Chase Date: April 28, 2014
David Drummond, Andrew Newcomb
Miles Logged: 357
States Chased: TN, MS, AL
Tornadoes Witnessed: 2
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Starting in Memphis
The rare choice to chase east on an otherwise dead plains year would end up in multiple Tornadoes near Columbus, Mississippi. Started the morning in Memphis, and didn’t get on the road as early as we had hoped. We arrived late from chasing near Little Rock the night before. Since we were in a hurry, we found the slowest Wendy’s on the planet to get a fast meal. By noon we were finally on I-55 out of Memphis metro. Southbound on I-55, we had hopes of getting south and east ahead of the storms forming.
We bailed off I-55 on State Highway 278 and headed east towards Tupelo. We’d intercept our first storms of the day south of Pontotoc. It appeared the storm was mostly outflow dominant as it seemed to have a shelf feature. In retrospect, it was extremely HP which seemed to be hindering our view. The storm was moving fast, and with it already on top of us, we decided to bail further south to the next storm. After we bailed on it, the storm would go on to produce a tornado in Tupelo about 15 minutes later.
Two dud storms
We dropped south to the next storm, which was also pretty much a dud. The terrain also wasn’t the best in this area, with very limited view of the sky. We continued our dropping south strategy to the next storm, which also seemed to not be as organized. The storm to it’s south, however, had reported tornadoes in Louisville, so we started south again and dropped to Macon. The Louisville storm was an absolute beast with some incredible lightning strikes and a massive inflow cloud.
Columbus, Mississippi Tornadoes
We headed north on US 45 and intercepted what appeared to be 2 large tornadoes southwest of Columbus. One of them was definitely a wedge. A great intercept at pretty close, but safe range.
We continued after the storm, passing through Columbus. Near the Alabama/Mississippi state line, we encountered down trees. No problem, we’d just back track, except we had a problem. The latest radar scan we had showed a secondary storm with a couplet heading our way.
With very few options due to our blocked escape route, we found as open of a spot as we could and pulled into it. We were in a driveway, and saw the owners flag us inside from the front of the house. So, we took shelter in the house. Turns out, it had a safe room built in. The house had WiFi, so we were able to get updated radar data.
We stuck around until we were pretty sure the threat had subsided and then tried to head out. Multiple trees were down along our route, so we had to back track west. Eventually we stopped for the night in West Point, getting a room and pizza and crashing out from a long day.