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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 9 North Dakota severe weather

Balfour, ND church
Courtenay, ND
We began the day in Pierre, SD, and we were on the road by 8:30 a.m.  The models were fairly consistent with three key areas of development later in the day.  The first area was near the Manitoba/ND border, which was well out of our reach.  Another area was near Minot, ND, where instability and moisture were excellent.  The final area was closer to the NE/SD border, which did not look as promising.  After our morning briefing, we headed north towards Bismarck, ND on US 83.  Lunch was a fast food stop in Steele, ND, and we continued north on Hwy 3 towards Harvey, ND.  We found a convenience store in Harvey, and hoards of other chasers were there, too.  It was hard not to judge them with all of their fancy instruments prominently displayed outside their vehicles.  Luckily for us, we had Bill, who uses his experience and instincts to get us on the best storms.  Anyway, we decided to head to the northwest on US 52 out of Harvey, and we stopped in Martin, ND for a brief time.  We continued northwest, and we explored the town of Balfour, ND, where there was an old church and an old school.  Storms were beginning to develop to our southeast, so we headed back to Anamoose, ND, where we did some more "power waiting."  After we decided that the better storms would be a bit further south, we returned to the town of Harvey and headed south on Hwy 3.  We found a spot to watch the developing storm, and it began splitting.  After this occurred, the right-moving storm became the dominant cell, and it quickly exploded to 50,000 feet.  We knew this would be a beast, so we latched onto it.  As we continued south on Hwy 3, it continued to look amazing on radar, and it also looked great in person.  When we got to Hwy 200, we blasted west to get a better look at the base.  Due to the high lightning danger, we could not stay in one spot for long, especially with how frequently lightning was seen.  At this point, the storm was starting to move due east, which was a sign that it was rotating.  We needed to drop south on Hwy 3, so we could stay in front of the action area and steer clear of the large hail (3+ inches).  Along the way, we stopped so we could see what was happening.  The storm came VERY close to producing a tornado multiple times, and it was exciting to see the turbulent motion underneath the base.  When we arrived in Tuttle, ND, we headed east on Hwy 36 towards Woodworth, ND.  At this point, the storm was beginning to get messy, so we continued into Pingree, ND, where we found a bar to use as a pit stop.  We headed north on US 52 to Hwy 9, where we headed east and followed the storm into Courtenay, ND.  As the storm continued its eastward trek, we stopped outside of town to watch it.  We saw what appeared to be a tornado, but it was behind a rain shaft, so we wrote it off as a shadow.  When reports started coming in of a tornado on the ground, we were more confident that what we saw was, indeed, a tornado.  The setting sun and frequent lightning provided a nice end to the long day of chasing.  We drove 619 miles and ended up in Bismarck, ND for the night.

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