5/21/2004 REPORTS: NE/IA/SD/KS

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Dan Robinson

Fabian Guerra, Pete McConnell, Damon Shaw and I caught a brief tornado about 5 miles north of Norfolk, Nebraska late Friday evening. Detailed report and video to follow, for now here are a few quick video grabs and shots from my digital camera:


Video clip:

We were on this storm from its very beginning as a small struggling cumulus cloud a couple hours earlier. A great chase day!
Well I'm sure it was a better day for most up here, from the SPC reports looks like there were 25 or so Tornados. Today was more of a travel day for me, left Norman kinda late and humped it up to Council Bluffs. I was hoping to catch some of the convection going up in NE, NE but it was too late. I did venture up to check out the light show around 2330, right when they let the Tornado Warning expire on that cell S. of Sioux City. I am in OAX right now and ready for a great day tomorrow.

Oh and by the way, what the hell is up with the 55mph speed limits on SH's in Iowa, that is really gay!!
Originally posted by Jason Montano

Oh and by the way, what the hell is up with the 55mph speed limits on SH's in Iowa, that is really gay!!

Or the 65mph on Interstates? Ugh, I hate driving through IA. No offense to anyone in that state, but please write your congress-people and get this fixed! It takes me quite a while longer to drive through IA on 35 with the 65mph speed limit than the 70mph that surrrounding states have... This is especially true during my 12-hour trips from OUN to MSP...

P.S. -- Related to this thread... Did no one else get in on the action in IA today?! I can't imagine that, with 25 or so tornado reports (though DMX/DSM said they believe only 5 tornadoes occurred in their CWA), no chasers on ST got a piece of 'em...
I believe the weathervine gang along with Amos and Doug Kiesling got something.. I can't wait for their report :)
Bradgate Iowa Tornado

May 21, 2004 Chase Report: Bradgate, Iowa Tornadic Storm

I started the day in Des Moines, Iowa. A significant severe weather outbreak
was expected with a moderate risk across Iowa. Determining a target was
difficult as storms could fire anywhere along the warm front or even along the
dryline to the southwest. Areas of interest included north of Des Moines and in
northeast Nebraska. I checked data with Jeff Piotrowski and we finally decided to
head north and then west. Interestingly, there was a bull’s eye of low LCL’s
to the northeast. At 1:28PM, we turned west from I-35 toward Fort Dodge. We
were approaching a small storm heading east and it was producing some hail. We
stopped briefly to observe the storm but it didn’t appear that good visually.
The storm appeared outflowish. We decided to blow it off and continue to the
target area. We drove through the storm and encountered some small hail.
Approximately 30 miles east, the storm along with a nearby storm, became
tornado-warned. Arrghhh! We stopped and considered blasting back east. I didn’t think
these storms would hold together and we would have better storms later in the
day at the target area. We continued west and then watched the storms produce
multiple tornadoes on the XM receiver. Jeff received a report that a news
helicopter was flying around a tornado and sending back live images. I was really
depressed. We stopped several times to check data. The storms east were to far
to catch. By 4:21PM, we were approaching Sac City on state road 20. Storms
were forming to our northwest near Cherokee and another was to our west. The
appeared mushy and soft. Further west in Nebraska, winds were still from the
southwest in our target area. We turned north at 4:45PM on 71 and headed toward
Storm Lake. Storms were developing to the east of the town. The storms to our
north then developed multiple cores. Visually, they appeared outflow dominated.
We stopped to get gas and considered blowing off the mass of cores to the
north. Then, one area began to develop shear by 5:15 PM. We blasted north and
briefly saw a wall and tail cloud.

First wall cloud: 5:28PM

We continued north and the wall cloud elongated as the core approached. We
were on the southern storm of a developing massive complex of storms. Shear
decreased on the XM. A new area of shear appeared to the northeast at 5:30PM. We
turned east on 10 then followed the storm east on 3. The storm was to our
north and moving east.

