I hate to follow Mr. Schafer's pics with a report that's not nearly as impressive, however, as a long-time lurker (first time poster AND first time successful chaser), I wanted to share my report from June 16. Much of the knowledge that put me into the appropriate position that afternoon was picked up from contributors to this forum. Thank you!!
At around 5:15, the storm near Rockwell City, IA was starting to strengthen. Without anything firing to the South of it, at the time, I hoped it would be a good cell to keep an eye on, and off I went to hopefully intercept it near Humboldt. Forty-five minutes later, the storm seemed to be moving a bit more easterly (and fresh storms were initiating to the South of it). At that point, I was a little dejected, as I suspected the inflow on "my" storm would be cut off by the fresh stuff... I dropped South a few miles to Thor, as there looked to be a small gap where I hoped to avoid hail as I would let the storms pass over me, and I would call it a day. However, as the sky started to brighten West of me, I noticed what looked to be a non-rotating wall cloud hanging off the back end of my initially targeted storm. With the precipitation out of the way, I headed back North a couple miles (including through a construction zone where the flag men appeared oblivious to the lightning dancing around us). And starting at exactly 6:25, I caught the footage in the video below. The tornado was on the ground for just about 5 minutes (and appeared to cover a little over two miles in that time-frame). I was looking North, as the circulation moved from West to East.
I don't believe that a TOR warning was ever issued for this event, and the velocity scans didn't show much of anything for this area.
After the rope dissipated, there was a lot of scud to the East of me that was violently flying in from the South. Meanwhile the wind (and the overhead clouds) in my location had switched around so they were out of the Northwest. I wish I would have taken a little video of that, but honestly, it didn't feel real comfortable. So i skedaddled out of there, and arrived at my haircut appointment only a half hour late
Sat in Sioux Falls most of the morning, eventually saw a cell pop and started heading for it while closely watching the cell over in Iowa. Planned an intercept just south of Wayne, NE but lost data and played things more safely. Also didn't want to hook slice since we were guessing there would be damage behind the storm in that area (and there was damage).
Watched the Stanton/Pilger tornadoes through the rain from the safety of a paved road NE of Pilger, moved a little ways, and then started recording (you can skip the 30 seconds of lightning at the beginning). Also saw two other tornadoes while following the cell into Sioux City, but they were brief and weak - the storm just couldn't seem to organize again despite rapid rotation and some 60mph inflow.
Here are a couple of my videos of the Pilger tornadoes. I was 3 miles south of Pilger when these were filmed with my dash mounted GoPro. I arrived on this cell from the northeast and flanked it along Highway 15 directly east of Stanton and south of Pilger. I filmed the initial tornado briefly form out of a wall cloud approximately 10 miles to my west. I assume that was the beginning of the initial Stanton tornado. I then moved north to attempt a closer look and ultimately ended up where i was when I filmed the twins forming. My video ends just south of Pilger where my access into town was blocked by debris and downed power lines. I proceed south and then east to try to catch up again. My chase was twice thwarted by law enforcement blocking roads going northbound. I eventually made my way up to Emerson through Pender and continued chasing the cell to the northeast on Hwy. 35 where I caught another touchdown near Jackson, NE. I then followed the cell into Sioux City where it died.
I caught a total of 4 tornado touchdowns. Their has been a lot of speculation on whether a third tornado touched down or not with the twins. In my video I see the potential for a third to touchdown near the second one and I also see a possible wall cloud to the west of the twins as I'm driving north. I cannot tell if these are separate circulations/funnels or not. You guys can be the judge.
Jenn Brindley Ubl, Phil Bates and I chased the Pilger area storm. We got on it a bit later than we wanted after messing around with cells up in SD but were able to approach from the north, heading through Wayne as either as the Stanton tornado was ending or the Pilger twins were developing. We documented the twin EF4s from the northeast, when a new mesocyclone/tornado cyclone rapidly spun up immediately downstream of our location. We moved to clear the path and a debris cloud and multivortex tornado quickly developed, what would become the Wakefield EF4. While the multivort was in progress, a stovepipe satellite developed just west of the tornado cyclone, and then careened around the southern flank of the TC carried by the outer circulation's winds. The satellite reminded me of the Wizard of Oz in its shape and movement, while the Twins reminded me of the '65 Palm Sunday Outbreak. I've never seen that combination before.
Well, now that some time (almost two weeks!) has passed and I can think about this day without banging my head against a wall, I'll add my meager contribution.
