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Most Unexpected Successful Chases

Discussion in 'Advanced weather & chasing' started by James Wilson, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. James Wilson

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    I have had a few 0% tornado days as I am sure most of us have had. So let’s hear some of your favorite unexpected or surprise successful chases.

    This one was one of my favorites because everyone was heading to Wyoming or Colorado on May 5, 2015 where the SPC had a 5% (Ended up a great day there). I had consistently seen a chase chance around Topeka but it was conditional. We decided to save the long drive to the main target and try one hour from home. We were rewarded with the most unexpected and low top LP cell I had ever seen. People questioned the report due to the height of the storm and its appearance on radar. Video and photos proved that some days mother nature just has to drop some. This cell ended up dropping two tornadoes and its dying structure was amazing.

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg
     
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  2. Bob Schafer

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    I know these aren't what you mean, but I have 3 that come to mind quickly. The pics/vids aren't much, so I'll forego them.

    In 1999 I exited a restaurant in Denver and intended to head south on I-25. Instead, I saw a storm with a HUGE lowering at Colorado Blvd and I-70, so I gave chase. It was my first-ever chase, and I saw several tornadoes and gustnadoes.

    In 2007 I made my first trip to Ireland. While lunching at the cafe at Mizenhead I gazed out the window and right there was a waterspout, which I filmed for about 7 minutes! Mom said "They follow me".

    One day I stepped out my door at home in southeast Colorado, and HOLY CRAP!!! there was a small tornado about a mile away. Actually, this has happened twice!
     
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  3. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I heard thunder and walked out on my front porch. Saw a funnel about 5 miles away just north of Bennett, CO. My shortest chase ever.

    02JUL16_BENNETT.jpg
     
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  4. Marc R. O'Leary

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    Also, I needed to get out. Like NEEDED to get out, so I went after a shitty little storm south of the house to shake out the cobwebs and make sure all the gear was working. The cell made a hard right turn, went tor warned and dropped a non-condensed confirmed tornado on 21MAY2018. You can see the dust whirl bottom left past the telephone pole. I only saw a couple other chasers and that was well after the tornado.

    21MAY18_001.jpg

    21MAY2018_TOR REPORT SPC.JPG
     
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  5. Devin Pitts

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    For me it would have to be May 20th, 2017. After being annoyed I couldn't drive down to Oklahoma/Texas for the 16th-18th sequence due to work, I felt obligated to play a semi-local setup with a Marginal 2% Tor risk that didn't seem like it would be anything beyond multi-cellular storms growing upscale into an MCS quickly starting along the Illinois/Indiana border near Hoopston, IL. Despite the fact that it was still a 3 hour drive from the NW side of Chicago to my target area, it was a Saturday and I'd also missed quite a few chases in Illinois in the weeks prior (also because of work) so I bit the bullet and targeted any storms that formed near a warm front that had set up across the area. To my astonishment as small convective showers started to initiate, one cell immediately began to strengthen drastically and completely dominate the area around it as it began to rotate and become a supercell. In a relatively short time it began to take on the telltale structure of a mature supercell:
    [​IMG]

    With a storm motion of maybe 15-20kts to the NE at most, a perfect 1-mile road grid, and a mostly classic supercell, this was one of the most leisurely chases I've ever had with hardly any need for map usage. After several cycles it managed to produce my first and only Indiana tornado near Remington/Wolcott, and what a beauty she was!

    [​IMG]



    The audio the video conveys pretty well how excited I was to get something so photogenic on an otherwise marginal looking day!
     
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    #5 Devin Pitts, Feb 8, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  6. Todd Lemery

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    Mine was around 2008 in Southern Kansas. My twin and I had been chasing and none of the storms in the area seemed to be doing much of anything so we decided to head for Wichita to spend the night. We were coming up to a road that we had to turn on and noticed a couple of cars parked alongside the road looking at something. We turned the corner shortly after and were really surprised to see a tornado roping out about 100 yards off the road in a field. We never had a clue there was a tornado on the ground because we had called it a day and weren’t paying attention. If you were in one of the cars park alongside the road watching the tornado, I was the moron that drove past you that day.
     
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  7. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I've never seen a tornado on a day that I wasn't trying to chase for one. The closest I've come is a couple of funnels about 2 miles from home near Mascoutah, IL on August 12, 2013. They were produced by a thunder-less rain shower. One persisted for 14 minutes. This *may* have had a ground circulation, but with the tall corn I couldn't get a visual. This cell had another oddity, a series of "micro" rain shafts about 20 feet wide that didn't move at all.

    Chase log with video:
    http://stormhighway.com/blog2013/aug1213a.php

    aug1213a.jpg
     
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  8. James Wilson

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    I also have never seen a tornado on a day I did not chase but I have NOT seen a tornado many times on days I thought I would lol.
     
