – April 9, 2011