My first long-distance, solo storm chase was very interesting but ultimately frustrating to say the least. Due to a few mistakes, I blew a great opportunity to intercept the amazing series of EF4 tornadoes in northeast Nebraska. The biggest and most frustrating of these was the fact that I abandoned my leaving-the-house target of Sioux City, Iowa which would have put me in excellent position to get on the storm earlier. I did this during my first data stop in Iowa Falls when I saw the line of mid-morning convection blowing up right over the Missouri Valley that had most of far eastern NE and the western third of Iowa socked in with anvil debris. I decided I would need to get south of that where the sun was still shining, so I detoured south on I-35 to Des Moines, and west on I-80 from there.
I soon broke back into partly sunny skies. The wind was gusting fitfully out of the south and southeast and made it difficult to hold the car steady on the east-west roads. I will say I've never actually FELT the volatility in the atmosphere like that before, not even on August 18th, 2005 when the long-track, high end F3 Stoughton, Wisconsin tornado missed my house by about three blocks.
A couple more data checks at rest stops didn't seem to reveal any major changes as I approached Omaha. I was still thinking something would go up near Lincoln and I would be in good position for it. One of the few things I did right was that I knew I did not want to get trapped in an unfamiliar metro area as weekday rush hour approached, so I skirted the north side of town on SR 64 and stopped to check data again. This was a little after 2100Z (4 PM) and the massive supercell and at least one of the Pilger tornadoes was well underway. Warning text indicated the storm moving northeast at 25-35 MPH, so I decided I still had a chance to catch up to it by blasting northwest on US 275 and then north on US 77. The storm now had the Omaha area overcast with its anvil, so the prospects for additional development in my immediate area did not look great. In retrospect staying on 275 might have gotten me there faster and closer, perhaps allowing me to catch the last few minutes of the Wakefield tornado, but I didn't realize that the storm's motion was much more "north" than "east" and was concerned about the storm either getting east of me, or driving into the hook as it crossed my road if I went too far west.
The storm had a pronounced mammatus display under the anvil. These photos, snapped pointing almost straight up out the windshield while driving, don't do it justice. I had left home with the 35-80mm lens on the camera which didn't get wide enough.
I finally got a clear enough view of the updraft base to stop and start shooting soon after I passed through Winnebago. I pulled over at approximately 2237Z (5:37 PM), or about 30 minutes after the Wakefield tornado had ended. The storm had photogenic LP supercell structure and was clearly still rotating, with occasional small funnels under the base.
I followed the storm north on 77 through Homer to Sioux City. However, the base soon began to look less impressive and by the time I got close to Sioux City, the storm was obviously weakening rapidly. The scanner soon blared a new tornado warning saying a tornado had been reported 2 south of Hubbard, which is right where I was looking during my initial stop.
Video, including a timelapse from my dash-mounted GoPro as the supercell twirls across the sky and begins to collapse:
* Chasers who were closer have confirmed that there was a brief (not fully condensed) touchdown underneath this during the time I was watching it, but it looks like the NWS has not confirmed it leaving the Wakefield EF4 as the last official tornado produced by this storm.
A stop to check radar as I got into Sioux City confirmed that the storm was collapsing, and it was at this point that I got my first inkling as to exactly what I had missed from this storm from the first photos posted by Jonathan Williamson.
Another tornadic supercell was on-going another couple hours further west in central NE, and I entertained the idea of trying to get to it before dark on US-20 (the road I SHOULD have stayed on all day!). At one point I was passed by a van bearing "Rapid Rotation Storm Tours" decals that evidently had the same idea. I came to my senses and gave up after about an hour and encountering a detour due to a bridge out on US 20.
At that point, nothing in particular had jumped out at me about the following day's potential, so I figured anywhere along the warm front near the IA/MN border would be as good as any. I decided to split the difference between where I was and home, so I pushed east into Fort Dodge to get a room for the night. There was near-constant lightning to my north for most of the drive, but I didn't get rained on much until the last ten or so miles when the sky opened up and made for a half-blinded, 30 MPH crawl the rest of the way.
Shortly after getting situated and connecting my laptop to my room's wi-fi, I noticed a tornado warning for my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. This was shortly after midnight and I brought up MKX on GR Level 3 to find a pronounced couplet very close to my apartment and workplace! I spent the next hour watching on radar as a series of brief but strong, rain-and-darkness shrouded, bow-echo embedded tornadoes threatened my friends, family and co-workers.
