05/08/04 REPORTS: NE & IA

Larry J. Kosch

Even though the storms in NE and IA are still going strong tonight and chasers are still out in the field (or in the bear's cage!), I'm starting a REPORT thread for tonight's storms. Give us your reports here. 8) LJK.
Even though it's not Iowa or Nebraska, I'll throw the first post on here from the state of MI rather than ask someone to start a new thread. It was good to finally get out and run around. My wife and I headed with the intention of trying to find a clear spot to shoot lightning. Shortly after we went out, warnings came out for our county and the county to the west of us, so we activated our skywarn group. Nothing of great excitement. I got at touch of 1/2" hail that covered the road and some serious lightning. We had a strike or two within a half mile. Once the warnings cleared our counties we did not follow since the cells had weakened below severe status.

We've still got the conveyor(sp) belt of moisture coming across Lake Michigan, almost a perfect copy of what happened last night. It's due to continue through most of tonight as well. I shot two full rolls of lightning, and since that is what we set out to do in the first place, I was pleased. I will have to wait and see what they look like tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I got some doozies :p

I look forward to reading everybody's posts tomorrow and see how the folks in NE and IA made out. I might venture off and shoot some more film anyway, it's still popping pretty good out there.

Well, my first real chase was pretty much a bust. gotta expect that being the n00b that I am though. Took a drive west from cedar rapids, to near Manchester area. seemed like any storms i was catching up to dissapated before my eyes. I think I got some good lightning shots though. As I was on my way home, another line started coming through around 9:15 local time, with tons and tons of lightning. got about 15 shots in, then ran out of film :evil:. there was so much static in the air, the top of one of my fiberglass cb antennas was arcing sparks, you could see it lighting up, and it was buzzing like a power line. I decided to stay in the truck. Hardly even got any rain. Oh well, I had fun, that's all that counts, right? Got dark quick, so i stopped and watched the lightning again before I left the area, then headed home.
Eric Nguyen, Scott Currens, and I targeted O'Neill, Nebraska today, hoping storms would fire along a lifting warm front as an upper level disturbance moved across the state. A strong moisture axis lifted into the northern and northeastern Nebraska area, and we noted a fair cumulus field as we headed northwest into the upper rangeland of the state. Eventually we outran the moist tongue and the cu and so we stopped short of our target and waited around Norfolk.

Storms firing in central Iowa drew our attention as did the thickening cu field strung along interstate 80. However, we knew central Iowa suffered from weak upper level support and soon the storms near Des Moines grew multicellular. Surface winds in the area were veering to the southwest as well--we just didn't like the look of things over there. Plus, there was a fee to cross the bridge. Still we raced east and stopped at Decatur, just short of the Missouri River. We took another look at data from a convenience store across the street from a biker bar.

When the Norfolk storm fired closer to our original target, and in an area of more favorable low level shear, we turned around and retraced our path. We intercepted the southern cell of a split near the intersection of 32 and 15. Diving south on 15, I observed shear funnels and a narrow, barber poll updraft with rapid rotation about 6:30 PM. I also observed cascading condensation on what looked exactly like a gust front, but which rolled upward back toward the vault. At the same time, I observed strong elevated rotation. A tornado warning came a few minutes later.

I continued south to Schuyler as the storm became more elevated and the updraft base more linear. I met Nebraska chaser Chris Lenz and had a cool conversation on a dirt road as the storm gusted out. I used the break in the action to flank the developing cluster and work my way back north, believing that storms had moved off the boundary and lost their slim advantage in our marginal setup. Nearing North Bend on 30, another tornado warning appeared for the storm over Schuyler. Scott and Eric filmed a large RFD blast in a dusty field at this time and believe this helped prompt the warning. Sirens in Shuyler blew immediately afterwards.

I raced a train across the Platte River and, south of Morse Bluff, observed an elevated wall cloud. A new tornado warning for Butler County finished off the storm and it faded into the night with a spectacular orange and crimson sunset and continuous, pounding CG's. We returned to our new favorite motel here in south Omaha and are finally about to hit the sack.

I'll try to post pictures tomorrow--we have no idea where or if we're chasing. Thanks to Steve Miller for nowcasting.
After a day of family obligations in DSM, I was able to get out around 6PM and catch the main Iowa supercell in Guthrie County just NE of Panora. Another classic July-type evening where this supercell was elevated and the inflow was undercut by the strong outflow from the gust front of the storm. In fact, as this storm continuted to move to the SE torward I-80, it was the proud recipient of several "Helen Keller"-type non-tornado, tornado reports that were actually the result of dust and dirt being kicked up by the outflow.

What makes this chase even more frustrating is the local media likewise aided in the hype by reporting their own tornadoes by saying on-air that there were "dust swirls" on the ground. Show me the pictures or the video with a date stamp of "May 8, 2004" on it and I'll believe it. Also, hail was being reported to up to the size of 2". We never experienced hail over the size of 1" to (maybe) 1.25". I know there were countless other chasers on this storm. If there were tornadoes, please post your pictures and I'll stand corrected.

An a positive note, this storm provided an awesome lightning show and a good barrage of hail. Not the greatest chase on record, but still better than nothing.

5-8-04 Chase

I've posted a few pics on my website of yesterdays chase. A fun day filled with buckets of hail ,heart pounding thunder, dangerous roads, and nice storm structure. Nice to be out with some success.
Jerry Funfsinn
Tornados Reports ?

From some several chasers in Iowa the Tornado warned storms west northwest of Des Moines were undercut from outflow, so there may have been some brief spin-ups, but lots of public reports of scud and a few sheriff reports.
New website

It takes longer to put pics on my new website but I definitely still have it, just threw these pics on my old website so I could quickly share them