Okay, I admit it was a tempting chase day. I started out at work, but… Zach Sharpe kept texting me and enticed me into chasing.
Zach picked me up at my office at 11am. We accidentally borrowed Ben McMillan’s SUV (See pic below – sorry Ben, we would have asked, but you were in Arizona) and we headed to our initial target area near Tama, Iowa. About a mile into our journey, Zach mentioned something that was already obvious – It was 85 degrees and the the A/C wasn’t working in Ben’s SUV. Yeaaaaah…..
Sweaty pits and all, we slogged on toward Tama, where we noted the only decent cell in the region was already firing about 15 miles to our West. We parked north of Tama and waited for the storm to mature. Soon it was within view, and it looked… Lame.
Regardless, it was the only decent storm in our immediate area, so we followed it.
Maybe 30 minutes later we were parked on the side of a highway watching the storm cell. Meteorologist Tony Laubach pulled up and said hi. (Tony drove in from Illinois for this chase and has a bias against Iowa, so it was a nice surprise to see him here). We chatted for a few minutes, then parted ways.
Only a few minutes later, the storm cell we were watching totally fell apart.
Other storm cells were firing along the frontal boundary about 75 miles southwest of us. They were our only chance to salvage this chase day. Off we go!
intense leisurely driving at OMFG safe, legal speeds, we were able to intercept a growing cell near Seymour, in south-central Iowa. It wasn’t particularly photogenic, but it was all we had so we went with it.
The cell was growing in size, but didn’t appear particularly tornadic (pic below) We noted the lightning and the thunder was nearly continuous, which was a rare treat to observe.
We followed this cell into Missouri, but it turned into an HP mess, so we decided to cut our losses and head home before sunset.
Here is where the magic happened: On our way home we saw some INCREDIBLE lightning on the back side of the storm. We stopped in Clio, IA to film for a few minutes. No tornado, but the lightning display in the distance made this chase a total WIN.