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  9. ChristofferB

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    I have never seen a tornado on a non-chase day but the closest to that I guess was Russel, KS, 2012. We were in Iowa on our 2nd last day and our last day, when we needed to get back to OK, was not looking good (I remember a 0% tornado risk on SPC for that day, the day before). In the morning it started looking better and as we drove down towards south KS (where we had to go anyway!) it even started to look good. It eventually ended up in two tornadoes: one just before sunset, and one at night.

    I have also seen two waterspout funnels on non-chase days. One was during a vacation in Thailand and one on the island of Åland (Finland). I was pretty much as excited about any US tornado both of the occasions, due to the unexpectedness of it all. Typically, my friends who have been with me, have had a hard time understanding that excitement: "Is that little cone thing what you are excited about!?".
     
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  10. Jeff House

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    March 2003 Colorado ski trip had concluded. Our drive back to Wichita included a slight risk in Kansas. Oh but Colorado gonna Colorado, lol. We'd just left Denver. I was shocked a rope dropped probably 15-20 miles away from us (great visibility as usual in CO). It was already to our northeast as we traveled east on I-70. Adams/Arapahoe County Special. Camera was packed away with beautiful ski pictures, but we could not stop in this case to get it. Continued leisurely at the speed limit and it dissipated a couple minutes later.
     
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  11. Ethan Schisler

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    I saw one on May 1, 2006 driving home from Peoria back to Galesburg. It was off in the distance, pretty sure it was a landspout.

    May 9, 2016: I saw 2 tornadoes in Western IL along the warm front, I was doing my final for one of my classes and I got out of class, drove south and there were tornadoes ongoing underneath rain showers.

    June 21, 2018: I headed out of my house south of Galesburg to watch some storms as I do during the summer. I got one cell in Southern Knox County and tracked it east where it picked up a tornado warning as I saw a funnel descend about halfway down. Other spotters confirmed it as a tornado, which I did see dust getting lofted when I first noticed the lowering.

    July 16, 2015: Probably one of my top chases ever. There was a 2% out for tornadoes, but the atmosphere said different. Showing significant tornado parameters spiking over 5 and high CAPE/shear combo along the warm front. Kholby Martin and I tracked one supercell from Burlington Iowa to Galesburg, IL seeing numerous tornadoes (losing count) including a couple significant tornadoes. It was somewhat soured by coming up on Cameron, IL right after it took a hit by a strong tornado.

    All 4 of these events were 2% days.

    0% days I only have 2 stories:

    May 23, 2017: I saw a landspout tornado near Maquon, IL right around sunset. There were 3 tornadoes in the state this day. I saw a funnel about 3/4 to the ground after this that may have been a tornado. NWS confirmed the landspout as an EF-0 tornado with 85 mph winds.

    August 16, 2018: I almost saw one last year on August 16th but I left the storm and went to lunch lol. About an hour later it produced a tornado in Fulton County, IL. I'm pretty sure it was a landspout, but still burns.


    Those are my war stories. There are probably many more but those few come to mind at the moment.
     
  12. John Farley

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    I have two, one on a day when I was chasing (but did not really expect to see a tornado but did) and the other when I stumbled onto a rather photogenic funnel cloud on the first day of a trip to California.

    On September 29, 2014, I had spent most of the day making arrangements for an upcoming trip. There was a slight risk that day on the eastern plains of NM and the southeastern plains of CO, but I was too busy to go anywhere near that far. There was also some chance for strong to marginally severe storms closer to my home in Pagosa Springs, CO, Once I finished the travel plans I took a look at radar. There was a very strong return on both the Albuquerque and Grand Junction radars near Farmington, NM in an area where the radars usually don't pick up much because of distance and mountains blocking the beam. I knew this was an unusually strong storm for this area, and figured I could intercept it near the intersection of routes 84 and 64 west of Chama. I decided to head out, and soon was getting peeks through the mountains at a rotating cloud base to my southwest. As I approached the aforementioned intersection, driving through up to quarter-sized hail, I noticed some wild cloud motion, and then this tornado appeared just a half mile in front of me:

    [​IMG]

    This was my first New Mexico tornado, my first tornado west of the Continental Divide, and my first September tornado. It was also quite amazing that the highest temperature I saw on my car thermomenter up to the time of the tornado was 48 degrees F, and the elevation where the tornado occurred is around 8,000 feet. This was only the second tornado ever in Rio Arriba County, NM, and ironically, the first one happened on the same date many years earlier.

    The other one was northeast of Cortez, CO, on the first day of a drive to California on May 19, 2015. I had stopped a couple times to photograph strong convective snow squalls to my north over the highest mountains, but that was all I really expected to see that day weatherwise. However, as we drove through Mancos, CO, between Durango and Cortez, I saw what looked kind of like a funnel cloud under the base of a lower-elevation storm. Then I realized it WAS a funnel cloud, so I stopped to get a couple pictures. Here is one:

    [​IMG]

    As far as I know this never touched down, but reports from local spotters did lead to a tornado warning.
     
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