July 14th, 2010
Woke up in Waconia, MN after staying the night at Tyler's parents' house after chasing the day before. Moisture was already in place and more abundant than expected, as the SPC upgraded from a slight to a moderate risk for the eastern MN area. After waiting for smaller storms to become more organized around the area, we headed out the door and started on our way east towards Minneapolis.
Towers were already exploding, and appeared to have decent structure considering they were still in their formative stages. Round bases and even faint striations in the updraft visible despite the fact that nothing had started to anvil yet.
As we got closer, it became more apparent how well-rounded this tower's base had become. Let the optimism begin lol.
Got east of the updraft and stopped to shoot as it approached. Thought we were set at this point. A nice crunchy updraft above a round, structured base. Had an inflow tail on the right, but it was tough to see thanks to the haze the moisture added to the atmosphere.
Started to develop a little wall cloud on the southwestern end of this mess. Tightened up into a small funnel briefly, but never made much progress.
And then the next thing we knew... our storm had turned into an outflowing piece of garbage. From sculpted meso to whale's mouth in 10 minutes.
From then on it was a pretty frustrating chase. Continue to drop south and east in hopes of something not immediately turning into a shelf cloud. Came dangerously close to going into Wisconsin, which is where we drew the line lol. Drove through the core of another junker and stopped on a dirt road for a bit to weigh our options. The road was surrounded by 7-foot tall corn, so the view of the sky was crappy anyway. We started to pull back onto the highway when I thought I saw something trying to dip down. The corn was tall enough that you really couldn't tell until we were back on the highway though. But sure enough, there it was! A funnel that had twisted 3/4ths of the way down to the ground.
Had a small cylinder of dust underneath it on the ground, but it never fully condensed. Still, a nice random surprise.
That of course was enough to renew our hope for the day, so we got in front of it yet again, and of course we were greeted with...
...another shelf. Apparently mother nature thought we just couldn't get enough whale's mouth textures in one day.
At this point we say screw it and start the long drive back to Omaha. The SPC had mentioned the potential for a squall line to develop across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa later in the day though, so at least we had that to look forward to.
A decent squall did end up developing over western Iowa after we drove through Des Moines. Looked incredible on radar, spanning across the entire state north to south, but the structure once we caught up to it was largely disappointing. Just another shelf.
We get back on I-80 and prepare for a long drive through precip. To our surprise though, a bit of sunlight began to sneak through as we neared Stuart, IA. Sort of a surreal scene as it started out imperceptibly dim, but grew brighter, making the sky burn red as though we were in the middle of a Martian dust storm.
Stopped in Stuart, IA now that we were out of the precip to get a couple quick shots of the mammatus on the backside.
Providing one last op of the day, the storm really began to pick up in electrical activity as it continued to plow east. There were quite a few crawlers out in the mammatus, but we weren't in the greatest spot to shoot. Regardless, still a pretty cool contrast of color.
Out of nowhere, a couple CGs struck behind us and to our north. Since the western scene wasn't doing much for me anymore, I pointed north and hoped to catch one of the sporadic CGs. I ended up getting incredibly lucky, pressing the shutter just as this last stunning bolt crashed down to the NNE. Obscenities of excitement were uttered upon reviewing my LCD screen. It was a great end to what was otherwise a rather challenging chase!