The next morning, I noticed the index bullseyes back over northeast Nebraska, and the surface low still hanging back over central NE, but thought (or maybe convinced myself) that the cap would hold that far west. I really didn't want to backtrack that far knowing that it would mean another night on the road and not being sure my apartment building didn't have a tree through it, based on reports I was hearing from close to home. I stuck with my last night's plan of doing a little sightseeing in central Iowa and making my way to Mason City by afternoon. When it became apparent the cap would hold where I was until after dark and another series of slow-moving, spectacular tornadoes was underway in the same area I'd just been in the night before, I started to head for home. Got in shortly after midnight Wednesday morning and awoke around 7:45 to my cell phone blaring another tornado warning for the Madison area. This one produced a brief EF0 near Black Earth.
Driving just three blocks east on Schroeder Road, I found trees snapped off halfway up and houses with large pieces missing. All disturbingly familiar sights from the previously mentioned Stoughton tornado, and about the same distance from my place of residence at the time of the given tornado. Given the circumstances, I was probably safer in Nebraska that night!
After spending 10 days on the road with the College of Dupage and Trip 5, I've finally had a chance to edit and upload some shots from this day. Here's our footage of the Pilger twins from a few miles northeast of town and then a close range shot of the developing Wakefield tornado and satellite. This is probably my best tornado footage since the June 17, 2010 Albert Lea area tornadoes.
A month to the date, and I finally finished my log. Its old news by now but if anyone is up for a fresh perspective on the day feel free to check it out. Our view of Pilger was a bit unique since we were deep in the notch and viewed the tornadoes from the north and west as they passed to our east. We were on a hilltop and sadly watched Pilger get hit from above.
Was on the storm from the beginning when it put down the first tornado southwest of Stanton. Followed that tornado north through Stanton to see arcing power lines in town and emerged out of town to see the monster rain wrapped wedge just a few miles to my north as it was crossing HWY 275. I stopped on the side of the road north of Stanton to take pics and video of the Stanton tornado when I look to my east and see the first Pilger tornado beginning to form. I could still hear the Stanton tornado roar. I kept my eyes on both tornadoes and when I knew the Stanton tornado was past HWY 275, I made my way north to 275 so I could head east towards the Pilger tornado. Soon after, the 2nd Pilger tornado touched down and the rest is history.
Looking back, at times I wish I would have gotten closer to the Pilger tornadoes, but between playing it safe with tornadoes seemingly able to drop anywhere and wanting to stop and make sure I got some still pics, I was always several miles away. Also, I wish I would have headed north earlier than I did so I could have kept up with the twins and eventually the Wakefield tornado. I was still able to see the Wakefield tornado form and the smaller satellite race around the south side of it from probably at least 10 miles away. I eventually caught back up with the storm to see the last of the tornadoes near Jackson, NE.
As a side note, has anyone seen a more complete storm survey of the tornadoes? There was a "brief" storm survey that came out a couple of days after the tornadoes, that gave ratings and a map of the tracks, but normally there is a longer survey that has pictures, times, etc.
Finally have edited and posted my video from this day. I still wish I would have been more aggressive to get some closer shots, but I guess maybe previous events were in the back of my mind and made me keep a safer distance....
I apologize for the shakiness at the beginning of the video. I think I was trying to do a million things at once and the video was compromised at times!
I apologize for the so-late post on my account of this day, and WHAT a day it was. The full chase log and pictures is below...
Above: An absolutely incredible view of the multiple violent tornadoes churning over the Nebraska countryside north of Pilger, Nebraska on the afternoon of June 16, 2014. At least two tornadoes are visible, each an EF-4 violent tornado (with the left one being possibly stronger) with yet a third tornado trying to form to the far left as lightning strikes to the right! These two tornadoes are actually interacting with one another since they are similar size in a phenominon called the "Fujiwhara Effect". They will eventually merge into a violent mile+ wide wedge tornado before occlusion and development of yet another tornado "family" to the east. The town of Pilger, Nebraska was completely destroyed by the tornado to the left, with at least 3 people killed about 15 minutes before this picture was taken (near Highway 275 looking to the north). Note the devastated farmstead in the foreground.
June 16 was to be one of the best (if not the best) chase days of my storm chasing career, with multiple violent tornadoes intercepted in Nebraska. I woke up in Wichita very early, packed up, did a brief forecast, and left via I-35 northeast through Andover. I continued up I-35 to I-335 into Topeka, then Highway 75 north into Nebraska City, then east to I-29 north into Iowa to make the target area(s). I reached the Omaha area (on the Iowa side) just after noon. The storm prediction center had a moderate risk in place for the eastern third of Nebraska, more than half of western Iowa, and a small portion of southern Minnesota. The tornado probabilities were initially 10% and updated to 15% (hatched for significant), mainly over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. The hail and wind were both 45%, with the hail probability hatched.
