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July 13th, 2010

Ended up driving a lot farther than anticipated on this day. Initial target was eastern South Dakota where potential for supercells and tornadoes looked the best. Went back and forth on whether to go or not for quite a while, and didn't end up leaving from Omaha until about 11:30am. It's a fairly quick shot to eastern SD though, so we weren't too concerned. There was ongoing morning convection in North Dakota. It looked like crap on radar. We joked that if nothing ended up firing in South Dakota, at least we would have that! And where do we end up?

North freaking Dakota. lol.

Decided to continue heading north through eastern SD on I-29 since it looked like nothing wanted to fire that far south. Held out hope that something would explode just south of the ongoing convection, while continuing to joke that we'd just end up on the crap anyway.

If there's one thing I learned about North Dakota, it's that it has awesome highways (75mph+) and crappy gas stations. Filled up at this tiny stop and had to laugh at Chris' confusing when trying to figure out this archaic machine.

Aaaand begin the confusion of how-does-this-look-so-crappy-on-radar-yet-so-good-in-person. It just looked like a multicell cluster of crap, but had this solid updraft.

Never did quite make it to Fargo but ended up dang close. Got off of interstate and headed west on highway 46 to get closer to the storm. Pulled over to take a couple shots of the storm as the base came into view. Really a sweet view with both the convective updraft and the structured updraft base in view.

Things now take an unfortunate turn of events. Not chasing wise, necessarily, but I'm sure Chris cringes when he sees this scene. When we stopped to take the above shot, Chris swapped lenses and set his Sigma 10-20mm on top of the car and... yeah, you can imagine how that ended up. Completely forgot it was up there (I feel bad for not noticing myself) and drove off. It was just dumb how long that thing managed to stay up there. Probably a mile or two. And then it decides that it's suicide time once we're going about 70mph. You just hear this "clink, clunk" and see a chunk of plastic fall. Chris said he saw it hit the road as it shattered into a million pieces. Thought about going back to gather the remains, but already being on a storm and seeing it break into pieces, Chris said it wasn't even worth it.

Just a very somber feeling in the car from then on until we finally got under the storm. But all you can do is laugh about it now lol. Somewhere along highway 46 lies the remains of a very busted wide angle lens. This moment of silence is for you, Sigma!

Finally under the storm now as we ran into Mike Hollingshead at this intersection. I suppose if there's one thing to soothe the pain of losing a lens, it's watching a supercell develop lol. Had a sweet glowing vault region forming at this point. You can see that little tail of condensation forming, yet it was still letting light through it. Pretty cool.

A minute later, it developed into this little tail.

Now this thing starts to look like a real supercell. Again, it still looks crappy on radar. We joked that it was the magic of the Valentine supercell anniversary that was giving this thing its structured magic lol. Looking back on this scene, you can see why we were optimistic about the storm if you look at the right side of the updraft. A nice round stack of plates. The left side? Not so much lol. The way it was being sheared over essentially put the structure right above us, so it didn't look too bad when you were close.

Really had no trouble at all following it east as storm motions weren't too bad. Met up with Bill Doms at this point. Always nice to meet chasers you know through Facebook but haven't seen in person. Very chill dude. And the fact that he chases with his kids makes him even cooler lol.

Loved this scene as we continued to follow it east. Dirt road leading to a supercell. Nothing like it.

Took a panorama of the scene. Lots of panos on this day, but this one was my favorite. Distorts the storm oddly, but it does make it look like an awesome space ship lol.

Now you can kind of see how bad the storm's actual updraft was tilted over lol. Tilting to the right over the vault, leaving everything to the left above the flanking region completely clear.

Inflow sort of struggles for a bit. Inflow tails on the right cut off, leaving just a rounded textured base.

Had a nice textured base with sunset light starting to sneak in. It doesn't look like it in the shot, but that corn was a good 7-8 feet tall already. I had no idea North Dakota was so similar to Nebraska lol.