Severe Weather 2011 / 2012 SeasonUSA Chase May 2011

Distance driven today: 466kms | Total so far: 4772kms

The National Weather Service was forcasting storms along a line from Oklahoma to Missouri so we headed for a town in the area called Springfield. It was generally cloudy and it didn't seem like much could get going, but about 50kms short of Springfield we spotted our first congestus and real bit of convection.

     

Several updrafts started rising around us and we were able to sit around for a while and watch them grow. Eventually one hit the troposphere and we started chasing, attempting to flank it for the best view.

   

We seemed to be ideally situated as mutiple cells grew around us, giving us a lightning show with often continuous thunder, yet skirting NE by us leaving us rain-free for photography. We sat happily in this spot for around three hours as good mammatus became visible and two of our cells became tornado warned!

               

         

With a number of cells heading for us, it eventually started raining so we headed S to get out of the rain. Unfortunately, our radar info doesn't pinpoint our location so we miscalculated and stated driving directly into a storm cell. We heard small hail tinking on the car as we desperately searched, and eventually took, the first U-turn.

We finally figured out where we were and as storms closed in around us, we took off NE for the dry bit on the radar. Our GPS decided it couldn't find a way to our destination so we had to navigate manually. On the way, a massive shelf cloud became visible to our W but was almost on top of us, so there was no time to pull over for a photo. The following hideously inadequate shot shows only the southern end that I could see from my position on the driver's side of the car. This thing was a beauty and I regret not stopping for 30 seconds to get a photo of the full view.

 

Heavy rain eventually caught us and we were forced to stop and take shelter in case of hail or flooding. We waited until it eased a bit, then moved to a better spot for a view of the lightning. We scored a magnificent shelter at a church near Louisburg, a tiny town about 50kms N of Springfield where we sat again for the light show.

   

           

We remained here for about another two hours and eventually called it a night, stopping in a cheap restaurant that strangely allows smoking inside.

 

Potential for tomorrow is sitting on the massively flooded Mississippi River so we're thinking twice about chasing at all. Might be time to do some laundry!