An on-going and intense elevated HP supercell was encountered on the southern end of a cluster of storms north and northeast of Nebraska, and followed into Iowa before it weakened near Harlan via I-29 to I-680 and eventually northeast to Highway 59. The SPC had severe thunderstorm watch #301 in effect until 2 PM for this area as well. I left that storm as that was NOT the main storm of the day, the primary target was still east-central to NE Nebraska. I continued to near Denison, then highway 144 / 175 through Onawa and back into Nebraska to highway 51 west. A small cluster of convective showers developed near Norfolk by about 3 PM CDT. This was an isolated shower, and possibly initiation for a larger storm. I did not want to be "suckered" to the north and east to near the MN border was, so I stuck to my target area.
The storm prediction center issued mesoscale discussion MCD 1015, and subsequent PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch #303 valid from 3:10 PM to 10 PM CDT. I continued west along Highway 151 to Highway 275, and at this time (roughly 3:30 PM), it became apparent that a supercell storm was forming from the cluster of storms to the east of Norfolk, NE. Over the next few hours, I intercepted the supercell storm from east of Stanton, NE via SR 15 / 32 and SR 57 back to Highway 275 east. The violent Stanton wedge tornado was observed, as well as the violent "twin" Pilger tornadoes, and some more multiple tornadoes east and north from there to near the Winnebago Indian Reservation. These tornadoes were significant and very destructive. Pilger, NE was destroyed by one of the "dual" tornadoes observed.
The supercell storm was followed northeastward via SR 9 / 35 and to just southwest of Sioux City, Iowa. The last tornado from the storm was observed about 7 miles southwest of Sioux City. After that, roughly 7 PM, I continued into Sioux City to near I-29 in Iowa across the MO River. I stopped to check data again and remove some hail guards off the front windows of the vehicle, wrapping up the chase. I continued south down I-29 to I-680 east, then I-80 east all the way through Des Moines and into Williamsburg, IA for the night at just before midnight. I left Williamsburg early on June 17 and headed east on I-80 to I-88 in Davenport, then back east on I-88 into Chicago and north on Highway 59. I arrived at my office in Hoffman Estates by about 9:30 AM June 17.
Above: Now the "violent twins" begin as first tornado passes north of Pilger, NE. Folks
with the tour groups got their "money's" worth on this trip! Roughy 4:25 on June
16, looking east on Highway 275.
Above: Full view of all three tornadoes from left to right. Occluding wedge (formerly the "Pilger Twins"), stove pipe, and third eastern Wakefield EF-4 tornado forming. Time about 4:55 PM central.
Above: Final tornado lasts about 3 minutes 7 miles or so to the SW of Sioux City, Iowa. Tornado lifted after 5:35 PM or so. June 16, 2014.
Full chase log for this storm (June 16, 4:30 PM): Interception and observation of an extremely severe and violent tornadic thunderstorm from near Stanton, Nebraska in Stanton County near SR 57 and Highway 275, and northeastward past Pilger, Nebraska and eventually to about 7 miles southwest of Sioux City, Iowa in Dakota County near Emerson along SR 35. The storm was a violent classic and cyclic supercell that produced at least 4 violent tornadoes (one EF-4 wedge near Stanton, two dramatic and intense EF-4 "twin" tornadoes near Pilger - One taking a direct hit on that town causing at least EF-4 damage and fatalities, and yet another EF-4 southwest of Thurston in Wayne County). The storm produced a "tornado family" with at least three tornadoes on the ground at the same time. While the Stanton EF-4 tornado (which was nearly a mile wide during its wedge phase) was roping out north of the intersection of Highway 275 and SR 57, Pilger, NE was being destroyed by one of the violent "twin" tornadoes that were in progress eastward near Highway 275. These two tornadoes were very large and violent stovepipes (almost wedges) that at one point were nearly identical, and rotating slowly around each other ("Fujiwhara" effect), with the tornado that hit Pilger becoming shrouded in debris. These two tornadoes continued to the NE, with the eastern Pilger tornado becoming "involved" with its western "twin" and evolving to a mile+ wide wedge north of Highway 275. With this wedge tornado (now a single vortex, with possibly a brief satellite / third tornado to its west prior to the merger) becoming rain wrapped and occluding, two more separate tornadoes developed to the east, one a narrow rope that evolved to a stovepipe, and yet another cone / wedge tornado developing southwest of Thurston. The view north of Highway 275 clearly showed three of these tornadoes, with the stovepipe in between them. Finally, after a cycle-down, the supercell storm again produced a smaller tornado about 7 miles SW of Sioux City, and northwest of the Winnebago Indian Reservation. After that the storm underwent downscale evolution and dissipated near Sioux City, Iowa. The core of this storm was avoided, but hail to quarter sized was observed with heavy rains and frequent lightning. Winds, especially RFD and inflow, were noted gusting from 70 to 80 MPH. The town of Pilger, NE took a direct hit from the western EF-4 (at least) tornado, killing at least 3 people and destroying most of the town. Destruction of the town was observed directly from Highway 275. The supercell also had a very impressive visual presentation, including striations and a "stacked plate" appearance. The storm was caused by a warm front / boundary interactions, surface heating, low pressure area, and an upper trough. A 2009 Ford Escape was used to chase the storms. Documentation was digital video, audio, and still photos. A PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch box was also in effect for the area until 10 PM CDT.