Second wall cloud: 6:11PM

By 6:05PM, we received a report of a couplet on radar. At 6:07PM, we drove
through Pocahontas. I could see some rotation through the trees. At 6:08PM a
tornado warning was issued for the storm. To the north, I could see rapid cloud
motion and rotation in two areas at 6:12PM. The storm appeared linear with
the forward portion somewhat bowl-shaped at 6:13PM.

Storm to the north: 6:13PM

The whole storm was rotating. We continued east and at 6:16PM, we stopped a
saw a tornado to the north. It was behind the precipitation that was wrapping
around the edge of the storm.

Tornado (wide shot): 6:16PM

Tornado (zoomed): 6:16PM

Brief needle tornado, lower part not visible on video still but is on video.
On review of the video, a brief dust whirl on the ground is visible: 6:20PM

Weird twisted area of rotation: 6:24PM

The storm kept cycling and at 6:20PM we saw violent rotation of the cloud
base and a brief twisted narrow funnel on the edge of the storm. A weird twisted
area of rotation formed at 6:24PM. We entered the town of Gilmore City at
6:24PM as the tornado sirens were blasting. The streets were empty. We followed
the storm eastward and it developed a nice inflow feature. Hooks appeared and
vanished on radar through the whole period. Cold air eventually started to
enter the storm and it died. We left the storm as darkness approached.

Inflow feature

Edge of the storm

Cloud to Ground Lightning

Unfortunately, we later heard that the town of Bradgate (a few miles to the
north of Gilmore City) was seriously damaged by the tornado from this storm.
Injuries were reported. The drive west to South Sioux City, South Dakota was
wild as the sky flashed with lightning. The lightning was constant and I
probably could have driven without headlights. Frequent CG’s (cloud to ground
lightning) stuck the ground as the background flashed. I am now checking data for a
possible severe weather outbreak Saturday.


William T. Hark
Lyle, Erin, and myself were on the Bradgate storm. Humbling experience. Pictures coming but on the road currently. Witnessed multiple vortex genesis with tornadoes rapidly swirling about a central point, then it congealed into the largest wedge with a rapidly swirling satellite tornado. At that point we got sick and left as it was headed right at us and into the town of Bradgate. Quickly rain-wrapped. As we were driving east with the storm we later saw the photos from the report above and also saw a large tornado around 7:15 pm NW of Clarion, but after seeing the 0.5-1 mile wide wedge hit Bradgate, and getting humbled by the experience affecting human lives, we weren't that excited anymore. Intense experience, and after a four day chase with little return, it was more than we bargained for.

Ran into Mike Hollingshead near the town of Onawa (I think?) and caught some storms going up. (great to meet him!) But then quickly darted east at explosive convection near the front (given the history of storms on that front), and got to the tornadic mothership in the middle of convective crud just in time. I don't ever want to see a tornado like that again hit people. (although in the middle of nowhere, would be great to see again!)

You won't believe me until I get the pictures up, so stay tuned.

Congrats all and esepcially Chris, Lyle and Erin. I THINK this was the storm I could see just east of my POS. Everything looked like crap and I had no data once leaving Onawa till much later thanks to the probs still going on with verizon and connecting digitally...grrrrrr. Day wasn't a totall loss but beings I was with them just before yeah it is....lol. Wound up IN the tornadic meso north of Sioux City chucking golfballs and likely larger out the back nw side of the meso on me. I could not get through this thing after having 2 seperate FITS with my GPS and the roads. Top 5 frustrating chase days for me for sure. Gave up on that storm as when I finally got south of the meso I was still in rain. Already highly annoyed I just got pissed and dropped sw once again. More later with pics I guess. Congrats to all again.


NM....I was NO WHERE near THAT storm...still sucks...lol. Nice work guys.
We continued our run of good fortune last night, observing the tornado north of Norfolk, Nebraska and west of Windside at approximately 8:45 PM CST. This was a narrow, pencil-shaped funnel that spun rapidly and held shape for about five minutes. We have some video though our view was interrupted by the interminable hills in the region.

