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Monday, June 22, 2015

Tornado Fest Near Lodgepole, SD

Hanging out near Bowman, ND
Tornado #1
What a phenomenal chase day!!  The things we saw today are what all chasers dream of, multiple tornadoes dropping from the same long-lived supercell.  We began the day in Chadron, NE and left earlier than normal (9 AM mountain time), because we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us.  Our target was near Bowman, ND, as models were persistent in hinting at storms that would move through there.  If a storm could develop near Baker, MT and move into air with more moisture and instability, we knew it would lead to very high chances of seeing a tornado or two.  After we stopped for lunch in Sturgis, SD, storms were beginning to form in Montana, so we continued north towards Bowman.  We took a pit stop and hung around town for a while so we could figure out what our next move would be.  One of the storms moving towards us was looking very good, but we did not want to get suckered, in the event storms would develop closer.  Eventually, Bill decided to have us head west, as this storm was showing signs of strengthening and possibly becoming tornadic.  As we headed west towards Baker, there was a suspicious lowering coming from the base.  After a while, the storm looked like it was sputtering, but the day was still young, and it was not in the "good" air yet.  We turned around followed this storm east through Bowman and pulled off outside of Bowman to observe its behavior.  There was a very tight wall cloud at one point, and we started to get very excited.  As we continued east, it started to look very promising!  Near Hettinger, ND, the storm began to tighten up and give us a wall cloud that was rotating like a top.  We took a south option out of Hettinger and the storm gave us our first tornado of the day near Lodgepole, SD!!!  It did not last very long, but we saw it touch the ground and rope out.  Shortly after that one dissipated, another one formed within a few minutes.  This one was a beautiful rope tornado, and there was a very clear RFD cut behind it.  Mark tornado 2 off the list!!  After watching this one for a while and nearly getting hit by large hail, we continued to head south, as the storm was getting ready to produce another one.  Directly above us was a very tight circulation, and we wanted to get more distance between us and the storm so we would be able to see better.  We found another east option and drove through the town of Bison, SD.  At this point, there was another very suspicious lowering, so we stopped outside of Bison to watch.  We could not stay long, as we suddenly got blasted by very strong RFD winds, which meant tornado development was imminent, directly on top of us!!!  We had to turn the vans around and head back west to get out of the danger zone, and when we stopped, the storm's base had a "pregnant belly" look.  Bill stated this usually precedes the development of large tornadoes, but we eventually got caught in the torrential rain and hail.  We later found out that a large tornado indeed DID form out of this.  At this point, we did not have any good south options for a while, so we continued to blast east and get hammered by the core precipitation.  As the core finally passed, we pulled over and watched the light show.  Another funnel appeared and briefly touched down, which marked our 3rd tornado of the day!!  Overall, we had a career day, by most chaser's standards.  I did not get the exact miles, but I'm pretty sure we drove close to 580 miles today.  We stayed overnight in Mobridge, SD.


Tornado #2

Tornado #3


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Justin!

    Meanwhile, Coal City, and areas around Ottawa were hit with tornadoes, last night. There has been no official count, but they say there were several. I'm thinking it may be part of the same system you were chasing, We had dew point readings at 74 in the afternoon. You would be saturated just standing still in the air.
    We only had high winds, the sky had turned orangy, at about sunset while these powerful storms came through, south of us.

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