Just getting back onto Stormtrack like many others and figured I'd post on my last chase. 6/16/14 was probably the 3rd or 4th time in Nebraska for me in 2014 so I was a bit hesitant booking the flight from HOU -> OMA the morning of the 16th. Ended up being one of my best chases in 10 years. Here are a few video grabs.
Not much to add...Pretty simple day for me, started literally right below where the first tower went up, sat in same spot for nearly an hour watching light sprinkles develop and dissipate in same area before eventually watching the storm develop to produce the first tornado not even 15 miles from where first sprinkle fell. Outside of getting held up by debris briefly between the first brief EF-0 and second eventual Stanton tornado it was a pretty easy day, where I was able to watch every tornado from this power cyclic monster! Had a very close encounter <.5 miles at the point both twins peaked and cross paths, overall a safe and effective chase day where I was able to actively communicate information to WFO, remain safe, have fun and shoot some stills and video along the way.
Probably some of my best tornado video ever...Video will be available on a DVD currently in the later stages of production that will be available soon!
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First Tornado (before storm was even T-Warned) just outside of Madison
The 1st EF-4 that just missed Stanton right after Developing
View after getting held up by Debris and falling bit behind, big occluded barber poll just W of Stanton
At intersection of Hwy 275 N of Stanton
Second EF-4 or Pilger Tornado Just Exiting Town, 3rd EF-4 just developing just SE of Pilger
Development of 4th EF-4 or Wakefield Tornado
And I can't leave out the Gorgeous Conclusion to the day after bailing back West near Petersburg for another storm right at sunset!
Going to conjure up an old reports thread because I found an old memory card last night with some photos from the Pilger (6/16/14) day that I had not previously posted on here. I don't honestly think I ever even posted here after the madness of that stretch ensued, it never crossed my mind.
I remember starting off the day in Galesburg and then I drove to Sioux City, IA and noticed a warm front/outflow boundary intersection to the SW and the insane 19z Omaha sounding and knew it was on. A storm fired up and I was under it from rain shower to death documenting a number of intense tornadoes, multiple tornadoes at once/twin wedges, and other phenomena of such. Was a rather incredible day which was quickly stiffled by the sadness of hearing about the loss of life in Pilger. I had cell issues all day and didn't get data until that evening when I got from the Burwell storm and found out about exactly how everything unfolded. I guess it was sensory unoverload, I knew something major/a town had been hit, but I wasn't on social media and did not know the extent. Here are some of my captures from this day mostly shot at 24mm with some shot at 14mm (Nikon 14-24mm):
These were all taken within a minute or so of the tornado mowing through the center of town sadly. The roar was tremendous.
Here is a shot of the earlier violent tornado near Stanton, NE that I had never bothered posting and the Wakefield, NE tornado too:
Stanton, NE EF4 barely missing a farmhouse to the NW. The roar was incredible from this beast.
The Wakefield, NE EF4 at maximum width before becoming rainrwrapped.
Tornado roping out near Winside, NE.
Large violent (EF4) wedge tornado forming SW of Stanton, NE in the Elkhorn River valley.
Fully mature EF4 wedge under impressive structure as it barely missed Stanton to the NW. I have a feeling Stanton would have fared worse than Pilger had this monster gone through town. Most residents seemed oblivious to the Bowdle-esque tornado going on to their NW as well....likely due to its low contrast until you got up close and personal.
Violent tornado after tearing through a farmstead near Wisner, Nebraska. This is where I end as I've reached my 10 image cap. Fun trip down memory lane on one of my top 5 chases of all time. I managed to make it back W to the Burwell storm after the Pilger storm died upon entering Iowa (ha) and get some awesome structure, mammatus, and a great sunset.
Thanks for twisting the knife again, @Ethan Schisler . Sioux City was my leaving-the-house target but that sounding you referenced was one of several things en route that led me to re-target TO Omaha taking I-35 south from 20 to I-80 west, which put me just far enough from the Pilger cell to miss the whole show.