This tornado emerged from the mesocyclone associated with the northern portion of the complex in Wayne County, a section of the storm that later died as the southern half grew dominant. We chased the storm until very late, hoping for more nocturnal luck like Colorado the day before yesterday with after-dark regeneration, but observed no other touchdowns despite several new cycles.

This was another photogenic mothership supercell, and we followed it east and across the Missouri River even after having booked our rooms in Schuyler, Nebraska. We thought it would be easy to find rooms in Omaha later, but we learned a rough lesson in eastern Nebraska lodging on the Friday night when many high schools celebrate graduation. We finally pulled into Schuyler, site of our original booking, about 2:30 AM and rang the buzzer to wake Johnny, the proprieter of Johnny's Motel. Johnny shuffled out in his robe and allowed us to check in minutes before the squall line blew through town and dumped torrential rain on our vehicles.

So no pictures or video captures until I-have-no-idea-when. The way this pattern is, it might be a three weeks before I get the last two days
worth of imagery online. Obviously, today?s setup dictates that we leave yesterday?s work for another time. In 2004, tomorrow is always better, and this morning that rule seems to have held once again.

I haven?t been able to respond to personal emails in the last few days, today?s schedule is even worse.

Good luck to everybody chasing today.
Amazing lightning show in Norfolk NE last night. I spent an hour filling 2 videotapes and 45 slide exposures with lightning. Great sky-filling anvil crawlers, many with explosive 'super-CG' ground connections with very loud sonic-booming thunder.

Lots of video yet to capture in and no time as we are chasing again today, but here is one of the super-bolts with the loud sonic-booming thunder:


Had a great day yesterday. I ran into Tim Samaras, and team half way up to Oneil on Hwy 281. Nice group of people! We shared stories and data for an hour or so.

Decided to go north to Oneil. Looked at additional data at truck stop in Oneil, and decided to head to Norfolk. Was traveling SE on 275 following a strong cell that was starting to rotate as it moved ENE. It became tor warned as 275 started to jog to the S which took me farther away from the cell, so I decided to take a dirt road FM north. Passed right under as it began to really come together. Saw a sizeable dust whirl off to my SE by about 200 - 300 yards :shock: :shock: . Decided I was a little to close, turned back around and went south about a mile or so. Found a nice high vantage point an watched a needle drop and touch down near Hadar. I was just to the SW of it as it touched down. Very photogenic!

All in all a great day, because that was my first tornado :D (after a few years of many many busts!!)!!! 100000x better and more intense than I could have ever imagined.... WOW! :shock:

Stayed in Hagar and had steaks (I learned a tradition for some after a successful chase!) with a couple of other chasers... what a great day!
Posted some video and some frame grabs of the lightning show in Norfolk NE on Friday night:


Got most of these on 35mm slide film. Many were so bright that I'm afraid they may have overexposed, but what a show nonetheless.

Captured 4 tornados in Grundy County, Iowa, along with a TON of storm structure, large hail etc.!! :D
Got on the Norfolk cell from inititation... from clear air to vigorous TCu to LP to CL w/ WC and tor warning before encountering some bad dirts roads and having to backtrack, losing it for about 30 mins. Caught it again west of Nofrolk and saw the small but photogenic tornado north of town. Early in the storm's life I saw a tower go from the LFC to the EL in one minute. Incredible. Will have images and a more detailed account as soon as possible. Also witnessed the huge Hallum tornado, and got on the cells (albeit late) in Thayer County and near Topeka on Monday.

I know this is late but I just got back from Michigan where the straight line wind event was.

Was in the Berrien, Cass, Van Buren county area and there were TONS of trees still down. My cabin area lost power for 3 days as the power poles were knocked down. Driving towards Keeler, there were lots of mature trees just yanked out of the ground and thrown across the road, roots and all.

[Broken External Image]:http://img76.photobucket.com/albums/v230/dbc100/treedown.jpg
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